I wanted to start this thread, because I have been searching for answers to my particular situation, to no avail. I have searched the LLL website up and down for help, and there doesn't seem to be one single article about working mothers and extended breastfeeding. I know I am not parting the waters here, and I know other mothers have walked down this road before me, so what gives? I would love to find something that might help me at this point in our nursing lives, and I see the articles from New Beginnings, but nothing of this kind. I thought maybe this would help others in that way, and hopefully a leader would stop by to help me out too!
As many of the mothers (and maybe even some leaders) here know, dd has never been much of a comfort nurser...maybe its her personality, maybe its because the nurse at the hospital told us a pacifier was better than a thumb and we succombed in our tired, post surgery state of mind. Either way, the only time she nurses for comfort is in the middle of the night, or when she is very sick. If fact, our nursing relationship has always been quite a struggle...she nurses for food...she drinks her bottle at the sitters for food. She never falls asleep doing either. So, we are a bit different than most nursing dyads in that respect. She was colicky, and has always been a high needs baby, but as Dr. Sears puts it, she also isn't a cuddler, so she was one of the more difficult high needs babies. She never melted in my arms, never wanted me to rock her to sleep, never wanted to sleep next to me.
I went back to work when she was 5 weeks old, part time, 20 hours a week. My husband kept her for a few hours and then our sitter kept her, at our house, for a few hours, 3 days a week. I went home to breastfeed her, on demand, whenever she was hungry. I started working 20 hours a week and gradually increased to 33 hours a week, and never went back "fulltime". We had some severe difficulties in the beginning...I became severely engorged, lived 80 miles from the nearest LLL leader, the nearest LC, the nearest hospital. I ended up with a severe case of mastitis, because the LC I talked to on the phone told me there was no way it was mastitis because it was too soon in our nursing journey for me to get it. Four days later I was so sick I could hardly walk to the car and dh was giving dd breastmilk in a bottle, milk that I had pumped, because not only could she not latch on to my rockhard torpedo breasts, but I could not tolerate the pain, and so I had begun pumping. We went to the OB and found out that it was, indeed, mastitis, I was prescribed antibiotics, and so began our journey of getting dd back to the breast. It was sleepless nights of withholding milk in the bottle, because we knew at this point the bottle was confusing her, until finally, she latched on with a nipple shield and we were breastfeeding again. It took me two months to get her to suck without the shield, but here we are at almost 13 months and have been shield free since that time.
Around 8 weeks we reintroduced the bottle and really haven't had any troubles with nipple confusion since that time (unless you count the fact that she sought her pacifier for comfort rather than the breast). But, we have had countless nursing strikes! One after another it seems. When Haylee strikes, its from the bottle as well...in the past its been more of an eating strike. She has never loved to nurse, like I expected a baby to love to nurse. It has always been challenging. I so wanted to have the kind of nursing relationship where we could both drift off to sleep, drousy from the warmth our two bodies created next to each other, and from the mother-baby bond that runs so deep, like a deep, deep fountain, pouring from one being into another. It never happened though. I loved nursing Haylee, but it was very rarely relaxing. I struggled with oald and oversupply, a waterfall of milk, if you will, and it often choked her, causing her to come off the nipple sputtering. It would take several minutes for her to have enough confidence to return to the breast. The only time that we enjoyed our nursing relationship like I had expected was when she woke up in the night, and my supply wasn't as abundant. Then I could (and still can) gaze down at my little nursling and wonder how on earth it was that I could nourish her exclusively in my womb for 9 months and continue to do so from my breast. These two body parts that had always been the epitome of sexuality and beauty were now the reason my little girl was thriving. When she latched on and her little mouthed closed around my aereola, I couldn't believe that it was even possible, to find my breasts not sexual at all. Sensual, yes, but not sexual, in any way. I assumed we would nurse for 6 months or so. Haylee started eating solids sometime around the 6 month mark. We started her with avocados and bananas, pureed with breastmilk, but soon after we found out about child led solids. We have pretty much followed that method since, but our sitter did feed Haylee homemade "baby food" that I made and pureed for her here at home. She has never been a picky eater...she eats everything, loves fruits, veggies, meats, and pasta.
So, here we are, just past the one year mark, the time when all the books say it would be okay to wean from the breast, that she gets enough nutrition from the food she is eating. I am not ready to wean, and I know that she isn't really ready yet either, but she I believe she is closer to it than am I. She rarely "asks" for it, but she does get crabby, and if I can persuade her to nurse, she will be happy again. But it takes a lot of persuading, at this point, at least for about 60% of her nursing sessions. At night, she nurses about 3-5 times, and really wants to nurse. I pump 3 times at work, 4 days a week, to provide her with breastmilk while I am away from her, which up until this point she has taken in a bottle. She has been refusing the breast more and more often, during the day. She is small for her age, under the 5th percentile for weight and height, and I know that breastmilk provides a supreme nutrition. So I know that she still needs breastmilk. I am just not clear on how much, when, and how often I should use a more forceful persuasion tactic. How long should I keep pumping breastmilk for her? Will my supply decrease to the point of nonexistence if I stop pumping? Should I stop pumping and give her cow's milk? I am truly tired of pumping and it would be so nice. We are giving up the bottle, we know that. I think that it will be one less source of sucking comfort, and that maybe she will want the breast more when we are together. But how much am I supposed to encourage her to nurse now? Everyone tells me I should wean her, that she doesn't even want it anymore, so why am I encouraging her to nurse when she doesn't even "want" it and, according to most of the texts, she doesn't really "need" it either?
Well, I have taken up enough of all of your time. I just really wish there was more information regarding working and extended breastfeeding.