My breastfeeding experience with each baby:
When I had Cameron I was not educated on all the benefits your baby could get from breastfeeding. I was a young mom, not saying that was an excuse but just never really woke up to become aware of the importance of sticking with breastfeeding. Subsequently, I only breastfed Cameron for about a month (if that). The moment it got tough I gave up! That’s another thing I wasn’t aware of, I thought after you have the baby breastfeeding just comes easy. Haha I sure was wrong. I wasn’t mentally prepared to stick out the pain and work to get the correct latch. Looking back I wish I’d taking the time to find the resources to help me become successful at breastfeeding. Know that for the first couple weeks your nipples will feel like they are about to fall off, stick through that pain! It will get better.
We went onto feed Cameron with formula. What I will say is Cameron at a very young age started getting many sinus infections. He’s had 6 surgeries and still has issues with breathing. Now, I am not saying this was due to him having formula. BUT if there was even a small chance that breastfeeding could have toughened up his immune system, I wish we would have kept on breastfeeding.
Formula got expensive for us and wasn’t always convenient. I’ve been at the point where we were running low and had to run out to the store at an inconvenient times. We also had a few constipation issues with Cameron while on formula.
With Calvin this my first time breastfeeding, and I was committed to doing it a full year. I did make it the full year but it was tough. We never had much of a latch issue with Calvin. I would say my biggest challenge was milk production. I struggled with keeping my milk production up. During this time we were making the move from MI to TX, trying to get settled, getting a new job. I think many factors just made it difficult to focus on keeping my milk production up. I wasn’t as committed to pumping, and didn’t drink nearly as much water as I should have.
Towards the end with Calvin we had to supplement slightly because I just wasn’t producing as much. Again, once you get the latch down their is also work to keep the production up.
Cyrus has been the hardest so far to date. We have battled the latch issues due to him needing to be bottle fed the first early days because his blood sugar kept dropping, and needing formula to keep his sugar up. I hated that we had to do this, but it was either that or him go to the NICU. To this day he is really not a baby that really likes being latched on. We also fought through getting thrush which was painful for me! The key to correcting Thrush is to get on medication as soon as you see the signs, and make sure you sterilize everything!
Cyrus is not as efficient with sucking so it takes him longer to feed, sometimes he will be on each side for 30 minutes!! And like I said he really has no interest in breastfeeding directly. He would prefer a bottle honestly. I would say he takes bottles about 40%-50% of the time, and that is what works for us. Cyrus gets frustrated when being latched, so we decided it was best for me to pump more. This has worked great for us and has been a team effort. My husband will feed him the bottle in the middle of the night and I will be pumping. Its important to assess what works for you and baby, and this is what works.
Each child has been different and taken us along a different journey.
USE YOUR RESOURCES
It takes a team to be able to be successful at breastfeeding.
Take advantage of your Lactation consultant. After you have a baby you will have visits from you LC. Ask them anything, and let them help you with whatever you are struggling with. That is their job. Oh and don’t be surprised if they get up close and personal and grab on to help you get the right latch for your baby! With Calvin that took me by surprise. They will help you express milk, latch the baby on, teach you how to schedule feedings. Basically, anything pertaining to breastfeeding. I even had them watch me to make sure I was doing it right before leaving the hospital.
After coming home from the hospital we struggled with Cyrus latching on due to nipple confusion. He struggled with low blood sugar while at the hospital forcing us to have to give him formula and breast milk the first 5 days. I would try to latch him and he would get upset my milk flow wasn’t like the bottles and with refuse to stay latch. So what did I do? I called my hospital’s lactation consultants and scheduled a walk-in appointment. Our hospital gives this service to us free of charge. It’s the least they could do after how much we pay them.
We went back up there to get help from the LC, and right when we get there Cyrus decides to latch right away making me seem like a crazy person. Ugh! Then we get home and he goes right back to not latching again. I scheduled another appointment and the LC helped me with getting him latched. Getting past Cyrus having nipple confusion was not an easy task. We would have to latch him on and also feed him with a syringe of my breastmilk at the same time. This would in sense trick him to think he was getting a faster flow. Crazy! The things we do for our children! We eventually got past it, and I attribute that to working with our LC. So make sure you have a lactation consultant ready to help you with anything you may face.
Speaking of latching if you are experiencing consistent pain when the babies is latched. STOP take the baby off and try again. The last thing you want is to get cracked nipples. Try again with a wide open mouth latch. Most importantly be patient and don’t get frustrated (I know harder than it may sound). I know whenever I was tense it made it so much harder to relax and take time to get a good latch.
YOUTUBE IS YOUR FRIEND
We use youtube for everything else to get educated so why not for breastfeeding. The latch in the beginning can be painful as you and baby are both learning to how to get a successful latch. I struggled with a lot of pain, and had to watch Youtube to help get a successful latch. If you are experiencing consistently a lot of pain while feeding that means you don’t have a good latch. I watched a few videos that helped me with position and how to get a good latch. Here are a couple of videos that helped me.
GET YOUR SPOUSE TO HELP
My husband honestly thought he was a lactation consultant. haha! He wasn’t afraid to get in that grab and help get the baby latch when it was tough for me. He would even watch me and give me critiques. Its kind of silly, but honestly he really helped. Plus it gave me encouragement that we were in this together to get through this tough task. Make sure when your LC is in the room your partner is watching the techniques to help you execute them later.
Most importantly, there will be times when you may feel like you want to quit. Rick would push me to keep going and became my cheerleader to let me know I was doing a good job.
HAVE A MOM CIRCLE
I have said this previously, but in this first year it is pivotal to have a network of moms you can candidly share your experiences with. I learn of some good nipple cream to use when I talked to my friend about my sore nipples. You can learn tips from other mothers that have went through similar experiences. For me it is just nice to know I am not the only one that has went through some of the challenges I have faced.
I am a working mom so I know I have to build up a stash before getting back to work. I really committed to this when I had Cyrus. After each feeding I will also pump, even if it is just a little bit. Also, during those first couple weeks when you are over producing make sure to pump a lot and packaged up the excess milk. Yes, it can be a pain to pump after feeding but if you are going to be working you will be happy in the long run. At the point that you are overproducing your baby is not emptying you out, the last thing you want is to become engorged or even worse Mastitis.
I have used two different types of storage bags, the ones by Medela and Tommee Tippee. Personally, I like the twist top so the Tommee Tippee is my favorite. You gotta just be discipline and pump in those times that you really don’t want to.
I now have over 1000 ounces saved in preparation of going back to work soon. When I had Calvin I began getting a little stressed because I was always making milk for the next day of work. I didn’t like that feeling of not having extra. Also, just naturally my milk supply decreased a little bit when I went back to work because I didn’t have a baby right next to me always feeding. I learned from Calvin, and committed to being prepared this time around.
When I went back to work started setting a timer to make sure I am pumping in our lactation room ever 3-4 hours, so I don’t run the risk of my supply decreasing. It’s so easy to get busy with your work day and skip a pump session. This will quickly decrease your supply.
Oh and if you don’t have a Boppy make sure you grab one. Part of successful breastfeeding is to have a comfortable experience.
If you haven’t gotten some nursing friendly clothes you will want to do that. I try to get tops that I can keep and wear even after I stop breastfeeding. Here is my wrap top and the bra that I have been using.
KEEPING YOUR MILK PRODUCTION UP
Drink water. I can tell when I have been slacking on my water intake I can see it in my milk production. Drink tons of water. The hospital gave a 30 ounce cup I try to drink 3 of those each day.
Regular feed and/or pump. If you are not regularly feeding or pumping, your body will think you don’t need that milk. Naturally it will decrease the amount of milk you produce. I don’t got longer than bout 4 1/2 hours without feeding or pumping. Also, if I don’t feel the baby has completely at I will pump also. Just keep telling your body milk production is needed.
Mothers Milk Tea. I also regularly drink this tea. Again, I am a working mom so I have to do anything that will help me increase my milk supply. This tea’s purpose is to promote the milk production. You can buy this here or pick up at Target or Walmart.
Now that I am not overproducing I make sure I still pump in between feedings about 2-3 times. Especially in the middle of the night. Yes it is hard to wake up, but my body produces more during the night and early morning, so while baby is sleeping I get an extra pump session in.
Diet is important. Make sure have a high protein diet. Here is a good resource that outlines some great foods to incorporate in your diet.
If you are a pumping mom like me, I can’t stress enough to remain discipline with your pump/feeding schedule. If you do make the decision to completely pump, still attempt to latch the baby regularly. So your body still naturally feels that it should continue to keep producing milk.
I think as a mother you have to do whatever is right for the health your baby and yourself. That may mean formula. Don’t beat yourself up for choosing that route. I don’t believe any mom should get down on themselves is they can’t or simply choose not to breastfeed. My main point is before you make the decision, make sure to be fully educated when deciding what’s best for your baby.
There will be moments that you feel like quitting, but be patient and know that you can get past it. The breastfeeding journey will have it’s ups and downs, and that’s ok. Everyday I learn something different. I cannot stress enough that breastfeeding does not define whether are not you are a great mother. The biggest priority is that your baby gets the nutrients they need however that may be.
I hope this post helps you or someone else know that breastfeeding is not easy at times. Enjoy this time with you little one and the bonding experience. Please share any breastfeeding tips you may have. Breastfeeding is about learning ways to get better every day!