Breastfeeding! I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed when I had a child someday, it had always felt very normal and natural to me. I assumed it would come naturally to me when Cove was in my arms. I said I would nurse for at least a year, since that is what experts say is the best for your baby. I was told it would hurt in the beginning but it would get easier and it was the most amazing bond (both true!). That was kind of all the thought I put into breastfeeding before I had baby in my arms. I was entirely unprepared past those nice little thoughts right there.
Truth : Breastfeeding is entirely natural, but foreign to us as first time moms. Most of us have seen people breastfeed, but most of the time it was mamas that have been doing it for a while and are comfortable and confident in it. Most of us have not watched first time moms try to learn to help a baby latch for the first time. Totally different ball game!
When Cove was first placed in my arms, besides our initial skin to skin in the OR, he started roosting right away trying to find my breast. I was like, "Josh, what's he doing?" and Josh looked at me and calmly said, "the nurse said you should start trying to nurse him." I kid you not I just looked at him, my mom and step mom and was like, "...I don't know how?!"
I didn't take a class, watch videos, even read on how to latch. I honestly was so focused on the rest of this whole birth and bring home a human thing that I was over looking something I felt so confident in! Like, "yeah duh I am breastfeeding... I have no idea how though."
I just threw him on. It worked! For that day. The next day I was super tender, so I asked for the lactation nurse. She came in and watched and said I was doing good. Ok, so this pain was normal then! I could push through it. Even though I would swear that the colostrum was actually shards of glass I was shooting out my nipples. Next day, hurt so bad I was almost in tears and sweating. And the kid wanted to eat round the clock, of course. So new lactation nurse came in, same thing, doing it right! What the heck. My mom was sure it didn't hurt her that bad. I was sure it hurt more than my c-section incision.
Fast forward to trying to push through this for the next 5-6 weeks. Cove was was always hungry (which is a newborn thing but now in retrospect, I think my poor latch left him always a little hungry) my nipples bled, I cried, I would tense up every feed so my back, neck and shoulders were super sore, and I for the first time could see why people quit. I was anxious every time I could tell he was hungry. I watched YouTube videos and read countless articles. I finally found the number of a lady who was an in house lactation coach. Turns out she was an RN at the hospital where I had had Cove. Honestly, if I had had her in the first place, I truly think I would've never had the problems I did. She came over twice to work with me and watch me latch Cove over and over. She was a saint! It's so true that once you have a baby you loose all sense of privacy, I was like, "grab my boob and show me lady!" Life saver!!
I truly enjoy and cherish breastfeeding. I am so thankful to have pushed through the pain, sought help, and stuck with it. I pumped a ton in the beginning to build up my supply for work and dates and what not! In the beginning I also thought I had a hard time producing enough for Cove, but it was really my latch, once we got it, the my cup runth over. I continued taking my prenatal, a supplement called Fennugreek, I tried Mother's Milk drops, I ate a lactation cookie everyday, drank an insane amount of water, and had steel cut oatmeal everyday. All of those helped and are healthy choices no matter what and I do think they all helped me have a great milk supply. Now I only take a prenatal and drink lots of water and have been able to maintain my supply for the 6 and a half months.
Staying on top of a feeding and pumping schedule daily is really important for increasing your milk supply in general, but especially if you are going back to work soon and need to have some saved. I felt stress that I couldn't leave Cove, not that I wanted to really, but in the sense that I was his only life source. Having milk in the freezer lifted that weight off my shoulders that he could survive without me if I had to go to Target, or go to work for a couple hours, or God forbid, sleep more than 3 hours at a time. Plus Josh and my family love to bottle feed him and get that bond, I don't blame them!
I pumped after each feeding for the first couple weeks. It was EXHAUSTING. I felt like a straight up dairy cow. I pretty much was! I eventually went down to pumping three times a day, after the first feeding, midday, and then before bed. I then went down to two, post first feed and before bed. And now just pump after his first feed or second if we get busy. I still manage to save the same amount only pumping once a day that I was saving when I pumped twice a day too, boobs are weird like that! They give you what you need. I am able to save an extra 8-10 oz a day on top of feeding him daily.
Pumping was also essential for me when I was dealing with a clogged milk duct. Pumping after a feeding if I still felt full, a warm compress and massaging in the shower with hot water on your chest saved me from getting mastitis several times!
One thing I was told by my lactation nurse was to not bottle feed at night if you are primarily breastfeeding. Your body actually produces the most milk at night I guess, so it can hurt your supply by having Dad bottle feed at night so you can sleep like I was. Sucks, I know. But I just decided it was worth being tired, and I actually timed it and the time we were up to get the bottle ready and feed him was the same or more than me just feeding him. So I know, trust me, there are desperate nights, do what you gotta do, but food for thought.
Breastfeeding can be inconvenient and time consuming. I have fed Cove doing pretty much everything. I have fed him in Target while walking around, I fed him getting my OB check up (FUN!), I have fed him in the car COUNTLESS times. I have pumped sitting on the toilet at work on a regular basis. I even fed Cove under the drape while I was getting my mom hair cut, #momlife. It just becomes less weird, less inconvenient and more of a moment, or 30, of slowing down to snuggle and nourish that babe. The way that kid looks up at me, places his little hands on my chest... I melt, whatever you want kid, you got it. It's the best. As inconvenient as nursing is at times, babies are inconvenient! I would have to stop and feed him regardless, it's actually way easier to whip your boob out and feed your kid than it is to get a bottle warmed up and ready! I know there are so many reasons not to, and I hold zero judgement whatever women choose to do, (honestly!!) all I can do is say the joy and blessing it has been to our family.
This past week a big ol prayer was answered. Huge! I had realized my milk bank had gotten a little out of control when I bought a deep freezer for my milk and it was full...we are talking 25 gallon bags full of bags of frozen milk. I prayed that God would present a family in need that I could share this gift with. I knew there was no way we could use all this milk before it spoiled. God answered! A family in Ventura just adopted a baby boy they were desperately wanting to breastfeed, in comes my milk freezer. I was so filled with joy to be able to send my liquid gold off to this newborn I will, most likely, never know. I had never even thought about sharing milk before becoming a mom. Although, I probably would have been freaked out by it. Now, I just don't see why that family should have to buy formula, or a pay a crazy amount for human milk, if I have a surplus. God answered my prayers and that mama's all in one and He is getting glory out of it. Go, God!
So cheers to all you breastfeeding mamas out there! Cheers to you ladies that have fought the good fight and are nourishing those babes with boobs, one way or another, for 2 days or 2 years, you go girl.
I hope that my story of nursing will encourage, inform, and help you laugh through the pain of breastfeeding. You are not alone in it, even when it is a middle of the night feeding, you are part of an army. An army of mamas! And there ain't no love like a mama's love.
If you are feeling lonely in your journey, especially at night, I love following Lynzy & Co's #latenightnursingfeed on Instagram and on her blog. Join a mom Facebook group, or better yet, create one like I did with all of my friends. It will be the love, support and encouragement you need to help you laugh at milk stained dresses and spit up hair.
Happy #nationalbreastfeedingweek and #nationalbreastfeedingmonth mamas!
Bellow you can shop some of my favorite breastfeeding accessories that make nursing easier.
nursing cover : Covered Goods Not only do I use this cover all the time but it's multi use, so we use it ALL the time as a carseat cover and now a highchair / grocery cart cover. We love this thing so much.
favorite bottle : Comotomo 8 oz bottle Cove has taken to these best, they are made to feel the most like a breast and super easy to clean.
pump bag : Fawn Design diaper bag A friend gave me an extra bag she had and I love it for traveling with my pump. My pump didn't come with a bag so this bag is the best for throwing everything in for work / travel. Super easy to wipe down when you get any milk on it!
nursing bra : Seamless Nursing Bra by Gilligan & O'Malley Just a super simple comfy bra from Target! Get at least two in black and white incase one is dirty. I sleep in or wear their nursing tanks under everything also! I live in my Motherhood sports bras on a daily basis.
nipple cream : Honest Co organic nipple balm I put this on after every single feeding the first couple months! I tried the Medela and the Lansinoh and this beat the crap out of those two in my opinion. I feel like Cove preferred it as well, the other two he would unlatch and smack his lips and make a weird face like he didn't like the taste or something. I am definitely interested in the Tubby Todd nipple balm as well for next time!
breast pads : Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads I have to wear these everyday, all day. I did use the Lily Padz for a little while as well when my nips were super sensitive in the beginning. The Up and Up ones from Target and the Medela ones are ok, they were just bulky and didn't form as well to your breast. Also I heard these gel packs are amazing for sore nips too.