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Motivated Monday: Lori's Dish on Breastfeeding

Today's motivated Monday story comes from Lori, a social worker who works full time and still manages to be a great mom and wife. We work together so I have seen first-hand the dedication and hard work breastfeeding can take. I often get to tell people what they should be doing according to the books. But when it comes to writing blog posts about breastfeeding, I knew I needed to go straight to the source! Seeing as how I have never had a kid and all...I mean, sometimes advice is best when it comes from those who have lived it! Not to mention, Lori is one of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever worked with. She's a new mom to John Thomas (JT) and she has been breastfeeding from day 1. If you're like me, you're does she do it? Read on to find out!

Lori, her husband, John, and John Thomas!

1.Tell me about yourself including the age of JT and how long you have been breastfeeding. What made you decide to breast feed? Many women breastfeed for a couple of weeks before deciding it’s not for them. Were the first few weeks more difficult than the following weeks? What advice would you give to women who are experiencing difficulty meeting the babies needs so they want to stop?

My name is Lori and I am a thirty year old first time mom to John Thomas (age 9 months). I initially wanted to breastfeed because I felt it was the healthiest way to feed my son (not to mention it’s also the cheapestJ). I also knew that I would return to full time work after my maternity leave. I wanted to do anything I could to enhance our bond prior to returning to work.

I expected breast feeding to come naturally, but it actually had a learning curve. We had trouble with our latch in the beginning and had to use a nipple shield for three months. Emotionally, I would get easily overwhelmed at the thought of having to provide every ounce of my child’s nutrition. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure breastfeeding was going well.

Breastfeeding is challenging, particularly in the beginning. I would recommend that women seek out support as soon as they begin breastfeeding. I went to a weekly support group that provided a scale to see how much milk JT took at a feeding. This helped me realize I produced enough to provide his nutrition. It also gave me an opportunity to learn from other mothers and connect about the joys and trials of breastfeeding. If you don’t have this option in your area you can do weighed feedings at your pediatrician or at the hospital where your child was born. There are a lot of online support groups as well.

2.Tell me more about your own experience breast/bottle (pumped milk) feeding? Do you think it helped with post pregnancy weight loss? 
What is the hardest part of breastfeeding you have experienced so far? The easiest? What is the most rewarding part?

Breastfeeding and pumping take a lot of effort. It is continually on my mind. It takes a lot of work but I feel like it has become part of me. It is a part of who I am now. I have a hard time remembering what is was like to not take pump breaks and/or do multiple night time feedings.

Breastfeeding has definitely helped with weight loss after pregnancy. I am currently below my pre-pregnancy weight. I have had a difficult time eating enough calories to keep my milk supply up. It takes a lot of energy to feed two people!

The most difficult part of breastfeeding has been keeping a consistent milk supply in the past few months. I have to produce about 15 ounces each day to provide JT with enough bottles for the next day. It has been increasingly difficult to produce enough. This is probably due to a variety of reasons including JT eating solids more consistently, my period returning, and my weight loss.
The most rewarding part is definitely the time I get to spend with him. Working full time keeps me away from him all day. I don’t really mind night feedings since I’m gone all day. Breastfeeding is a relationship that no one else can have with him. That may sound selfish, but I am so thankful for this time. It will be a very short time in his life and I am grateful that I am able to do it. I also love the sweet noises he makes, the way he plays with his foot while he nurses, and when he pats me while he eats. It makes me feel like I am doing something right in this whole parenting thing.

3. What have you tried in hopes of increasing your supply?
I have tried a lot of techniques to increase my supply. My supply started to dwindle when JT was about seven months old. I changed to a new birth control and suddenly lost about seven pounds. I wasn’t able to keep up with his demand. I took an entire bottle of Fenugreek but didn’t really see results. I ate oatmeal each day (blech…) and had a beer each night (not so bad J). I also pumped more often and drank 80-100 ounces of water during work each day. I changed back to a progesterone only birth control pill which also helped.
I feel like my supply has waxed and waned ever since. I was having trouble producing enough last week and have an oversupply this week.

4. Often, men feel they do not have as close of a bond with the infant since they don’t get the same one on one time with them as the breastfeeding moms do. How did you get John more involved in feeding time? 
Parenting has a lot of learning curves. In the beginning John helped with the logistical stuff. He would wash clothes, take out diaper trash, and make meals in addition to spending time with JT. Breastfeeding was a catch twenty-two in the early days. I spend more time with JT out of necessity and thus I became more comfortable with him. We tried a bottle when JT was three weeks old and John was able to participate then. As the baby has gotten older John’s role has changed. He is able to feed him and play with him more. Breastfeeding has also changed. JT nurses much more quickly now than when he was young. We still nurse as often but it takes much less time, this gives us more time as a family.

5. At your job, they have wonderful resources for breast feeding moms, even rooms to pump in. Do you think you would have breastfed this long if you worked in a less pro-breast feeding environment? 
Do you have any advice for women who may be thinking of stopping breastfeeding when they return to work? 
I am a pretty goal oriented person and I think I would try to breastfeed to twelve months even in a different work environment. I don’t think I would have been nearly as confident in my ability to reach my goal if I was in a different environment. I am really thankful for the resources available to me. I left a breast pump part at home one day and was able to get a new one without having to leave work. The lactation consultants have always given great advice and support. I am really thankful for this environment. If you’re in an environment that makes it difficult to breastfeed successfully reach out to others via a support group or an online group. Groups are full of tips and tricks to help you succeed while working full time.

6. Any other comments you would like to include? 
Breastfeeding is a journey. It changes as your baby grows and as both of your needs change. It is a wonderful opportunity and I am so thankful I’ve been able to do it. It takes a lot of work, but it is worth it.

Thank you, Lori for taking the time to share this experience. I know there are some new mom's out there who will find your story encouraging! For more breastfeeding support, find your local lactation consultant. La Leche League is a wonderful organization full of breastfeeding tips and support as well as information on finding resources in your area. 

What advice would you offer to breastfeeding moms?

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