you can read about my breastfeeding journey and my first breastfeeding update here. and of course, you should consult your doctor if you have any medically related questions about breastfeeding, as I am not a doctor and this is just my personal experience.
world breastfeeding week is august 1-7, so in celebration of that, let’s give a breastfeeding update!
as we approach one year of nursing, I’m having all the feels. mostly, “I can’t believe it!” when I first started nursing and it was tough, I remember thinking, “just stick it out for 6 months!” and then at 4 months, we finally hit our groove and nursing became, for the most part, easy. my confidence nursing in public grew, Luca’s latch was strong, and I ditched the nursing pillow.
now, as we approach 1 year, there are new difficulties: Luca’s easily distracted and breaks his latch when we’re in public (or even at home, if he hears a noise!), he wiggles and squirms more and sometimes wants to sit up and nurse, and he loves pulling on my hair, slapping my chest, or pinching my skin. about half the time, nursing’s a breeze, but the other times, he’s really fidgety and it can get frustrating at times.
most commonly, people ask me, “how long do you think you’ll nurse for?” and what I’ve realized over these past 10 months is that it doesn’t feel natural to put an end date on nursing for me. I’ll nurse until it doesn’t feel right for me and my baby. for now, it’s just too convenient and advantageous for Luca to give it up. it’s a no-brainer: why phase out nursing when it’s free, best for Luca, and always available? so, no plans yet!
and since my last breastfeeding update, Luca started eating solids. soon enough, he’ll be dropping a nursing session in favor for “real” food. I can already tell that my supply has lowered (aka adjusted to the baby’s needs.) I stopped pumping as much (I just loathe it and have so much respect for exclusive pumpers!), and I’m just producing enough for what the baby needs, combined with his solids. more on that in the q&a below.
I get a lot of questions about nursing and a few weeks ago, I opened up for a q&a and I’m finally getting around to it! you’ve always liked these breastfeeding updates, so I’m keeping up with them. here we go!
when you wean, what type of milk will you offer Luca?
I’ve talked to my pediatrician a bit about this, and I think that at first, I’ll go through my freezer stash of breastmilk and then introduce a non-dairy milk. we don’t drink dairy milk at home, so it doesn’t make sense to buy it for the baby. we’ll probably do a form of nut milk.
how will you know when it’s time to stop breastfeeding him?
I’ve heard stories from mamas where their baby one day just fusses at the breast and never goes back to it after that! I’m kind of waiting for his cues. once he refuses the breast, I’ll stop nursing him! OR I’ve heard stories where babies start biting and tugging at nipples – that won’t fly for me, so I’ll end it then, in that case! I’m just going to play the whole thing by ear and let us naturally phase it out.
how do you manage nursing with baby led weaning?
very popular question. SO. I nurse Luca AT LEAST 45 minutes to 1 hour before he gets a meal. since milk (formula or breastmilk) should be the #1 source of nutrition before one year, it’s important that he “fills up” on milk. thus, I don’t want to feed him solids, have him full and not take in a lot of milk. it’s definitely hard to coordinate, and I find myself giving him solids when he’s a little tired or too close to a milk feed, and he doesn’t eat well. AND it’s important to note that all these solid meals are for baby’s practice and to ensure he has no allergies. it’s not for him to fill up (most babies don’t even understand hunger until around 10 months!) so, when Luca barely eats a meal, I don’t sweat – because milk is more important anyway.
for the most part, his schedule goes like this:
6:30am: nursing/milk feed #1
8:30am: nap #1
10-10:30am: nursing/milk feed #2
1:00pm: nap #2
2-2:30pm: nursing/milk feed #3
6:30pm: nursing/milk feed #4 and light’s out!
so, he generally gets 4 milk feeds in a day and 3 solid meals (no snacks.)
how do you manage breastfeeding in public?
now, it’s getting trickier because Luca is very distractible – and he’ll end up breaking the latch and my nipple’s just out there. basically, how I’ve “managed” this is…. who cares? I realize I’m extremely blessed to be able to nurse my baby (let alone this long!) and I’ve learned, over the past 10 months, to embrace it. I’m proud to be a nursing mother and if someone else is uncomfortable when my boob or nipple is out, that’s their problem, not mine.
but there are a few tricks I use when nursing in public. I like to put Luca in a position or a corner where he’s not near a lot of stimuli. don’t use a cover, that just distracts him even more. I’ve learned how to prop up my legs to support his back more. most importantly, I usually wear something high-waisted so that I can just pull my shirt up and nurse that way. I find that, with larger boobs, nursing the other way (unbuttoning or pulling a shirt down) exposes my breasts more and makes me feel more naked in public. I like that when I pull my shirt up, my belly is covered by some high waist jeans or leggings and the tops of my breasts are covered, so it’s more discrete and makes me feel more comfortable. I’ll also hold my breast (again, #bigboobproblems) so that it’s perfectly position to Luca’s mouth, especially for when he’s distracted.
and let me just end by saying it was not always this easy. I used to DREAD nursing in public. like, would build my schedule around nursing at home, because I wouldn’t ever do it in public. this was mainly because Luca’s spit up situation was horrific, and I was so embarrassed. so for those newly nursing mamas out there, it will get better.
favorite things to wear while nursing?
like I said before, I just love a great high waisted pair of bottoms and anything on top, so I can just pull my shirt up, have my tummy covered and most of my breasts covered. if I know I’ll be out during a feeding time, I make sure to dress that way.
otherwise, I’m obsessed with these Boob Designs tank tops, I wear them on every plane ride I take, they’re amazing.
are you still pumping to keep yours supply up? if so, when is Luca having the milk you pump?
I only pump when Luca only nurses on one breast, which happens every few days. I’ll pump for 5-10 minutes, just to relieve pressure and let my body know that I still need to produce milk, but not that much, because the baby doesn’t need it all. and whenever I’m out for the night or the day and can’t be home to nurse him, he gets the milk! that’s kind of rare, since I build my schedule around his nursing times, but it happens maybe once every 2 months.
has anyone come up and commented while you’re breastfeeding in public?
the only times it has happened, it has all been positive! recently, a woman who has been nursing for 17 months came up and just started chatting me up about nursing! another time, I was at the airport, and I Bahamian woman told me what I was doing was beautiful. so, I’ve had a very positive, encouraging experience. I’ve never been told to cover up!
have you ever had mastitis or clogged ducts?
no, luckily I have not!
have you had a hard time losing weight now that your milk has regulated?
the weight definitely isn’t peeling off as quickly as it was, when I was nursing 30-32oz! but, I’ve found that I’m less hungry than I was at that time, so for the most part, it balances out. I’ve started working out more and adding fiber into my diet to help maintain a healthy weight. I’d rather nurse my baby than be 5 pounds lighter, ya know?
how long do you nurse for?
this varies anywhere from 6-7 minutes to 15-20 minutes! on average, we nurse for 10 minutes. just depends on how much solid food he’s had that day! what’s great about nursing at this stage is that when he’s done, he just breaks the latch and sits up!
do you nurse before his naps?
nope! the only time I nurse him before sleep is at night time, just because it works out that way every single time (because he wakes up at 2/2:30 and goes to bed 4 hours later, when it’s time to drink again, since we nurse every 3-4 hours) – and I love that time with him, especially after having a nanny take care of him during the day.
how does he sleep at night and have you had to cry it out ever?
he’s an on-and-off great sleeper, haha! sometimes, he sleeps from 7pm to 6/6:30am through the night and it’s magical. lately, he’s been waking up at 5am and for the past couple of months, he’s frequently woken up around 11pm or 1am and won’t go back to bed, so we bring him into our bed and we snuggle him until he falls back asleep. teething is always a struggle, so honestly, every week and month is different.
and no, he’s never cried it out and we’ll never do that.
any tips for babies who are spitters?
I wrote about this in my my breastfeeding journey and my first breastfeeding update here. but the Cliff’s Notes is that it will get better. and just know that he’s going to spit up, so be prepared – I would put a bib on him before I nursed him, and also have a burp cloth on my shoulder, ready. at one point, we put a towel by the couch, by our bed, and on my rocking chair in the nursery, because that’s where I’d nurse at home and we’d want to be prepared for spit up.
Luca still spits up regularly, but NOTHING like it once was. at one point, I wanted to quit because I was just so fed up with the spitting, but I stuck with it, because the baby loves to nurse and I knew that my breastmilk was the best thing for him!
do you recommend having a lactation consultant?
yes, 100000%. best money I spent postpartum. I wrote more about that here.
what are your favorite nursing bras?
the Bravado Designs are my favorites – they’re supportive, comfortable and easy to nurse in (I wear them every day, all day.) I wear them in size Large. if I’m pumping, I wear the Dairy Fairy bra, which can also work as a daily nursing bra, but I find that it’s not as flattering underneath a shirt, so I only put it on to nurse or when I’m home for the day and don’t really care.
what pumps do you use and did they work for you?
so I’ve mostly cut out pumping (thank GOD!) I only pump when the baby doesn’t nurse AT ALL on one boob, just to relieve the pressure. it’s been about 3 days since I’ve pumped, just writing this post right now (a literal miracle.)
I highly recommend the Spectra S2 for at home and in the beginning months (it’s the best pump and gets the most milk out) and then Spectra 9 for travel and for those mamas that are just pumping out the “extras”, because it doesn’t pump as efficiently as the S2, but enough. I exclusively used the Spectra 9 after 7 months. I can tuck it into my pants and walk around pumping and get things done!
and FYI, I tried the Medela Freestyle and it broke within a month, so I returned it.
tips on upping your supply?
honestly, a balanced diet (full of fats, carbs, and protein), and some foods like oats and flaxseed (have you tried my lactation balls?), and drinking lots of water. AND feeding on demand!
any issues with one breast not producing as well as the other?
yes! I think this is very common. my left breast is much less producing than my right. to deal with this, I try to always start nursing sessions on my left (to build her up!), especially first thing in the morning. basically, I try to nurse more on that side, because I know my right breast will always be stronger.
what do you plan to do with frozen milk?
I started giving Luca milk baths with the milk, and I’ve baked a little bit with it for him. sometimes, if I have the time, I’ll defrost some milk and stir it into his oatmeal or pour it over a reheated food to give the food more moisture.
and of course, once we wean off the breast, I’ll give him the milk until it runs out.
what did you do to prepare for breastfeeding?
I took a breastfeeding class, but to be perfectly honest, none of that information helped. what helped was having a lactation consultant come when my milk came in. I gave birth on a Monday and my milk came in on a Thursday and that’s when I had the lactation consultant come. I would have never been able to make it this far if it wasn’t for her. I still text her!
how do you balance drinking (alcohol) with nursing?
my lactation consultant told me that if you can’t drive a car, don’t nurse. basically, if you feel heavily tipsy or drunk, don’t nurse. if you are even remotely hesitant based on your buzz level, don’t nurse. I never nurse when I’m feeling buzzed or of course, drunk. since it takes a while to hit your blood stream (and thus, milk supply), I’ll have a glass of wine while I’m nursing or right before, so that by the time I’m done nursing, the alcohol hasn’t hit me yet. then, right when I’m done nursing, I’ll have another drink and usually that’ll be it.
at night time, since Luca sleeps through the night without milk, I’ll go beyond my 2-drink rule, because I won’t need to nurse him until over 10 hours later and by that time, the alcohol will have left my body.
if I’m in a situation where I’m out for the day (like my sister’s bachelorette) and I’m drinking more heavily, I’ll pump when he would normally nurse (every 3-4 hours) and dump the milk, because I know it’s not safe to give the baby. if you’re ever unsure, I have a friend who swears by these test strips. I’ve just never been in a situation when I’m drunk around the baby, because how would I even safely take care of him, let alone nurse him? ya know?
I hope you enjoyed this q&a! if you have any follow-up questions, feel free to leave them here in the comments!