One of the things I’m incredibly passionate about is breastfeeding. I’m not sure if breastfeeding is on the rise globally or if because the people I know are having babies why it’s so popular in my feeds but either way, I’m 100% here for the breastfeeding moms. I get a lot of questions because I successfully EBF (exclusively breastfed) my oldest until she was 11 months. Stress and some other things decreased my supply in a major way so I had to supplement a bit with formula. But 2 years of breastfeeding has left me with some shareable knowledge.
The Beginning of the Nursing Relationship
Depending on who you ask, when you first start to breastfeed your baby it can hurt. Pain is normally a symptom of an improper latch. Mini latched properly right away–abc, not so much. In fact, it hurt so much with abc in the beginning I almost thought twice about breastfeeding her! But she was a lazy latcher. She wouldn’t let my breast get far enough into her mouth before latching. We fixed it but it took about a week. This is a normal introduction to breastfeeding for a lot of women so if this is you, don’t worry, be patient, and get some help. My doula with mini was also a lactation consultant. I remembered a lot of information that she shared from my birthing class and applied it to abc. Coconut oil is a must have for this time. The oil is ok for them to digest and it provides great moisture for your nipples which is crucial to preventing chapping.
Once they’re on an nursing, they may stay awake, they may fall asleep but keep them on the boob until they fall off. Depending upon how their weight gain is, you may need to take their clothes off so they’ll wake up and finish nursing. Falling asleep on the boob is normal and ok. Just keep offering until they finish nursing. You may end up feeling like there’s no point in wearing a shirt and you’re right, there isn’t lol.
Pumping is a necessary evil if you’re going back to work, don’t want want/can’t breastfeed, or plan on leaving baby with a sitter for a bit. I personally hate pumping but it wasn’t so bad the second round. I used the Medela Freestyle and a hands-free bra. These two things made pumping bearable. When I was working in corporate I would pump twice a day for 20 minutes. I would use the little let down button 3 times per pump session and on average, I got about 8oz per pump. If you can, keep your body on the 3 hour pump schedule. I couldn’t so I pumped every 4 hours and then nursed her as soon as I got home. In the beginning, I would keep her pictures around me. As I got used to it, I used that time to catch up on Facebook, Instagram, text messages, phone calls, anything that relaxed me. Relaxation is key for pumping. Because having these two suction things pulling at our boobs isn’t the most comfortable, it can be difficult so do whatever it is that makes you relax while you pump. Get a manual pump as well. This is good because sometimes your body will respond more favorably to that. I actually prefer the hand-pump to the electronic one. And learn to hand express. I would get an extra ounce minimum from hand expression. And the days that I would forget my pump parts I didn’t have to worry because I could hand express easily.
Boosting Your Supply
This is a big thing. The main factors of a reduced milk supply are:
- hormones (menstruation)
- not eating/drinking enough
We stress about our milk supply dipping which in turn makes it dip more. So be kind to yourself during this time and appreciate what your body is doing. You’re sustaining a whole person with your body. Make sure that you’re getting enough to eat as well. You should be consuming a minimum of 500 extra calories while your baby is exclusively breastfed. On average, you should be drinking a minimum of half your body weight in water. If those things aren’t boosting your supply, try some of these options as well:
- fenugreek – comes in the form of tablets or tea
- mother’s milk tea
- Brewer’s Yeast – tablets… I got mine from GNC
- oatmeal – I ate this every morning for 5 months… even came up with a recipe for oatmeal pancakes
- Guiness – Yes, as in beer
Some Final Thoughts
I have loved the bond between my daughters and I that the nursing relationship has given us. People will be for your decision or against it but at the end of the day, they don’t matter. Be strong in your decision to feed your baby the best nutrition that you can. Remember that whatever you eat transfers to them and because of this you may have to alter your diet. Less acidic and dairy foods are normally necessary to prevent ill reactions in babies. Some of the myths that I found to be false are that nursing will make you lose all your baby weight (looks down at extra fluff) and that it will prevent ear infections (which it didn’t in either of my girls). Despite these things, I still think it’s the best for them.
If you ever have any questions, feel free to ask me via my Q&A tab or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.