When I take a second to reflect on my breastfeeding journey, it’s hard for me to believe I’ve basically breastfed for the past six years. My four children and I have been lucky enough to learn each other through nursing. I can say that I have had the lowest of lows and highest of highs during my breastfeeding time but I wouldn’t change it for the world. What I am sharing with you are my thoughts, feelings and tips to make your time breast-feeding as easy as possible.
The best piece of advice I could give to you is don’t go into it blindly. Don’t just show up at the hospital and expect to have your baby “just know” how to nurse or how to feed your babe. THEY ARE ALL SO DIFFERENT. Looking back, all four of my children started very differently. Nolan latched a few minutes after birth, Harper took an hour or so to latch after birth, Scarlet Reese took a few weeks to form a good latch and Mercy took a few days. I am not going to lie, if Scarlet Reese had been born first and had the issues with latching like she did as a first time mom, it would have really discouraged me. I am so glad that I had taken the time to learn about breastfeeding before I had my first and also kept a positive mindset. Your baby is learning just like you are so give both of you ALL the grace in the beginning and if you feel like something is “off” then reach out to a lactation consultant! They will be more than happy to help you.
In the beginning, your breasts will become tender and swollen when your milk comes in and from the sucking motion of your babe. It will pass but until it does, make sure to stock up on good breast pads and nipple cream. I wrote a blog with my post partum must haves and you can check it out by clicking here. I’ve linked my fav nipple cream and breast pads in that post. When your milk comes in, keep alternating breasts during your nursing sessions to keep from getting mastitis. I strongly suggest buying a Haakaa for milk collection during nursing.
I keep it on the breast that the baby is not during her nursing session and it catches SO MUCH MILK! It’s the easiest way to pump without pumping! I love how convenient it is to safe milk and let’s me build my milk stash without sitting down to actually pump. This is a manual pump that is silicone, BPA, PVC and Phthalate free! I ordered mine my Haakaa off of Amazon and it arrived two days later. I also love the little flower insert because I can keep it out, use it during my nursing sessions during the day and keep the milk fresh until I empty it into a milk bag!
When you do pump, I suggest making sure to pump when you have your colostrum. I keep a few bags in the freezer because that “good milk” has so many vitamins that if your little one is ever sick, you can give them a bottle of the colostrum to help build their immune system. I’ve done this with all of my babies and it’s been so helpful every time! Aside from my Haakaa pump, I try and pump at least once a day with my big bag pump. It’s important for Derrek and I to get alone time on dates so when we go on a weekly date, Mercy gets a bottle by a babysitter. I sit down and pump before one of my feedings verses after because when your little one actually latches, it tells your body “hey, produce more milk” and your supply will rise. If you wait until after you nurse to pump, you tend to not get as much milk.
I have also pumped during the engorgement process after I had a baby and I was able to quickly produce a milk stash. The catch is that your body will continue to think it needs to produce that much milk for the baby so your boobs will constantly be full. So if you don’t want that then just trust the process of your body figuring out that it doesn’t need to produce as much during feedings and soon they will calm down. I say calm down because you’ll look like you had a boob job for a good while until they do! hahaha. I also want to share that after I had my second baby, my boobs didn’t get “as full” as they did and that is normal so don’t freak yourself out.
I also want to share that if you feel like you aren’t producing as much as you’d like, get in contact with a lactation consultant. That is what they are there for and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t feel like you’re alone in this journey because I know that it can feel very lonely. Reach out if you have questions to a TRAINED professional… not a mom’s group on facebook. I also suggest implementing lactation tea, cookies or fennel oil applied to the breasts to produce more milk. You can find options all over the internet so just look around and get the products that you feel best for your needs.
The last thing that I do want to address is the issue of supplementing formula during breastfeeding. I could fall down a rabbit hole when it comes to people telling you to do this or do that. But y’all… KNOW AND TRUST YOUR BODY! Supplementing with formula is not a good fix all. I’ve seen pediatricians tell mothers that their baby isn’t gaining enough weight and I’ll share this. NONE of my children ever been weight checked by a ped. I go off of my innate knowledge as a mother and I could care less about what percentile they are in. They are all healthy and happy. I always tell my friends that a specific weight doesn’t mean anything… we are all different weights so don’t freak out over that!
NOW, with that being said… if you feel like your baby is crying all the time and never wanting to nurse then def check into what your ped has to say. I do not suggest just supplementing with formula because it makes you miss feedings and your body will start thinking it doesn’t need to produce as much milk and eventually it can cost you your entire milk supply. Just be careful and let that be your last resort. Cluster feeding is also something to research and be aware of because if you don’t know what it is, it’s a confusing time as a mom. You might start feeling burned out and emotional but yet again, don’t keep silent. REACH OUT FOR HELP! I am a huge fan of lactation consultants and finding one in your area is a “must” in my book.
A women’s body is absolutely amazing and the more you take the time to research it, the more it will blow your mind. Please let me know if you have any questions, I would love to help you!