Breastfeeding Experience & Tips
As soon as you find out you’re pregnant breastfeeding is automatically pushed on you by doctors. You start hearing “breast is best“, “You’re breastfeeding right?” and let’s not forget the various books and pamphlets you get just to inform you even if you’re not breastfeeding. Not to mention all the new moms you see on Instagram posing with their breastfeeding babies making it look so easy. You’re told everything about breastfeeding except for how hard it really is.
A lot of mothers think that it’s as simple as just plopping the baby on the boob and that’s it but boy oh boy, it’s nowhere near that easy. When I gave birth to my son my plan was to solely breastfeed by putting him on the boob and introducing the bottle a few weeks in so I could both pump and nurse. I was lucky because he latched perfectly. I was happy that things were going well but the next day is where the frustration kicked in. We had visitors and in the middle of the visit he began crying, the issue was he’d eat and then act as though he was done so I’d remove him from my boob and a few minutes later he’d be crying. Then by the time he was crying and I’d attempt to put him back on my boob he wouldn’t take it because he was already frustrated. It didn’t help that my visitors weren’t necessarily being helpful with the comments they were making suggesting that he wasn’t getting enough milk and that I’d have to resort to giving him formula because breastfeeding wasn’t working out. That coupled with the fact that he wanted to eat back to back, sometimes for an hour, then he’d stop and 15 minutes later he’d be eating again, I was becoming overwhelmed and super frustrated. He also preferred my right breast over my left so I had trouble getting him to latch on my left although that was the first side he fed on when he was born. Yet and still, it was all fine and dandy until that night around 3 in the morning, he started crying and would not stop, as a sleep deprived mom who’d freshly given birth I was exhausted and felt postpartum depression slowly creeping up on me. I first asked for a pacifier and the nurse on hand wouldn’t provide it because I was breastfeeding. So I tried to get him quiet some more, tried giving him the boob but he wouldn’t take it in the middle of screaming. I gave in and asked for a formula bottle. Looking back I wish I hadn’t because that was the onset of my battle with breastfeeding but I did what was best for my mental health. Sleep deprivation, around the clock feeding, it’s a lot to handle right after giving birth. Giving birth is exhausting in itself.
At first, he had a struggle adjusting to the bottle nipple but he was able to grasp it after a few minutes. My plan was to still breastfeed as I’d ordered a pump and wanted to try it out plus I was still putting him on the breast and hand expressing milk while supplementing with formula until the pump came in. 4 days after I gave birth I was given a Medela manual hand pump. I tried it out but I assumed I was doing it wrong because I wasn’t getting much. So I gave the manual pump a rest. The next day my Ameda Finesse electronic double breast pump came in. I was really excited to use it, I gave it a try and I still wasn’t getting much milk from either boob. Here I was with a dilemma, my milk production was really low, I was producing less than 1oz and my baby was now preferring the bottle over my boobs and was giving me a hard time each time I tried to nurse so he was getting nursed directly from my boobs only 1-2 times a day. I talked with lactation consultants and was told to keep trying, keep pumping, and keep going. Now, with pumping you’re supposed to pump every 2-3 hours which for me is really hard to keep up with even with having help. Taking care of a newborn is really exhausting so when you get a break all you want to do is sleep most of the time. So that’s what would happen, I would pump a few times and then fall asleep not keeping up with the schedule. I was also still hand expressing, especially in the shower just to keep the little milk that I had. Hand expressing is just taking your hand and getting the milk out yourself. After noticing that my production really wasn’t increasing as the weeks went by I decided to look into supplements like lactation cookies and teas to help up my production. I settled with Mother’s Milk Tea and that didn’t work for me and gave me a headache 90% of the time I would drink it. Not to mention you’re supposed to drink it 3 times a day for it to really work. I googled and googled different methods, products, you name it, tried power pumping, looked into different pumps, tried a nipple shield, and here I am almost 2 months in still struggling.
I’m not giving up just yet because I really want my son to have breastmilk instead of the formula. So my plan is to increase my supply naturally by drinking lots of water and eating foods that are supposed to help with increasing like oatmeal. I also still nurse my son at least 1-2 times a day or more if he’s up to it. Some days he feel likes doing the work and other days he wants the bottle to do the work for him. It’s definitely been a struggle and a lot of things have played a role but I’m keeping the faith. It helps to talk to other mothers who breastfeed and sharing experiences and problem areas. My main thing is that I’m not beating myself up over it, I was really discouraged at one point because I felt I failed at the one thing I wanted to be able to provide for him but I’m okay with knowing he was solely breastfed during the most important time of his life which was that first 24 hour window of birth. I’m also happy because he still gets breastmilk daily I just want to solely have him drinking breastmilk so it’s my goal to get there. If I don’t get there it’s okay because although breast is best, fed is better. As long as he’s not hungry, I’m happy.
Although my experience hasn’t been perfect and I’m still learning here are a few tips for other mothers who are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.
- Be patient with yourself and your baby, your baby is still learning just as you are. It’s natural for them to cry and cluster feed (eat back to back) because breast milk is digested quickly, so take it easy and try to remain calm and get comfortable with knowing your baby will spend A LOT of time on your boobs. Having a good support system helps a ton!
- Watch for hunger cues (opening of the mouth, turning head towards boob or turning head to search for food, making smacking sound) instead of waiting until baby is crying to feed them because when they’re crying it’s almost impossible to latch them. A good trick is to place your hand near the corner of baby mouth to see if they’re hungry, it works all the time with my son.
- If you want to keep your baby on your boob wait a few weeks to introduce a bottle or they may develop nipple confusion.
- Drink lots of water and eat well!
- Do your research. Read stories, information pamphlets, etc.
- Your breasts work on supply and demand. The greater the demand, the more milk your body will produce. Your baby is helping your body to learn how much milk it needs to make. The more you nurse and pump, the more milk your body will produce.
- When your baby seems like he/she is always hungry it’s easy to worry you’re not making enough milk. I’ve learned that how much milk you can pump is not at all related to how much milk your baby is getting because baby is able to get more milk when they nurse than you can when pumping. As long as your baby is making at least five or six wet diapers a day, your supply is just fine.
- Have nipple cream on standby because your nipples can become really sore, raw, and cracked by constantly feeding. Lansinoh has a really good cream called “HPA Lanolin” that I’ve used. Keep your nipples moisturized when you’re not nursing.
- Ask for help if you’re struggling. Talk to lactation consultants, other mothers who have breastfeeding experience and ask questions!
- Skin to skin helps your body produce more milk! Even if you’re pumping have your baby close as it may help get more milk.
- Invest in bottles that closely mimic breastfeeding/breast. My favorites so far are Tommee Tippee “Advanced Anti-Colic” bottle, they also have a “Closer to Nature” line that I haven’t tried but closely resemble the ones I just mentioned, and Boon “Nursh” bottles.
- Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. Often times the initial latch may sting a little but as baby eats, it should not hurt. Make sure he/she is latched right. The best way to latch is to get baby to open wide.
- Keep it up for as long as you can. Even if it’s a week, a month or a year, however long you can nurse for, do it! Take it one day at a time, literally, and don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets. They are no longer available but the feedback has been nothing but good. The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Books” on the blog’s homepage.
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Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!
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