You always hear people saying, “Breast is the best, formula is bad, breastfeeding is gross, etc.” Someone always has an opinion about breastfeeding. Personally, I love it, but it’s not for everyone. If I could do it forever, I would- pumping and all.
When I first had Juliana, it was a struggle to breastfeed. You go into it with all these expectations and if you’re like me (OCD), you want to meet or exceed those expectations. It hurt like a mother when she first latched. It was such a foreign feeling. My nipples were raw, bleeding, chapped, dry- it was a mess. I was crying in agony every time she latched, but the lactation specialist assured me she wasn’t tongue-tied or lip tied. It was most likely that I wasn’t holding her correctly or she just wasn’t latching properly. It took about 3 months to finally feel comfortable. I would get so upset over the fact that I couldn’t get comfortable with doing it- my arm felt like it wasn’t to fall off, my nipples were sore, my shoulders hurt from holding her all awkwardly, my left side made more than my left side…then I kept wondering if she was getting enough, how many times a day should I pump? How much should she get from the bottle? When do I even introduce the bottle? I’m not a lactation specialist and I’m hardly qualified to answer these questions, but I will tell you what worked for me. What works for me might not work for you, but I remember asking these questions and getting advice and I loved any advice offered. It’s worth a try!
I wanted so badly to nurse and if my personality wasn’t so OCD, I probably would have given up and went to formula because formula is great too! Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nursing is a huge commitment and if you are traveling, working a lot, want to eventually sleep, don’t want to pump while at work, etc- nursing may not be for you and that’s okay! One piece of advice I got that helped me tremendously was to start pumping when I got home from the hospital or even when you are there. Pump all that liquid gold- colostrum. That is the good stuff- dense nutrients to fight off the sicknesses if our babies get sick and the woman’s body knows when the baby gets sick because your body automatically makes colostrum. Plus pumping early gets your supply going. Think of your milk supply as a supply demand- the more you pump or the more your baby is at your breast eating, the more milk your body will produce. If you feel like your supply is dropping, keep the baby on the breast as much as you can! Take a day off from work and just keep the baby at your boob- these moments go too quickly. If you are trying to pump when your baby is eating all day long, don’t expect to pump much. Personally, my body pumps the most milk when I am away from Hudson. For the record, I stopped breastfeeding Jules at 14 months and I am currently still breastfeeding Hudson (10 months old). I want to nurse him longer because I can’t imagine never nursing again. Because I started pumping early on, I was able to save up more milk stash. With Jules, I became obsessed with pumping to save, but with Hudson I actually have an overproduction. We had to invest in a deep freezer from Lowe’s just to store my milk. I store them in jumbo zip-loc bags and then give a bag of 10 bags of milk to daycare every Monday. I pump 2x a day at work only- I always pump at the same time as my body will make milk only at those times- 11am and 3pm. With Jules, I pumped 3x a day because that worked for me at the time. Everyone is different. I never pump after I feed my kids, but most websites say that you can because it signals your body make more milk. I don’t need anymore! While still on the subject of pumping, make sure your pump parts fit properly. I have a Medela pump and actually purchased MayMom parts on amazon that fit on Medela. The nipple shields have sizes for your nipple which can actually help with production of milk. You can also replace the yellow and white valve every 2-3 months.
Some people swear that food effects your supply- fasting can decrease it? False. There is no research to back this up and if you do it correctly (Check out Amanda Tress on Instagram), then it would affect it. Also, oats and lactation cookies help increase your supply? Again, not a whole lot of research, but it doesn’t hurt to add some oats to your diet while nursing. I ate tons of oatmeal with Jules, but not sure if it helped increase my supply. I eat ancient grains now with Hudson and my supply has been consistent, but I make a lot of milk. I personally don’t think that food effects supply that much, but it might have some impact. Also, some people think that if you run or work out all the time, it will decrease your supply. False. I ran a few 10K’s and a half marathon while nursing and my supply has stayed the same. If you start out with a small supply, that just might be the way your body is responding to the baby- vice versa.
The second best advice I got was to invest in a good nipple cream for if your nipples are tender. The second time around nursing doesn’t hurt AT ALL. When Hudson came out, I put him right on the breast and he latched the most beautiful latch right away. I was very lucky in this sense. With Jules, I had to have a lactation consultant come in every hour and I saw one a few times a month for about 3 months after I delivered her. I loved using coconut oil, Bella B Nipple Nurture Butter, and my own breast milk! You can squeeze a little breast milk out and put it on your cracked nipples to help heal.
For me, the second time around nursing was so natural for me. I can cook and nurse at the same time. I am not anxious about pumping or having enough milk. I can nurse him as I am laying down. He is clearly getting enough milk because he’s huge! I’m also not afraid to nurse in public and if someone judges I am so not ashamed to judge them right back. I don’t have all this pressure on me to nurse and if I need to turn to formula for whatever reason, I will. To me, nursing is so special because I have this amazing bond with Hudson. To be able to know that my body, alone, can nourish him and keep him alive. I can also calm him down and put him to sleep- not always the greatest thing because I really can’t go far since I’m the only one who can calm him down. The bond you feel when you nurse a baby and their big innocent eyes are staring into yours- there’s nothing like it.
But if you’re struggling, hurting, feeling all this pressure, feel sleep deprived because your baby is in your bed and won’t sleep without you- don’t beat yourself up. Do what works for you- like my previous post. You’re the best mama ever- breast doesn’t have to be best. It is extremely hard work to nurse a baby. It is EXTREMELY time-consuming and quite frankly, exhausting. You always have to make sure you make enough milk if you are a working mama. You need to coordinate a pumping schedule and a place to pump if you are at work or in a public area. You need to nurse your baby all night long- I don’t know many nursing mamas who aren’t up all night nursing just to get them back to sleep. You need to nurse them in public or in the car if they are having a full-out meltdown. I had to lean over while Howie was driving and shove my boob in his mouth as I was up and over the seat, my butt in Jules face, my ribs sticking into the car seat, just to calm him down. You always have to deal with rock hard boobs if you don’t pump or nurse for awhile…cracked nipples when you first start (not always), leaky boobs all over your clothes and sheets, crazy let downs, some people get mastitis, crying over spilled milk, getting the baby even take a bottle when you go out, etc.
I didn’t introduce the bottle to Jules until 4 weeks because my Type A personality read a million blogs and books that suggested to wait for 4 weeks so they can get used to the breast. With Hudson I waited a little longer only because I had him in April and he didn’t start daycare until August so I had a little extra time with him. Jules started daycare at 9 weeks old and Hudson started at 16 weeks old. It all worked, but I found that the longer I waited to introduce the harder it was for him to take a bottle. We went through a few before we found one he liked. He actually didn’t take medela at first, but he liked Como Tomo. Then after a few weeks, he was fine with medela bottles, so daycare used them. It was easier for him to use medela since I had tons and Como Tomo can get expensive for just one bottle.
If you store your milk:
You can keep freshly pumped milk out in room temperature for 4-8 hours (I usually go by the 555 rule), keep in refrigerator for up to 5 days and in the freezer for 5-6 months, but a deep freezer can be stored up to 12 months. I love this website below for any breastfeeding questions-
Oh, and I use steam bags to clean my pump parts- Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags on Amazon. I usually soaked the tubes in warm water. I don’t think the dishwasher is good enough to clean the bottles because the milk fat residue sometimes stays on. I love using a brush to hand clean the actual bottles if I don’t steam clean. I don’t steam clean all the time either- maybe once a month. I use Babyganics foaming dish and bottle soap.