Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

Full Term Breastfeeding: the wonders and challenges of breastfeeding a toddler

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Alexis, HEALTH, Life as a Toddler, New Mom Experience

Breastfeeding a Toddler
This post is about breastfeeding a  toddler in general. Specifics like when, how, how long will be coming next week in the “daily routines” post.

I could start this with a typical sentence that you hear from the majority of women who are still breastfeeding at a year and a half  “When I first had my son/daughter, I never thought I would breastfeed for this long!”.

It would be a lie, though. I always knew. I knew that if it was up to me, I would breastfeed well into toddlerhood. It was an obvious, a given.

But I actually respect the women who say they never thought they’d breastfeed for this long, because that means they  adjusted their plans and expectations as they went, and more importantly did what was best for their baby.

This article belongs to The Art of Making a Baby ! The original article can be found here: Full Term Breastfeeding: the wonders and challenges of breastfeeding a toddler

The Art of Making a Baby © 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Baby’s First Year: Expectations vs. Reality

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Alexis, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience

            expecvsreal

We’ve all been there.

Daydreaming about what life with a baby would be like, without truly knowing what to expect. Thinking we “know” how things will turn out, but in the back of our minds knowing that it will be different. Now that Lexi is 1 YEAR OLD, i can look back at the year of babyhood and see things for what they were.

I don’t think Andrew and I were off base when imagining what life with a baby would be like. I think it’s that we couldn’t FEEL that difference until said baby came along.

All the negative “just you waits” from bitter moms were met with an eye roll. All the good-hearted ones were a drop in a bucket of the attempt to imagine our life with the baby.

I don’t think you can know what it is going to be like. No matter how hard you try. I think you can picture it, but you cannot FEEL it. So here’s what WE thought life with a baby would be like. And here is how we were wrong (or right).

Keep in mind that our experience will most likely NOT be yours. Your baby might sleep 16 hours a day and be the newborn you read in all the books about, nurse like a champ from day 1, fall asleep in your sling or contently stare at the mobile while you go around your business. That was not our experience. Nor was it the experience of millions of other parents. Because every baby is UNIQUE!


LABOR & BIRTH

Expectations:

I had hoped that Hypnobabies would help me get through labor but I was prepared for it to go whatever way it would, since I had read/heard how unpredictable it is.

Reality:

This article belongs to The Art of Making a Baby ! The original article can be found here: Baby’s First Year: Expectations vs. Reality

The Art of Making a Baby © 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Breastfeeding at 8 months: What it’s like now

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Alexis, Daily, LIFE, New Mom Experience

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Back when we were just starting out, breastfeeding was so hard, overwhelming, painful, different that I could never  imagine that there would come a time when it’s no longer all those things. I always loved breastfeeding, even in pain I never thought “Oh I hate this, I want to stop”. I mean, I did when it was toe curling painful but I didn’t really mean it. I’ve always LOVED the idea of giving my baby not only sustenance but more than that: comfort and warmth and the one thing she is supposed to have for many many years, and as a mother I wanted to give it to her.

After the initial painful 8 weeks of breastfeeding (Alexis has a shallow latch), things got better, A LOT better. It didn’t hurt anymore, it was great and sweet and bonding. But it’s at 6 months when I started LOVING it. Like, looking forward to our breastfeeding sessions. I got attached, sucked in like a teenager with her first love. It must be oxytocin spreading through my body whenever I breastfeed that makes me feel that way, but I just cherish every single second of breastfeeding.

This article belongs to The Art of Making a Baby ! The original article can be found here: Breastfeeding at 8 months: What it’s like now

The Art of Making a Baby © 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Pump Ease: Hands Free Pumping

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in New Mom Experience, Other, REVIEWS

So when I was writing the breastfeeding products post, I didn’t mention the one thing that has been invaluable during these times. It has so been a part of my routine that I didn’t even think of it as a product.
That thing is PUMPEASE hands free pumping bra.

It’s a simple concept: a band of stretchy fabric with holes in it for pump cups. Ok, I admit it looks darn funny, that’s the sole reason why you won’t see a picture of me pumping here. But… it has saved me from boredom and helped me get things done. If only now they could invent a battery powered double electric pump (I am sure there is one on the market, if we look).

I had PumpEase back before Alexis came along. So I never had to deal with pumping without one. Until one day I thought, “Well, it can’t be that bad! I only need one breast pumped. Rather than put the bra on, I’ll just hold the pump”.

Yikes! It was uncomfortable! I didn’t know how much pressure to put on it, my arm kept getting tired, I was restricted in what I could do. I am sure women who pump like that from the beginning are just fine pumping while holding the cups, but it’s like wine. Yes, wine! If you have drank bad wine all your life and you try a really expensive bottle, it seems good, but not THAT good. But it’s when you have to go back to that bad wine after having indulged for a bit in the good stuff that you clearly see the difference. Well, I clearly saw it. I am never pumping without PumpEase again! Seriously.

If I wasn’t so into organic everything ( and to be fair, I didn’t really need an organic pumpease, but it seemed right since it was one of the options), I’d totally go for one of those 50′s red polka dot bras. I might have even done my hair all Merilyn Monroe-ish and put one red lipstick while wearing it. Ok, maybe not. Just please say no to leopard! That’s just…. Just please say no!

;

So here’s how it works:

It’s a band of stretchy fabric that has clasps all the way down the front, along with two holes where you put your pumping cups through. You get the cups through, position them on your boobies and fasten the band. Then you grab your laptop ( well, if you’re smart, you did that before attaching yourself to the pump), sit back down and hit “Go!”. Voila! Your hands are free, your milk is going and you won’t believe how fast the time goes. It’s absolutely essential for working moms.

So this is a MUST on my list of breastfeeding supplies. Register for it along with a pump, you won’t regret it!

;

WHY BUY IT: Um…. did you just read all that I wrote above?
WHY NOT BUY IT: Because 20-60 minutes of your time daily aren’t worth 38 dollars. Mine is!
***
BUY IT: $38. USE FREESHIPEARTHDAY to get free shipping on organic bra today only at snugabell.com
WIN IT: PumpEase will give away the bra to one lucky reader. Giveaway open internationally. For details and to enter, see below.

BELOW ARE THE GIVEAWAYS RULES
and Mandatory Entries: {read carefully}

There are two mandatory entries , after which you will have additional entries available,
and 2 daily entries for which you can come back to enter daily.
The winning entry will be verified and the winner disqualified if the action is not found or if the mandatory items are not fullfilled.
Make sure to notate how you’re following the blog in the extra info field (entry #1). The entry won’t count if that information is missing.
Each giveaway has specific rules, so read them on the widget (including which countries are eligible). See the rafflecopter widget for additional terms and conditions.

UPDATE: You can now log into the Rafflecopter through Facebook OR just by using your name/email.

If you have a blog, there’re 2 entries each worth 10 points ( post our button on your blog’s sidebar and blog about the giveaway)

{If you’re not sure how to use to enter, feel free to watch this video tutorial or email me at contact {at} prebabyblog {dot} com
Otherwise, make sure to read everything carefully. Click the DO IT link first, then I’VE DONE IT once the action is completed}


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. Snugabell sent me a sample of this product for review. All opinions are 100% my own.

This article belongs to The Art of Making a Baby ! The original article can be found here: Pump Ease: Hands Free Pumping

The Art of Making a Baby © 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Follow up to the breastfeeding post.

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in HEALTH, New Mom Experience

Also read:

Birth Story Part I
Birth Story Part II
Reflections on Birth Experience
Breastfeeding Journey
Breastfeeding Products that Helped 

First of all, I’d like to thank you all for such awesome comments on the breastfeeding post! One day it will be an invaluable resource and support  for some new mom who’s struggling just like we all struggled in the beginning.

As expected, there were a few things I forgot to mention in the main post, so I am going to address them here, along with some of your questions. If you asked a question about products and supplements that helped me, that will be covered in the next breastfeeding post, so hang tight. If I somehow missed your question, please let me know.

Nipple Shield

 

As I was trying to recall my first few weeks of breastfeeding, I COMPLETELY forgot about the nipple shield. The hospital LC reluctantly gave me one after Alexis so quickly destroyed my nipple and warned that it has the potential to diminish my milk supply. At that point I felt I had no choice but to use it. For the next 4-5 weeks I kept trying to get off the nipple shield, but as soon as I went a few nursings without it, the cracks and bleeding  would come right back and I’d have to use it again. I have to admit using the nipple shield and knowing it can mess with the supply definitely added to the whole “supply worry”. I kept thinking that was the issue: because I used a nipple shield, she couldn’t get enough milk and had to nurse every 30-40 minutes and was fussy because my supply was dropping due to the shield in addition to her bad latch. (that was wrong btw). So after we finally called a Lactation Consultant and she visited us in our home and showed me a few tricks, I was more determined to stopped using the shield. She also confirmed that my supply was absolutely fine ( I was spraying and Alexis was one heavy baby) and that I just needed to keep trying and get off the darn shield. I used 3 different brands of shields and will talk about them in the next post, each one was good for a certain stage. Finally, I was able to nurse on one side without a shield, with pain but bearable enough not to be deathly afraid of nursing. It took me A LOT longer to wean my other boob off the shield and I kept going back and forth. I’d use the shield, then try to take it off for a few nursings, decide it just wasn’t worth it, go back on it. Until soon enough I was nursing without. All in all, I don’t think shields are all that bad, IF your baby is nursing frequently and for a decent amount of time.

Attachment

I wanted to clarify a bit what was happening with Alexis when I would leave her for longer than 2 hours. It’s not exactly a bottle issue. We introduced a bottle early on ( despite my fear that I’d mess up her latch even further), when we wanted to figure out my supply and why she was feeding so often (I’d pump, we’d feed her and see how much she’s taking and whether she’s hungry after). Whenever I left her with Andrew, she’d take the bottle just fine, maybe reluctant at first, but well enough. She is also perfectly happy hanging out with her father, who she has a really good bond with, since she spends at least 2 full days during the week with him exclusively. She’s never had any issues spending a whole day with him and my mom as long as I am home (but doing work or otherwise occupied with something important). Now, I have a few suspicions for why this was happening. I think it’s a new development and it has more to do with her getting overstimulated and overtired, because both events happened at 7:30 pm and I noticed she is now getting very upset around that time if we don’t put her to sleep promptly (a nap, she goes to sleep for the night at 10pm). And once she’s THAT upset, noone but me AND the boob can really calm her down. That’s my theory in short and we’re going to test it out and see. I’ll update in one of the future posts.

Reader Questions:

“From what I read in the internet, there is a very very long list of products that you are not allowed to eat, and very short one of what you can eat while breastfeeding. What’s your menu? I’d appreciate to read about someone’s actual experience.”

There was only 1 change to my diet that I made prior to starting breastfeeding (2 weeks before, to be exact). I eliminated all cow’s milk proteins (dairy). It takes about two weeks to clear your system. There’s a multitude of reasons for it with the simplest to explain being, that if your child is going to have allergies, reflux, colic, tummy pain, the most likely culprit is cow’s milk. So why not be proactive and not  have to test to see if your child is the one sensitive to it? My full reasoning is a lot more extensive and serious than that. Cow’s milk is just a really really bad thing (especially the way it’s currently produced) and with infants having a “leaky” intenstine in order to let mother’s immune factors through, milk proteins really mess with their system. Once the intestines close up, going back to eating dairy shouldn’t be a problem ( around 4-6 months).

Once Alexis arrived and we discovered that she has a bit of reflux, I went ahead and eliminated foods that tend to make reflux worse, like tomatoes, fried foods, onions, citrus and garlic. I noticed that her reflux acts up if I eat fried foods, not sure about the rest, but I am not willing to test it out yet.

So basically, since I don’t eat any meat, but  eat salmon and sardines for their DHA content, my meals are pretty much vegan with the exception of above mentioned fish. Lots of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, salads and vegan soups.

“This is question coming from someone who currently has no children but I am just really curious about the whole breastfeeding issue as having children is something in my near future. How does it hurt? That is to say, what is the baby doing that is causing the pain? Or is it your body just recovering from having a baby and your body just getting use to producing breastmilk so in turn your body just hurts and no matter what baby does it’s going to be painful? I have heard it can be painful so I am not doubting anything you (and the other commenters) are saying. I am just curious as to why. One would think with a newborn having no teeth they can’t bite you, but clearly that is not the issue. I know I’ll never truely understand until I am doing it myself but I’m just kind of curious anyway.”

I didn’t have any contractions or body pains (except for the first day in the hospital but those were very mild), however I have heard of women who have them REALLY BAD. The pain that most women are referring to is a searing type of pain on the surface of your nipple. Basically, imagine skinning your knee and then applying salt to it and pressing down and rubbing it in, then transfer that feeling onto something a lot more sensitive like your neither regions or your nipple. The baby’s tongue and lips rub your already sensitive nipple raw and then the continued suction and rubbing make it even worse. And it goes on for about 6 weeks. If you have a baby who tucks their top lip in, they give you a hickey on the nipple or areola which is really painful. And then add to that the fact that the pain doesn’t go away when you’re not nursing because you have to wear bras that rub on your nipples. If the latch is correct, after the initial pain, it should be fine, because the nipple would be positioned where it doesn’t rub on anything. But rarely can a newborn baby latch on perfectly, so the nipple ends up being rubbed by her/his tongue, the roof of his/her mouth, gums, etc. Many times the nipple is rubbed so bad, it gets cracked, you can see little “holes” and open cracks in it ( it was that way in my case). I don’t want to scare you though, it’s not that bad for everyone. Some women are lucky and end up with a baby who can latch well and a big well defined nipple.

There’s also pain during let down ( when your milk starts to come out/spray) in some women ( me including). It can be mild and prickling or strong and ache and feel like little tiny needles are poking through your nipple! Fun, huh? :)

Sarah: “Also, and forgive me if you have already answered this and I missed it, are you using nursing pads? If so, what kind? I’m small breasted/small frames and everything I try is too bulky and annoying, But I need something to stop the leaks!”

I tried a few nursing pads, including reusable washable ones and the only ones I liked were Simplisse ones. They’re thin enough and don’t tend to stick to your nipples like others. I was leaking in the beginning, then the leaking stopped, and now I’m back to leaking. In general, I find breastpad too much of a pain to worry about and since I’ve been staying home most of the time, I just change my clothes often :) lol

Lara: “Just have a question about pumping, cause it sounds like you did some of it quite early on. When did you pump? How many times a day? Did you pump on the side that Alexis didn’t feed from, or on the same side? (I’m hoping to introduce a bottle for occasions when I have to go out so I’m just seeing what others have done/do)”

Initially, I wanted to stay away from pumping because I knew it would lead to engorgement, possibly mastitis and oversupply. I didn’t need to build a milk stash urgently since I work from home, so I took it slow. I wanted Alexis to set my supply naturally.  At first I would pump because we were trying to figure out my supply and whether Alexis was getting enough. I’d pump until nothing would come out and feed it to her. Not much would come out at first: 1-2 oz from each breast.  Later once things started settling down I was pumping to have enough for me to go to my doctor’s appointment or dentist without having to drag both my hubby and Alexis with me, because she was eating every 30-60 minutes. Also, honestly, I didn’t have time to pump between her frequent feedings. The few times I tried when my supply was still establishing, she would end up wanting to eat literally 10 minutes after and I would have no milk for her. So I stopped until she started spacing out her feedings a bit more at night. I’d wake up with my breasts full, feed her on one side and pump on the other (in the middle of the night). After a while I collected about 20 oz by just pumping once at night, but I do believe it created a bit of an oversupply that I am somewhat struggling with right now. I don’t want to keep pumping since I really don’t enjoy being engorged and it’s a slippery slope. Plus she keeps chocking from the milk coming out too strong, so it’s not exactly great. I think for moms who mainly stay home, doing occasional pumping after the supply is established is the best way to go. Though, I’m sure it’s different for everyone, so see what works for you. If you can handle not going anywhere for longer than 1-2 hours in the first 8 weeks, then don’t worry about pumping. You can do that once your supply is good and set.

Also, I never got to mention it, because I haven’t done another postpartum post, but even though I avoided stretchmarks everywhere during pregnancy, after I started pumping and obviously getting too full, I developed stretchmarks on my boobs. I completely forgot that it can be an issue and didn’t moisturize at all (I couldn’t really with Alexis). Then around 8 weeks I started noticing them. It sucks that I didn’t pay attention to it, but at least they’re only on my boobs which are always covered up in public. So keep that in mind and don’t make the same mistake as I did :)

Engorgement

-I got a question about engorgement but I couldn’t find it for some reason. I didn’t struggle with engorgement much. It became very uncomfortable when my milk first came in, almost painful, but mostly very uncomfortable. I was saved from engorgement by Alexis’ feeding habits, which were a lot more frequent than normal, so I didn’t have time to get engorged. That is until recently when she started sleeping longer stretches at night. I am not bothered too much by it, but I know some women really struggle. It can be painful, uncomfortable and it definitely prevents the baby from getting a good latch or sucking effectively. Now that I think of it, I do remember being engorged in the beginning and Alexis having trouble sucking on anything but my nipple, which hurt like hell. The problem with engorgement is that the breast is so big and full and almost misshapen that the baby has trouble getting a good latch and removing the milk effectively, which can lead to more engorgement initially and an early weaning and low milk supply later. That was a big reason for why I was very careful with pumping. A few times when I’d wake up at night feeling too full, I’d pump for just a minute or so, because that doesn’t perpetuate the problem by stimulating the breast too much, but brings some relief.

Alyssa:  I do not want to start an argument, not at all. I think it’s neat to be able to provide food for your child without cost. However, with everything you said, why oh why oh why do you breastfeed??? It sounds so incredibly painful, it sounds hard, it sounds like you are trapped in your house until you are “no longer the only source of food”.Other than $$ that it costs to purchase formula, why NOT use formula? Anyone can feed the baby then, no pain on your part, baby still gets nutrition it needs (formula is not poison!). Win. Win. Win.I honestly am not trying to post just to create an argument, I legitimately do NOT understand women who go on and on about how painful it is and how you are the only source of food, and are engorged, and can’t leave the house, etc; I do not understand why not to use formula.For the record, I have two kids (1 and 2 years old), both drank formula 100% except for baby #1?s first 3 days. I “tried” to BF but I knew right away that it wasn’t for me. And there’s no question about “is baby getting enough?”  And no reason to change your diet (ie. eliminating milk products)

-No, formula isn’t poison, but it is definitely not the OPTIMAL nutrition for a baby, just look at the ingredients: corn syrup solids as one of the top ingredients. It also doesn’t have nearly enough DHA in it which is very important for synapse myelination in early childhood. We were made to feed our babies, our milk is created in a way as to give the perfect nutrition for human babies along with perfect emotional bonding. Our brains and system is developed specifically to thrive on breast milk and with breastfeeding emotional connections and closeness. Formula is a great answer for women who for some reason cannot or chose not to breastfeed, because without formula the baby would starve or be fed solids (cow’s milk, cereals, like in the days before formula) and possibly die from that. I don’t know the reasons for why most women breastfeed, but I would guess they are somewhat the same. For me it was never an option NOT to breastfeed. We went to such an extent to ensure  that during pregnancy I got the absolutely best nutrition and care possible, that it was just a no brainer to do the same once Alexis arrived.  I don’t need to bring up studies for why breast milk is beneficial and that very benefit is why women struggle and live in pain for the first 6-8 weeks. Then, of course, there’s the bonding experience like no other, the idea of giving your baby sustenance, the convenience, the savings- but all these were trivial to me, compared to the health benefits, emotional benefits and developmental benefits breastmilk has the potential to bring. As far as diet changes, the biggest one is giving up dairy and most women don’t do that, so in most cases that’s not an issue. If I were to feed Alexis formula, I wouldn’t give her standard formula that has cow’s milk, anyways.  I would feed her elemental formula that has all the proteins broken down into amino acids so there are no issues with cow’s milk sensitivity. Hope this explains it. I’m sure there are a lot more other reasons and benefits I have no time to think of right now.

Oh and also the question of “Is the baby getting enough” is not necessary. It’s only in our heads. I think if ALL women were to share their stories and experiences with honesty and in detail, and we had more of  breastfeeding society, the issue of “Is the baby getting enough” wouldn’t even come up, because we’d be confident in knowing how breastfeeding works and what’s normal and what’s not. I bumped into an awesome article about this syndrome of “low milk supply” that I would recommend anyone read.

Lindsey: “Random question, What carrier are you nursing alexis in, in the photo?”

-It’s the LilleBaby’s Nordic carrier. I’ll be writing about it and doing a giveaway sometime in the next month or so. I LOVE IT! It has a great head support, lightweight and not too hot. And as you can see, easy to breastfeed in.

Gina: “When you say she still sometimes chokes and has milk come out of her nose, do you know what that’s from? My son does the same thing (sometimes), I’m thinking it’s an over supply issue.”

-I’ve looked into this and have come to two conclusions. It’s either from reflux and their immature esophagus or from oversupply or both. I know she often chokes when the let down happens which is from oversupply. Milk comes out of her nose mostly when I am feeding her while lying down and I think it can be due to esophagus not closing properly and due to chocking from fast let down ( kind of like “went down the wrong pipe” deal).

Allyssa: “So are you a NIP without a cover mama or was the first photo just for the blog? I think it’s awesome when women do that. I’ll have to see how I feel when I have my baby. What is the carrier in the first picture? Do you have any other carriers that you BF in?”

None of the photos in the breastfeeding post were taken for the blog, I was really breastfeeding at those moments. I definitely have NO problems with nursing in public with or without cover. As a matter of fact, there were 3 golf carts passing by at that moment with people waving at us and saying hi (LOL). Breastfeeding is natural, boobs aren’t dirty or need to be overly sexualized, a baby eating the way it was supposed to isn’t gross but should be encouraged.  That being said, I am not going to walk around pulling my boob out wherever I want, but if Alexis needs to eat, I WILL feed her immediately. I have a few nursing tops and dresses, most from Boob Design, others are just nursing friendly (low neckline and stretchy), so I will always be discreet, however I make no bones about it, if I am not wearing a nursing top and I need to pull my shirt down and feed her where we both are comfortable, I will do so without trying to hide somewhere. I don’t think I will be using a nursing cover, I actually don’t own one. The carrier I am breastfeeding in is LilleBaby’s Nordic carrier. I also use Beco carrier to BF in, and plan on BFing in Moby and Balboa sling.

Next post: Breastfeeding Products that helped me get through 8 weeks and some breastfeeding goodies for you, guys.

Also read:

Birth Story Part I
Birth Story Part II
Reflections on Birth Experience
Breastfeeding Journey
Breastfeeding Products that Helped 

This article belongs to The Art of Making a Baby ! The original article can be found here: Follow up to the breastfeeding post.

The Art of Making a Baby © 2014 - All Rights Reserved

My Breastfeeding Journey

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Alexis

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Please also read:
  1. BREASTFEEDING PRODUCTS
  2. FOLLOW UP TO BREASTFEEDING POST
  3. BREASTFEEDING AT 8 MONTHS: WHAT IT’S LIKE NOW.

I’ve had this post in the drafts since  1 week postpartum. All I’ve had written here was the title. I had absolutely no time to make any notes at that time, which is unfortunate, because memories of what went on and how hard it was HAVE faded, but I will try to remember as much as I can and give an honest and detailed account of what breastfeeding was like for me in the first 2 months.

{I hate making these disclosures, because they take away from the honesty of the post and I feel these things are a given , but… Since the topic of breastfeeding often brings up unrealized feelings and emotions in women, I’d like to mention beforehand that the experience below is my own and that I don’t jugde (or care about, for that matter) any choices anyone else has or has not made. So if you used formula for whatever reason, more power to you. In this post, I’d like to discuss breastfeeding and its challenges, not argue breast or bottle debate. }

According to every source, the time after 2 months is the reward period of breastfeeding. And it’s true, I enjoy being able to provide food for my baby, I love not having to mess with bottles, I find it convenient to go anywhere and just whip up a boob. But I can’t say it’s still not without its challenges ….

I thought I was as prepared for breastfeeding as one can be. I gave up all dairy 2 weeks before delivery (see why in my next post), I read 2-3 breastfeeding books, I talked to nursing mothers, I “practiced” latching on with my fingers. And all of it DID help me persevere, but it didn’t eliminate some of the hurtles associated with breastfeeding.

Problem #1: Latch

 

So I’ll start from the beginning. From day one Alexis was called either a “hoover vacuum” by our LC or “my little piranha” by me. She’s a determined girl – she sees the boob , she launches herself at the boob, the rest is history. It’s really quite cute (if you remove the pain). Her eyes get super big, her breathing speeds up, and CLAMP! My nipples didn’t stand a chance- they were shot that first day at the hospital.
The problem has always been her shallow latch. Even the lactation consultant laughed with me as we watched  Alexis open her mouth, land properly on my boob and then promptly slide her lips together. Ugh!

Needless to say, the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding were utter pain. My nipples were cracked, bleeding, sore and incredibly painful. I hear that girls with smaller fair nipples tend to have that problem more than others.

The LC at the hospital helped me a bit. However, with Alexis being so stubborn about how she wanted to suck and me being completely new to it, it didn’t last.

One thing I never understood (and I am going to repeat about a million other women here) is for SUCH a natural thing breastfeeding is FAR from being natural for some (most?) mothers and babies. All the books say: “Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt”. Well, guess what? It does. And yes, I know, it’s because the latch is wrong, but try getting a stubborn newborn to change her latch – Ha! The advice of unlatching her and trying again if she’s sucking wrong just plain old stinks! The searing pain of the initial latch is so toe-curling  and they want me to unlatch the baby and have her latch on AGAIN? No, thank you, I’d rather have her suck with a bad latch, at least that doesn’t make the hair on my arms stand!

So while pregnant, I read 3 breastfeeding books. I was adamant to learn as much as possible about how it’s supposed to work before I try it, because of all the issues I’ve heard about. I couldn’t deal with online resources like kellymom.com and LLL, because you really have to be breastfeeding to properly navigate the website and understand it (and then it’s an invaluable resource).

So books were it. I read for pure information – from cover to cover. I wanted to know what to expect. I wanted to have the latch positioning down, as well as the baby positioning. I received a lot of GREAT knowledge and would recommend that anyone pregnant reads at least 1 book about breastfeeding (recommendations are in the next post). BUT…. and it’s a very big but, THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT ENOUGH.

I KNEW I was supposed to bring the baby chin first/head tilted, I knew I had to wait for the big open mouth, I knew the nipple had to be at her nose level, I knew she was supposed to cover the areola with her mouth. But left with a crying baby, incredibly hurt nipples, fear of the pain that is about to follow if only I do something wrong and she latches on wrong, fumbling with positioning, almost crying because you’ve been dealing with pain for the past few weeks and are so so frustrated…. it just wasn’t enough. Alexis  simply never opened her mouth wide enough. She’d lie there with her lips barely open and I’d think “Is this what you call an open mouth?”.  But I had no choice: it was either wait for a big mouth forever and starve your baby or feed her and wince through the pain. I chose the latter. She also tucked her top lip in every time, which made it very painful as well. So I’d have to try and get the lip out without breaking the latch. And most of the time I’d just leave it in for fear of breaking that darn latch and having to latch her on again.

So let’s just say that no amount of theoretical knowledge will help when your baby doesn’t cooperate.

Do you know what helped? Honestly? TIME!
For me it was simply waiting out the 6-8 weeks required for my baby to get enough control of her body to suck properly and for me to learn how to assist her.

And before that, there was dread, pure and simple dread of each breastfeeding session. There was fist biting so that I wouldn’t scream out in pain and scare my baby while she latches on. There was crying from frustration at trying over and over again to get a good latch and not succeeding. Couple that with the fact that I was also dealing with a baby that feeds every 30-40 minutes  AND in the middle of establishing milk supply and worrying about my baby eating enough and you’ve got yourself a lot of misery and heartache. AGAIN, HOW CAN BREASTFEEDING BE SO HARD?

The only thing that kept me going was my resolve to breastfeed exclusively no matter what. What helped, as well, were my support group: my husband, who was very supportive and cheered me on every time and commiserated and never let me give up; my friend, who had gone through the exact same thing with the exact same toe curling pain, who was just as set on breastfeeding and who pulled through and was a GREAT example for me; my mom who sat beside me with eyes full of pain as I bit my lip and shook my head while Alexis was nursing. These people were invaluable.

So in the end I was waiting and hoping that the magical 6-8 weeks would arrive soon and that I would survive until then.

Problem #2: Milk Supply

Oh this one is TRICKY! Raise your hand if you breastfed (for whatever time period) and DID NOT have ANY doubts/worries about your milk supply. Now, stop lying! (ok, I’m joking! If you really had no doubts with your baby, I am impressed).

This falls under the “You just don’t get it until you have a baby”. When I was pregnant and reading blogs about breastfeeding troubles/issues, I became resolved to NOT be concerned with my milk supply. The statistics say that only 1% (or around there) of women have ACTUAL supply issues from the start, every breastfeeding blogger out there was concerned about it and it was fine, and it simply wasn’t  going to be a problem. I needed to remember that.

{Breastfeeding break during a disaster of a quick family photoshoot at 2 or 3 weeks.}

Fast forward to 2-3 weeks postpartum (or so), IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR MILK SUPPLY! The most basic motherly fear and concern for her baby is the fear of said baby NOT getting enough food. It is on such an subconscious level that it is impossible to use logic with it. You’re deathly afraid of your baby not getting enough milk (I know you think you won’t , because you’ll know better, but mark my words).

Some time during the first month or so of Alexis’ life, she started crying during and after feeding, sometimes with jerky body movements and batting at the breast. First reaction- she’s hungry and there’s no milk. Because that’s what it looks like. So knowing that it can be a trap, I started paying close attention to her behavior (and at the same time re-reading breastfeeding books and searching kellymom.com). It mostly happened in the evening when milk supply DOES tend to be low. She would eat and swallow and then stop swallowing and suck and suck and cry and wiggle. It was obvious the milk wasn’t coming. That (alone with the pain of nursing)  was causing me to stress out which tends to impede the let down even further. It was a VERY stressful week. I second guessed myself and everything I was reading a million times. I was so worried she was hungry. My mom wasn’t helping things either, being from the older generation and knowing things only from hear-say and her own experience 40 years ago and not having solid knowledge of how milk production works. I constantly had to explain to her what I thought the problem was, while not even being sure that I was right and her doubts were making me doubt myself even further. That is why the best thing you could do is to surround yourself with people knowledgeable about breastfeeding, because you can’t help it but listen to people around you, when it comes to your baby.

I got THIS (*showing a tiny sliver between index finger and thumb*) close to giving her formula! I even ordered elemental formula ( because no way I was going to give her cow’s milk based formula {want to know why? In the next post} ) JUST IN CASE. I never had to resort to it, but having it close was the safety net I needed. Had I succumbed to it, it could have very well sabotaged my milk supply and I would have had to wean Alexis way too early.

In the end, what I was experiencing was pretty normal. Alexis was feeding so frequently that I had slow let down and low milk supply by the evening ( which is normal). She was setting my milk supply for the future, but that meant she had to feed more than I was able to give her at that moment. She WASN’T starving! Some babies behave that way because of a slow let down, others because of a fast let down, others because they have tummy problems – reasons are endless, but  “starving” is rarely one of them. The books and resources all repeated OVER and OVER again: The only indication of milk supply is DIAPER COUNT AND WEIGHT GAIN. PERIOD!
Not how much you can pump, not your baby’s behavior, not whether you’re leaking, not whether you’re engorged.  Why is it SO hard to come to terms with that when you have a crying baby who “appears” hungry? I don’t know, but it’s damn hard. Alexis was soiling 10-16 diapers a day and gaining weight like a champ, but I was still second guessing it. We tried countless methods of determining whether she was getting enough milk or not (pumping, bottles, etc), but in the end all we needed to do is trust in the diaper count/weight gain.

So after weeks of worry and pain, it all finally started settling down around week 5-6. She seemed to get enough milk (or more like wasn’t going crazy at the boob), I had good let down, my supply was where she needed it. Once again, the books and online resources were right: she was setting my milk supply and now I was able to meet her needs.

As a matter of fact, because of her crazy eating habits in the beginning, I was stuck with an oversupply and fast let down for a few weeks there and guess what the symptoms of it were? Fussy baby at the breast! Lol I just can’t catch a break. She still occasionally chokes at the first let down, but it’s finally evening out.

 

Problem #3: Boob is God!

I don’t really consider it a problem, but I thought it’d be worth mentioning and I wonder how many exclusively breastfeeding women had/have the same issue.

Just recently I discovered that I cannot leave Alexis with anyone for any extended period of time ( 2 or more hours). I’ve had two outings where I was away for 3 hours and both times she SCREAMED without any consolation until I got home (that’s considering she never screams or really cries for longer than the second it takes us to give her what she needs). After the initial feeding in the first hour or two, she’d refuse any more food and just scream and scream and scream. I left her twice with my mom and my husband with plenty of pumped milk and she wouldn’t have it when she realized that mommy wasn’t going to be there for a while. I thought the first time was a fluke, but this second outing to see Hunger Games (which I loooooved btw) was just as hard on Alexis. Let’s just say, I am not leaving her alone ever again until she’s ok with that emotionally  ( probably until her main food source isn’t the boob), because the stress that I caused her by being gone twice just isn’t worth it.

Here’s what I am wondering, for those of you who breastfed/breastfeed exclusively and had to send your babies to day care or leave them with family members/babysitter, are they completely fine being left with someone else at 8 weeks? Or is it just one of those things: “You do what you have to do”?

 

CURRENTLY:

It still hurts, because Alexis just LOVES to close her mouth after she latches on, but about 50% of the latches are now good and painless and the ones that aren’t great, the pain is definitely bearable and she readjusts the latch midway through nursing. I’ve mastered the side lying position after weeks of not even being able to fathom how to do it with the way she was latching on.  Now it’s our favorite position. She does choke sometimes and has milk come out of her nose, but she doesn’t seem to be bothered by it much (which blows my mind. I’d hate to have milk coming out of my nose). We ended up having an LC come out to our house around week 2-3 or so and help us with the latch and she was great help, a huge step forward, but certainly didn’t solve it all. The only thing that solved it, I am sorry to say, was waiting till Alexis figured it out on her own at 6-8 weeks.

 

All that being said, I don’t want to scare anyone into not even trying to breastfeed. I’d love to do quite the opposite. I am just being honest about the experience I had to go through and from what I hear it’s not that uncommon. Of course, there are women with perfect sized dark nipples and babies that latch on without an issue, but it’s important to be prepared for a fight, even if you never end up drawing the weapon.   

 

So my advice to currently pregnant women, based on my own experience and breastfeeding traps I’ve encountered,  for what it’s worth:

  • DO NOT GIVE UP: it’s to easy to say “I’m done”, but please remember it’s for your baby and it WILL get better
  • IT WILL GET BETTER: most babies improve their sucking at 6-8 week and believe me it was like clockwork. 6 weeks came and it started getting MUCH better. If you can ONLY get through that time, I promise it’ll be SOOO MUCH BETTER.
  • SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE: Peer pressure is real, especially for some people. Do not listen to “well wishers” who tell you that you need to quit, or that you’re making it harder than it has to be. Any good friend will support you regardless of the choice they personally made, breastfeeding or formula. Find breastfeeding role-models!
  • EDUCATE YOURSELF: maybe it’s me, but reading breastfeeding books and online resources helped me so much. Helped me realize my baby’s behavior was normal, helped me get rid of my fears.  And because the fears and doubts are ongoing, I literally had to re-read things multiple times over the span of 6 weeks so convince myself everything was ok.
  • USE GOOD PRODUCTS: My life was made a lot easier by using certain things that helped me get through the first 8 weeks (and some continue helping me). You can read about them in my next post.
  • DON’T GIVE UP: I know I am repeating myself, but it’s THAT important! 60% of women breastfeed less than 3 months ( out of the recommended 6 months) and I can TOTALLY see why. Until I went through it, I didn’t understand why women would take the “easy” way out. But breastfeeding is THAT HARD and THAT FINICKY and sometimes they don’t have a choice, which brings me to the next advice…
  • DO NOT SUPPLEMENT UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO : Not because formula is bad, but because by supplementing you’re sabotaging your supply (main reason most women give up breastfeeding). It’s so easy to get your supply out of wack and then you’ll truly not have enough milk for your baby.
  • REMEMBER: DIAPER COUNT AND WEIGHT: Those are the only 2 indications of milk supply and whether your baby is getting enough.
  • and finally once again: IT WILL GET BETTER {believe me I couldn’t imagine it getting better at the time, but it’s true}

{wearing a Boob Design Nursing tee}

If I didn’t cover something you’re curious about, feel free to ask in the comments. I’ll do a separate post just answering those questions.

In the next post I will go over the products and books that I found very valuable during the initial weeks of breastfeeding and of course, host a giveaway of a few of them. Also you can look forward another Boob Design giveaway with 3 winners that I am super excited about!

Please also read:
  1. BREASTFEEDING PRODUCTS
  2. FOLLOW UP TO BREASTFEEDING POST
  3. BREASTFEEDING AT 8 MONTHS: WHAT IT’S LIKE NOW.

This article belongs to The Art of Making a Baby ! The original article can be found here: My Breastfeeding Journey

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