My Honest Breastfeeding Journey, Part 2: The Golden Days and Beyond

In my last post, I spoke about the early days and challenges of breastfeeding. Once we got over those first few weeks, we entered what I truly believe were our golden days of breastfeeding. At this point (I can’t remember exactly when but I’d say around 2-2.5 months) breastfeeding became “easy”. Maggie’s latch was good; I knew which ways were comfortable for me to feed in; I was getting more comfortable feeding on the go in a variety of places (until COVID); and it was convenient!

2-6 Months: The Best of the Breast

I loved this time period. I can truly say I loved breastfeeding during it. After all the work we had to put in at the beginning, it felt like we were finally reaping the benefits.

Maggie was not a cluster feeder after her 1 or 2 newborn episodes, but I fed on demand so she always ate pretty frequently. At this point that honestly did not bother me at all. I loved the bonding and closeness we got from it. I felt happy that I was able to do it – after the worries I had earlier on and my milk not coming in until day 5. It was also super convenient – just whip a boob out and ta-da. Done.

I think I appreciated it the most at two times: at night and on the go. Maggie slept in our room until 7 months so if she woke up in the night I was right near her and it was very easy to feed her and get her back to sleep within 5-7 minutes. I realize that she probably didn’t *need* to eat – but I just followed her cues and I honestly think she stopped night feeding when she was ready to do so. Every baby will be different! Even when we moved her into her own room, it remained convenient for me to pop in, do a quick feed in the rocker, and put her back to bed (but more on that time period in a second).

I loved breastfeeding on the go because of the convenience – it took me a bit to get comfortable, and I have to admit I didn’t get much of a chance to be comfortable doing it around other people since by mid-March we were in lockdown. However, I was “good” at doing it in the car or in the outdoors (where we spent a lot of time that summer). Breastfeeding friendly clothes definitely come in handy – but you don’t necessarily have to pay a ton of $$$ for it. You can make things like crop tops or stretchy tank tops (I was honestly still wearing maternity ones because they’re comfy) breastfeeding friendly.

We honestly had a good 4 months or so without any issues. My nipples were no longer sore. It was wonderful.

Then Came 7 Months…

If you have been following my blog for a bit, you may remember my Maggie Monthly post about the 7 month sleep regression/progression Maggie experienced. This was a challenging period in motherhood/breastfeeding for me, probably the most challenging (even moreso than our start to breastfeeding).

So basically at around 7 months, we moved Maggie to her own room. She started off great – slept well with only 1 wake up a night. Then one day something changed – I’ve always assumed it had to do a bit with separation anxiety… – whatever it was, she would not sleep alone. She would just continuously wake up all night long to eat, and as soon as you’d lay her down, she’d scream. We tried everything to deal with this but eventually we found that co-sleeping for a time was the best option for all of us. No sleep deprived mom caring for baby all day or sleep deprived dad going to work with machinery. Maggie would go to sleep initially in her crib, sleep there for about 3.5-4 hours and then wake up around midnight-2 am and come into bed with us.

Co-sleeping worked for a time for us – we all slept better and I could feed in my favourite breastfeeding position (side lying). However, when this started to get close to 2 months of co-sleeping, Maggie started to not sleep as well as she did when we first started. She started to toss and turn and want to feed all night long. All of our sleep started to go down hill again.

During this frequent feeding period, I started to feel a disdain for breastfeeding. Just at certain moments. Generally speaking, during the day things were business as usual. I still loved it. It was just those middle of the night feeds that started to bother me. The frequency probably was the key factor, and the lack of sleep – I was just tired and it was starting to wear me down a bit. I need more consistent sleep. I remember wondering “where did my amazing sleeper go?!”. This time period felt very long as a result and it was definitely at this point when I started to feel touched out.

Luckily, just as I was reaching this point – we were able to transition Maggie to her crib for the full night. After a particularly challenging night where she basically just didn’t sleep, we noticed she kept trying to roll around more. My husband and I both wondered if she’d do better with more space so we tried the crib the next night and success. We had still a period of time where she would wake up 1x a night after this, but it was so much better. At this point she wasn’t waking up till around 3-4 am so I could get a solid chunk of sleep straight before that. I felt much better, and things got better again.

Teething and Touched Out

I still got touched out occasionally though – I don’t know what it was. If it was her having more teeth? Or those teething episodes? I think the teething was definitely part of it. If we noticed she was having pain during the day (she was an “ear puller” to express this) we’d keep an eye on it and give Tylenol as needed if she became particularly fussy. But if we missed the signs during the day, she’d want to feed consistently at night, sometimes waking up a few times before she’d get into a good sleep.

Again, the frequency bothered me, but the other thing that started to bother me at this point, was the fact that I know knew that at these moments particularly she wasn’t nursing to eat. It was mostly for comfort. I don’t know why this bothered me at this point – I had fed on demand her whole life, and she had obviously nursed for comfort in the past.

I wondered if the whole “touched out” feeling I was starting to experience during these episodes was related to my period coming back at 5 months and my hormones starting to regulate more. Followed by the sleep deprivation I had just gone through after a period of relative stability from 2 months to 7 months. Followed by just feeling touched out because I was on maternity leave and felt like I wasn’t getting very many “me” moments by this age (around 9-10 months).

Whatever the cause (it was likely a combination of them all), I didn’t like it. I didn’t like not liking breastfeeding. There were moments where I would feel just so done with it at these times. But then I’d wake up and our daytime feeds would be great, or she’d sleep well and it wouldn’t bother me again. It was something that came and went, so I just dealt with it as another challenge along our breastfeeding journey.

Maggie started sleeping through the night pretty much consistently once she started daycare (around 10.5 months – I went back early) and definitely when she started to take 1 nap a day (around 12 months). This helped immensely for me with breastfeeding. I started pumping during the day when she went to daycare, so even the occasional night wake ups for teething didn’t seem to bother me as much because I had more “me” time or independent time during the day. Pumping presented its own challenges for me (I couldn’t wait for it to be over after about 1 month!) but overall it helped reduced the touched out feeling and made breastfeeding an enjoyable, bonding moment again.

Now we are at almost 15 months of breastfeeding, and I want to talk about that and our next steps… in my next post. Thanks for reading!

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