Disclaimer: I’m no subject matter expert and I’m not a lactation consultant. This is what I’ve learned from my personal experience and breastfeeding supports group. (There are a ton on Facebook.)
So I thought it would be a great idea to share my experience on breastfeeding. I get asked questions frequently about it on my Facebook page or on Instagram and thought, it may be easier to just write a blog about it and help a small business along the way. So let’s get started.
- No one warned me that after having a c-section it might take a few days for my milk to come in. Talk about getting engorged. Yikes!
- Is it supposed to be this painful? No. Being a first time mom, it was painful because I didn’t properly know how to latch my little one (lo).
- There would be times where I would want to quit. (Like when she’d get mad. Our first threw a lot of tantrums during her nursing sessions but would calm down with a bottle.)
- If you hang in there it will get better.
- Your supply isn’t always depleting when you think it is. (Our bodies eventually regulate off of supply and demand.)
- Everyone will not support you and yes if you nurse in public you may get stare downs but so what? People are hardly ever offended by women in swimsuits why is nursing such a big deal?
- Sometimes your lo will pull the cover off their heads and yes it may be embarrassing but they are getting fed and it gets pretty hot under there. Imagine being somewhere with a lot of humidity and trying to nurse outside at the park. (We’ve been there so many times when our lo had gotten hungry)
- A bathroom in not an appropriate place to nurse your lo. I hate when people say “nurse your baby in the bathroom.” Would they like to eat in the bathroom?
For the other fun stuff.
So when I first started nursing it was hard. I nursed our first for about four months and wish I had gone longer. I was a new mom and was not as informed about nursing as I was with our second. With our first we supplemented a lot because I didn’t know about pumping and she preferred formula to breastfeeding (most likely because I didn’t understand nursing). I remember feeling so bad because I wasn’t producing enough but that was mainly because I wasn’t pumping or nursing her enough. I educated myself a lot more for the second baby and was more prepared. We made it to a year with a combination of nursing on demand and pumping (at least for 10 months exclusively). It was during that year, that I learned that it was my duty to share the knowledge I had been given. My lactation nurses at UAB (Birmingham, AL) were super supportive this go round. I cried when I thought I wouldn’t be able to produce enough milk and that for the second time our little one would have to supplement. Within a week my milk came in. What was so different this time?
- The support from my husband and nurses.
- Our daughter didn’t have a pacifier within the first few hours of being born (it really did make a difference and she still doesn’t know what one is.)
- I was more motivated to keep going.
- The support from other moms.
- The support from my coworkers reminding me to take my pump breaks.
- My overall mental health.
- I was less stressed (it plays an enormous part)
- When our family came to visit this time they were supportive. (I’d go in the room and nurse our little one or I’d pump a bottle for them to feed her but they were really supportive in her not getting formula. It was embarrassing sometimes when they opened the fridge and saw tons of breast milk. The look on their faces were often priceless.)
- I learned about becoming a milk donor and wanted to help other babies
I learned a lot the second time around like:
- Your milk isn’t always depleting, sometimes you just need to pump more and nurse on demand. Never substitute a pacifier for baby wanting to nurse or be close to you. Most new moms learn about comfort feeding or hear the phrase “the baby is using you for a pacifier” and that’s generally not true. Most babies feel more secure when they are near their parents and are allowed to nurse on demand. This also helps your supply. When babies miss feedings, it sends the ques to your body to make less milk.
- Co-sleeping worked wonders. I had a crazy let down and my little one would often get squirted with milk so I learned how to nurse her while laying on my side. She would often find her way to my breast at night if I was asleep. This would prompt me to wake up and pump the other side. I also rotated sides at night so both sides could be emptied.
- I created a pumping schedule. The less you pump or baby nurses, the less milk you make. (This is only effective when you are trying to wean and cut back. It can be critical to supply if not done often.) Monday through Friday: Before work between 5 and 6 I would nurse and then pump. I would do a quick session (5-10 minutes between 7 & 7:30) before starting work at 7:30. Sometimes I would wait until 8. (10-15 minutes) Lunchtime (15-20 minutes) between 11:30 and 12:30p.m. Then once more at work between 2 and 3 p.m. At home before I could get comfortable she would nurse. I would pump before my workout sessions between 4 & 6 p.m. Then again around 8 p.m or after my shower. The hot water usually stimulated my breast or caused a let down. I’d wake up to pump between 11 p.m & 12 a.m and then once more between 2 & 3 a.m. I started dropping sessions and going to 30 minute sessions as she got older and our stash was built. This was effective since I was donating milk to local mothers, Mother’s Milk Bank of Alabama and building a stash for any work related training that would cause me to be away for more than a week. (This happened 3 times. 4 days, 4 days and then a month.)
- Being away from her days at a time did cause a dip in my supply since I wasn’t able to pump as often or nurse her. She remembered how to latch the first two trips but after my month long trip she kept biting and couldn’t remember how to latch so we exclusively pumped and supplemented as needed while I used Milky Mama’s products (http://milky-mama.com/) to get my supply back. I went back to my original pumping schedule minus the 2 am in the morning session (6-7 times a day.)
I will include more information on part II which will also cover my journey as a milk donor. Thanks for reading this far. Talking about breastfeeding often causes me to be a bit long winded. I love talking about breastfeeding and the benefits thereof. If you have any questions that I didn’t address yet, let me know and I’ll be sure to cover them the next time.
Peace & Love
Happy Baby After Nursing