If you have not read my previous breastfeeding posts : I have been breastfeeding for pretty much 2 years straight. I breastfed my son from August 2016 – August 2017(he suddenly wanted nothing to do with his “milkies“ a week or two after he turned one – I was due in October with his baby sister and I think my milk changed to colostrum). Then 2 short months later I began breastfeeding my daughter. We are now at the one year mark and will be continuing until she is 2 and possibly beyond if she wants to. I never doubted in my mind that I was not going to be able to breast feed my babies. I had full confidence in my ability to do it and did not buy formula “just incase“ either times, nor did formula ever cross my mind. I just knew in my heart I was going to do it. It was just my state of mind I guess? I was set on it.
Well with my son I had NO idea what to expect I thought it would be super easy. Wrong. It fricken hurt so bad at first. Cracked nipples. Oh gosh. Mastitis. Our journey started off so crazy, but luckily we got to a good place after figuring the whole breastfeeding thing out.
With my daughter I assumed since I had done it before it would be easy peasy….wrong. She had tongue tie (still does but it is minor) and we were back n fourth to see the lactation consultant a few times, doctors, you name it. We struggled, at one point I said that I hated breastfeeding. Turned out she also had EXTREMELY bad allergies and eczema (from dairy). Cut the dairy out & voila no more reflux and screaming after feedings or refusing to eat. Took a few months though, of hell.
I have been through a crap load of issues and still persevered through it all TWICE. Tongue tie, mastitis several times, PPD/anxiety, troubles with “a shallow latch”, reflux/allergies/gas, teething, oh and I have been breastfeeding from ONE boob for a year!!!
I have been learning a bit about breastfeeding through my doula course as well & want to share what I am learning.
1. Read books on breastfeeding before baby arrives if you can & educate yourself as much as possible. I highly recommend Ina May’s guide to breastfeeding book. It is very informative & honestly it does come naturally but not to everyone, especially if you have NO idea about what you are doing. You can purchase your copy here!
2. Buy a good nipple cream, a good breastfeeding pillow, a pump, a haaka & some teas for your milk supply before hand.
3. The first few days you just have colostrum coming in. It is like a teaspoon or less per feeding, that is normal. This helps clear the meconium out of their systems and is enough for them. Your milk may take a few more days to fully come in. When it does, you will know! You may be engorged at first.
4. If you are engorged, do not over pump especially if your supply is ABUNDANT. You will cause your milk supply to go out of control and you will be in pain, possibly get clogged milk ducts and or mastitis. Not fun. Just try to relieve yourself in the bath(gently massage your breast in the bath or shower until you feel some relief).
5. Eat lots of good fats & food that help keep your supply up & drink LOTS of water!
Examples are: Oatmeal, green papayas, spinach, avocado, carrots, sweet potatoes & more
6. Have good support. Your care provider should be assisting you after you give birth to make sure you get the hang of it! If not, don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek help (lactation consultants are great).
7. Breastfeed as soon as you can after birth. Healthy babies should be breastfeeding within an hour after birth. Early nursing helps the process start more smoothly & helps you avoid excess bleeding.
8. Make sure to be comfortable and have your baby level to your breast, don’t hover over your baby & slouch. Use your thumb on top and other fingers below(well behind your nipple), press in towards the middle to make a breast “Sandwich” for your baby. Tickle baby’s bottom lip with your nipple until babys mouth opens wide. The bring your babies face up quickly to your breast, drawing the baby’s bottom close to your body.
9. Stay near your baby if you are in a hospital make sure your baby is close by you, better yet cuddle your baby skin to skin. This will encourage your baby to nurse & promote bonding. If your baby is sucking on it’s hand or opening it’s mouth & looking around, this is a cue that the baby is hungry. Encourage your baby to nurse every 2-3 hours during the day and 4-5 hours at night (unless they want to nurse more often of course, but wake them up if they are asleep).
10. Night feedings, make them simple by laying on your side and keeping baby close to you at night. Although you may want your rest, night feedings are important and they help to keep your supply up. Babies also have to nurse frequently at first. As they get older they can stretch it longer.
11. Do not give pacifiers or bottles until you have properly established breastfeeding. This will interfere with the process of baby learning to breastfeed properly. You need a few weeks to establish breastfeeding.
12. Have your care provider check for tongue/lip ties before leaving hospital or before your midwife leaves you after birth. Some are manageable(my daughters was fine), but I know some may need to be treated.
13. Breastfeed often. Do not limit the amount of time baby nurses for. Sore nipples may happen at first while you are learning but it is best corrected by proper breastfeeding position, not limiting feedings. Your babies tummy is tiny and they digest the milk very quickly. Expect to nurse at least 8-12 x in a day for the first few months with some feedings very close together.
14. Get help if you have concerns or questions about breastfeeding. Most problems CAN be resolved. Sometimes just chatting with an experienced breastfeeding mama can be helpful, but if you have a serious problem talk to your care provider and they will lead you in the right direction.
15. Eventually you can build up a milk stash for emergencies or so that you can get some “me time”. Use your pump and buy some breast milk freezer bags to stash in freezer for a rainy day or to let your significant other try a feeding if you want.
I hope these help! I am here to help or answer any questions. Breastfeeding can be challenging but it is doable with the right support and with the proper help/education. There are some moms who choose not to breastfeed for personal reasons, or there are a small percent who cannot. That is okay too. I support your decisions, we all do what we gotta do. If you breastfeed for a short time or for 3 years, you are awesome! If you are suffering from PPD and breastfeeding is too much for you, don’t pressure yourself. If it is jeopardizing your own mental health and your families happiness, it’s okay mama. You are not a failure & you are no less of a mother.