July 28, 2011

Breastfeeding Thoughts & Weaning Struggles

I don't talk about it a lot on here, but yes, I've always breastfed Manny. I say that because I've gotten some emails asking if I do breastfeed, and why I don't talk more about it. There are lots of reasons I don't, one of which is because believe it or not, I'm a somewhat private person in that regard.

However, the main thing I've learned about breastfeeding is that it's actually a very taboo subject. Before I had Manny, I had no clue actually how sensitive a subject it could be. I attribute that largely to the fact that many women who can & do breastfeed, act superior to those who can't or choose not to. Now hear me out - not all women do...I personally hope that I don't come across that way, because I certainly don't believe it makes me any better. But I've read many blogs, tweets, or had conversations in person that blew me away regarding the attacks on people who don't breastfeed. I don't understand it at all.

Breastfeeding didn't come easy to us. I don't know if it was because I had a c-section or what, but my milk didn't come in for at least 48 hours. And that was after drinking a ridiculous amount of Mother's Milk Tea - which I highly recommend if you need help with milk production. Even then, Manny had a hard time latching, so we had to use a ni.pple shield to begin with. Patrick had to help me at every feeding. Manny wouldn't wake up, didn't want to eat, etc. It was definitely a team effort and something I certainly would've given up had I not had the support of Patrick, my mom, and sisters. After about a week, we started to get in a groove and within 2 weeks, we had things down pretty good.

I think the thing that surprised me most about breastfeeding is nobody had really told me how hard it was. It is painful at first...not only the baby actually eating, but your uterus contracts the first week or so. Wow. Had no clue about that one.

The reason I decided to go ahead and share all of this is because I wanted to encourage those of you who might be first-time moms soon that if breastfeeding doesn't come easy, that doesn't mean you can't do it. Will it take work? Absolutely. But still yet? It might not work for you, and you need to know that's okay, and not to beat yourself up about it.

I have friends who tried everything, and breastfeeding just wasn't in the cards for them. The fact that people would ever make them feel inferior makes me so sad, and actually downright mad. I see the guilt some of these moms live with, and to me? It's for no reason at all. It is fine to be a breastfeeding advocate, but I challenge you to be thoughtful in how you approach others in regards to breastfeeding. At the end of the day, I believe most moms are doing what is in the best interest of the their child's health and well-being, and that's all that matters.

With all that said, the time has come to wean Manny. Yes, I'm aware he's 14 months and some people are totally disgusted by the fact that he still nurses. But then others? Don't understand why I'm quitting so soon. :) It's such a matter of personal opinion.

Case in point: I called a health food store to see if they sold a tea called No More Milk, and the lady was practically horrified that I would want to stop nursing and gave me a mini-lecture, even though I told her my son is 14 months old. Now why did she feel the need to say those things to me? I don't know, but I do know that I allowed it to cause me to question myself. Really? After 14 months of nursing I would still question if what I did was good enough all because of her judgmental comments? Pure ridiculousness.

But yeah, the weaning process is no fun when your kid doesn't take a paci or have any kind of lovey. It was time though, and we know our little guy will be just fine, even if he is just a tad irritable this week now that his world's been turned upside down. :)

I know this post is long, but this is something I am passionate about. And by that, I don't mean I'm passionate that everyone must breastfeed, but that I'm passionate about the fact that mom's should have the freedom to make choices without being guilted from other moms. We need to build each other up, not tear each other down. And that, my friends, is my 2 cents...and a little more. You're welcome. :)

42 comments:

  1. Milk typically doesn't come in for a day or so after the baby is born...the first few days is usually just colostrum, which is all a new baby needs with such a tiny tummy.

    Good for you for breastfeeding for so long... My 3 year old and I recently weaned. No, she wasn't nursing all day long, and I wasn't stopping by her preschool to nurse her, no I wasn't going to meet her in the cafeteria in kindergarten and whip out my boob...sheesh. It's ridiculous what a pain in the ass having to defend your nursing relationship with your child can be.

    I feel I am pretty knowledgeable about breastfeeding, and since he is older and eating quite a bit of food, I am assuming, you shouldn't need any supplement for discontinuing to nurse. Your body will stop producing milk once the demand ceases. Even if you talk something in an attempt to "dry you up", if he is still sucking, you'll still be producing. Try to taper off by eliminating one nursing at a time, delaying it or distracting him for as long as possible after he asks. My girls didn't take pacis, either, and it was only at night that we continued to nurse as they got older, which was probably only because we coslept.

    Good luck!

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  2. I know what you mean and sometimes we are our worst critic! I still feel bad about not sticking it out with Noah! I guess I just feel like if I would have stuck it out a bit longer it would have been fine! So sorry that the woman at the store felt like she could lecture you on how to be a momma! Some ppl never cease to amaze me!!! Good luck on weaning Manny. I know he will do great!! We are contemplating taking Noah's night time bottle away and it scares me to even think about it :( Hope the moving process is going smoothly! Love!!!

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  3. I honestly feel like this post was annointed by God for me. Landon is four weeks today and I'm still struggling with breastfeeding. Actually, my nipple trauma wasn't healing properly so a week ago my lactation consultant recommended I go completely pump dependent. :( God and I have had a lot of conversations about the guilt of considering quitting. No one talks about how hard breastfeeding is, or the grief of weaning (whenever that may be). Thank you for being transparent on this subject!!

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  4. Good for you! Great post! :)
    I only b/f for about 4 weeks and then just didn't feel it was for me. It was so hard and things just weren't work, and I KNOW what you mean about the other mommy guilt. My word, moms can be harsh! Thanks or bringing some light to the subject of "do what is right for YOU" :)

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  5. I love that you wrote this. As someone who tried everything...and I do mean everything to increase my milk supply with both babies, it just wasn't in the cards for me. I threw up the flag at 3 months with both babies and switched to full-time formula. I was made to feel like a failure because I couldn't breast feed my babies. I hate that women would do this to other women. I'm all for breastfeeding if you can, but it certainly isn't the end of the world if you can't. My girls are pretty good examples of that! :) It's nice to hear from a mama who realizes this! Thank you.

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  6. This is a really great post! I'm a nurse on the labor and delivery/nursery floor and it's a normal thing for your milk to not come in for a couple days. The first days your breast are providing the baby colostrum which can and does satisfy most infants. So, that was totally normal. And for him to be sleepy and not be interested in nursing... That is VERY normal with newborns. They are recovering like momma for the delivery and go through a very sleepy state. Often they could care less about latching on to breastfeed. Anyway, I like what you said about not giving up because it doesn't just come naturally at first to some. Sometimes it takes practice both for momma and baby to get into a routine. So, really everything you went through is normal. Thanks for sharing your heart on this. I'm sure there are a lot of mommys who need to be encouraged with this because, yes, I see that too where moms are given a hard time because they either can't or choose not to Breast feed.

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  7. Thank you for posting this! I could not breast feed my child because of medical problems and the medication I had to take which made me feel miserable. I felt like a complete failure as a mother and those "breast feeding nazis" (as I call them) made me feel thousands of times worse.

    I think Manny is so blessed to have such an amazing and kind mother! I hope he transitions well!

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  8. We had a lot of breastfeeding struggles as well. My milk came in late and when it did we had to nurse, supplement, pump around the clock. It took A LOT of work but it did get better. The problem is that I never produced any extra milk, just enough, so I could never pump to get her to take a bottle. So we are now at almost 11 months and my goal is to finish out at 1 year. Although this post is funny timing because just today I've been going crazy and just feel like I need to be done soon. She doesn't take a pacifier and at times I feel like I'm it! Any tips for what you've done to help Manny adjust? It seems so overwhelming to me!

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  9. I have been reading your blog for so long now and I try and comment here and there so as to not come across as some serious creeper.. but i just love this post. I wrote a post a few months ago about formula feeding why "we" "formula mommies" always feel the needs to defend our decisions. i love when you said this...

    "It is fine to be a breastfeeding advocate, but I challenge you to be thoughtful in how you approach others in regards to breastfeeding."

    It's so true.. I am in full support of mommies who choose to breastfeed- but some of the intense advocacy that i've seen on twitter is just downright uncomfortable and even offensive at times.

    such a great post.. thanks for putting this all out there! :)

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  10. What a wonderful post! And you are coming across as the total opposite you were worried of - there is nothing judgemental or negative about how you talk about breastfeeding.

    With my first, breastfeeding didn't work out - she was able to latch and everything wonderfully, but my milk never came in....and I was ok with that. She is a happy, healthy & thriving almost 4 year old now.

    With my 2nd, I said I would give it a try but given the outcome of the first, I wasn't holding my breath. He ended up having problems latching and as it turned out, my milk came in on day 7! So we would have been supplementing anyway by that point. I can't tell you how many people would make disapproving comments to me or tell me how much better breastfeeding was for the baby...like you said - its not for everyone for whatever reason.

    Thanks for doing this post...sometimes people don't realize that the things they say can be so hurtful...we mom's need to stick together - raising kids is a tough job!

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  11. I stopped nursing at 13 months. Right at his birthday we offered cow's milk. Then, from the time we offered that I replaced one feeding with a cup (or bottle sometimes) of cow's milk. The hardest was the early morning feeding - mostly for me. It was just so easy to keep it up! James turned one October 20th and I nursed for the last time on Thanksgiving. Thankfully, it was a pretty easy transition! (Because I weaned us both slowly I had no milk/engorgement problems!)

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  12. This is a great post. I love that you are happy with your choice but don't "beat" others up over not choosing what you chose. I tried breastfeeding Maycee and like you had to use a nipple shield. I had a bad experience with a lactation consultant in the hospital and it just never seemed to be the bonding moment that I wanted after that. I breast fed for 6 weeks and gave it up after that. I wrestled with my decision for a while and felt like maybe I was a "bad mom" or being selfish for making the decision to switch to bottles. But in the end it is what worked for us and she is happy and healthy and that is all that matters. Now if I could just get her weaned off the bottle....

    =) Thanks for sharing in a very kind way!

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  13. Thank you for sharing this. I agree, I am learing in my research that this is a very taboo subject and I have seen women be downright mean to other women who do not breastfeed. It surprised me! It helps to read about others peoples experiences! Thanks again!

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  14. well said, my friend! well said! xo

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  15. Thanks for this post. I've too noticed that people are SO opionated about breastfeeding and I really take the stance, "To each their own on the subject."

    I really wanted to breastfeed my baby girl. I had her about all the benefits, I wanted the bonding, and not to mention I wanted to save on formula costs. Well, that baby girl of mine would not nurse. She just wouldn't latch. Ever. I went to lactation specialist after lactation specialist, and it was beyond stressful. My milk production was great though, so every bottle, I pumped my breastmilk, put it in a bottle and then fed her. Talk about a pain! But I was happy she was getting my breastmilk, so I continued with it.

    Good luck with weaning. I'm sure it's not easy! :)

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  16. LOVE thist post. It's amazing to me how much other people care about how other people's children are being fed when they are babies. I'm like you, I am pretty private so I rarely ever talk about my breastfeeding experience unless I'm asked (and even then I sometimes have very little to say)Can't we all just be happy the baby is getting fed?!!

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  17. None of my friends seemed to struggle with nursing - but my milk took 48 hours to come in, too, after a lot of tea and pumping, which HELLO! OUCH!!!

    Even then we ended up at the hospital's breastfeeding clinic and had to take all sorts of shields and syringes home with us. It was 2 weeks before I could nurse her without the help of my mom or husband.

    And after the struggles and the fight and the tears? She still ended up on formula at 6 months because of food allergies. I was horrified by some of the nasty looks and comments I got from people who had no idea what we had been through. And it wasn't any of their business! I say, if you're keeping your baby alive and they are growing? What you do or don't do with the "ladies" is your business and yours alone.

    YAY for you! Love this post :)

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  18. I was blessed that EMerson weened herself at 10 1/2 months. Even though I wanted to go the full year it was easier knowing it was her choice:) I hope A goes to a year or longer but I will let her decide or me if it goes on too long:) Love you girl, great post!

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  19. Perfect post! I agree that it was SO hard in the beginning...it sounds like Maddie and Manny had the same issues with nursing in the beginning weeks! My Hubby Patrick was also my biggest help and support ;-)

    We are going on 7mos! In a perfect world (haha) I would love for Maddie to ween herself when she is ready BUT we will work with whatever we need to! I am hoping to make it to the one year mark. I am so proud of you for sticking with it and for having the courage to write such a beautifully honest post.

    I will lift you all in prayer during this transition for sure!

    XOXO

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  20. Good for you girl! Carter is about to turn 17mo and I have mixed emotions about weaning. Part of me is ready but the other part can't imagine not BFing him. Whenever someone asks, I always say I'll nurse him till kindergarten ;)

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  21. Thank you for this! I'm one of those moms who STILL BEATS MYSELF UP b/c after the whole trama of TTC, and en the whole delivery issue I went through breastfeeding worked for only the first 7weeks and then my milk made Shelby sick and I had to stop. I still am mortified by the comments I received how I was making the worst decision and bein a bad mother and on and on...I JUST THREW AWAY (well Josh did b/c I couldn't do it) the 4 miniscule bags of breast milk I pumped that didn't even have 4oz in them. It was a hard hard time and I WILL TRY SOOOO MUCH HARDER when we have another baby. It just wasn't God's plan for Shelby as a baby. I made good milk but when she got colic it was like my body shut the valve off. What I did produce made shelby's baby tummy just churn and she would cry and cry. :( formula made her happy and content. It was and still is hard to talk about b/c even tho she's 2 now I feel like a failure b/c #1 my birth plan did the complete opposite of what I had planned ending in a csec and #2 not being able to breastfeed.

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  22. LOVE! Wish all bf'ing moms felt the same way. You are right...build up, don't tear down!

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  23. Well said Sarah. I felt guilty for breastfeeding my son because no one else got to feed him! He wouldn't take a bottle so it was all me. Then, when I had my daughter I felt guilty for NOT breastfeeding her longer. Parenting is really just a big guilt fest!

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  24. Girl, this is your blog, and this is yours/Patrick's life and your baby together. If you want or don't want to breast feed, that is your opinion/decision. I don't have children, but ALL of my friends do and they have expressed the same concerns to me that you expressed....and I told them all the same thing, don't listen to other people....no one can tell YOU what to do. It isn't anyone else's baby but yours/your spouse.
    You go girl with your two cents! :-)

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  25. Great post and just in time for me. I'm a mother of 2 boys. The first wouldn't bf. I'm sure if I tried a little harder, we might have been able to make it work. But he wasn't latching and I was just over the entire "pregnancy, self sacrifice, cramping pain, not feeling like myself" thing. I def felt the bad looks and whispers when around other woman who were able to bf.

    With my 2nd, bf'ing just came naturally. Plus, I was more determined to make it work. Now he is 11 months and I'm 15 weeks pregs with #3. So I feel pressured to begin weaning him off. It's a bit of a struggle and sometimes I do feel guilty about weaning him before he may be ready.

    I'm glad I read your post. It's nice to know there are other moms dealing with the same thing.

    Also, I really appreciate your approach to the entire subject. Bf'ing or not, I think all us mothers love our babies just the same.

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  26. Great post! I only discovered your blog say 2 weeks ago, and I'm enjoying reading it and learning a lot. Your link is on my blog now. :-)

    I'm a new Mom (working Mama) too, my DD Hannah is 14months old. You are very true about how hardwork it was for us mommas who are breastfeeding. I underwent so many issues too in the beginning, lots of pain & tears in between, but I'm proud to say that I have succeeded ( of course, with the help of other family & friends' advices, and support group )
    Until now, I'm nursing her at night and already in the works of weaning her. She also would not take a paci. One trick I have been doin is feeding her lots of table food during dinner time, this way she's almost so full in the night and won't nurse a long time. Her whole milk is also ready next to me before I even offer out my boob. Try it with Manny. Goodluck with weaning. And more power to you!

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  27. AMEN that moms should be nice to each other and supportive! I have come to the conclusion that as moms, we are all just trying to do our very best for our children- whatever that looks like or whatever works for our family! But kuddos to you for going so long! I'm tentatively planning/hoping to do something similar. I'll pray for you and Manny that things continue to go well and easy with weaning!

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  28. Love this post :) I hope you can share some tips for this first time mom on weaning! :)

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  29. My experiences have been very similar to your first comment by Maureen. With my first baby I was all about being a mama and let my baby camp at my boob.I too coslept. :) It was great. I'm sure it took a week or two to get good, etc. Then my second baby came and by then I had had thyroid illness (since right after my first child was born) for a couple years, and I constantly worried about my supply, although I let him camp at the boob too as much as possible. I didn't try the mothers milk tea, although I should have, but found a nightly beer to help my supply. Something about the hops. For weaning my daughter, I found just telling her what was going to happen worked. :) She was 18 months, and only nursed at night, and I just told her you can cuddle close to mama, and if you get thirsty you can have a sip of water from your sippy cup. :) With my son, he was much older (28 months or so), but he has developmental delays, so it still seemed like he was more babyish. He only was nursing at night, and one day I just stopped.
    And he was fine.

    I think that you would be safe to just eliminate feedings too, and just stop. Replace something in the bedtime routine maybe, instead of nursing if you do that.

    This was a lovely post. I feel like I have been judged for breatfeeding past a year at times. I always think that breastfeeding should be tried, but I understand if it doesn't work. I do sometimes get crabby with the moms who act like it is disgusting and won't try it, and I feel like some retreat too easily. They have these expectations about how their baby should be, and how they should be, instead of just enjoying the moment with their new precious gift. But judging... no. If they don't do it like me that is fine too.

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  30. What a great post Sarah, I keep meaning to ask you about your experience. I am lucky enough to work with WIC (woment, infants, children) and my goal is to encourage women to reach their goals whatever they may be...without judgement!!! My co-workers and I don't downplay the challenges of breastfeeding but also let them know that we are there to support them! I find that a lot of the women that breastfeed and are successful with it don't talk nearly enough about their experience. The only people that do talk are the ones that are trying to bully you into it!! Breastfeeding or not women need to support eachother in their choices:)
    Try peppermint to decrease supply:) Ali weaned Ray at 2:) Let me know if you have any questions about weaning!!

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  31. I *so* wish I made it to 14 months! But Eme quit on me at 11 months. I see that as both a good & bad thing, ya know? Like, I wanted her to continue, but when she was ready, it was EASY b/c I didnt have to wean. Eme never took a paci or have anything (a blankey or anything) she's particularly fond of! But she was done, and I always followed her cues.

    I've written about bf'ing a few times, not THAT much, but often enough. Because like you, I had struggles, but we overcame then and had a good nursing relationship which makes me happy. I, in no way, feel that superior thing, nor see it as a reason for moms to bash one another. So i'm totally with you.

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  32. Just wanted to let you know that I am giving you 2 blog awards. Check them out here: http://mytaylormadehome.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/feeling-the-love/

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  33. I am really glad you wrote this post. I nursed my son for 10 months and then struggled with beating myself over not making it to a year.

    This is my theory about mom's judging other moms: Motherhood is a crazy-making, insecurity inducing, stressful, yet extremely important task. We are all doing the best that we can. But since none of us is the perfect mother, sometimes we use judgment of others as a way to attempt to strengthen our beliefs in the choices that we make for our own children.

    It's like "If I criticize her for making a different choice, it is a further illustration of how I am making the _right_ choice for my child."

    But the reality is we do what we do, our kids turn out how our kids turn out and it is really difficult to pinpoint how strongly the two are correlated.

    The world could definitely benefit from more compassion for our fellow mommies (:

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  34. Thanks for posting this, and kudos to you for making it to 14 months with Manny!
    I am terrified of weaning Hadley - she won't take a bottle, so it's all me when it's time for her to eat. I hope you'll share how the weaning process goes for all of you! Praying it's a smooth one for everyone!

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  35. I totally agree with you.

    As a mom who has both bottle fed and breast fed I firmly agree that one is not more "right" than the other. I did not have any different type of bond with my children, nor do I feel that any had fewer childhood illnesses than others. I believe that you as a Mom needs to do what is right for you and your baby - not what anyone else says.

    I would have loved to have nursed my oldest, but we struggled and she was hospitalized with jaundice and I had to stop nursing for 24 hours and once she had a bottle there was no turning back for her. With my boys, I learned right away to bring in the lactation consultants and that it was going to take work. I wish someone had told me that it wasn't just natural - that it would take some work.

    My youngest just turned one last week and I will start weaning him next month.

    Good luck!

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  36. I think this was VERY well said/written! I could not agree more! People pass judgment and it's not really fair! I think those who aren't able to do it wouldn't feel so bad about if others didn't give them a reason to! It's silly!

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  37. Hi Sarah. Such a great post, I agree with so much of what you wrote. I breastfed Jillian for ten months but for six of it I had to supplement with formula. The night I called my pediatrician for her to recommend a formula for Jillian I was an absolute wreck. I felt like the worst Mom in the world that I no longer could produce enough milk to keep up with Jillian's growing demands. I wish I could go back and tell that scared new Mom that formula is not the devil!

    Thanks for writing such a great post Sarah!! Have a blessed Sunday!

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  38. I love seeing adorable little boys in the midst of all the little blog baby girls with their lil bows and dresses. I'm a new follower!

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  39. I totally agree with how sensitive of a subject can be. I have been successful with breast feeding both of my kids for about 6 months. I personally chose to not pump when I went back to work, so they were on the formula at that point.

    My milk didn't come in with my first until she was 5 days old and my youngest was 2 days old. Good luck!

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  40. I appreciate this post.

    I am sensitive to the subject of breastfeeding, and it is something I feel incredibly guilty about. My milk didn't come in for four days, my nipples were incredibly cracked and bleeding, my daughter (born at 6lbs 4oz) lost a pound over the first week, we had to supplement, and when we got home from the hospital it was just me.

    My mom couldn't be there, my husband didn't get time off, I was just alone with the babe. And I gave up, after only 8 days. Granted Ry started refusing to nurse as soon as she was given a bottle (my milk production was horrible, I was never that engourged EVER)

    I still feel guilty about it. And there really are some women who make me feel absolutely TERRIBLE about it. But when it comes down to it? My daughter is still happy and healthy and incredibly smart. So I try to keep my head up, and think the world of people who breastfeed and don't give me the cold shoulder because I didn't.

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  41. I do most of my reading on my phone, so I don't comment nearly as much as I'd like. However, I really wanted to make sure I came back and let you know that I thought this was written so beautifully. I've read/heard so many critical things about (not) breastfeeding, and I'm sure you touched many hearts with this post.

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  42. Sarah ,good for you to breastfeed as long as you did. I love reading stories of mom's who have stuck it out and went with there gutt feeling. We get some many comments mainly ones not too. I have 3 beautiful kids and have breastfeed them all. I never imagined that I would breastfeed them as long as i have. I say that because when I had my first she had a hard time latching on. It all worked out espically after we came home from the hosptial. I guess it was the determination to do it that kept me going. I love it I espically love the bonding time . I do know some can't. I am presently still nuring my daughter just in the morning and at naptime and at night before going to bed and she will be 3 in Januray. She just won't give it up and I figure that I might as well espically if this could be my last baby. Even when my babies where little I just had to take comments with a grain of salt . It hurt but I know that its not maybe the norm of today's society .

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