As Always FED is Best ||
I realized that skipping breastfeeding/formula talk with the “Baby Food Series” was kind of silly so I started writing about how I was able to start breastfeeding and just add a few tips that worked for me that might help someone else or offer a little inspiration. Well, I have been working on this post for quite some time and over and over felt like I couldn’t “post” about my breastfeeding journey yet because it just wasn’t complete. Well, 8.5 months in I decided to start weaning. So I feel like it’s coming to an end for us and I can finally complete this post!
It was definitely an internal struggle of “is he/I truly ready ” and then moments of frustration where “I just can’t do it anymore.” I honestly never saw myself as someone who would breastfeed. For some reason I just kept thinking, “my body just won’t do that,” but of course what’s the hurt in trying?!
River was born via unplanned c-section and things happened so quickly that I honestly didn’t think to ask questions about how he would be taken care of after the procedure. I felt like if it were an uncomplicated natural delivery he would be right there with me and we could do the immediate skin-to-skin, try the latching, etc…it never dawned on me that even after an uncomplicated c-section delivery he would be taken away from us for almost 12 hours after deliver. A time, in my mind and from what I had read, is very crucial for immediate successful breastfeeding.
But that’s neither here nor there and obviously I couldn’t go back and change it so I just had to persevere and keep moving forward. I didn’t have much help in the hospital with the lactation consultants…well let me rephrase that. I was receiving TOO much help at the hospital. I think over the 3 days after he was born we saw about 5 different consultants. Sometimes they came in pairs…one talking over the other, contradicting just about every piece of advice given. It just wasn’t working so I was exclusively pumping by the time I got home from the hospital. I was supplementing with formula while my milk came in and I’ve heard that can cause nipple confusion too.
So we are home from the hospital and I am so lost. I had NO idea what I was doing, how often I should be pumping, how much I should be producing (which seemed like very little for how much work it was so I immediately turned to my best mom friend, Caroline. For pretty much any and everything Mama and baby related, I turn (NO RUN) to her. She’s been there, done that, BOUGHT the t shirt! If you can find a Mom friend that understands what you are going through and willing to help that won’t judge, shame or put you down, cling to her!! And if you don’t have one contact me!! I will be there for you no matter what, REALLY!
She had pumped with her first born and although she did get a short break she continued on along with breastfeeding her second child as well. So I figured she knew a thing or two. Basically my cry for help was “WHAT DO I DO NOW? HOW OFTEN? HOW MUCH? HOW LITTLE?” and so on…this is what she sent me.
-fenugreek (whole foods or any vitamin shop) *
-more milk plus (buy on amazon)
-mothers milk tea (Amazon or WF)
-pumpin pals (amazon only–I swear by these! I pump more and it’s significantly less painful) *
-medela hot and cold pads (babies r us, target, amazon) *
-lansinoh gel soothers (same as above)
-medela soft shells (same as above–Another lifesaver. These are basically barriers that keep your nipples from rubbing against your bra. I wear them all the time except for at night) *
-lanolin (bring to hospital) *(in Ria case coconut oil worked the best for my raw nips, however you may have to be careful because baby could have allergy but luckily my little one did not)
-medela hands free bra * (you definitely need this!!) *crazy open nipple bra!Helpful hints
-heat before pumping and feeding/cold afterwards
-If exclusively bf’ing: feed baby first and pump right after to build supply
-pump for 20 minutes total
-power pumping: during the first few weeks, try to pump 10 minutes every 10 minutes for an hour once a day–helped my supply significantly
-8 pumps per day every 2 hrs for the first 3weeks, then drop to 7 if supply is good
-you can go 4 hrs between pumps during late night
-do not drop below 6 pumps per day until 12 weeks post partum
-skin to skin helps speed up milk coming in and let downI know this is a lot but I swear it has all helped me tremendously! Your experience could be completely different than mine but these are just my suggestions. The lactation consultants at Northside were very helpful but don’t let them make you feel bad if you have to supplement. They can be fanatics. Breast feeding is hard work! Best of luck to you mama and call me if you need anything!
WOW! How amazing. This is something she had received from her go-to mom when she was going through the same! Seriously, find you a “bosom buddy!”
So after about a month of lugging this crazy contraption around everywhere, the constant sterilizing, freezing, making bottles, unfreezing. and so on and so on, became exhausting to me. There were little drops of breast milk on just about every surface of our house too. I felt like my life was pump, feed baby, wash bottles, pump, feed baby, wash bottles, pump. My head was spinning! I didn’t even feel like I was getting to enjoy my baby. Not to mention having to hook all the wires up, put on the ridiculous open-nippled bra and zip it over your engorged, throbbing boobs was no picnic either.
So yea pumping…this is what I have to say about pumping!
PUMPING IS HARD WORK! I commend all Moms who do this for any extended amount of time. Especially those who go back to work and continue to pump. I’ve heard some women have to sit on the toilet to pump…that is dedication.
So, back to learning to breastfeed. One night when I just couldn’t take it anymore I decided to try latching again…it wasn’t perfect but he did it! I just couldn’t believe it. It took for us to be relaxed, in a quiet moment without others around and it finally worked! I’m sure babies can feed off of our anxieties too. So not being able to relax with others pulling and tugging on us I am sure made a huge difference.
He was still pulling off and getting slightly fussy because he wasn’t getting that “instant” gratification he got from the bottle but I wasn’t going to give up! I told Luke that it may be a rough night but I didn’t want to pump in the middle of the night anymore if I could help it. We did lug the pump upstairs that night just in case and although we ran Luke into the guest room around 2 a.m. after a minor struggle we made it through the night!!
I felt like I was Superwoman! Such an amazing feat after so long I felt defeated and that full time pumping was going to become my life. I really have PROFOUND respect for all moms who full-time pump!
I honestly don’t know if I did anything different than what I had done before but I think not giving up was key. It’s so easy to feel defeated as a new Mom and especially at the beginning when things are very overwhelming something that makes life a little easier makes it easy to give up and move on to the next thing.
One thing I learned very quickly was that breastfed babies LIKE TO EAT. Like a lot. I think this constant need to nurse can make Moms think they aren’t producing enough, which in some cases can definitely be true, but from what I’ve learned it’s actually just telling your body to produce more. The physical bond between a Mother and child is one of the most amazing things in the world to me now. You just have to trust your body and your baby. They are fascinating little humans.
So I’m officially “breastfeeding”, now what?? Honestly, it was just about continuing the journey. I could probably write a book about the struggles, frustrations, happy moments, naysayers etc…but I won’t go in to that…but here are a few things I wish someone would have told me from the beginning!
- Don’t Give Up! : While FED is best and if breastfeeding and/or pumping is not right for you or you just simply can’t produce, that’s perfectly fine! But don’t give up too quickly!! Like everything persistence is key.
- Your Boobs Will Get Better! : While I can’t promise they will ever LOOK the same I can say that the crazy leaking, engorging and raw nipples (coconut oil worked wonders for me) will go away! I was so scared that I was about to have whole year of leaking but I think it stopped around 4-5 months…possibly sooner.
- Trust Your Body: I had so many people keep saying things like he wasn’t getting enough because of his cluster feeding and to give him formula but even though there were times he would go 72 hours where he would nurse every 2 hours around the clock, we came out of it on top and my body listened to him and he was full and fed after. Read more about cluster feeding here.
- Don’t Be Scared: While I am in no way shy or modest one of the hardest things I have ever done was breastfeed in public. There are SO MANY products to help cover you and baby to help you feel more comfortable! After a few times I got the hang of it, it didn’t even phase me anymore. I am feeding my baby. Everyone else can just go fuck themselves! (sorry had to put a little bit of my sassy ass in there 🙂
So we started weaning around 8.5 months mainly because I think River was becoming a little too much of a “titty baby” being that I was with him 24/7. I
was EXHAUSTED, again. I couldn’t hold him or play on the floor without him constantly pulling on my shirt to nurse even if I KNEW he didn’t need it. To me that was the indicator it was time…it was hard, but it was time!
So for weaning from breastfeeding…something I never knew was that it can cause a MAJOR hormone shift. Maybe not for everyone but it did for me. Apparently, breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin. The hug hormone, the cuddle chemical…when you start weaning and cutting breastfeeding sessions you can get a drastic drop in this hormone that causes you to go basically bat shit crazy! So be weary!! Read more about weaning and hormones here!
I can’t believe it’s been 10 months since our little one was born. I can’t believe my breastfeeding days are pretty much over. We nurse first thing in the morning and he has a bottle of formula after each meal of the day. It’s so funny how structured it is with bottles…with nursing there was never a set time. It was just whenever he wanted. But he loves holding his own bottle now…he thinks he’s so cool!