feeding Finch: my breastfeeding diary
You can read a brief summary of our breastfeeding journey here.
I know every breastfeeding journey is different, but I found myself very curious how many feedings were "normal" at certain ages and when it would become “easier.” I found this timeline of a breastfed baby to be very helpful and wanted to share my own personal diary I kept along the way. We had some rough patches (Week 3 was rough), but I'm so glad we stuck with it.
Day 1: I nursed Finch shortly after he was born. It seemed to go well! Mostly I just want to be chill about this! Breastfeeding caused me a lot of stress last time and I really hope I can be more laid back this time.
Day 2: Nursing seemed to be going fine, but Finch is acting hungry, and our nurse thinks his blood sugar is low, but my milk's not in yet, so Eric's gonna give him a little bit of formula. Even though Eric and I agreed to do it, it still made me feel bummed that I couldn't provide for him. I said "Great, now my breasts aren't being stimulated to know he needs milk. We can't win!" And Eric gently reminded me that "we're winning if he's alive." And he was totally right. Fed is best.
Side note: I later learned that a mother's milk coming in after birth is a hormonal reaction and not a result of stimulation ... but I still feel like moms should know that you can give your baby 10 mL of formula in the hospital and still end up breastfeeding them for 2½ years.
We saw a lactation consultant today just to make sure everything looks good. I had her check his mouth because Eric and Rooney were/are both tongue tied. She said he might be OK, but that we should keep an eye on it.
Day 3: We're home from the hospital. He latches really well! This is already so different from last time!
Day 4: I was really frustrated with God the first few days — not understanding his design of a hungry baby and a mom without milk — but then I read this about colostrum and the size of a newborn's stomach. I guess he knows what he's doing after all. ;-)
Day 5: My milk is in. I feel engorged, but don't want to start a pumping cycle, so I'm just gonna power through and let it even out on its own.
1 week: So far, at just one week into it, breastfeeding has been beautiful + amazing + complicated + magical + tiring. There were definitely some rough feedings early on, but we just kept going and for now it's working and feels right. Never thought I'd say this, but nursing is way easier than washing bottles!
2 weeks: Dang, letdown is painful! It just feels so painful for the first 30 seconds, but then it goes away. Finch hit a growth spurt this week, which meant almost constant nursing for a 24-hour period. I'm glad to say we are back to eating every 2-2.5 hours during the day and 3-3.5 hours at night.
3 weeks: I need to vent. I want to quit. I think about it daily (hourly?). Nursing is the only thing that makes him happy, so I'm the only one who can comfort him, which is tiring and stressful. I don't feel like myself (hormones!), and it's making me crazy. I don't like the feeling that my body's not mine, and I can't wear my normal clothes because every couple hours I need his food to be easily accessible. I feel like I'm slowly drowning and it makes me sad because I'm pretty sure I could master this "mom of two" thing if we were bottle feeding (because I could leave the house more easily and just feed him wherever we are). Plus, Eric could feed Finch sometimes and I could spend more time with Rooney.
This is also the point when I quit breastfeeding Rooney, so it feels like I’m doing more for him than I did for her, when in reality the experiences have just been completely different. Eric has told me multiple times I don't have to do this, but I know if I quit I am going to cost my family so much time washing bottles and money buying formula. I feel selfish for even thinking about quitting. It's not a supply issue. It's not him — I can't blame him for falling asleep at the breast or for occasionally having a shallow latch. I just don't enjoy it anymore because it keeps me from doing things that I want to do. Most selfish mom ever? The decision also feels so permanent since he is our last baby.
My grandma passed away this week, and I'm grieving, so I'm sure that's part of it. When we were traveling and at the funeral, he was really fussy and I felt like I had to nurse him every hour.
He is only eating on one side at each feeding, but I think I need to change that to make sure he gets full and can go longer between feeds.
I haven't made a decision yet, but I'm just gonna leave this here: Everybody Calm Down About Breastfeeding.
1 month: Well, we're still going! Which means I've officially made it longer than I did with Rooney. He eats 8-12 times a day: every 2 hours during the day and every 2-4 hours at night, with clusterfeeding in the evening. I could write an entire post about how I feel about it...it's complicated. It causes you to slow down, which can be hard or it can be awesome. I feel like moms have to be very determined and/or competitive to keep at it. I am very thankful it's working and I do enjoy it for the most part, but I have definitely thought a lot about quitting. Formula and bottle feeding is our "known" (because it's what we did with Rooney) and right now I'm craving anything that feels normal. It would also allow someone else to feed him and give me a little break or a chance to spend more time with Rooney. Not to mention I'd like to wear a dress in this summer heat! But I know that breastfeeding saves our family time and money and that it will get better as he grows and can go longer between feeds. I went to a breastfeeding support group this week and was happy to see that he is gaining weight well and got 3.5 oz from me during the feeding. We have been fine-tuning his latch, which is helping with my soreness.
6 weeks: We are still nursing! I feel like there should be a parade. A lot of people say it gets easier from this point on. I do still think about quitting, but I feel like he enjoys nursing so much that I can't take it away from him. It's more than just food to him — it's his comfort. I used to be obsessed with talking about postpartum depression ... now I want to ask every mom I meet about their breastfeeding experiences.
2 months: I can't believe I've been nursing for almost 10 weeks! That's almost one-fifth of a year! :-) He nurses every 2-3 hours during the day and every 2-5 hours at night (but usually 3-4 at night). I am back to work now and because we have an on-site daycare, I am able to nurse him during the day, which is a huge blessing. If I feel my milk come in, I will go check on him and feed him if he's awake/fussy, or if he's sleeping they just call me when he wakes up. Cluster feedings in the evenings seem to be fading away, thank goodness!
But I have to be honest...breastfeeding is still a love/hate thing for me. I love that I can make milk for him and that he loves it (it's seriously his favorite thing) and can calm him down any time, even when I don't know what's wrong. I don't like that I'm the only one who can feed him (especially in the middle of the night when I'm exhausted, or when Rooney wants to play with me). My breasts also don't feel "normal" and I can't just wear whatever I want. It amazes me how simple breastfeeding can be at times, but also how complex it seems at other times and how much troubleshooting is involved. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm terrified of getting an infection! I haven't pumped at all yet and prefer to nurse without a cover, so I wish it was more socially acceptable to nurse in public. I know it's legal, but it still feels strange since it's not something you see every day and we're not always "smooth" so I would be more exposed that I'd like.
3 months: I am really glad I've stuck with it. This breastfeeding article has been circulating on Facebook, and it's the most amazing thing I've ever read. Finch eats 6-10 times a day, every 2-3.5 hours. The growth spurts are so exhausting, but it usually means longer sleep stretches ahead as well as more spaced out feedings during the day. I have gotten more comfortable nursing in public, and am so thankful I get to nurse him during the day when I'm at work. It's the best kind of break, and a little stress reliever, too! I pumped once at home for about two minutes and hated how it felt!
4 months: I feel pretty comfortable nursing in public without a cover now. I am not a fan of tight nursing tanks, so every day I wear a nursing bra, a v-neck T-shirt, and a cardigan or a jacket. I just lift up my shirt and Finch and/or my jacket covers up most or all my skin.
We saw a lactation consultant last week (on my birthday) to check his latch. I often get a creased nipple during feeds so I am still curious about tongue or lip ties. She was kind of dumbfounded because he's clearly gaining weight (she mentioned he might be a linebacker in the NFL someday) and our latch looks fine, but I know something isn't right. His top lip is usually tucked under while nursing and it's been giving me some pain. I also have had blanching (my nipple turns white after feeds from a loss of blood flow), but from what I read that could be caused by the colder weather. We didn't get too many answers yet but I hope to learn more next week after seeing a pediatric dentist. I am thankful that he has gained weight so well regardless, and that we didn't have these problems any sooner. I have just recently started to love breastfeeding and want to fight to make sure it continues.
4½ months: We went to see the pediatric dentist today. In hopes that nursing will be more gentle and less painful, and that Finch will be less gassy/reflux-y and we'll all get more sleep, we had his tongue and lip ties revised. She didn't think his ties were too severe (his lip was a little worse than his tongue) and could not guarantee improvement, but we went ahead with it because otherwise I think I need to quit. It is just too painful. The whole thing was pretty traumatic on all of us (not to mention the stretches we have to do for the next couple weeks to make sure it doesn't grow back).
He nursed right after the operation, and I didn't notice a difference yet, but hopefully we'll get there. A few hours later he was so sore that he refused to nurse, which made me really emotional. I cried a lot and worried that our breastfeeding journey was over! But when he woke up in the middle of the night he was good to go again.
5 months: His latch is so much better after his tongue and lip tie revisions! Praise God! I'm amazed that I've grown a baby from 8 pounds to 20 pounds. It has been hard at times, but I now see it as an incredibly special gift. I look forward to nursing him and spending time with him in the evening (a wonderful excuse to slip away to a dark and quiet room). I still wonder what it will be like when he gets teeth, though!
I do not respond well to my breast pump (I only get like an ounce total each time, and I know he takes 4+ at each feeding), so I don't think I would have been able to keep up as a working mom without our on-site daycare. I feel really lucky to be able to nurse him during the day.
6 months: SIX MONTHS! We are halfway to the one-year mark, which is a pretty common breastfeeding goal. I pray we make it! He currently nurses 6-10 times a day, and easily gets distracted, especially if it's noisy. Our daytime sessions are usually only 5-11 minutes long. We are going to start solids too!
7 months: I'm so glad we have stuck with it! It's so much easier now than it was in the early days/weeks/months. Not that it doesn't continually have its challenges, because it does (clogged ducts and teeth this month), but he can eat in as little as four minutes! And we can be pretty spontaneous as a family without having to think about packing formula for him. He nurses about every three hours. He can go longer between feedings, but then he usually makes up for it later in the day. The multiple nighttime feeds are killing me, though. I think it’s time to sleep train and move him to his own room.
8 months: He nurses 5-7 times a day — every three hours during the day and usually once between 4:00-5:00 am. Only that one nighttime feed now! Sleep training works!
It occurred to me the other day how much easier breastfeeding is than bottle feeding. It's something I heard would happen but I couldn't imagine it being true (since bottle feeding was so much easier with Rooney). The other day we were hanging out in our basement and he got hungry, so I fed him. So simple. No running upstairs to measure the water or formula, and no bottles to wash. And he usually takes less than 10 minutes to eat...sometimes as little as three minutes! I want to encourage anyone who is new to breastfeeding that it does get so much quicker, easier and simpler. I still keep track of each feeding (what side & how long) in an app on my phone. One day this month, Finch only ate for a total of 42 minutes in a 24-hour period. That's it! I remember single feedings taking that long in the beginning! Crazy cool.
9 months: Finch was hospitalized with bronchiolitis this month, and I was so very grateful that we are still nursing so I could literally nurse him back to health.
We are averaging 5-7 feedings a day. I love it. I love him. We have a rhythm. He unlatches one breast and I quickly move him to the other before he starts fussing. I don't want it to end. This is my favorite age in so many ways!
I can tell he can go longer between nursing sessions when he has had table food or a puree in between. I'm still being intentional to nurse him before he has food, though, and plan to do that until he turns 1 so that I maintain my supply and that breast milk remains his main source of nutrition.
I have been thinking lately about how long we'll breastfeed. I pray that weaning is a mutual and gradual process. I would love to make it at least a year (and possibly beyond). I didn't love breastfeeding until 5ish months (after his lip tie was revised), so it makes me sad to think about stopping now that I really do enjoy it. I think after he's 1 I would like to use my work breaks to run errands instead of feed him, but I want to continue nursing him at bedtime and in the morning. We'll see what happens!
10 months: Finch is very easily distracted when he nurses now — it's best if we are in a quiet, dark room. He loves to play with my nose while he eats, or fish hook my mouth.
11 months: I have no idea when our breastfeeding journey will end, but as his intake of table foods increases in the next couple months, we will probably drop to 3-4 feedings. When he is 15 months old, Eric and I will be taking a little weekend anniversary trip to Omaha, and I'm anxious because I don't know what our routine will be then. I'm not in a huge hurry to wean, so I don't want us being apart to cause early weaning (or maybe I'll be ready by then???).
1 year: It is surreal to me that we made it a year. That was my goal, and we did it! I'm really proud that we persevered through the tough early months. Since then, it really hasn't been hard, it just takes time and dedication! It's actually one of my favorite things. I'm an introvert, so it's nice to have dedicated times to sit down in a quiet place a few times a day. Of course, every now and then I would like a break and have someone else do it just once. When he wakes up at 5:00 am and I have to drag myself out of bed, my first thought is usually "I'm ready to be done with this!" ... but by the end of the feeding I'm thinking, "I never want to stop doing this!" Oxytocin is a very real thing.
I was feeding him 4-5 times a day (every 4 hours), but the day before his birthday he went almost 7 hours without nursing, and he was totally fine (he is really good with table food)! Now that he is almost 12½ months, we are already down to 3-4 feeds per day. I envision us nursing for at least a couple more months, possibly longer! Who knows!
To help Finch and I both prepare for our anniversary trip in a few months, Eric put him to bed for the first time ever without nursing. I took Rooney to the park, and he said it went well! Finch was asleep in two minutes!
13 months: I'm so tired of the 5:00 am feeding, but he will still wake up at that time, and then what will I do? At least nursing puts him back to sleep for a couple hours! I tried to remove a feeding during the workday, but it wasn't going well for him, so we added it back in, and it has been a lot better. I would say five feedings a day is our normal, more when he is teething.
14 months: We are still nursing 5-7 times a day. He got his top molars this month and was wanting to nurse more often for comfort. I would love to be closer to four times/day, but I could tell this is what he needed this month. When we are at home, it seems he wants to nurse every single time I sit down! If we are busy, he gets distracted and can definitely go longer. One thing that is different is that he totally understands now that there are two sides. He will finish a side and then move his little body around to the other side. Crazy!
15 months: I am happy to say that in the past month we've cut down our number of feeds from 5-7 to 2-3. It wasn't too hard, because he was ready...his daytime feeds were getting shorter and he would get distracted and show more interest in exploring or playing. He's at daycare four days a week so that was how I did it...I basically just stopped showing up to feed him. His teacher was really supportive and encouraging (I think maybe I was the one hanging onto it more than him — ha!). It's gone really, really well. He didn't seem to notice or care at all!
At home, he will occasionally ask to nurse during the day — typically just once or twice a day — and I usually distract him with something else or just give him snuggles, although occasionally I will "give in" to a 3:00ish pm feed. I know nursing is still good for him/us, and helps to soothe him whenever he is sick or teething, so I haven't quite decided how long we'll continue. With each passing day, I get more OK with weaning.
Eric and I went away for two nights to celebrate our anniversary, but Finch did great and we picked right back up when we got home. I felt "full" while I was gone but didn't pump (because I hate it). It was nice to be away and have some freedom, but also nice to be home!
16 months: Finch is just nursing once a day now, in the morning right after he wakes up. Overall I am very surprised by how little he asks for it throughout the day. It used to be his favorite thing, but now he goes to bed without nursing and it's no big deal, even if I'm the one putting him to bed! I partly want to keep up my supply for times of sickness, teething, etc., and the other part of me wants to be done. I think we've kept the morning feeding the longest just because it's the easiest thing to do when he first wakes up and is cranky (rather than make him breakfast), especially because Rooney is usually still asleep and I don't want him to wake her up.
17 months: We are nursing usually once a day, sometimes two, sometimes five. We are trying the "Don't Offer, Don't Refuse" approach to weaning. I don't offer, but if he asks for it (by pointing to the couch or bed where we nurse), I will nurse him. He always asks for it when he wakes up in the morning and after his nap, and sometimes at night if he's overtired. I find our morning feeds help us both ease into our day. If I am not there when he wakes up, though, he does fine without me. Eric puts him to bed most nights and has taken more of a role in comforting him, which has been wonderful and definitely a reason I feel like I can continue nursing this long. It has been less demanding and it is rare if he needs me during the night.
I actually feel like he's become even more attached to nursing in the past month, compared to last month, or maybe it's just that his communication is improving and I notice him asking more. I don't see him weaning anytime soon ... I think we will go through the winter for sure ... but I find myself wondering how and when it will end. We are both still enjoying it, but I think Finch likes it a little more than I do. :-) I am especially thankful for nursing during times of sickness or crankiness. It's such an easy way to comfort him. I did have some pain this month (blanching/vasospasms), but luckily it cleared up in a couple days. This seems to flare up when the weather gets cold here, which I guess is not uncommon.
Of course, there are times when I do have to refuse him (if we are about to leave for daycare/work, mostly). I also do not wear a nursing bra unless I'm home with him, so that has limited us a bit if he asks while we are out. While he nurses he often "talks" to me in grunts and hums...it is definitely our special language and time together.
18 months: I didn't ever dream we would make it this long, and at times it feels demanding, but I know it is completely normal (and good for him)!
19 months: We are still nursing! He calls it "mama." I gladly nurse him in the morning (I love that peaceful time of connection with him), but then I find myself trying to avoid it the rest of the day. Mostly because during daytime feeds he will try to do gymnastics while latched (which can be painful for me), and I know it will be more sustainable for me to nurse longer if I don't get burnt out. He usually does fine with redirection, but sometimes I can tell he really needs to nurse (for comfort), so then we do it. Some days we nurse for three minutes total and some days it's more than an hour. He still very much prefers the left side. Sometimes he will nurse for one minute on the right and then say "Uh oh, mama" and switch to the left.
20 months: He nurses 1-4 times a day. I love it, when he will just lay there are nurse. The popping on/off drives me nuts, or when he wants to see if he can kick me in the face while latched. Every month I wonder how much longer we'll nurse, but it's still making sense. I really do enjoy that connection point with him every morning. Definitely want to get through the flu season before weaning.
There was one day in particular he asked to nurse when I didn't want to, but I did it, and afterward he put my shirt down and said "Thank you, mama." It melted my heart!
21 months: I have now nursed Finch for more than 95,000 minutes (1,500+ hours)! I am surprising myself by no longer feeling ready to be done, but I'm wondering if my trip to Chicago next month will be the end of it. I am planning to try and nurse him when I get back, but I don't know if I will have any supply after four days. We shall see.
22 months: We spent four days apart, but we jumped right back in when I got home. I think he is more ready to be done than I am now. Sometimes I offer it to him because I want it, and I get sad when he refuses.
2 years: Wow — we made it two years! He nurses about five days a week in the morning. It's usually very quick — just a minute or two. Other days he is more interested in playing with Rooney or watching a show after he wakes up that he just doesn't think about nursing. If he sees me getting dressed, he will often say "milk" and then I will gladly nurse him. When he seems crabby, I offer it to him, and sometimes he will agree to it. I've noticed that I miss it and feel like I need it more than he does — my body/hormones are definitely adjusting and I feel like it has affected my mood at times.
25 months: He only nursed 11 days this month. Sometimes he asks for it and sometimes I offer. Is this the end?
26 months: He only nursed 9 days this month. It is getting fewer and farther between that he will ask for it.
27 months: He only nursed 6 days this month. I am surprised I still have milk for him when he wants it!
28 months: He didn't nurse at all this month. Are we done?
29 months: He only nursed 2 days this month.
30 months: I think we're officially done, and we both seem to be fine with it. He nursed for just a few seconds on each side and then, when I asked him if I had any milk, he said it's all gone.
The end of an era. A really, really great era.