ALTHOUGH FED IS BEST…when I got pregnant the first time, I knew I really wanted to breastfeed when he was here. Unfortunately for me, no one in my family had experience breastfeeding. All three of my siblings and I were all formula fed, as were all (3) of my cousins. So when I made that decision, I did a lot of research about what you would need, etc.
I wasn’t even sure if I was even going to be able to breastfeed but I was hopeful. Although he latched right away after my C-section with the nurse’s help, I found that after she walked away I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I spent the entire first night in my hospital bed in tears because I didn’t know how to get him to latch again. Me being me and not wanting to ask for help I tried for a long while before giving in and pushing the alert button for a nurse. She came in and helped me figure out how to express pump myself into a spoon for literally two hours and then feed through a syringe. Baby D wouldn’t latch long enough to be able to do it himself so that’s what we had to do. I expressed into a spoon, she then took the colostrum and would feed him with it. I quickly realized that obviously, that nurse would not be coming home with us, so I had to really figure out the whole latching thing ASAP. Thankfully we did but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have our fair share of problems along the way.
If you have never breastfed you are probably sitting there thinking isn’t it just a matter of sticking a baby on your boob and bob’s your uncle? No sweetie, it really isn’t. There are a lot of things that can happen like not enough milk, too much milk which leads to engorging or clogged ducts, and even nipple pain. I just wanted to give some insight into my experience and what helped me through each of those mishaps.
Lack of milk
Lack of milk is tough. It leads to a fussy baby, and also a hungry baby, especially when milk is the primary source of nutrition. Baby D is very tall and very lean. I had to work very hard to make sure my milk supply was always up so that he could continue to gain weight. I noticed pumping, mother’s milk tea and certain foods always helped my supply.
Pumping isn’t for everyone. A lot of time I wanted to quit because it takes up so much time, however, 1. I felt it was important for Baby D to be able to take a bottle so daddy could help with feeds if I needed a break and 2. I did notice my milk supply rose.
I didn’t realize that Baby D being able to take a bottle was going to be a learned task. A friend of mine recently told me her 17-month-old has no idea how to take a bottle because he was never taught so when she weaned him off of breastfeeding, he was cut cold turkey which made it a little more difficult for him. I started Baby D on a bottle at bedtime only when he was 6 weeks old, so that if need be my husband could feed him. But at 12 months, it was nice to know that when we were ready to wean him off, he knows how to use a bottle. The bottles we have used from day one are the Tommee Tippee ($17.99 for two on Amazon), and Medela Calma bottles ($19.97 each on Amazon) (which mimic breastfeeding).
Milk releases based on necessity so when you pump you are essentially tricking your body to think it needs more milk. I have used the NEW Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump SCF332/21 ($139.99 on Amazon) since day one. When it comes to breast pumps, I was ADAMANT that it had to be electric. I couldn’t imagine having to sit there for 30 minutes, a few times a day, hand pumping milk; pumping is already so much work, why add more. I do think with baby #2; I will 100% be investing in the Philips Avent Double Electric Breast Pump with Breastfeeding Accessories, SCF334/26 ($284.99 on Amazon), just so I don’t have to spend so much time trying to pump. It’s just such a mundane task when you know you have a million other things you could be doing (like sleeping maybe?). I was pumping once in the morning when I woke and once before I went to bed (most days). I liked to have a little stock supply in the freezer for just in case moments. I bag the milk flat in the freezer with whichever milk storage bags are on sale at the grocery store. I tried using the Medela bottle storage bottles but found they took up too much space in my freezer.
Mother’s Milk Tea has been an absolute lifesaver for me. I noticed my supply decreasing (right around the same time my menstrual cycle decided to return), so I did some research and this tea came up. I decided to give it a shot, there was really nothing to lose. I had a hard time finding it but finally did at London Drugs. It’s regularly around $5.99 per box but goes on sale quite a lot for $3.99, so that’s when I stock up. At the start, I would have around two teas a day and almost instantly noticed an increase from 2.5oz when I pumped to easily 6ozs. I then switched to drinking one every so often around the time of my menstrual cycle to ensure I had enough. Highly recommend. On a side note, it tastes VERY herbally, so if you like that kind of thing then all the power to ya but I find it tastes substantially better with honey added.
Foods for a healthy supply
Food also has a huge impact when it comes to increasing your supply. I noticed when I ate foods like oatmeal, salmon, and nuts tended to increase my supply. Water. Water. Water is HUGE. I am horrible at ensuring I drink enough water, I always have been, but it makes a huge impact. For me, I have started to also realize that the quantity of food is also a huge factor to supply. Baby is already taking so many of your nutrients through your milk so if you aren’t eating enough to supply for yourself you are going to see not only a decrease in milk supply but also in your energy, mood, and overall wellbeing.
Too much milk
After my milk came in, roughly three days postpartum; my boobs literally felt like they increased 17 sizes overnight and girl they were HARD. Baby D couldn’t keep up, and neither could my pumping. One day in the shower, I noticed I had a bump in one of my boobs which was painful to touch. I, like usual, went onto google and it was the start of clogged ducts. If you aren’t familiar with clogged ducts, it is BRUTAL. Basically, your boobs are trying to release too much milk and the ducts get clogged, which makes the lumps. Usually, you can feel lumps, pain, and swelling. Luckily for me, I was able to get rid of it after just over a week but it definitely didn’t just go away on its own. I literally showered three times a day and just stood under the hot water massaging the ping pong size lump. My boobs hurt so much to touch, sleep and really painful when I was feeding. I also noticed it decreased in size the more I fed off of that particular boob. But girlllll I am almost having PTSD just thinking about the pain from it all now.
I didn’t get it too awful, and it doesn’t usually last long but I did want to mention a few products that worked almost instantly for me. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin 40g ($9.87 on Amazon), Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter ($14.95 on Amazon) and coconut oil. Whenever I felt my nipples getting too dry, or start to crack, I would always put on one of the above just before I went to bed and it would be gone in the morning. I do recommend always keeping breastpads in your bra at all times because these balms are very oily and you will forever have a stain on your bras (or shirt) but also because girl you will be leaking and spraying on a daily basis so if you would like to keep your fluids under control, avoid the embarrassment and just keeps the pads on. I have always used the Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads ($12.97 for 100 on Amazon) and have never had a leak.
I hope that helps even a little bit. I know when I started I was completely lost, but I promise you, you will get the hang of it all. I just don’t want you going into it thinking it’s all rainbows and butterflies when things can happen. However, at the end of the day, FED is best, so however you choose to feed, whether it be breast or bottle, I truly wish you the best!