Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm a Survivor, My Baby is Exclusively Breastfed at 12-weeks

My baby Ava is 12 weeks old today. She's growing leaps and bounds and starting to vocalize! We love to hear her gurgle and coo when we're talking to her or she's upset, whenever she wants to communicate. So why do I say, I'm a survivor? That's the way I feel about the struggle we had to establish breastfeeding early on. At 12-weeks (3-months), babies that are exclusively breastfed in the United States are the minority - only 33%, according to the CDC. Sad, but true. In fact, in Indiana, where we live, the rate is less than 29% at 3-months. And babies that are exclusively breastfed at 6-months drops drastically to less than 14% nationally, and about 10% in Indiana. That's why I feel like a survivor!

Honestly, I'm more empowered now that Ava is getting 100% of her nutrition to grow and thrive from me, her mom. I carried her for 40 weeks so I've been providing her sole nutrition for 52 weeks and many more to come! Becoming a mother to me meant breastfeeding my baby at all costs, no matter the obstacle. And it takes two! You and your baby have to work out the breastfeeding relationship. I worked really hard (Check out my post on my story). Instead of quitting, I utilized my resources: my husband to help us both relax, my mother-in-law who got up with me at 4am to sit next to me, the Le Leche League moms who provide endless empowerment and advocacy, and my local hospital breastfeeding support group led by lactation consultants. Now, I have so much milk, I've submitted an application to donate to the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank.

With my supply, there is no danger that Ava's appetite will
outgrow my supply, even with returning to work.To keep on track, I pump 3 times at day at work and when I work from home, I pump while Ava is at her daycare for a half day. My goal is to stay in sync with what she takes in so it's like we're together.

My lactation consultant told me in the hospital when I was holding my new baby, that she believes that breastfeeding is parenting style.
I agree and actually feel it's a lifestyle, too!
  • Healthy Lifestyle: I already had a healthy lifestyle, but I think more about what I'm eating and drinking: Only 1 glass of wine or beer, lower caffeine, organic fruits and veggies, and enough calories to keep me healthy.
  • Baby Separation: Nursing impacts how long I can leave my baby without taking my breastpump and when I do pump, I have to carry my cooler bag and supplies. My work is very supportive for breastfeeding moms, providing a private room with a refrigerator and comfy chairs! Unfortunately, I'm one of two moms using the room. It's great for us because it's available when we need it, but sad that more moms aren't taking advantage. I have my "meeting" booked in my calendar so I make sure to pump whether I'm onsite or offsite. Plus, breastfed babies are sick less, statistically, so smart employers see that supporting breastfeeding moms means a more productive employee since they will likely take fewer sick days because of a sick child.
  • What I wear: Being a nursing mom, I have nursing bras and shirts that allow me to breastfeed Ava easily and even without a cover because I've learned to be discrete. Nursing clothing is liberating because gives moms the freedom to breastfeed easily, comfortably, without exposing her top half!
  • Nursing in Public: The food is always fresh, heated perfectly, and accessible for my baby wherever we go. Babies are born to breastfeed so that's how she eats when we're out about about whether it's the museum, Whole Foods, a friend's house. I've fed her in the backseat of the car many times already! I avoid the bottle in public because it doesn't make sense when I have full breasts anyway to pump and feed her from a bottle. She eats from a bottle at daycare of when I'm gone running errands when her dad is with her.
  • Feeding On-Demand: Don't you eat when you're hungry? Sometimes, Ava wants to eat after 40 minutes, sometimes it's 3-hours. Whenever she's hungry, I offer her to nurse. I've never understood feeding schedules. I think that's from the formula manufacturers! In reality babies are hungry in different amounts at different times.
  • Staying In-Tuned Together: I know when Ava wants to nurse before anyone can. It could be a turn of her head, her fist in her mouth, the look on her face, but I know because I'm her mom. I learned too late to catch my baby before she cried to feed her. When she's really hungry, she gets really mad and cries. I'd have to calm her down before I nurse her. It's not easy to nurse a screaming, hungry baby. So I've learned to catch her earlier before she's upset and it's made us more in-tuned with each other.
  • Perfect Nutrition and Comfort: The best thing about nursing Ava is that she's getting the BEST, custom-made nutrition. She gets antibodies, nutrition, and comfort to quench her thirst, hunger, and mind. On days when Ava is at daycare all day, all she wants to do is nurse at night. It makes me realize that she misses me as much as I miss her! And I make myself available to her.
  • Father's roles should not be underestimated: I've read that many dads feel like they're not involved because they're not doing the feeding. That's not true in our house because even though Ava nurses a lot, but she still gets lots of "Daddy time." He calms her when she's upset, which is an important bonding opportunity. She loves to cuddle with her daddy and coo with him. As soon as Aaron is home from work or wakes up in the morning, he wants to hold his sweet baby. They're so connected, too.
Hope...I've talked to lots of moms that struggled with their supply and had to stop or struggled with the babies latch, which forced them to stop because it hurts too much. I didn't write this post to chastise moms that didn't make it or didn't have the opportunity because of their medical situation or maybe because they adopted. I wrote this post for HOPE! I hope for a time when babies are breastfed exclusively for the first year of life are the majority and not the minority. And for hope that moms that are struggling can take advantage of resources and support so they can successfully establish or continue their breastfeeding relationships with their babies, too.


  1. I LOVE this post! Wow--you have really hit the nail on the head on every point. You should feel proud, hopeful, and like a helluva mommy! Kudos!

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