After Raynor’s cleft palate surgery, he went from a happy nurser to a nursing striker. Hence, I am back to pumping. At 12 months, I am nowhere expressing 8 ounces at a time, especially not from the one boob that is still “active,” but I didn’t think saying “2 ounces from one breast” was quite as catchy.
The sudden nursing strike (or maybe accidental weaning) was very emotionally painful for me at first. Whatever hormones that were in place were now suddenly gone, or were fluctuating wildly. I was as teary as I was when I first gave birth, and I felt a deep, profound sense of loss.
I was surprised to find out what I was feeling was common among women who are forced to wean before they or their babies are ready. Apparently depression and weaning all too often go hand-in-hand and are documented, with even the Huffington Post running an article, but unfortunately there isn’t much research on it. What studies that do exist show are that what I was feeling was real, and it can be bad.
The article states that one reason mothers who wean suddenly might become depressed is due to the “actual physiological changes taking place in the body. Breastfeeding stimulates the production of hormones such as oxytocin, known colloquially as ‘the love hormone.’ Mothers’ moods may plummet in its absence.”
Dr. Alison Stuebean , an OBGYN and assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina, told the Huffington Post, “Research on pregnancy has been focused on the effects of pregnancy on the baby. The mom kind of disappears from the radar.”
Yup and yup. How many times do we say “how’s the baby” compared to “how’s the new mom?”
Anyways, I ended up talking to a couple of lactation consultants recommended by my local La Leche League. I didn’t know if my son was accidentally weaned, or if the post-surgery traumatic feeding experience (more on that in another post) caused a nursing strike. Either way, I’m now pumping to give him breast milk in a sippy (which he doesn’t really like) and to keep my supply up.
I’m open to continuing the nursing relationship if my baby wants to. We’ve gone one step forward, two steps back. The first few nights were tough – since infancy he had always been allowed to nurse at night, which he took full advantage of, up until his surgery. Now, without nursing to sleep as a tool and comfort source, I was exhausted.
Walking him back and forth for naps, rocking every hour on the hour when the rest of the house was in a deep sleep – I was dying. I hadn’t felt this tired since he was a newborn. But he’s since stopped the nightwaking, I’m starting to get more sleep (which is how I’m able to blog semi-coherently) and I have to be honest, the newfound freedom is nice. We use sippy cups or regular cups for everything. I don’t have to rush home to breast feed (we had never used bottles before). But I still miss nursing sometimes.
So whatever happens – I’ll be okay with it. Parenthood is all about doing your best, rolling with the punches, and getting your laughs where you can. So The Most Interesting Man in the World Pumping Milk is funny, right? Right?
Maybe I still need more sleep.