Early on in my pregnancy I remember dreading breastfeeding more than I dreaded the labor and delivery. Everyone said that labor is bad and pushing is hard, but it has an end to it, but breastfeeding is a seemingly unending painful experience. I just assumed this meant it would hurt x 43010392.
Fast-forward to right after A was born and I had my first breastfeeding experience, and I remember thinking, “Oh! Maybe A is a natural at this and it won’t be that bad” because with the nurse’s help we seem to have gotten on just fine. End story!
Hahah, if only…
I won’t bore you with the details, but in short, anytime a nurse or lactation consultant would help get A latched on, it seemed like a cinch, but left to myself, A would be screaming, I would be crying, and Kp would be feeling extremely hopeless watching us.
I wish the breastfeeding classes I went to told me that breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally, or that in some instances mothers really struggle to produce milk, or that it’s okay to give formula! I understand that some people are extreme advocates for breastfeeding, but I wish I had a more complete view of breastfeeding. Because all the classes made it sound so easy, I didn’t think I would struggle with it, not necessarily the pain portion of it, but the milk production part.
The day after we got discharged from the hospital, we went back to the pediatrician to do a weight check, and we found out that A was continuing to lose weight and her jaundice was getting worse because she wasn’t getting enough milk. So basically, I was starving A and making her sicker… We got readmitted to the hospital so she could undergo phototherapy for her jaundice. The next few hours were probably one of the roughest for me during our entire time at the hospital. Blow after blow, I felt like nothing was happening like I thought it would. “Give formula..!” “She needs an IV..!” “We can’t get the IV in because she’s crying and kicking too much.. Give a pacifier!” Kp had to go back home to get our stuff so we could stay overnight at the hospital and I was left by myself in the hospital room while they were trying to get the IV in her (which took FOREVERRRR), and all I could do was cry.
Anyways, sob portion over… it really took me letting go of my pride to be able to comfortably feed A formula and in hindsight, I’m so thankful that I live in an age where we CAN give baby formula to help it thrive when there are other complications. But for me, I still really wanted to make breastfeeding work so I decided to meet with a lactation consultant. I quickly realized how far behind I was… Here we were, feeding A about 1.5 ounce bottles of formula, every 3 hours, and I was pumping not even a ml of milk (30 ml = 1 ounce). Over the span of the next week, I was still only pumping around 10 ml at a time. My lactation consultant put us on a plan: nurse, bottle feed, pump, every 2 hours, around the clock. The worse part was that A literally took an hour to feed, so by the time it was all done, we had maybe 45 minutes break before we had to start again…. For almost 3 weeks. I don’t think I’ve cried more tears than I did the whole past 2 years combined than I did those first few weeks. I remember the turning point/the low point was when Kp got sick the day before my birthday. If you know me, you’ll know that I love celebrating my birthday but with A’s arrival I knew that this year would be different… but I wasn’t quite prepared for how different. Anyways, I vividly remember this moment when I was trying to get A to latch on, and Kp was standing a far away because we were afraid his germs would get A sick and she was crying her crazy cry, and I was crying because it hurt to much and I was getting so frustrated, and at that moment I almost gave up, but something in me (probably my stubbornness) wouldn’t let me quit and I decided that no matter how long it took for her to latch on, I was going to fight through the pain, even if it meant nursing her with tears streaming down my face. It was still a slow, uphill journey, but after about a month of the whole nurse-bottle-pump routine, we were finally able to pack away the formula and bottles and now almost 5 months later, praise the Lord, I am able to exclusively breastfeed and I love that I get to do that!
During the first few weeks we spent a lot of money on random things to help make breastfeeding work. Here are some things that we found extremely helpful:
Nipple Butter Nursing Cream: compared with the Lanolin they gave me at the hospital, this thing worked wonders! It’s not magic, but definitely helpful.
Dr. Brown’s 2-ounce Bottles: At first when we started supplementing with formula, we just used the disposable nipples they gave us at the hospital. But my LC said that the flow from those nipples were way too fast for a newborn and suggested we get the Dr. Brown’s Premie nipples. After a quick search on Target, I saw that those nipples came with the 2-ounce bottles so we got a couple of those. The LC also taught us how to do paced feeding to more mimic the flow of milk from the breast and with all those things, I really think we helped prevent A from getting hooked on the bottle.
Boon Drying Rack: With all the stuff you need to wash and dry with pumping equipment, this drying rack was perfect!
Handsfree pumping bra: This will be especially useful if you’ll be pumping long term, but for me, the first few weeks when I had to pump around the clock to build up my supply, this thing was a lifesaver so I didn’t have to hold the pumps for 30 minutes at a time.
Motherlove Vitamins: Okay, I’m not sure if these were what helped make my breastfeeding work, but I went from only being able to pump out .7ml of milk a session during the first week, to being able to pump out about 2 ounces by 2/3 weeks. I’m sure it also has to do with the constant nursing and pumping, but I also took a bagillion of these vitamins, as suggested by my LC, and it seemed to work. I probably took them for about 2 months before I felt confident that my body was able to produce enough milk.
Boppy Pillow: Everyone talks about the Boppy and the My Breastfriend. I never had a My Breastfriend, but I love my Boppy! A lot of people love their My Breastfriend too though, so to each their own! My personal opinion though is that the Boppy looks cuter and in the long run more useful. I’m still using it at 4 months (not sure if people still use My Breastfriend for that long?) and I also use it for tummy time for A and also to let her sit back in it to lounge.
Oh, and lastly:
I had a friend prior to A being born tell me that I should get lots of burp clothes. I didn’t ask her how much “lots” meant, but I assumed 10-15 would be plenty. We ended up ordering double that amount during the first couple weeks. I think I was easily using at least 3 during each feeding and another 3 after each feeding. Unless you want to be doing laundry every few hours, I suggest at least 20. These days the use of burp clothes has slowed down, but it could also be because we started using bibs! We like these burp cloths because they soak up liquid pretty well and are large enough to use different sections in a pinch. With bibs, we like these ones because the velcro fastener in the back makes it much easier to get on and off, and they soak up liquid amazing!
And also another tip: cover the side of the boppy the baby’s head is on with a burp cloth so when she does spit up, you can just wash the burp cloth and not have to wash the whole boppy cover. / also if you have a nice glider or rocking chair, I found it helpful to cover the seat with a burp cloth or swaddle as well. At least a few times a week A will spit up and the milk will find its way to seat… -_-
Hope that list is helpful!
Thanks for reading! Until next time! <3