Adventures in breastfeeding
I can always count on my good friend Jeni for advice. When I first got pregnant, she told me that I would be tempted to learn and read as much as I could about pregnancy and childbirth, but to definitely take the time to learn about baby care and breastfeeding, because breastfeeding is tough work.
I had no idea. Breastfeeding is intense… but once it clicks, it really does.
As I mentioned before, we had a rough couple of nights when we got home from the hospital. I had a delay between the colostrum and my mature milk coming in –which is pretty common- but that meant that little Livi was nursing around the clock, many times every 30 minutes to an hour from start to start. Combine that with a poor latching technique, trying to figure out what her cues are (is that the hungry cry? or the dirty diaper cry? or the “burp me” cry?) and no sleep, and it was a party over here.
Despite the fact that I read a couple of books on breastfeeding and we took a class together, it’s really different when you have an actual squirming, hungry little one in front of you. We would get to the point where her face would be red like a beet, she’d be shaking her head at me, and there was fury in her eyes- aka the angry elf face. At one point, she was pounding her fist against my breast, trying to beat the milk out it. There were quite a few times when I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it any longer, but I focused on one feeding at a time, even if the feeding took an hour to make sure she was getting enough. Now, we’re working as a team and getting the hang of it.
Things that have helped me:
I am SO glad I ordered this breast pump.
I started pumping in between feedings right away to stimulate production, so I’d feed Livi, Tom would burp her and change her diaper while I pumped. When I was done, she was ready to eat again. Now, my milk is completely good to go, so I don’t have to worry about pumping unless I want to take the edge off (like in the morning) and just to have a little extra to have in the fridge. The fact that I don’t have to pump during the night any more is a huge game-changer: I got 6 hours of broken sleep last night, and feel amazing. The pump will also come in handy when I go back to work.
Tom got me the hands-free pumping bustier to wear so I can pump both sides at once, and the other night while I was double-pumping, I told him I felt like I was being milked. He said to think of it as a supercool Lady Gaga boob contraption. 😉
A representative from Mama’s Latta came to speak to our Bradley class in the last week of classes. The consultants were highly recommended by our instructor, so I referred them to a friend who had similar challenges to mine a week before our baby was due. She said they helped immensely, so after our first tough night, I called Mama’s Latte and a consultant came to the house that day. Not only did she introduce me to My Brest Friend (more on that in a sec), she helped us with our latching technique and determined a strategy to increase my production and make sure that Livi was getting enough food. Since last Wednesday, she’s called every day to check and see how we’re doing, and has also emailed me handouts and videos.
(La Leche League is another great breastfeeding resource)
At first we were using the Boppy, but it was too low, so I’d try to prop it up with a pillow and Livi would slip into the middle. It ended up being more of a pain than a help. The representative from Mama’s Latte brought a Brest Friend pillow, and it’s made a huge difference. It straps on underneath your breasts and can be rotated around to accommodate different types of holds. When I walk around wearing it, I look like a hotdog vendor at a football game.
Nursing tank tops
I have a total of 4 (2 Target, 2 Bravado) and they’ve been through the wash many times in the past week and a half. Thank goodness I’ve been stuck in the house, because when I start to venture into the world again, it will be interesting to figure out nursing-friendly outfits. When we went over to our friends’ house on Saturday, I wore an Express tank top with a blazer, and it was easy to go into a guest room and feed the little one without any major costume changes in the process.
First I was using the Motherlove salve and while it felt good, it didn’t do anything for healing the damage from a couple of days of poor latching. The Lansinoh has helped a ton.
Talking with friends.
I talked to my friend Michele for about an hour the other day, and she had a baby a few weeks ago. It was so nice to get to talk to someone who recently went through everything I’m going through, and discuss things you can’t exactly bring up in everyday conversation (like comparing nipples, haha). Just the fact that someone else has been there, agrees that it’s extremely hard, and can reassure you that it does indeed get better was incredible.
And she was right—everyday it’s getting easier and easier. Those first few nights, though… wow.
Oh girl I feel for you! I breast fed my son for 18 mos and those first few weeks were pretty terrible. Like everyone else said you will be a pro in no time! Taking it day by day-even feeding by feeding, is what got me through as well. You are doing fantastic!!!!!
Good for you for sticking with it!! Breast milk is THE best for baby! 🙂 Also after my first baby it didn’t seem as hard. So maybe if you have more kiddos the next one won’t be as tough at first. And speaking of Lansinoh, they make my favorite nursing pads. They are amazing!!
Hey momma! Okay, not sure if you’ve seen these, but with both of my girls, I LOVED their products: http://www.bebeaulait.com/ They have awesome nursing covers (so pretty and make nursing in public/around family more comfy) and their burp cloths are phenomenal. Held up far longer than any others. Just wanted to give you a fun site to hit on the topic of breastfeeding! (And yes, the Boppy was way too low for me, too.)
I have a Hooter Hider and love it!! It stays put so I can be covered the whole time. I had one before that where every time the baby moved it would fly up. Kind of defeats the purpose of a nursing cover. Lol!
More baby pictures, please! Love, love, love the baby pictures! P.S. trying the winter shape up in CHINA. I’ve been studying abroad here since September and will be here until May. Chinese food = delicious but super white carb-y and oily, so diet is definitely the challenge here. (Most Chinese people don’t even know what a whole grain is!) I will be doing my very best though- I’m going to Hawaii directly from China in May! Can’t be lookin’ like I was eating dumplings all winter… 🙂
Nursing friendly outfits – it is easier to stick baby under your shirt and you feel less naked than in a button down. If you wear a button down – unbutton from the BOTTOM to nurse baby – more coverage. The nursing tanks are great because they keep your tummy covered while allowing you to get out the “nursing equipment” – if you incorporate those with a jacket or cardigan that will work great. Dresses almost never work unless they are nursing clothes (hate them, too expensive to get ones that look nice, mostly not worth it) so think separates. Good luck. Actually that would make a good post for other new Moms – photos of the outfits you devise. I am a veteran Mom and those days are over but I remember them well.
One more bit of advice – some people will look at you funny when you nurse in public (even covered up) but many more people will stop by and say how wonderful it is . It isn’t easy but don’t make it harder by nursing in uncomfortable places for the sake of other people’s weirdness about nursing in public. Practice with the modesty thing at home and then just do what you need to do. It is often too hot or cold to sit in the car, public bathrooms including what passes for “nursing lounges” are gross – find a place where you feel comfortable and where she can concentrate. Dressing rooms can be a good spot!
I think its awesome that you are nursing your little one 🙂 It is so healthy for those babies and such an incredible bonding experience for mom and baby! Keep up the great work!!
I absolutely love your family posts. You are so honest and open and I am eating up everything you are saying. I’m not pregnant and probably won’t be for a while, but I like to learn as much as I can about the process and everything that comes along with it, and you have been so great with sharing everything. I’m learning a lot!
Has Tom taken a paternal leave from work? You guys seem like a great team!
love this post. veryyy informative! I’m getting anxious about breastfeeding so it’s very nice and reassuring to read this post and the comments from other mama’s.
I suppose it is one of those things that just comes in time, right? I mean, I have no idea, because I have no children (yet…) but I would like to breastfeed when I do…
Oh Yes breast feeding sure is challenging! I never talked about nipples in my life & then it suddenly became ok for friends & family to ask How my nipples were doing! LOL!
I had a hard time breast feeding my little one. She was four weeks early and wouldn’t latch properly. With help from a lactation consultant and osteopath and after two months of trying to get her to latch properly – we finally had success. My husband bought me a very expensive pump – well worth every penny – we finger fed, cup fed, bottles and nursed. All worth it in the end.
good to know that it gets easier i’m sure! i think your approach of just taking it one feeding at a time is so smart! otherwise how would you get through the first couple weeks! just remember you are doing the best you can and you are a great mom!!!
So glad everything is working out for the new family and hooray for sticking it out and nursing! I still remember the advice my midwife gave me about breastfeeding. She told me to just tough it out for 2 weeks, no matter what, no matter how much I wanted to cry, quit and sleep, just make it to the two week mark and it would be smooth sailing. She was absolutely correct. The first week and a half? Pure nursing chaos and then boom, everything just clicked into place.
that gives me hope, haha
Breastfeeding was so intimedating to me. I was so nervous that I wasn’t going to do it right. Thankfully he had a great latch right from the beginning and we never really had any troubles so I can’t really relate to the stress of not being able to feed your baby. I’m glad you were patient with it though because breastfeeding is truly an amazing experience. Our baby is 5 months old and I’m still not ready to stop breastfeeding him.
Its so, so, so important to have mommy friends, even better if you have some with kids around the same age! I met 2 of my very good friends when I my first baby was 3 months old, and they all had babies within a week of mine. We’re still very good friends, 6 years later. 🙂
Hope you’re getting some sleep! 🙂
I read this last night and saved it for when I had a minute to comment! I am glad you wrote that you started pumping early. I would like to do that too, but it seems taboo or people say to wait. I have so many questions on theories and strategies–I feel the books have one right way to do it, but then it’s so different for everyone. Would love to hear more of your strategies.
Good for you for powering through the initial tough part! It just gets easier and easier…until your baby gets older and decides she wants to look at something across the room while still keeping your nipple in her mouth…haa! (but it’s true). Sounds like you learned early that to keep your milk supply up, you just have to nurse ALL THE TIME. Keep it up 🙂
I bookmarked this way back when to re-read when I needed it. Well, that is today.
We are on day 6 now and things got better last night, but WOW, those first few nights were SO. HARD. We never got more than 1-2 hours of sleep (more like one for most of them), and we felt so clueless about how to do everything as new parents. Breastfeeding, no matter how hard you prepare for it, is impossible to really learn about until you actually HAVE a hungry infant in front of you.
Thank you for your tips…I’m ordering my breast pump today!
hang in there, friend. it gets easier and i hope so much that breastfeeding goes well for you