My Mommyology

Learning from Motherhood.

My Extended Breastfeeding Experience

| 30 Comments

“Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (November). For this month, we focus on extended breastfeeding. Participants will share their experiences and tips on breastfeeding their child/ren beyond 12 months. Please scroll down to the end of the post and check out the other carnival participants.”

***

I recently visited a Lactation Specialist to consult about a blocked milk duct.  In the 45 minutes that I spent in her office, we used up 10 minutes for the exam and actual consultation, and the balance time talking about my breastfeeding experience with both my girls.  She was thrilled to find out that I managed to breastfeed Sam for 14 months, and that I had the same goals (at least) with Jamie, who is now 8 months old and still fully breastfed.  She congratulated me for making it that long and encouraged me as well to try to help other moms achieve the same feat.

To be honest, up until that point, I hadn’t really put much thought into how big a feat it was to breastfeed for so long.  Then I did the math: that’s feeding someone multiple times every single day for over 400 days.  My that is a lot!   All things considered, breastfeeding is probably one of the hardest challenges all mothers need to overcome, but having to sustain it over a long period of time is also yet another accomplishment in itself  (Can you imagine, I have good friends who breastfeed for longer!  They deserve awards!).  I do have a few thoughts as to how I was able to achieve this and I’m happy to share them with all of you, in the hopes that it will help you too achieve your goals to breastfeed for as long as you would like to.

It’s all in the mind

Thinking back, when I first decided I was going to breastfeed my children, it never occurred to me that it would be hard to sustain.  It’s not that I played down the importance of breastfeeding or the challenges that came with it, but I also just never assumed there was a better alternative.  I had read up on the benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and child, particularly if one was able to breastfeed until the child turned 1.  From then on I just knew I wanted to do it for as long as I possibly could.

Of course, after the first three weeks, I was ready to give up.  I was tired, sleep-deprived, emotional and all these other emotions rolled into one.  My nipples were sore, my breasts were engorged… and it hurt each time Sam latched on!  I wasn’t prepared for that.  Then when I started to pump out milk, I would spend 30 minutes and get only 1-2 ounces at best.  The entire experience was frustrating and discouraging to say the least.

Thankfully I didn’t give in and I pushed through the pain (and the engorgement).  I took it — literally — one day at a time, and constantly found ways to motivate myself to keep going.  I just convinced myself that if millions of other moms could do it, then so could I.  At first, I took a breath each time I Sam was about to latch and say to myself out loud that I could do it again and again.  Eventually it got easier, we (each of the girls and I) got the hang of it until I didn’t have to think so hard about it anymore.  In the first few months with Jamie, I knew what to expect pain-wise, and so I followed the same techniques which also made it easier faster.

Top Priority:  Keep Up the Milk Supply

In all the days that I breastfed, the amount of milk I produced was always at the forefront of my consciousness.  I knew that to be able to keep on breastfeeding, I had to keep making enough milk.  So that became my top priority.  I had learned from my doula that in order to keep the supply up, I had to “trick” my body into thinking it needed to produce more.

So I set aside specific times in the day (and night) to express milk.  That meant losing sleep and spending a lot of time (several times a day) pumping.  I’d pump out the milk from the breast that was not drank from and completely drain the one that was.  I’d even pump in between feedings the minute I felt some sort of a let-down.   I took malunggay supplements.  I ate all those foods they say you should eat to build your milk supply.  Whatever it took to ensure I would always have enough milk for Sam (and now for Jamie), I did.

I brought my pump everywhere I went as well.  At first it was an event all on its own; I had to stop what I was doing to get the milk out.  Eventually, I learned to multitask; I would breastfeed (or pump) while checking emails, making a phone call, or accomplishing chores that I could manage with one hand.  And then I learned from my sister-in-law (who breastfed all her three kids for a year each!  Someone please give her a medal…).  With her breastfeeding cover, she could walk, shop AND breastfeed all at once!  So I tried and practiced.  Eventually it became a necessary skill; breastfeeding and chasing Sam around a playground.

Whatever the situation, I looked for ways to ensure that my milk supply stayed constant and that I had more than enough milk for my girls.  I know that sounds like a lot, and it is.  But once you set your mind to it and make it a priority, then everything else will work its way around it to make it happen.

Have a Pro-breastfeeding Support Group

I was fortunate to have been surrounded by people who encouraged and supported my decision to breastfeed.  At the forefront of the cheering squad was my husband.  I was lucky enough that he believed his daughters should be breastfed for at least a year, and so he does what he can to help me achieve that.  With Sam, it was a matter of coaxing me through the rough times, ensuring I had enough rest and food and even to the point of waking me up so I wouldn’t skip a pump session.  Now with Jamie, he helps entertain Sam while Jamie nurses, or he’ll take both girls on the times that I’ve identified when I do need to pump.  We’ve learned to adjust our schedule accordingly.

The Midwives (my doctors) and KK, my postpartum doula, all made it their priority to ensure that I had all the information and the help that I needed, particularly in the first few weeks after birth.  Those are the weeks which I feel are all moms’ “make-or-break days” in deciding how long they intend to breastfeed (if at all).  Everyone was conscious about how challenging it could be for a new mom like me, so that became the focal point for their support.  They stuck with me too until the saw that I wasn’t having a difficult time anymore.

I was also surrounded by mommy friends who were going through the same breastfeeding struggles as I was.  I learned a lot from friends and new moms in my group who had been there before and have breastfed for longer.  They had words of wisdom, insights and tips that one wouldn’t normally find in books, and those helped more than you could imagine.

Having said all of the above, I do commend all moms who take that first step and commit to breastfeeding.  Starting out and trying is the hardest part but once you’ve overcome that, it does get easier.  I know I got lucky; I had a fairly easy breastfeeding experience with Sam, and that eventually made it easy for me to decide to do the same thing with Jamie.  I’ve spoken to some mommy friends who weren’t as fortunate as I was the first time around, and now that they are expecting their second child, they are currently wondering if they could do it this time around.

I say:  Unequivocally YES!  Most definitely.  While every child is different, every breastfeeding experience is also different.  I do believe you’d still have to take things one day at a time and set your mind to it so that you can achieve your breastfeeding goals.  Ultimately it’s just a matter of finding it in you:  a little bit of luck, and a mix of perseverance, resilience, endurance, resourcefulness and a whole lot of love.  No doubt about it; breastfeeding is a huge act of self-sacrifice.  But this much I can tell you — when you’ve achieved the breastfeeding goals you’ve set out for, and you see your happy, healthy child(ren), the feeling of fulfillment and the rewards it brings are also, without a doubt, beyond words.

***

Check out our other carnival participants’ blogs:

J and the Three Boys – No more “de-de”
Mommyluscious – Breastfeeding for Two Beyond Two
Truly Rich Mom – On Extended Breastfeeding (a perfectly normal thing to do)
Life of a Babywearing and Breastfeeding Mommy – Still breastfeeding after 2 years
Got To Believe – Breastfeeding Room Story

Homeschooling Mommy – Yes, I’ve Got Milk
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom – Barriers/Myths vs. Extended Breastfeeding

 

Profile photo of mymommyology

Author: mymommyology

I am the mom that I am because of my two wonderful little girls. They teach me everyday.

30 Comments

  1. Really, no? If you go a day at a time, you’ll eventually be surprised at where you will end up! (I should believe the same for myself and exercise, but that is a totally different story. hahahaha! OT!)

  2. Great tips! Commitment and dedication are really important on breastfeeding. I never thought I would last for more than 6 months. But here we are at 14 months and still breastfeeding. 🙂 I like your entry, so true!

  3. Breastfeeding was the best decision I made with my kids. I fed my daughter until 19 months when I was pregnant and I’m still feeding my 21 month old. It can restrict you at times but it’s an amazing gift you give your child. I feel very lucky to be able to breastfeed and have a supportive family.

    • Profile photo of mymommyology

      Congratulations on your achievement for breastfeeding that long for each child. Wow!
      I agree, it can be restricting but still very fulfilling and it really really really helps when people support you in this decision! 🙂

  4. Hi! I’m on my 6th month of breastfeeding and it really helps to read useful tips on how to extend this wonderful mom and baby experience.

    Malunggay, water and sabaw from tinola, sinigang and nilaga are my ever reliable friends when it comes to increasing my milk supply.

    Thanks for your post and happy breastfeeding to us!

    • Profile photo of mymommyology

      Hi! Thank you for dropping in and congratulations to you on making it to your 6th month (and for finding ways to extend it!)!
      Yes to all your reliable friends – they were (are) mine too. Any soup for that matter should help. I don’t know if it is proven (haven been searching), but rice intake also helps achieve that. 😉

      Take care and happy breastfeeding to us all indeed!

  5. Pingback: Breastfeeding For Two Beyond Two

  6. Incredible! I really admire how dedicated you are! It’s really one day at time then you hardly ever have to think about it, it becomes almost second nature 🙂

  7. Pingback: 1.4 and still breastfeeding!

  8. Pingback: Tricia's World » Blog Archive » Yes, I’ve got milk!

  9. This is a great post! 😉 I could so relate to most of what you wrote. My favorite part was this: “Eventually it became a necessary skill; breastfeeding and chasing Sam around a playground.” Hehe. I also learned to master the art of breastfeeding while homeschooling/chasing toddlers/translating materials/giving talks/etc. 😉 Kudos to you, and I hope you’ll be able to breastfeed for as long as you wish! 😉 God bless us all!

  10. Love your tips on maintaining milk supply. I agree, in order to sustain breastfeeding, you should learn to incorporate in into your lifestyle and multitask so that you’d enjoy it more 🙂

  11. Congratulations on breastfeeding your 2 kids! I hope I can also still sustain breeding my 2nd baby when the time comes for longer than 1 year.

    Btw, the breastfeeding room in my post is at sm super center in las Pinas. Sm malls have breeding rooms now but some better than the others.

  12. Benito is 2.8 already and am still breastfeeding. Funny because he did not latch until he was more than 3 months old. I bugged Vj to call his friend (Jen CC Tan) to ask why he was not latching and what I can do to encourage him. I was actually ready to give up and was resigned to just keep on pumping (this was accompanied by self doubt and feelings of failure). Then one day, he just latched. Buti na lang I did not give up. So now, Vj teases me to be careful what I wish for next time. And yes, my best friends are my covers and pump. And the malls here have evolved na nga talaga. Only Rustans had a breastfeeding room then. Now its everywhere. How wonderful!

    • Profile photo of mymommyology

      Oh wow yay! Really! Good to know about the malls and definitely your perseverance! Galing Ceej! You should write about it too and share (or we will share, hahaha!)

      And I’ve gotten to know Jen (CC Tan) virtually too through the blogging and tweeting world. It is indeed a small small world!

  13. It never occurred to me to give up, even when I hit my lows (hubs would often find me hitching sobs as I was nursing, because i was sooo exhausted with our firstborn) because my mind was really set on doing it for at least 2 years… but I also took it one day at a time. I had a lot of bad days and binged on Starbucks frappes that first 6 months… but I got through it 😀 I just really kept the faith that my body was able to nurture my son rfom inside, so it could also do the same from outside.

  14. Pingback: Extended Breastfeeding is Possible « Touringkitty

  15. Pingback: If the Magi Were Queens | My Mommyology

  16. Pingback: What I’ve Learned About Breastfeeding | My Mommyology

  17. Pingback: No more "de-de" | Attached At The Hip

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar