Happy World Breastfeeding Week! I wanted to write this post to document my experience with nursing my baby girl. I ate these posts up while I was pregnant. I was so curious about nursing and really valued the success stories.
My sweet girl and I have been going for 8+ months with no plans of stopping any time soon!
My Breastfeeding Plan
I committed to breastfeeding while I was pregnant. I’ll admit that the anxiety over not knowing whether or not I would be able to do it successfully was a huge source of stress for me.
I had heard so many stories of breastfeeding “just not working out” and tales of tongue ties, poor latches and cracked nipples. I really wanted to provide my daughter with the benefits of breastmilk as well as the bonding experience.
The more I read and the more I researched, the more relief I felt. Knowledge is powerful. I learned that it’s rare for a mother to not lactate with a full term, ‘normal’ pregnancy and birth. I read The Nursing Mother’s Companion and found resources beforehand (I have listed them further down in this post). I got a breast pump and used it in desperation in the week leading up to my due date (talk to a doctor before doing this).
I had all the gear.
I thought I knew what to expect.
I thought my body would just know what to do...
So here’s something I learned about having your first kid. There is no preparing, only doing. It’s baptism by fire.
My daughter was brought into this world after 27 hours of exhausting labor. She was (still is) perfect. I had a medically ‘textbook’ birthing experience. It was literally the best moment of my entire life. I instantly fell in love with my sweet girl.
I still don’t have words to describe the feeling of connection I had with her when we looked into each other’s eyes for the first time…
After a few minutes of skin to skin my baby made her way down and began to nurse. I felt relieved. She knew exactly what to do!
As the hours after birth passed by, the doctors became concerned that she wasn’t getting enough milk. They kept telling us that they would need to give her formula if she didn’t start eating. I felt threatened. I know that’s a strong word, but that’s how I felt.
It was incredibly stressful. Luckily, she eventually passed her marks and we were encouraged to keep breastfeeding. I was told that most moms stop breastfeeding in the first two weeks. I saw it as a challenge.
I kept telling myself, “you can quit at the two week mark”.
I remember saying that a lot, in the first few weeks. I honestly hated nursing. It wasn’t necessarily painful, but the pressure of having to feed every TWO HOURS felt immense and impossible.
Nursing my daughter is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Settling into a Routine
Now, 8 months in, we’ve finally settled into a routine!
Baby M eats in 7 minutes tops – a much faster pace than the 20-minute-per-boob newborn phase.
My supply has dropped since she started eating solid food. So, since I’m not pumping as much (nor am I committed to pumping as much as I need to), we started supplementing 1 bottle of formula before bed time.
This works out great – it allows my husband to bond with her and I get a break. I’ve found that since we switched to formula for that last day feed, she sleeps SO much longer.
It was a little emotional to give her formula, but the extra sleep and break made that feeling of sadness go away instantly.
Products that Helped Me
It’s true what they say: all you need is a pair of boobs. However, there are several items that I believe are essential for a new nursing mama.
Obviously, nursing bras are super convenient and comfortable. I love these ones!
I used my Boppy Pillow for the first 6 months. Now, I can rest my baby’s head in the crook of my arm, but I loved the pillow in the beginning.
I was gifted a Spectra Breast Pump and have used it almost every day! I pump when my baby naps so that I have a small milk stash. I use these freezer bags to store the milk.
I used nursing pads for maybe 2 weeks? I bought way more than I needed, but I was happy I had them until the leaking stopped.
Bottles & bottle warmer. I was so glad we got these before Baby M was here. My partner could give her pumped milk so I could run out for a few hours.
Badger nursing balm. Like the nursing pads, I didn’t use this for long, but was happy to have it! I ended up buying like four different nursing balms and it was totally unnecessary.
Some things I didn’t ended up needing were the ice/heat pads, lactation massager, or any type of cookies or bars. I learned that upping your milk supply is based on the frequency of expression, not any magical food.
Resources for Nursing Parents
I know in recent years, we’ve moved towards “fed is best”. And I believe that to be true. However, I didn’t feel encouraged to make breastfeeding work for me.
Any time I hit a snag I was told I told by friends to switch to formula. I really only felt like my mom and my husband were on board with my commitment to making breastfeeding work for me and my baby.
Some of the best resources for pro-nursing information were Instagram pages, Reddit subs, and the classic old BabyCenter boards.
My favorite websites for information still are the following:
- La Leche League – www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/
- Kelly Mom – www.kellymom.com
- Breastfeeding USA – breastfeedingusa.org
I have no plan on weaning my daughter any time soon. I trust that I’ll know when that time is right. Although the beginning was SO hard, I fully plan on breastfeeding my next baby.
Some days, it really does feel like a superpower, as cheesy as that sounds.
What was your experience breastfeeding? Would you do it again?