My Breastfeeding Relationship with My Kids


In honor of world breastfeeding week, I wanted to write something profound, unique and beautiful about breastfeeding. After reading several other stories in honor of breastfeeding week, I quickly realized, however that nothing I say can really captures the mystery of the breastfeeding relationship. So, I simply decided to share my own personal relationship with breastfeeding. Part 1 talks about my breastfeeding relationship with my kids. Part 2 will talk about my relationship with other breastfeeding mothers.

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When my first child was born, she was at my breast within a few moments of her birth Once the initial whirlwind of emotions began to settle, I attempted to latch her on. My first feelings were, “okay, this works - but yikes, this hurts.” Thankfully I said something because up until then, everyone approved of her latch. That was when I learned that if it hurts, something isn’t right. We readjusted and were on our way to a very healthy, yet challenging, breastfeeding relationship. The challenge was when I was away from her and needed to pump. When she was six months old, I started a new job doing student recruitment for a community college. This new job had me out in local high schools, college fairs and community events at various times of the day and night during both weekdays and weekends. While I was up for the challenge of pumping, the challenge was always finding a place to pump. When I was on campus, there was a little corner in a basement bathroom where I pulled a sheet between me and anyone else in the bathroom’s lobby. This wasn’t so bad when there is no one in the lobby, but it did get a little awkward when several students were preparing for a performance and had clothes. make-up and themselves strewn about the lobby floor. “Um, excuse me,” I would uncomfortably say,” I need to use that space in the corner. Don’t worry, you can leave all your stuff there, It’ll just be a few minutes.”

I pumped behind a display stand in an exhibition hall. I pumped in the car several times, covering myself with a coat or sweater parked in the back of a lot, under a tree if I was lucky. I pumped in a bathroom bar with graffiti littering the walls. I pumped in a high school bathroom with a stall barely wide enough for me and all my equipment. “What’s that sound,” I remember the young girls saying on the other side of the door.

I hadn’t committed to a timeline of breastfeeding and pumping for my daughter, but the time came to put it all away when my daughter was two years and one month old. I was pregnant with her little brother, my breasts were extremely tender and supply was decreasing. The day I told her that there were no more nursies, she replied, “Go get some more.” I asked her from where. “Go to the store and buy some,” was her matter-of-fact response.

My second child latched easily and without pain. A month after his birth, I started a jobshare in a new position. I took the new position, because it offered a more consistent schedule in a single location. This time pumping happened primarily in the same basement bathroom corner protected by a sheet and in a sometimes vacant office. I did have to pump once on the freeway when a friend and I were on our way to run a half marathon. Since my daughter has nursed for two years and one month, I felt I had to be equal with my son. So, at precisely two years and one month, I stopped nursing my son, cold turkey. I would not recommend that. He cried and I cried. He cried more and I cried more. Once the crying was over, I wore red cabbage leaves in my bra for a week to help the soreness of my engorged breasts. We finally made it, we had weaned. But, I still reflect and wish I had thought through that experience a little more.

8/31/2014 1:36:36 PM

Beautiful post! Your kids are well nourished and well connected! Lesson learned with abrupt weaning! No kids nurse forever, it'll happen when you both are ready! By the time my kids weaned they were getting so little milk there was no engorgement and no one was sad to stop! I do remember getting frustrated when my son was older that I was up at night nursing so I just redirected him at night (it was hard to do when he was right next to me so I put him in his bed and then we just nursed before bed and I got more sleep - problem solved. (He was nearly three by then.) I'm pretty sure every nursing relationship is different and ultimately we know what is best for our personal situation because we are moms!

8/12/2014 7:20:31 PM

First of all let me applaud you for being dedicated to giving your children the best form of food for them. But, I must dispel a myth that you are professing. The myth that if it hurts then something must be wrong. Now that may be the case for many moms, but there are a few that no matter what it hurts like hell (at least for a period of time). With my first it hurt like hell. I was doing everything right, latch on was perfect, but the pain was terrible. Luckily a midwife suggested using a nipple shield to help. I tried not to use it, but the pain was so bad I cried a lot (sometimes even with using it). I was so worried that breastfeeding was not going to work for me. Luckily I had a good support person to help me. One thing to understand is that I had one flat nipple and one inverted. So it took over a month for the skin of my nipples to grow and stretch so that they fully fit in the babies mouth so it would not hurt. I had to use the nipple shield a lot the first month and then only a bit the second month and then by the 4th month breastfeeding was going good. With my 2nd child same thing only the painful part and the use of the nipple shields was a much shorter time frame. By the third child I did not have to use the nipple shields at all, but nursing took about 3 weeks before it stopped hurting. I am now on my 4th child (which came 3 years after #3) and I only had to use the nipple shields for a few days (got to the point of tears with the pain). Now he is 2 months old and nursing is just now getting comfortable. So for those of you who are pregnant and want to nurse, understand that what the typical rules are for nursing and breastfeeding might not apply to you just like they did not with me. Another myth for me: You should nurse in different positions. Hogwash!! I nursed all my kids in basically the same position all the time. The only thing I did was in the beginning (and then occasionally as needed) I massaged my breast during nursing to make sure all the milk ducts were being emptied and did not get clogged. Worked great for me could work for you as well. Another Myth: (at least as far as I am concerned): Bring the baby to you for latch on, not you to the baby. Double Hogwash!! Trying to get a wiggle baby to latch on correctly when you are fully engorged and very sore, not a good idea as far as I am concerned. I would hold them still and lean over and get a good latch then sit up and get comfy. Worked great. When I tried it the other way, it never worked well, I always ended up in more pain and with a crying baby (bad combo). Only when the babies were older could I bring them up to me and latch on easier. Breastfeeding is best and I encourage anyone wanting to do so to do lots of research on other peoples experiences and find a mentor who was very successful at breastfeeding to work with. Be careful with some Lactation Consultants too. I have heard of some actually suggesting that moms just give up on breastfeeding and then find out what the issue was, was something that had solutions. Good luck to all you future and current moms. Moms have a blessed, but challenging job and educating your self will help with that. Take care!

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