12 Things I learned From Breastfeeding for 12 Months

 
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I honestly can't even believe that I made it to 12 months (technically 13 months) of breastfeeding. I struggled SO hard in the beginning that I was pretty confident I wouldn't make it to one month! I feel like breastfeeding is one of those motherhood experiences that is always portrayed as easy and natural. However, it's honestly HARD AF and I wasn't prepared for the challenges when Amira was born (I talk a lot about those early struggles in this post).

I decided to power through the difficulties of breastfeeding and keep going even when I wanted to give up. There were so many roadblocks along the way that made my journey challenging but also rewarding. So I'm sharing with you the 12 things that I've learned from breastfeeding for 12 months below!

P.S. This post is not intended to make anyone feel bad who has decided not to breastfeed or has chosen to stop breastfeeding. I wholeheartedly believe that fed is best!

1. Breastfeeding is VERY hard in the beginning. 
As I said earlier it's truly a challenge in the beginning but give yourself time and grace! I was so frustrated that I wasn't getting it right and I thought I was going to starve Amira. It honestly was so overwhelming. I had an amazing nurse that REALLY helped me push through and I'll forever be thankful for her!

2. Lean on your nurses and lactation consultants for help while you're in the hospital
The lactation consultants at my hospital were great but as I mentioned above it was really my night nurse that helped me SO MUCH. I remember her saying "We're not leaving this hospital until you're nursing without pain" and she REALLY worked with me. Through all of the tears and stress over breastfeeding I left that hospital with confidence and it was because of her. 

3. Nipple shields are actually a god send
I didn't even know that nipple shields existed until my lactation consultant offer them to me when  I was experiencing latching issues with Amira. Believe me when I tell you that IT HELPED SO MUCH! I eventually started to nurse without the shield after about a month, but they really saved me in the beginning. 

4. The hunger you experience from breastfeeding is NEXT LEVEL.
I seriously ran a TRAIN through my kitchen at all hours of the day because those hunger pains were crazy! I had to have snacks on my night stand at all times.

5. Leaks happen, just be prepared.
The leaking situation from breastfeeding is just not cute but it happens to the best of us! Always be prepared with nursing pads and a change of shirt. 

6. Setting short term goals for breastfeeding makes it less overwhelming.
In order for me to champion through breastfeeding I made short term goals. My first goal was just to survive a single month then get to 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and eventually 12 months. Each time I hit a milestone I would celebrate it! 

7. Pumping is a quite possibly the worst EVER.
I TRULY tip my hat off to the full-time working moms and exclusively pumping moms out there that are CHAINED to this damn machine. I only pumped once a day to have a little freezer stash and I could barely handle it. 

8. Don't overthink your supply and feel like you need to take every supplement under the sun!
There are so many supplements, teas, and cookies out there that it's so overwhelming to keep up with. I tried a nursing tea because I wanted to keep my supply up and it was so bad! After that, I refused to take any supplements and chose to trust my body. Thankfully it worked out for me! 

9. Nipple cream (especially this brand) saved me more times than I can count
There will be times where you think you're nips might FALL OFF. Those days are the WORST so make sure you're prepared with some heavy duty cream.

10. Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding is challenging (especially in the beginning) but once you nail down your baby's sleeping rhythm. SIP SIP!
I didn't drink alcohol consistently until Amira was about a month old because homegirl was glued to my boob. It wasn't until she started sleeping longer stretches that I started indulging. I also used these alcohol test strips which helped out a lot! 

11. You can continue to breastfeed through a breast biopsy. 
Very long story short (I haven't talked about this before),  I found a lump on my breast that I thought was just a clogged duct from breastfeeding. After visiting my doctor, she advised that I get an breast ultrasound and this all happened when Amira was just 11 weeks old. That ultrasound confirmed a tumor was present and I so elected to get a breast biopsy to ensure that it was benign. Turns out I had developed a Lactating Adenoma which is in fact a benign tumor that can happen in younger pregnant and lactating women. It was a VERY emotional and traumatizing experience for me but I chose to continue to breastfeed after the biopsy procedure. The first week was tough but I was able to continue with no issues!

12. It's a full blown time commitment, but it's worth it. 
Breastfeeding is such a commitment and it truly takes a lot of perseverance. I had so many moments where I was ready to throw in the towel but I'm glad I made it this far. We're finishing up the weaning process now at almost 13 months and it's so utterly bittersweet. However, I'm just so happy I was able to make it to my personal goal and finish line.