MoM | Breastfeeding & Weaning

Musings on Motherhood | Breastfeeding and Weaning

Let’s talk breastfeeding! It’s a topic I’m passionate about and my aim with this post is to share my experience and offer support and resources for women that might not have them at their disposal within their own families or communities. I want to be a part of normalizing a very natural thing! 

How a mother feeds her child can bring up a lot of emotions - it’s a complicated issue! I believe that it’s possible to be supportive of all methods of feeding - whether you choose the route or the route is chosen for you. So if you’re an exclusive breastfeeder for 1 day or 1 year or you use bottles and formula or donor milk or any combination in between, mother to mother, I support you. Being a new mom is the hardest job on the planet and the last thing she needs is anyone’s judgment for doing what works best for her and her baby.

If for some reason you’re not into boobs or babies, I won’t be offended if you skip this post! There will be photos of a real, live human child (Felix) on a real life human breast (Mine!) so you’ve been warned! 

Initial Hurdles

Musings on Motherhood | Breastfeeding and Weaning

I made an initial plan to nurse for six weeks and then re-evaluate. Breastfeeding does not come easily to most women - including me. Our first days were a big struggle and we used donor milk from our hospital while staying there and bought another 100 ounces home with us. I had a cesarean birth and my milk supply took a little longer than normal to come in, which isn’t unusual with that type of delivery. Felix did latch on and nurse when I was first able to hold him and some blood work showed us he was getting a little colostrum. Later while I was recovering in the hospital and my baby cried for more, patient nurses helped express milk (or colostrum) into a spoon and then feed it to Felix. As happy as I was with a healthy child, I was also grieving the C-section and was hell bent on making nursing work! 

For the donor milk we rigged up a supplimental nursing system and a nipple shield so it felt like I was nursing. I was pumping regularly (using an amazing Medela Symphony we rented from the hospital) and within five days I had enough supply to feed the baby and discontinue donor milk. That was a big deal for us! 

Felix’s latch still wasn’t great and I used a shield for at least the first six weeks. You hear women say nursing “shouldn’t feel like anything” and eventually - yeah! - but at first it’s not pleasant! And those cluster feeding seasons can do a number on your sensitive breasts! 

Major Complications

Musings on Motherhood | Breastfeeding and Weaning

Around that six week point was when we moved towards latching without the shield but by week eight we were in big trouble. I wrote a couple posts about it (here and here) but long story short, I had a plugged duct, then asymptomatic mastitis, an abscess and an incision and drainage surgery. I toyed with the idea of weaning (and my surgeon recommended it eventually) but something in the core of my being would not quit. My milky wound leaked breastmilk 24/7 for weeks. Instead of a bandage I used overnight pads and had to change them every few hours, including waking up in the middle of the night. I weaned down to two sessions on that breast and the other side took up all the slack. Eventually the drain came out, the wound closed up and we got back to business on my left boob. 

Our Nursing Timeline

Musings on Motherhood | Breastfeeding and Weaning

And then… we just nursed! Because I am home with Felix most of the time, I’d just nurse on demand. I did keep pumping here and there (more frequently when I was teaching a course at IU and was gone for 4 hours two days a week) but discontinued that at 7 months. Honestly, it’s a pain in the ass. I’d rather just cuddle up and do a boobie nap than put Felix down and drag out the pump. Pumping mothers, I salute you! 

The rest of the timeline went like this:

  • Five Months: Introduced solid foods
  • 14 Months: Begin Night Weaning
  • 15 Months: Night Weaned
  • 16 Months, One Week: Completely Weaned

Support and Resources

I don’t think I would have continued to nurse as long if it weren’t for the supportive folks around me. I nursed in my home without a nursing cover in front of my family, and they never made me feel like I had to leave the room or at all uncomfortable. Thank you family! The Bloomington community is very accepting of breastfeeding and there was never a time in public I ever felt ashamed or embarrassed. I’ve always had a go to response ready if someone ever confronted me (”It is my legal right to breastfeed my child in public in the state of Indiana.” Then smile.) I also skipped any sort of nursing cover ups both at home and in public. I found the two tee layering method (a v-neck under another top) was modest and discreet! I’m sure people had no idea I was nursing at all some of the time! Thank you B-Town!

My local professionals, Anne Marie Neely, IBLCE and Mary Ann Martin, INLCE were a huge help - offering free advice to all women formerly through BABS and now through Milk Matters: A Drop in Gathering for Mothers and Babies. Thank you both for your invaluable encouragement and advice! 

Online, my best resource was the site, which I checked dozens of times. 


Musings on Motherhood | Breastfeeding and Weaning

Our first step was to increase Felix’s calories through solid foods and cow’s milk. This helped him stay full through the night and that was how we made our first long stretches between his meals. It definitely took a while and I still nursed him 24/7 until he was 15 months old. 

Felix didn’t really like milk at first and I can understand why! Breast milk is delicious, warm and custom made for your baby. We also didn’t do a lot of bottles between 6-12 months and that probably added to the problem. In the end we found that the Philips Avent Training Cup with a rubber sippy cup style top worked best for Felix. Trial and error on that one! 

As he became more accustomed to cows milk and was eating bigger solid meals, I’d drop a nursing session here and there. I kept on with his nap and bedtime feedings without fail but could get through the morning and late afternoon without nursing. It’s hard when the boobie solves everything. Nursing can be a lifesaver in a lot of situations. Whining in public: boobie. Falls and starts crying: boobie. Mommy exhausted and wants to watch a nap and Fixer Upper on demand: boobie

The other factor influencing my weaning schedule was an 8 day vacation in January. Honestly, if I didn’t have a solid stop time, I would have kept going. And truth time - I did nurse him one day after I got back from my trip… and even 8 days later my milk still came in! The human body is an amazing thing. Then I remembered how great I felt once weaned, so we did the sign for “all gone” and said that to him when he’d cry “BEEEEEEE”

Now we’ve gone over two weeks and I can confidently say we’re done. I was ready and I think Felix is ok with it. Old habits die hard and it would be way easier to do nap time with boobie, but we’re forging onwards.

Other Issues

My concern when weaning was getting a plugged duct, mastitis or becoming really engorged again but none of those things happened. Going gradually was a good idea for us. What did knock me off my chair was the hormonal disruption. Just reducing our nursing schedule by one session a day seemed to have an effect on my mood. Now a few weeks later I’ve also been feeling a little sad, which I’m attributing to the reduction in oxytocin (love hormones!) from breastfeeding. 

So that’s my breastfeeding story! I’m so proud of nursing my son to 16 months despite the hardships. If you’re at all considering breastfeeding - I hope you do it and find local support to give yourself the best shot possible. And I want to repeat, because it’s very important for moms to know this, no matter how you feed your child, you’re doing a good job. Feeding methods do not define motherhood. 

I hope my own next time around is a little (a lot!) easier and I’m going to start with the same short term goals and see how things go. You never know! 

MoM | Cloth Diapering with GroVia

GroVia 2015 prints, Astro, cloth diapers

WhatIWore: Big news today! Felix and I are so excited to debut one of the four new 2015 cloth diaper prints from GroVia before they launch to the public on Thursday!! We’ve been cloth diapering our babe for the past three months and in the process I’ve become obsessed (and I don’t use that word lightly!) with tracking down new prints and colors. I’ve even customized one of my favorite prints!

GroVia 2015 prints, Astro, cloth diapers

GroVia 2015 prints, Astro, cloth diapers

GroVia 2015 prints, Astro, cloth diapers

A couple of months ago, the GroVia team got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in selecting one of the new prints and styling it on Felix. Don’t ask me twice! I picked Astro, a blue based, dogs in space design! Isn’t it cute? And isn’t Felix cute wearing it!? I could just die editing these photos Adam and I took of our son. And I can’t wait until warmer weather so Felix can rock out his cloth diapers with just a tee shirt outside.

This print (along with the three other new designs) will be available this Thursday in Newborn All in Ones, One Size All in Ones (pictured here), Snap Shell and Hook and Loop Shell styles.

In fact, I’ll be giving away the GroVia Organic Cotton Live Package in all four prints, with winner’s choice of closure style (Snap or Hook/Loop) Thursday on my instagram! The Live Package contains 12 Shells, 24 Soaker Pads, and 4 Boosters.  Be sure to follow along there for the heads up! 

GroVia 2015 prints, Astro, cloth diapers

GroVia 2015 prints, Astro, cloth diapers

GroVia 2015 prints, Astro, cloth diapers

Thank you to GroVia for allowing us to debut this design! Full disclosure -  we received sample styles of this diaper to photograph, which we were able to keep! #makeclothmainstream

MoM | Flying with Your Baby

Flying with a Baby

WhatIWore: Last week Felix and I took our first flights together as we traveled to visit my sister in southern Alabama. I’m no expert, but things did go pretty smoothly, probably because I crowd sourced some tricks and tips from other parents before I left. My baby is six months old for reference. Here’s what we did and why it worked for us! Please feel free to jump on this facebook post and add any additional ideas!

Step One: Ship Large Items Ahead of Time

I made the choice to travel without a carseat or stroller through the airport and baby wear Felix instead. I’ve heard horror stories of car seats being damaged in the cargo hold of the plane and once one of those are broken, it’s dangerous for a child. Instead, I bought a $44 carseat online and had it shipped to my sister ahead of time for her to install prior to picking us up in the airport. It would cost $50 round trip to check it and didn’t want to haul it with me on tight connections between flights (I believe you can gate check it if you don’t have that issue). In the same order I also got a big box of daytime disposable diapers and wipes. This saved me suitcase space and I only paid for one checked bag.

Step Two: Go Hands Free

In the airport I wore Felix in a soft baby wrap and took a backpack, which let me have both hands free to get out my tickets, have a bite to eat or grab something from my jacket (I wore a style with big, easy to access patch pockets). My backpack was small enough to fit in the bins overhead (which I did after the first flight) so I took out one extra Ziplock with me on the plane with water, toys and anything else I thought I’d need for the following flights. This also left me with more leg room.  Although I had to take Felix out of the wrap for take off and landing in the plane, I kept him in the wrap through security and while in the airport terminals.

Step Three: Get Organized

The night before I left I got out a Sharpie and some gallon sized Ziplock bags and labeled them with contents. Something like:

  • Bag 1: Change of tee shirt for me, onesie for Felix (wish I had brought two for him!) 
  • Bag 2: Toys for the Plane (Sophie, teether, Pigeon)
  • Bag 3: Liquids and Medicine (my medication, baby Tylenol, hand cream, nasal spray, chapstick)
  • Bag 4: Package of wipes, 3 diapers*
  • Bag 5: Computer, Camera and Phone cords and chargers
  • Extra Bags for dirty stuff

This was a great way for me to be sure I wasn’t forgetting anything and to know what was in each bag (instead of just packing things in different compartments). I also realized what I didn’t need with me on the trip by using this method, thus lightening my load for subsequent flights. I felt like between the baby and the backpack I was carrying 40+ lbs around with me, but at least I got my workout in both days! 

*While we’re on the topic of diapers, I packed 10 high absorbency overnight disposable diapers total for our travels (as well as extras in our checked luggage). I changed Felix before getting on each flight and I thank my lucky stars we had no blowouts or poo action on the plane (but those farts… man those are henious). Ten diapers were about two per hour and I only went through 4-5 on each travel day (while at the airport or in flight). Everyone says take way more than you need and I agree! They’re lightweight so as long as you can cram ‘em into your bag, take ‘em! My little ziplock kit came in handy instead of my big backpack when I had one change to do on the plane (thought it was going to be a five wipe sitation, turned out to be those aforemented toots). I refilled my little change kit with diapers when I was at the changing station at the airport.

Step Four: Remember that Everything is a Toy**

Felix spent the flight playing with: my necklace, a half empty water bottle, my iPhone and the safety card in the backseat pocket. And that was it. I had other toys ready to go, but he just liked being in a new/different place and seeing new things. Other parents have told me to keep some new toys hidden from your little one until on the flight to fight the boredom factor.

**Unless it’s something like a plastic bag and marked this is not a toy. Duh.

I also tried to move him around as much as possible when he was awake. Facing me, facing forward, facing me but with his feet on the floor. Standing up in the aisle and swaying for a minute. When he found something he liked, mommy complied. Honestly, it was work and I was happy to be at my final destination but it wasn’t that bad. Thanks Felix for being such a trooper!

Step Five: Keep Calm and Carry On

People are nice to women with babies!  I was a little worried I’d have that baby that screamed the whole flight but out of my four seatmates, three of them were men who told me about their own kids as soon as I sat down. People would make eye contact with Felix and smile and make faces. Everyone was very friendly to us. Two guys even offered to trade me for an empty row (I said yes). People know you’re doing your best, even if your child is having a hard time. And keep in mind that everyone’s ears hurt from pressure on the plane, not just your little one. Landing seemed worse than take off for us. I opted to feed Felix any tme my ears started popping, so get that boob, bottle or sippy cup ready!! 

Finally: Be Flexible

I was really lucky to have good travel karma on this trip. My friend Nelson says that if you expect travel trouble, you’ll get it, but if you go with the flow, everything will work out. I think it’s true too! This time I planned my connection through a city I where I had friends just in case so I wasn’t worried about the possibility of being stranded if a flight was canceled. I used to be a captial B about going through security and get so pissed about having my bags triple checked. This time, in my mind I was like “whatever! I’m not hiding anything in my baby wrap!” (yes, they did try to look in there!) I connected from Gate B to Gate E and I wasn’t an anxious mess looking up my flight on the board. I just strolled over there and made it in enough time to get a snack. 

Having a good, laid back attitude was essential and I’m so glad that everything worked out. Minus one thing: my jeans split in the crotch sometime between a bathroom pit stop in Indy and one in Florida. Ha! I didn’t even realize it! I had on a long jacket, so it wasn’t a big deal and used an iron on patch to fix it up before I wore the jeans again. But if that’s the worst thing that can happen, I’ll take it!

Do you have any essential travel tips for other parents? Please share on facebook, and let us know how old your baby/kids were when you traveled! I know I’ll need more ideas by the time we fly and Felix is a toddler! 

Felix on a Plane

Six Months

felix six months

WhatIWore: It’s pretty mindblowing to believe I have a six month old baby already! These past months have flown by and been in slow motion at the same time. It was so much fun to look back at photos of Felix from each month and try to pick favorites. He’s changed so much! He looks more like a baby to me now than he did at 3 months, probably because his hair has thinned out and lightened up so much. He’s nearly doubled his birthweight and he’s more comfortable in 9 month sizes than he is six month onesies. No teeth or crawling yet, but lots of baby talk and giggles. We have our moments, but he really is such a good little guy. He’s such an old soul and our favorite time of day is looking into each other’s eyes when we wake up together in the morning. Felix Quirk, I love you so much! 

felix six months

felix six months

felix six months

felix six months

felix six months

felix six months

felix six months