I read a quote once that said,” Breastfeeding is like a really long hug.” I do not know where it was or who said it but I can tell you I agree with it completely.
I breastfeed my daughter, but only exclusively for 6 week,s and then supplemented for a few more weeks after that. At the time I worked 3 nights and was not able to pump while at work so it made it very very uncomfortable for me and was too crazy of a schedule for my boobs to handle! I of course planned to breastfeed my son and we are now at 5 months going strong!! Working mostly from home makes this much easier but on the days I am shooting weddings I am normally gone all day so I do have to pump and store constantly.
I was fortunate that both my daughter and son were really awesome at nursing and I never really had any problems. What I have heard from some moms that have followed my blog and knew of my strong desire for my VBAC was that they understood how bad I wanted that just like they wanted to be able to breastfeed. It wasn’t until talking with some moms that I realized some women feel like something is wrong with their supply, or really discouraged, or just maybe don’t have the support they need so they give up. Some mom’s may not be able to because of other reasons such as their baby being in the NICU or something like that…. which is so sad to me because I believe skin to skin contact and breastfeeding is so important and those babies need it even more! SO.. here I am giving women out there some helpful tips and words of encouragement to keep on nursing!!!
I have had many one-on-one conversations with people so I felt like I should probably blog about it. I encourage your comments, stories, and any other tips as well!!
I have mentioned it before in previous blogs but I really REALLY recommend the book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”. It is from LaLeche League- It is the breastfeeding bible. I also recommend liking KellyMom.com on facebook and other related pages like Medela. A friend sent me a link on breastfeeding that I thought was wonderful, it breaks it down by baby’s age. It is by The Alpha Parent, check it out here.
As for my advice I will start by saying of course everyone is different, what works for me might not work for you, but maybe you can relate or find something that you hadn’t thought of and if so I am happy to have helped! Im going to start out on pumps- not because I love them but because with this baby I realized the importance of a good one. With my daughter I had a hand pump and I don’t think I ever pumped more than an ounce besides one time I remember being so excited and running up to my husband telling him that I was a cow, so with my unsuccessful pumping at home and not being able to pump at all at work I did not store much at all and started supplementing with formula. This pregnancy I bought another hand pump but I purchased a medela hand one that had a let down feature and I knew of people that had used it and liked it. I did like this one much beter than the other one I had. I think the biggest reason was that it actually had sizes of breast shields to chose from. (If you need a size other than the standard medium you may need to call around or order so you will want to try it out when you get it to see) The letdown feature is nice too because you start with this and once your milk starts you switch, this prevents from too hard of pumping right away. When my son was 4 weeks old I was going to have to be gone for 10 hours so I had to stock up milk. I would pump while feeding him or right after but I would only get an once or two each time. It was very stressful to not know if I was going to have enough milk or not. I was telling a client of mine this and she offered to let me try her electric double breast pump. (Side note- it isn’t recommended to share but I boiled everything before using) The first time I used that pump it was like milk fairies came out of the sky throwing fireworks and glitter explosions…In less than 10 minutes I pumped what would normally take all day.After that I was determined to get my hands on one. I would have been fine with the hand held pump for my schedule but after seeing how much more I could get with the double electric there was no way I was going to waste more time hand held pumping. If you don’t know me I am always thinking of what needs to be done and having to spend more than 10 min a day pumping really was not easy for me. Now I spend 10 minutes every morning pumping while my daughter is eating her breakfast and I try do do a couple of sets of calf raises or leg lifts while standing there,or depending on the day write down grocery lists for new recipes, this allows me to do mindless things such as check facebook and pinterest while I am nursing my son instead of trying to pump on the other side while he is eating!! Electric pumps are expensive but oh so worth it, before you buy though you may want to look to see if you can get a used one and you can buy new tubing, shields, and every other piece that you need from a hospital breastfeeding store and save tons (the motor part is whats so expensive and that part doesn’t touch skin so using someone else’s shouldn’t be a concern) (this is what I did-from St. John’s hospital, for everything I got I spent less than $50- and that included a box of milk storage bags too!)
Chances are if you are reading my blog you are most likely a person that cares about their health and for sure cares about your babies health, you probably already know how GREAT breast feeding is …but just in case let me tell you some of the awesome perks of it.
*Free food for baby! * Great for mom to get back into shape! -seriously best way to burn calories!* Builds baby’s immunity.* Milk is always changing to what baby needs-what formula can do that?!*Breastfed babies have a decreased likelihood for allergies and dental caries. * benefit from appropriate jaw, teeth and speech development as well as overall facial development.*lower’s moms risk of breast and ovarian cancer* BONDING with baby….here are tons of links on good stuff about it!
Some problems/ common concerns:
I remember my nipples getting super sore with my daughter so this time I put lanolin on daily right away, I did this for the first week and I would put it on before I pumped also for maybe the first 10 times.. I never had a problem. Also make sure you don’t wash your nipples with soap- it will dry them out! Some people swear by cabbage leaves or tea bags to soothe sore nipples!
You must make sure you eat while breastfeeding…it may seem like an obvious statement but every mom I know has gotten to a point where they realize they are not eating as much as they should be because they are trying to do everything else! Eating healthy and drinking lots of water is so important!! I keep a bottle of water next to the 2 places I nurse at all times because I swear as soon as you start nursing your thirsty!! I also swear by taking one day a week (normally sunday works for most people) to get all of your fruits and veggies prepped and make some other small meals, dips, or boil eggs so that you can easily grab healthy snacks when you need. If you have to wash and peel a carrot every time you want to eat it – you just won’t eat it..but if you can just reach in your fridge and grab some you will! I wash and prep all fruits and veggies the day I buy them. I also keep things like spinach and kale dip or chicken salad on hand as well as a stack of fruit leathers and KIND bars (so yummy!), peanuts, cashews, yogurt covered raisins…. I prep smoothie ingredients in ziplocks in the freezer so that you can just grab a bag and throw it in the blender. You can make parfaits with fruit, yogurt, and granola the night before so you have when you wake up. I could go on for tips on this but maybe that should be another entry 😉
If you need to increase your milk supply there is an herb called Fenugreek that you can take, I never had, but know quite a few moms that have 🙂 also pump after your baby nurses to help produce more milk. You produce more in the mornings too so you know- when I first started pumping I thought that I shouldn’t pump in the morning since I hadn’t eaten all night but then found out I was wrong, morning is really a great time to pump!
Milk storage tips. When I pump I write down the date, the amount of milk pumped, and if it was the morning, afternoon, or evening. Almost all my milk is pumped in the morning but if I am going to be gone at night I try to make sure I have some evening milk pumped too so it can be given. Morning milk is different than night milk so if it is possible to give it at appropriate time. I recommend only storing 2-4 oz in a bag or whatever the amount is that your baby normally eats to prevent waste. Always make sure bags are upright, never shake the milk- swirl it instead. Here are more tips. (also guidelines for storage times and temps!)
After I posted this blog a mom added this: Remember breastfeeding is like working out-stay hydrated and you have to warm up then cool down. To relieve engorgement: heat compression, massage breasts, breastfeed and/or pump, then cool pack compression. Also, to prevent plugged milk ducts-remember to switch feeding positions. i.e. cradle hold, cross cradle hold, football hold, and laying down. I couldn’t believe I forgot to talk about engorgement! Hot showers always worked best for me!
I can not give personal experiences with having a baby that wouldn’t latch or having inverted nipples or needing breast shields but I know mom’s that have. I also have never worked with a lactation consultant but knows of some. If you need one I can maybe give you some names depending on your area.
Even when I was pregnant with my son I swore I would never bed-share…Co-sleep, yes..we had our daughter in our room and we planned to have our son in our room too in for the first few months….but then he got here and after 3 days of labor I was tired and the second night in the hospital when I was there alone I was not about to call a nurse in anytime he wanted to eat because I couldn’t get him out of/into basinet myself, so therefore he slept with me. I remember the nurse coming in one time and I was so scared she was going to yell at me because there was no hiding the fact I was sleeping – my boob was out, my mouth open, I am sure I had some drool on my chin and in my arms propped with pillows was my son as happy as could be..but she just smiled. Breastfeeding and co-sleeping/bed-sharing go together better than anything else in the world..I can honestly say I slept more after I had my son then when I was pregnant and had to pee all the time because with him sleeping next to me I would honestly just pull my boob out and all was good. I was never concerned with him not being able to sleep without me. From the time he was 2 days old and still now when he is done eating he completely pulls off and turns away from me. I remember my daughter always had to be touching me, I was her pacifier. My husband says this is because he is a boy and boys get what they need and they are done, girls need all that extra comfort-lol okay babe whatever, either way I am not complaining. I love to watch my son after he turns his head away because almost always a few seconds after he stops a sweet little smile appears on his face. My son is now 5 months, we started putting him in his crib at 4 months and he has done great, he always ends up in our bed at some point after I have been sleeping just because I have been spoiled and I don’t want to sit in a chair to nurse him for the 10 min that I could be sleeping in my bed.
I plan to nurse him til he is one, some days that seems really far away and others it seems like it is going to be here next week-alls I know is that I am going to enjoy every feeding until then because once they are gone I will be done breastfeeding forever but it is a feeling I will never forget. I can still picture my daughters face when she nursed and I just adore the way my son rubs my arm, holds onto my hand, kneads my boob like a kitten to get more milk, and then takes a break to smile at me, so I know I will always hold these images in my heart. Every night when he is done nursing I kiss his forehead, and rub his fingertips before placing him in his crib and these little moments alone make all the sacrifices to breastfeed completely worth it.
To any new mom that feels like alls you do is feed your baby all day long…I promise you it gets easier, and it is sooooo worth it. Keep up the awesome work you are doing, you will be so happy you did!!