My son turned six-months-old last week, which also meant I reached a personal milestone for myself. Six months of exclusively breastfeeding Jackson. My initial goal was to simply breastfeed, even if it only worked for three days. Once I passed that goal, I set a new one of six weeks, then three months and six months.
When I began my breastfeeding journey, I had no idea what to expect. I heard horror stories and was fully prepared to not be disappointed if it didn’t work out for my baby and me. Fortunately it did and Jackson latched on in the hospital when I got to see him, two hours after my emergency cesarean-section. I was extremely lucky and never experienced any type of soreness or bleeding, but we have had our challenges. I developed some mild postpartum anxiety, particularly involving breastfeeding.
Jackson was always little, born at six pounds- two ounces and was never a “big eater.” Many of my friends all had big, chunky babies who loved to eat (whether it was formula or breast milk) and Jackson always seemed to look like he was on a diet when he was around them. This fueled my insecurity about our breastfeeding relationship. I was always worried about whether or not he was getting enough milk, was I nursing enough, is he gaining weight?
He has gained weight, albeit slowly. My OB/GYN and Jackson’s pediatrician both reassured me that my breast milk was feeding him just fine and try not to worry. The anxiety eventually lessened over time, but I still talk about breastfeeding with my Mom friends; often just to make sure what I’m doing is normal and is best for my son.
The challenging thing about breastfeeding is that just as I’m getting used to doing it one way, he hits a developmental milestone and changes things around. For a while I had to nurse him laying down in the dark, then I had to exclusively pump and feed him a bottle (while he laid on his side) and most recently we are working on breastfeeding while introducing solid foods.
Our pediatrician recommended introducing some cereal and fruit at four months. I know this is a controversial topic, but I felt comfortable offering it to him at four-months-old. He wasn’t ready. I tried to give him rice cereal twice and his stomach got upset and he didn’t enjoy the “solid food experience.” I put the cereal box in the pantry and tried again at five months. He was ready and it has been fun trying different fruits, veggies and cereals.
This new addition to Jackson’s diet has also thrown a curveball into our nursing relationship and has introduced some new worries for me. Is he getting enough breast milk? Is he getting enough iron? Every day I have to take a step back, take a deep breath and remind myself that I’m doing the best I can and he is a healthy, happy little boy.
I often turn to my Mom friends at Twitter to get reassurance about breastfeeding. I’m the first in my family to breastfeed, so I can’t ask my Mom or Grandma about their breastfeeding experience. Having a strong network of Moms has been one of the main reasons I have accomplished my goal of breastfeeding for six months. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it past a couple weeks. I know I’ll be turning to them for support in the next six months as I reach for my goal of breastfeeding Jackson for a year.