Breastfeeding has been quite an experience for me. Once I found out that I was pregnant, it was a top priority for me try to nurse our baby. And, I thought I had it all figured out. Minutes after Olivia was born, she started rooting and latched immediately (she has been a big eater from the beginning). I figured it would be easy all of the time, haha! Well, as beautiful as breastfeeding is, it has come with challenges. I have worked through overproduction, underproduction, a short stint of mastitis, and not storing enough milk. I truly feel proud to have literally kept a human alive. However, I also want to acknowledge that nursing is a different experience for every mother, and every child’s response to it is different too. To all the mothers who have dealt with low supply, depression, or a heavy work schedule that made nursing tough, you should feel super proud that you made a decision that is best for you and your little one, and drown out the noise that nursing is the only best option. Really HAPPY & FED babies is the best solution and that should be celebrated!
After having Olivia, I felt like I was riding on such a high (postpartum hormones), and I seriously could not have been happier. The first few months felt like a total whirlwind. We were blessed with a healthy beautiful human, and we picked up life right where we left off before she was born. Once we were about one month in I realized I had not stored up nearly enough milk for baby when I returned back to work. I was lucky enough to have the flexibility to bring Olivia with me to meetings the first few months, so I really didn’t worry about pumping. I had made enough stored milk to have my husband help with feed Olivia in the mornings, however not nearly enough to leave her for the entire day while I went to work. Here are some tips I learned along the way and things I wish I had known.
My best mama tip I received from a friend is wearing bralettes vs. nursing bras. I tried the nursing bras, but I just didn’t feel like myself in them. For me, feeling as much like my pre-pregnancy self after baby was born was a must! I love the Coobie Undi Couture lace bralettes from our local fashion hub, the Meridian Boutique. They are pretty and made me feel so much better, plus they are only $25!
I could do a whole post on the benefits of pretty lingerie. As much as we all think we wear it for our guys, I believe in “wearing it for you and not for him.” There is something about the feeling of dressing up for yourself that makes you feel great. And trust me after baby, even the simplest of self-care made a huge difference.
- Olivia cluster fed for the first month. She naturally made a schedule for herself, which was about every three hours.
- Nursing bras: Like I said, bralettes have worked way better for me, I just pull it to the side to nurse. Someone asked me about nursing sports bras, I bought a few that zip up in the front from target to get me by, and they work great.
- Breastfeeding didn’t ever hurt for me however, you can have sore boobs. I loved these hydrogel pads, I kept them in the freezer and they help a lot.
- Warming pads: About 2 weeks in I had a mild case of mastitis, holy shit, this was painful!! For those that don’t know about mastitis, it is an infection of the tissue of the breast that occurs most frequently during the time of breastfeeding. It can occur when bacteria, often from the baby’s mouth enter a milk duct through a crack in the nipple. Yes, this was awful. I immediately got a prescription from my doctor for the antibiotic. I was so upset about taking the antibiotic, however, if mastitis is not treated immediately it can cause a horrible infection and make it almost impossible for the mother to nurse her baby. I used these warming pads around the clock and it really helped soothe the boob.
- Nipple cream: I was lucky and did not have cracked nipples, but HERE is a brand my fellow mama friends love.
- Boob Tube: Obsessed with this boob tube. I started using this when I found out I was pregnant. I love the Mama Mio products, they are all natural and work great for me. As we all know your boobs fluctuate hourly as they fill with milk, then baby eats, and you have flat tires. All that stretching can be hard on the skin, so this stuff has been a life saver! I apply it daily, morning and night.
- I should have started pumping within a day of her birth. I had a lot of colostrum months before the baby was born and my milk came in quickly. I wish I had been pumping from day 1. I cannot even remember how far in we were before I started pump…dumb on my part.
- You produce the most milk in the beginning, so get pumping!
The baby’s stomach is so small, they usually just eat from one breast during each feeding in the early stages. Therefore, pumping the other side gives you lots of milk for storage.
If you’re breastfeeding, pump on one side while baby nurses the other.
- When pumping, mimic a newborn’s pattern of nursing every 2-3 hours for 10-20 minutes each time.
- Establish a routine and keep it going. Set recurring timers for pumping sessions throughout the day. I should have done this.
- I had the most milk in the early mornings (aka 4am…insert tired emoji). I should have pumped during these times.
Have the right equipment
- THE PUMP is everything!: I purchased the Madella Advanced Pump (most insurances companies pay for the pump). Being ignorant to the whole pumping game, I should have purchased the Madella Freestyle Pump vs. one you must plug in. For me, it was so inconvenient, as I was taking meetings right after the baby was born. Finding a place to plug a pump in is a pain in the ass! I have pumped in the most obscure/disgusting places…aka, public restrooms, dressing rooms, random offices, etc. The ease of the portable pump would have allowed me to pump in my car.
- Hand-free pump bra. I finally bought one 3 months in, what was I thinking! I could have been answering emails during my pumping sessions.
- Milk storage bags
- My favorite bottles: This brand is awesome, as the nipple is shaped just like the boob
- Madella Cleaning bags
We are officially 5 months in with baby Olivia, my goal is to nurse her up until 6 months. As this is a personal choice for me, I definitely feel the guilt of making this decision as the pressure we put on each other as women to breastfeed our babies just has to stop. Being a mom is a hard enough job and supporting each other is crucial in the crazy world we live in. Cheers to healthy and fed babies!