Breastfeeding Post

July 8, 2013

I get a bunch of emails and comments asking about how breastfeeding is going for me so I finally got around to writing a post about it:) 

I didn’t ever talk about breastfeeding on the blog when I lost my milk because I felt really bad about it (like really bad) but I now realize I did everything I could even though I didn’t ‘make it a year.’  

I was able to breastfeed Brooke for 4.5 months and then I lost my milk.  I honestly think it had nothing to do with running because I ran high mileage and was able to breastfeed for 3.5 months but I think a lot of it had to do with exclusively pumping.

Brooke didn’t really latch on that great and so she would never eat very much at a time in the beginning.  I was always worried that I wasn’t feeding her enough and she was waking up a lot throughout the night because she was hungry.  

So, I tried pumping a bottle and giving it to her.  She gulped it down no problem.  It just made sense to me to pump everything to feed her because she ate so much more this way and she absolutely loved the bottle (she still does… I have no idea how I will transition her over to a sippy cup).

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 (She used to play with her hair the whole time she drank)

Obviously pumping and then feeding her took a lot more time than just feeding her did but the time was so worth it to me to continue to pump so that she would still get my milk, eat enough and then sleep for a lot longer during the night.

Long story short because I feel kind of awkward writing about all of this was that my supply slowly went down (and when that happened I started running less just to be safe that it wasn’t my running affecting my supply.  I also made sure I was eating plenty of calories, drinking enough water and I took Fenugreek) until I finally lost it. 

I felt awful that I wasn’t giving Brooke the ‘best’ and the $$ of formula didn’t help either.  I am a perfectionist and before I had Brooke I focused it on myself/size/running but now that I have Brooke I turned that perfectionistic attitude toward being the best mom ever and I felt like I failed.

After talking to my mom, sister, SILs countless times about the situation I finally realized that I did everything I could and that is all that matters.  What really matters is how I play with her and read to her and cuddle her and spend time with her and help her explore and sing to her and all of the other things I do with her.  

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What I learned from this experience:  Focus on the things we ARE DOING not the things we aren’t.  We are enough.  

I think Brooke is turning out pretty awesome so we must be doing something right;) 

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Moms reading:  tell me your breastfeeding experience!  

Anyone have to pump often?  How did that work out for you?

How and WHEN do I get rid of the bottle and switch to sippy cups?

Erika July 16, 2013 at 10:29 am

Thanks for sharing your struggles with breastfeeding. My daughter is 4 1/2 months old and for the past 3 months I have exclusively pumped every single bottle for her and thankfully she eats so much better now than when I was feeding her at my breast. We never really got into the groove of things and she too latched and unlatched constantly and would cry because she was hungry and not getting enough milk. It was definitely not what I dreamed it would be when I was pregnant and assumed breastfeeding would be magical and come totally natural for both of us. I felt tons of guilt and disappointment over the whole situation and also a bit embarrassed whenever anyone would ask if what was in her bottle was actually my milk. I felt like I had to explain myself to people. So stupid. The only thing that really matters is that my daughter is a happy and very healthy baby and she knows I love her more than anything in the world, even if I can’t feed her directly from my breast. If anything, it should prove my love even more because pumping is not easy and soooooooooooooooo much more time consuming. But totally worth it

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Natalie July 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Hi janae,
I love all of your posts and have loved reading your blog over the last few months! I’m so glad a friend recommended your blog since she knew I would love it! This is a completely unrelated question but I love the skirt you are wearing in that picture with Brooke. Do you mind sharing where you bought it? Thanks!

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DD July 17, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Hi Janae!

First off, I have to say a friend showed me your blog last week, and I LOVE it! Keep up the good work!

As far as the breasfeeding thing goes, high five! You gave it your best and you got as far as you could. I actually had a similar struggle with my first son, only getting to 4.5 months as well, but it was mastitis that ultimately killed my milk supply. I felt the same way you did, that somehow it was some measure of how much of a mother I was, and I had failed early on. In world where we have so much access to information and hearing the voices of everyone giving us their opinion on how you should be a momma, it’s easy to let that steal your joy of the adventure of parenting. You are right, your sweet little girl will know how much you love her because…you LOVE her! You take care of her. Even at 11 months, she gets that. Enjoy all the fun moments.

As far as the sippy cups go…every kid is different. For both our boys, I went from the bottle straight to the sippy cups with straws. A friend told me to put something sweet (like juice or yogurt) on the straw, then they just end up using the straw easier. I used to mix juice and water for my little guys and they got the hang of it rather quickly.

Thanks for all your awesome running stories! I’ll be checking back often. :)

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Tara July 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Hi there!
I just discovered your blog. I’m a Bay Area runner, too. Well, I used to be – trying to get back into shape post-baby. I think you did a fantastic job breastfeeding as long as you did. It’s hard! I just returned to work and started pumping and my supply went wayyyy down. I am also running more. BUT, my kiddo gets a mix of breast/bottle and is healthy and isn’t that what we want? A healthy kid? Yep. I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone and that it sounds as if you are doing a great job. As to sippy cups… well, you could be very Euro and skip them altogether and go straight to regular cups. ? Good luck. Like your blog. :)

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Amy @ {Life to the Full} July 23, 2013 at 7:25 am

While I was pregnant, many women and other mothers told me I couldn’t run after baby was born because I would lose my milk supply. Because, well…I believed these women, I stockpiled frozen milk while on maternity leave by pumping 3x’s a day and nursing.

Almost 5 months later, I’m still bf’ing without a problem; now the issue is the lack of freezer space that we have due to my frozen milk! I send the frozen milk to daycare with my son and pump twice a day at work. It’s fine, but I want to use up the older milk.

I’m going to be staying at home with my son in 3 weeks and will quit pumping after that! Woop woop! The lesson I learned was a woman’s milk supply varies for so many reasons; it’s different for each person! Exercise does not stifle milk supply unless you are underweight or under intense stress… I wish I would have known that and not believed all of the “mom gossip” at work!

And I 100% agree with you… focus on the things you ARE doing! You are doing the best thing possible by just being there for Brooke!

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Caroline August 4, 2013 at 3:34 am

I started pumping and feeding my little one via the bottle when she was 2 months old because I was so worried she wasn’t getting enough to eat….she would nurse and dose off all the time. It gave me peace of mind knowing exactly how much she was eating BUT I missed the closeness from BF her. My lactation consultant told me to start BF her again , reassuring me that not only did I have enough milk, but that babies actually draw more milk from their mothers when they nurse and it helps keep production levels up. Her weight was right on schedule so that reassured me greatly. I pump now, only when I’m at work and I noticed my milk production goes down (my breasts feel less full) vs when I’m home BF the baby. I hate pumping…hate it. I have noticed a couple of things have helped keep my milk levels up: 1) Steel cut oats, 2)lots and lots of water, 3) nurse the baby whenever she wants; it provides the stimulation needed and 4) keep an adequate caloric diet. When I started to get a little too vigilant with exercise/careful eating my milk supply just plummeted. So now I’m a little more plump than I would prefer (10 pounds over my pre-baby days) but that’s ok as long as I can still nurse her:)

You are doing your best and that’s all the counts. Your little one looks happy and healthy- what more can you ask???

Here in The Netherlands they don’t recommend the sippy cup….they have babies go straight to the cup! It’s a big mess but my 8 months old loves trying to drink a little water when she’s a tad constipated. Best of luck!

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Megan August 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I am breastfeeding my third baby while running. I have a great supply ( feed him and pump 30 extra oz per day in preparation for work and trying to conceive again in 2014 due to husband’s health issues). That said, I eat like a horse so can produce that much milk. My son is 2 months and back to running up to 8 miles and first 10k race last week although much slower than usual.

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Anna August 7, 2013 at 11:09 am

Thank you for sharing this post Janae! I have a 9 month old, an a runner, and have been beating myself up for the past 4 months–about when I stopped breast feeding. Although I worried about the effect of running, I think it was going back to work and going 8-10 hours where I really couldn’t pump more than once. When my baby would breast feed he wasn’t getting as much as he used to, and he was ALWAYS hungry. Knowing that he was getting enough to eat with formula, and that I could leave without worrying he would go through the few oz of breastmilk I had managed to save, was such a relief. He is still happy, healthy, content. Now I just need to get over not doing what I “should” be.

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Katie August 18, 2013 at 10:21 pm

My little girl just had her first birthday about two weeks ago and I consider myself to be pretty lucky that I have been able to breast feed this entire time. I went back to running and doing crossfit pretty quickly after she was born so I was concerned that exercise would effect my supply. Thank goodness it didn’t. It was pretty difficult at first and it took Alyx and I a little time to figure it out. Once we did she has refused to take a bottle (thank goodness I am a stay at home mommy) but I pumped anyway everyday just incase she changed her mind. One of my good friends had her son six months after Alyx and her milk didn’t come in at all. They tried donor milk from the hospital but ended up using my stockpile for quite sometime for the little guy. She felt terrible that she couldn’t breastfeed and my heart goes out to any mommy that has this difficulty. It was heart breaking to watch her try and go through it. This isn’t my first and only friend to have little to no milk supply. I think it occurs much more than many mom’s are willing to talk about.
All mommies can do is try if this is what they want to do. Everyone’s body is different and every baby is different. As long as she is happy and healthy that is all that counts in my book. And little Brooke looks like she is doing awesome! Great job mommy.

As far as the sippy cup Alyx started playing with our camelbak water bottles when she was about 7 months old and loves strays. So we got lucky that she loves the ones with the straws. She takes it with her or takes our water bottles to drink out of. They seem to be less spill proof in my opinion.

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Heidi August 20, 2013 at 11:51 am

I know how you feel about feeling like you’ve failed your child. I never produced milk AT ALL. Not one ounce… It was heartbreaking and I was devastated. My daughter is 1.5 years now and I think I’m finally over the disappointment, but it took a while…

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Michelle @ Running More Than Errands September 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I think breastfeeding is such a touchy subject. So when a fellow mama opens up about it, I give nothing but the utmost support, regardless of what she says. You should be super proud of yourself for nursing Brooke for the time that you did! Breastfeeding is definitely not challenge-free. I understand what you mean when you said that you felt bad about stopping. I had production problems with my daughter (now 27 months) right from the beginning but I pushed through and did make it a year. She did, however, go through a few tubs of formula to top her off and I felt guilty about it. I felt like I failed when I first started her on it. Now with my son, currently 8 months, I’m in the same position so he, too, is a combo-feeder. I am in the weaning process with him though and I feel badly about it. I know it won’t matter in the long run. My kids are happy and healthy, and it seems by your posts/pictures of your beautiful Brooke that she is happy and healthy as well!

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Char @ The Dewey Tribe October 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm

It definitely takes courage to post openly about breastfeeding, especially if there have been troubles. I must give you 100% support in doing this! I too had very bad supply issues and bad latch issues and did everything I could to pump, until I lost my supply just before 4.5 months. Had to supplement with formula and it broke my heart to not be able to give him what I could from my milk. BUT, you said it exactly right. We as moms should focus on what we are doing rather than what we can’t. Brooke seems to be thriving amazingly and she is obviously gorgeous. Your running and workout regimen are great as well and props to you for keeping it up all throughout your pregnancy! (that’s my goal for my next baby). Formula, breast milk…as long as your child is fed, I’ve learned that’s all that matters.

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Katrina January 15, 2014 at 11:08 am

With my first baby I didn’t pump breast milk until she was 4 months old, and I did so only so that daddy could feed her. I kept hearing things like, “Give daddy a chance to bond with the baby. Let him feed her.” and I don’t know, I think that sort of played a mind trick with me and I thought I wasn’t being “fair” to the hubs. And so, I pumped. She loved getting milk from the bottle because it was less work for her. The bottle nipple made the flow much quicker. So then when I’d offer her the breast, she’d fuss. She began wanting the bottle over me. Being a new mom, I didn’t want her to fuss and I didn’t want her to be hungry…so, I starting giving her my milk by only pumping. Soon I could not keep up with her demand and I don’t know why that happened – maybe pumping isn’t the same stimulation as sucking? I thought it was. Anyway, I started supplementing with formula. I’d say she was about 6 months old when I stopped nursing her and she was only on formula and just starting solids. She was a healthy and happy baby, so I was not too concerned for her health. Anyway, with all my other babies I chose to let Dad bond with them in other ways, and I never pumped my milk but strictly nursed. For one thing, it was easier on me than having to tote around bottles, water, and formula anywhere we went. And second, hello it’s waaay cheaper. All my other babies nursed well into their second year, but for the record, they are not ANY HEALTHIER or any MORE BONDED to me than my first baby!!! So I really hate when mothers beat themselves up for not nursing their babies longer than 6 months. There are so many ways to be a great mom, and both breastfeeding past 6 months and bottle feeding past 6 months are just naming two of them! Just FEED your baby ~ a good mother does that :)

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Jane Johnston January 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

Thanks for sharing!

I felt the same way with my daughter! I of course wanted to make it to a full year as well, but had to stop at 6 months. I had to go back to work and continued to breastfeed when I was home with her, but pumped a majority of the time at work. I totally noticed that my supply started slowing down as I started pumping more and more. I tried Fenugreek as well and still noticed my supply dropping. I read some articles on why this happens and one that interested me talked about how the baby’s suction is so much stronger than a pump could ever be, so when they suck your body knows the right amount to produce. When you pump, your body realizes that it is not releases as much as it should and knows to reduce the supply.

But I think that the most wonderful thing is that you did it. For how ever long, you tried your best to give your daughter the best and that is all that matters.

You are a wonderful mommy!

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Kristen April 1, 2014 at 7:20 am

I was only able to breastfeed my daughter for 8 weeks and we both struggled through every single minute of it. I’m grateful for the health and happiness formula brought to us both! Personally, I think the amount of pressure that society puts on mothers to breastfeed is unfair and unnecessary when babies grow up to be JUST as healthy and JUST as happy either way. I challenge Dr. Sears to visit my child’s class and tell me who was breast-fed and who was formula-fed. Much love to you!

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Lo July 21, 2014 at 8:57 am

One day I am going to write a book that compiles all of the struggles that women in this country have with breastfeeding. One lactation consultant I work with said that in her experiences, she believes that women who live in countries where breastfeeding is more normalized have way fewer struggles, if any at all, because they grow up seeing other women and babies engage in the act of feeding, and learn, without even knowing they are learning, to troubleshoot.
My son is now 6 months old. He is now mostly exclusively taking breastmilk, either at my breast or from a bottle when I am at work. My story is so far a happy one. I was committed to breastfeeding–and stuck through 5 months of incredible pain. Finally, after 3 surgeries on my son’s tongue, and rediscovering a nipple shield, I am mostly feeding pain-free. I understand that breastfeeding is not the measure of a mother’s worth, but it was really important to me that I pushed through, and I did. I was supplementing with formula for awhile because once I went back to work, my supply dipped, and due to a series of unfortunate events I did not have milk saved up. I thought I had to resign myself to always supplementing with formula, but I continued to work with professionals, and continued to prioritize going to support group. I was given a tip to forget about using the electric pump, but instead to hand express for a few minutes each hour as often as possible. This has significantly increased my supply! In the last week I was able to supply enough milk for my son while I was at work, and I stored 19 ounces of milk in the freezer! It continues to get better. I’m committed to sharing my story with other new moms who ask, so they know that if it is really important to them, they can change the situation and make things better. I do understand though that not everyone’s circumstance is the same– and that not everyone needs to make the choices that I made to continue the struggle. Medical advances allow us to have healthy and happy babies without needing to breastfeed, and I am thankful for those advances too!

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Sarah September 12, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I know this post is pretty old, but I just started reading your blog so I had to check out some old entries! I happen to also be a new mom who just returned to work and is now pumping 80% of the time. I have had so many fears about not keeping my supply up and I just want to thank you for your wise words in this post. You rock! :)

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