Nurse A Baby All Day Strong
“I’m not telling you its going to be easy
I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it”
“Breastfeeding is a Mother’s gift to herself,
her baby and the earth.”
-Pamela K. Wiggins
Happy fall! Today I am inspired to talk about my nearly six year journey with nursing. As for you who don’t know me, I have three small children whom I have continuously nursed through infancy, to toddlerhood, through pregnancy and tandem nursed four of those years. If you are not familiar with the term Tandem nursing or breastfeeding (I perfer the term nursing, it is close to my heart) this is not an easy commitment in the slightest. A little information to share is, tandem nursing is when a mother is nursing an older child when her baby is born. She continues to nurse her older child and her newborn at the same time. Just think of a tandem bicycle, it is a two for one : ). Another interesting fact is this term tandem nursing is not used when a mother is nursing twins or higher multiple babies.
I can remember when nursing would engulf thirty to forty percent of my days. From one baby to the next, I am so luck I had and still have these amazing daily experiences. All of time has enabled me to create solid bonds with my babies. My five year old still likes to have her “bobo snuggles.” It is her comfort, she falls fast and sound asleep as do I most nights.
Nursing is one of the most selfless tasks we can do for our children. It is also one of the most fulfilling memories and current everyday life event I have been so blessed to endure. I have always been so lucky. I have had from the start of my nursing career an over abuntant supply of breast milk.
There was one point in my life when my son James was ten months old and I was nursing him on demand on an average of four to six times a day. I had a distant friend, whom I heard had her twins premature at thirty three weeks. Her brother a client of mine, was sharing her story about the babies that they were in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I felt the urge to help her. I was so saddened by the story. I have slightly been in her shoes with my first nephew being born at thirty five weeks, my mind and body was compelled to reach out to her.
So what did I do next? I was compelled to offer my breast milk to her, I am not sure how I even went about offering this to her. Hearing how tiny and sick her babies were in combination with her brother saying something about her using the hospital’s donor milk until they were strong enough to go home. His sister a fellow mother and a distant friend was exhausted mentally and physically. I felt this deep need to help her and help her tiny babies. Her boys were home from the hospital, they were almost six weeks old, we got in contact. I started pumping for those babies two times a day, as well as nursing James on demand. My body knew it needed to help, my milk began flowing so healthily.
We would randomly text back and fourth, she would send me pictures of her tiny twin babies. I would look at the pictures and feel this maternal need to help them with the milk their mommy was struggling to produce. Here I was with this over abundant supply of breast milk, why wouldn’t I help her? I progressed to pumping anywhere between three to five times a day for this sweet friend. On an average good day I would pump eight ounces and on an excellent day I would produce upwards to thirteen ounces. Her husband would come to my house and pick up the milk and give me little bits of info on his boy’s health and growth, he would share more pictures of his sweet boys.
I proceeded to pump until I felt my friend was strong enough to go solo. I progressed to pump for their babies for three months. I also got slightly burnt out, knowing my friends babies were healthy enough put my mind at ease to stop.
I then continued to nurse James, until I was pregnant with my third child. I continued nursing through my entire pregnancy, I can remember times when it would hurt so bad. But I knew it was what was best for him and it felt natural and normal to keep nursing him. This is exactly as I had done with Violet when I was pregnant with James, it felt right for my body.
After Hugo was born I tandem nursed both of my boys, the strong bond and benefits of nursing them together was amazing and even more so beautiful. It brings a tear to my eyes just thinking about it. My two year old and my tiny baby, would gaze at each other as they held hands, while filling their tiny body’s with my yummy milk. One of the sweetest, most genuine memories I have.
When Hugo was four months old my sister Amybeth had her first and only home birth, of little miss Isla Jane. What an amazing empowering birth experience I was so luck to be a part of. This sweet baby girl was born with a cleft palate soft palate. A cleft can form on any part of the pallet most commonly found palates are the orofacial palate and cleft lip palate located on the hard palate which indicators are found on the lip or the roof of a babies mouth. Isla Jane’s specific form of cleft was formed on her small flap of tissue that hangs down in the back of her throat.
This condition most likely formed during the sixth week of my sisters pregnancy, there were no signs of a cleft on any ultrasound my sister had. This flap of skin you know of is most commonly called a uvula, or the hangy thing in the back of your mouth. Isla was born with hers being completely split down the middle. Leaving her with a gap or a hole that continued to proceed on down her throat. When Isla would try to nurse my sister it sounded like she was a little clucking chicken and she never fully formed a suction onto my sisters breast.
For you and I it would be equivalent to us drinking out of a straw with ridges that would have a giant hole in it. As you can imagine this sweet baby’s frustrations with nursing. A day after my sister had experienced her empowering homebirth, her midwife discovered Islas cleft. My sister’s family was rused to the NICU, where there were immediately shown a specific bottle with a nipple created for babies with this condition, this specific nipple is called the haberman nipple. Amybeth, her husband Matthew, one day old Isla Jane and their midwife showed up at the hospital with a frozen bag of my milk. She was then given donor milk, because of the hospital regulations on outside breast milk.
My sisters images of nursing her baby were thwarted, she now had this image imbedded in her mind of her baby only being able to drink out of this specific bottle. Her one day old daughter was now labeled with a special need. I immediately started pumping milk for her when she went at the hospital. I know how it is in there and I knew her milk supply was going to suffer for this traumatic shock. Again me having an ample supply of breast milk, my instincts flew in and that was the only way I knew I could help her and her family.
Being my sister and one of my best friends, I was once again compelled by my heart. I dedicated a huge chunk of my time to nursing and pumping. I was on demand nursing my four month old, along with nursing my two year approximately three to four time a day. I added into my daily routine, pumping for Isla any where from two to four times a day.
I nursed a baby and pumped all day strong! My milk was flowing, my sweet niece was home and growing healthily. My sisters milk finally came in full force. Isla was never able to form a suction to my sisters breast, despite of this my sister committed to pumping for Isla. As you may know most moms might have let this defeat them and that would have been the end of pumping. Amybeth was not one of them, she used it as more motivation, she knew in her daughters future she was going to have to endure surgery. She knew her milk was what was going to keep her baby strong and healthy.
All of this strength led Amybeths milk to be just as plentiful as mine. She pumped and pumped her days away. There were times I would go over to her house and she would be pumping while her baby was crying in her swing and she was so patient. She would have to finish up pumping and then proceed to have to prepare her bottle and feed her baby. With all of the added stressors my sister was a champion. She did not let any of that hinder her, I was and still am so proud of her. I can only imagine her everyday life of pumping and feeding. What an amazing woman she is.
I pumped almost two months for Isla, until my sister had a freezer full of milk. Her milk was flowing. She hadn’t needed my help the last three weeks I pumped, I just wanted to ease her mind to know she had support and she was not having to jump into formula. My sister contunied to pump until isla had her cleft surgery when she was almost ten months old. Her surgery was rough but she got through it, my sister and her husband were strong mostly amazing. Islas surgery was an all around success her cleft palette soft palette was repaired in one surgery. Strong little girl, she is a trooper. My sister continued to pump until her daughter was one, I am so proud of her. What a committed, loving mother.
I stopped nursing James at the beginning of the summer, it was hard. He would still nurse today if I let him. I just felt he was ready as was I. I had this strange feeling when I stopped tandem nursing, I had so much more time to spare. That’s why I started this blog! I continue to nurse Hugo on demand daily, he has increasingly slowed his milk intake. With his love for food : ) I will savor every nursing moment, as he is my last nurser.
Lots of love to all of my fellow nursing mommies, keep the love and the milk flowing! Help other mothers in need if you can, even if it is encouraging words or sharing your nursing ventures. We call all use inspiration from each other. Until next time friends!