It has taken me wayyyy too long to sit down and write this but, the hours disappear quickly with a newborn. I have a lot to say on this subject so this is going to be a long post. Obviously, I’m not a breastfeeding expert but I did read A TON of Pinterest articles on the subject. Personally, I’m 5 weeks into my breastfeeding journey and finally feeling like I’ve gotten the hang of it. At the end of this post I will have a list of supplies and good advice that have really helped me on my journey so far. Feel free to scroll down to that if you’re just looking for advice. If you’re looking for a story stick with me.
Now before we begin let me tell you that I’m of the opinion that fed is best. Whether it’s breastmilk or formula it doesn’t matter. Too often moms are shamed for their choices, especially when it comes to feeding their children. As long as your child is happy and your comfortable with your decision that’s all that matters. Since that’s been established, let’s get started.
I knew as soon as I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed. I pinned so many articles to my baby board on Pinterest and Googled all the tips and tricks. I began to realize breastfeeding was hard work. I started worrying about keeping up with it while working. I started thinking about how I couldn’t just go out for drinks without having milk in the fridge ready for him. I began to doubt my decision. Then I would price out how much formula would be and was back on the “I’m going to breastfeed” train.
My little baby latched on perfectly the first time he fed. The hospital nurses said he was a natural, I was thrilled. Once we were all settled in the room we would be staying in for two days Zack and my mom went to drop off my car at home so we wouldn’t have three cars at the hospital. About ten minutes after they left Sterling started crying. “I got this.” I thought as I picked him up and unbuttoned my shirt. The second time feeding him was also easy. Fast forward to that night and the next day where having a tiny human extracting milk was wreaking havoc on my boobs. My nipples were so sore. I was miserable.
They tell you to switch sides every nursing session so that both breasts will develop a milk supply. Well for some reason my left breast was not having anything to do with this whole feeding a baby thing. I was producing colostrum but every time he latched onto that side it was so painful. At one point when he started crying and it was a left side feeding, I started crying. I didn’t even want to feed my own child because of how uncomfortable it was but I knew I had to. Three days in and I wanted to give up.
Once my milk came in a whole other set of problems began to arise. I started off with an oversupply and was dealing with incredibly painful, engorged breasts. I didn’t know that your baby might not empty your breast since their stomachs are so small. Since I didn’t know this, I didn’t know to pump or hand express the milk out so my ducts were getting clogged. I could tell something wasn’t right and began to worry about developing mastitis. I am so thankful that a family friend gifted me a visit with a lactation consultant because that visit saved my breastfeeding journey. She sat with me at home for an hour and a half going over all the issues I was having. Since my breast were too full Sterling was having a hard time latching and had begun to reject that damn left breast. She showed me how to soften the area so that he was able to grip, she told me it was okay to pump to release the trapped milk (I had been avoiding pumping since I was told you shouldn’t start until 3-4weeks), she also said babies are very sensitive to how you were feeling and that’s also why things may have been going downhill.
After she said that I vowed to try to be more positive. I had become resentful and I hadn’t even been breastfeeding for a week. I also had mixed feelings about what I was doing. I know that it’s natural but societies views had crept into my thoughts. I felt shameful for feeding my baby the way nature intended. Zack was quick to tell me how beautiful he thought it was; I was providing nourishment for our child. I tried to push those thoughts and the pain out of my head and dove back into breastfeeding.
Here we are a month later and things are much better. My oversupply has regulated which on one hand is good but on the other makes me worried about going back to work. I’ve started building a freezer stash for when I’m away but have yet to find a pumping schedule that works. Sterling is still eating every two hours so it’s hard to time it right so that he’s getting enough milk and my breast have time to rest. I can’t feed him without some sort of bib or burp cloth covering me because if he’s upset he’ll unlatch leaving milk spraying out of my nipple and covering him and me. Somedays I wish I could have a whole bottle of wine after dealing with a baby, moving, and wedding planning but I can’t because I don’t want to dip into my milk stash yet. It’s not always a glamorous process but we’re making it through.
Honestly, I could go on and on about the adventures we’ve had breastfeeding but I won’t bore you. I will say to the mom who thought she could whip her boob about anywhere but now feels self-conscious I’ve been there (nursing covers are great), to the mom with the hungry baby in Publix rushing out to the car to nurse because in your frazzled state you didn’t think to go to the bathroom I’ve been there, to the mom who thought you could go out without a bra and missed a feeding and now you have two rocks on your chest threating to split your skin open I’ve been there. WE ARE DOING GREAT MAMAS. This will most likely not be my last post on this subject since I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of my journey and feelings. I wanted to put something out there though since reading other women’s experiences really helped me when I was having trouble. To all my milk mamas, and milk machines to be. We got this!
- I use a Spectra S2 Double Electric pump. It has been amazing! Most insurances will give you a free breast pump so make sure to check! Mine didn’t cover the Spectra so I went through Aeroflow and got it for $30 with a Dr. Browns pumping bag. I did buy another set of flanges in a smaller size to have extra and because the ones it came with were a little big. Spare Parts
- I have two Haaka milk collectors and to me, they are a must! Put them on the other breast when your little is nursing and it will collect milk from that side. Super easy way to build up a milk stash. Haaka
- I also have a manual hand pump for long car rides, theme park days etc. I use the Avent hand pump which like the Haaka and the other set of spectra flanges can be found on Amazon. Hand Pump
- BUY LOTS OF NURSING PADS. I’ve been using Parent’s Choice and haven’t ever leaked through.
- Nursing covers that double as car seat covers are super, I have three.
- If you are going to drink and breastfeed the general rule of thumb is if you can drive you can nurse. If I have more than one drink I test my milk with test strips that can detect alcohol in breastmilk. I got a box from Walmart in the baby aisle. Test Strips
- Currently, I’m using Medela breastmilk storage bags but I’ve heard they have a tendency to leak. Storage Bags So far I haven’t had a problem but many moms swear by the Target brand Up & Up bags. I also use a milk storage organizer to keep the freezer from getting too crowded. Storage Organizer
- I have a little strap called the “Nurselet” from Amazon that allows any shirt to be turned into a shirt you can nurse in. It’s fabulous! Nurselet
- I use two kinds of bras for nursing. One set is great for around the house and sleeping. Sleeping Bra The other are great for going out since they have more support and aren’t visible in v-necks, tank tops, etc. Going Out Bra
- The lactation consultant I saw said if you’re going to be pumping twice in one day you don’t have to wash your parts in between. Simply rinse them out and put them in the fridge. This has been a life saver because who has the time.
- Facebook has many nursing and mom groups that have been a lifesaver for me. Look for a La Leche or Breastfeeding group, or ask your mom friends if they are apart of a group and ask them to add you.
Okay, I think that’s all for now! If you ever want support in your journey feel free to message me on Twitter: @growing_a_mommy or on Instagram: @growingamommyblog. I couldn’t have done it without the support I received from people and would love to give back to other moms that need a hype girl.