7 Months and Counting
This past Monday, Faith became a 7 month old. This also means that I have been exclusively breastfeeding her for 7 months, something that is honestly a big win in my mind. My breastfeeding journey has had its ups and downs. It was definitely a lot harder than I thought it would be, and while Faith latched almost immediately after birth, supply became a daily struggle and stressed me out the most.
Part of the stress was self-inflicted, mostly because I felt pressured by certain people that I was not producing enough. In my mind, and in my heart, I knew I was producing well enough for my child, but because pumped milk is measurable, it never seemed like enough to other people. And so I included evening sessions to add to my stash of milk for when I was at work. I never had the chance to build a stash beforehand since Faith was still feeding on demand by the time I went back, and I honestly just found the thought of pumping to be so.. painful and overwhelming. What are all of these parts? How does this work exactly? My boobs were already ravaged by constant feeding, I cringed at the thought of some machine just tearing them apart even more.
The other part was the physical stress that breastfeeding, and really just being a first time mom, was putting on my body. Every day, I thank my mom, and think of all the mom's out there who are struggling, and I just pray for strength to get through the day.
We also wasted what little stash I had just trying to get Faith to take a bottle. After trying so many different things, she eventually took it, but she just couldn't take it from me. I don't blame her.. why take it from a bottle when the real source is right there? Eventually the evening sessions wore on me, and I began looking at other ways to increase supply. I felt like I had tried everything: lactation cookies, teas, brewer's yeast in my morning smoothie, eating so many calories a day. My baby was growing just fine, but I still stressed about having enough milk because I didn't want her to have formula to supplement her feedings. I was afraid it would hurt my supply even more.
Eventually, I started taking fenugreek supplements 3 times a day, and finishing my water bottle at work, twice before each pumping session. That seemed to do the trick and I was SO relieved. I was pumping an average of 4 oz per session, which may not seem like a lot to some, but it was a huge jump from just a 2 oz average per session. Faith also started feeding less for some reason (or she got out of her growth spurt) and started drinking only 2 oz at every feeding, so I was able to build up a decent stash.
The one thing that got me through this whole journey, was something one of my best friend's said: "take it one day at a time." So here I am, 7 months and 3 days later, and I'm still pumping, still nursing. At 3 months, my goal was to just hit 6 months and we'd see from there, and now that I've hit 7 months.. I'm gonna see how I feel at 9 months. Baby steps.. just one day at a time..