*This is breastfeeding tips post is a Paid Partnership with Happy Family Organics, all thoughts and opinions are of course my own*
Breastfeeding is one of the most challenging yet rewarding tasks to date. I have learned so much after having 4 babies, and want to share what I have learned along the way. I’m definitely no expert, and all of this has been trial and error. The biggest thing I have learned is there is no perfect breastfeeding journey, and it’s important to accept there will be road bumps. This will help you overcome any obstacle you may face.
CAMERON: 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 easily. 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 taken 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 on to feed Cameron with formula.
I wish at that time I would have heard about Happy Family Organics’ free service to help breastfeeding moms. They have created Happy Baby Experts, which offers parents one-on-one feeding support from experts — no sign-up required!
Available seven days a week, the free online chat is run by a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists who provide personalized tips, resources, and answer questions related to lactation, formula feeding, starting solids, picky eating, and more. Definitely worth checking out to make sure you are getting all the support you need.
CALVIN: With Calvin this was 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 there is also work to keep the production up.
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CYRUS: 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 the formula kept his sugar up. I hated that we had to do this, but it was either that or him going to the NICU. To this day he is not a baby that really likes being latched on.
Cyrus had 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 worked for us. Cyrus gets frustrated when being latched, so we decided it was best for me to pump more.
CASH: We are still in the thick of this process but I have now moved to almost exclusively pumping. We are not doing formula, but I pump every 3 hours. I still latch him on a couple times a day to ensure we continue to keep my milk production up.
Each child has been different and taken us along a different journey.
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 your LC. Ask them anything, and let them help you with whatever you are struggling with. That is their job. 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 refused to stay latched. 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! Breastfeeding is the hardest, most rewarding process, so just stay patient.
Speaking of latching if you are experiencing consistent pain when the babies are 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.
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 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.
My husband honestly thought he was a lactation consultant. haha! He wasn’t afraid to get in there and help get the baby to latch when it was tough for me. Rick would even watch me and give me critiques. It’s 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.
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 learned 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 gone through similar experiences. For me it is just nice to know I am not the only one that has gone 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 pack 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. You gotta just be disciplined and pump in those times that you really don’t want to.
When I went back to work, I started setting a timer to make sure I was pumping in our lactation room every 3-4 hours, so I didn’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.
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 me 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 go longer than about 4 1/2 hours without feeding or pumping. Also, if I don’t feel the baby is completely out, I will pump also. Just keep telling your body milk production is needed.
Again, I was super excited to try Happy Mama Lactation cookies to help support my increased nutritional needs as a breastfeeding mom. They come in 2 flavors: Cinnamon & Oat and Cookie Oat & Salt. Both super yummy and saves you from having to bake.
Diet is important. Make sure to 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 disciplined 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 of 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 if 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 its ups and downs, and that’s ok. Everyday I learn something different. I cannot stress enough that breastfeeding does not define whether or 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!
Do you have any breastfeeding tips? Let me know in a comment below!