Hey loves! I had been thinking about writing a post all about our breastfeeding journey so far for a little while now but wasn’t sure if it’d be something you’d be interested in…
After quite a few mamas reached out to me after my most recent Instagram post about breastfeeding, I figured I’d give it a go. 🙂 This is also incredibly timely since this week is World Breastfeeding Week! Some things I want to be upfront about before diving deeper…
This post is going to be about my personal journey with breastfeeding so far. I am an advocate for breastfeeding and have always been determined to breastfeed my children, so I am very passionate about it. With that being said, I know and respect that not everyone is able to breastfeed or wants to and that’s okay. Fed is best! No breastfeeding (or motherhood) journey is the same… so, please don’t try to compare our journeys. Both are beautiful! Again, this is my personal experience.
As I start to share more about my breastfeeding journey and motherhood in general, I ask that you do not comment negatively on my beliefs, experiences, and journey. My experiences are mine alone and yours are yours. Please, respect that. 🙂 CWS is a safe space so I just wanted to put out that gentle reminder/statement for anyone who is new here.
OUR BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY SO FAR – 5 MONTHS
Before Taya was born, I had scheduled an appointment with a lactation consultant at 36 weeks pregnant. I had done some basic reading and research on breastfeeding throughout my pregnancy but I wanted to get some more information from a professional, face-to-face. It was such an informative appointment and I’m so glad that I booked it. I left feeling more confident than ever to do everything I could to make our breastfeeding journey successful.
If you read Taya’s birth story, you know that my labor experience ended up being traumatic as I got diagnosed with preeclampsia during labor, so my birth plan (un-medicated) went out the window. Along with that, some of my preferences for after delivery also went out the window. One of those being that Taya would be on my chest from the moment I birthed her all through that first hour (the “golden hour”). I wanted this because it promotes breastfeeding. I did get close to my wishes – they took her after delayed cord clamping to get her measurements and such, then she was right back with me. Even though that first hour was momentarily interrupted, it did not affect our breastfeeding beginning.
TAYA’S FIRST LATCH
Taya’s first latch was probably about 20-30 minutes after birth. I’m not sure exactly because time just kind of blurs together. My arms were so weak from holding (and pulling up) my legs while I pushed, so I had my favorite nurse help me to get Taya to latch. It wasn’t a long latch but Taya did latch right away, which was so magical for me. It wasn’t a perfect latch and since I was seeing a lactation consult promptly after getting to my recovery room, I ended up hand expressing colostrum onto a spoon and then used a syringe to feed it to her. She took it perfectly.
MEETING WITH THE LACTATION CONSULTANT
It was so helpful being able to see a lactation consultant after having Taya. Even though I did a ton of reading and met with one before Taya was born, it was a huge help to have some extra help and tips that the first day. She showed me a couple of ways to hold Taya, one being the football hold. Since my arms were incredibly weak, she recommended the football hold for me. It was easier for me but it wasn’t the most comfortable overall. She also showed me how her ear, shoulder, and hips should be in a straight line for Taya’s comfort. The LC checked her for any lip or tongue ties and gratefully, Taya had neither. The LC said that Taya was such a great breastfeeder! It made me feel elated and relieved.
THE FIRST DAYS IN THE HOSPITAL
The first few days of breastfeeding were incredibly exhausting. Duh, lol! I mean, I just gave birth and now I’m learning a brand new thing that is physical, mental, and emotional. I had to nurse Taya every 2-3 hours (even during the middle of the night) and on-demand so we kept track of everything in a notebook. Taya would nurse anywhere from 25 minutes to 45 minutes those first few days. I wouldn’t say breastfeeding hurt during the hospital but getting used to a new sensation of her latching was definitely different.
I used the Lansinoh lanolin nipple balm those first few days and it helped but in the following week, I found a different nipple balm that I preferred. I had packed breast pads but didn’t need them since my milk didn’t start to come in until the end of my hospital stay.
ENGORGEMENT & THE FIRST WEEK HOME
I’d say the night we got home, my milk really started to come in because when I woke in the middle of the night to nurse Taya, my boobs were becoming so engorged. When I woke up the next day, oh my gosh… My boobs hurt so badly! My barely-a-C cup boobs went to what felt like a Z cup overnight LOL. Just being honest! Engorgement. No fun.
None of my nursing bras fit me because I was so engorged. We went to Taya’s first pediatrician appointment, she had gained over her birth weight, and I was directed us to keep up with the middle of the night feedings just to ensure she was gaining properly. After that, we headed to Motherhood Maternity to get some next size up nursing bras.
PRO tip: I definitely recommend having multiple nursing bra sizes on-hand! You’ll definitely use them.
Engorgement was the most painful part of breastfeeding for me, for sure. When we got home, I decided that I would pump to relieve (not to empty my breasts). I was nervous to do so because 1. It’s encouraged to not pump for the first month and 2. I didn’t even look at the instructions for my pump yet, haha. After figuring it all out, I pumped to relieve and friends, it worked. It helped ease my discomfort and after nursing Taya basically all day, engorgement was only a 1-day thing for me. Thank God!
Side note: It’s recommended to not pump during the first month because your milk isn’t regulated yet. So, pumping during this time could create an oversupply. I did ask her pediatrician if I could pump to relieve and they agreed that would be a smart thing.
The first week of breastfeeding also brought about chapped nipples. Ouch! This was the only time Taya’s latch was ever painful to me. I’d brace myself each time it came to nursing. This was also when I realized that I wasn’t actually a huge fan of the Lansinoh nipple balm, so I switched to the Bamboobies Organic Nipple Balm and LOVED it so much more. I truly believe it helped heal my nipples really fast – within a couple of days.
Taya had a weight check appointment when she was 10 days old and she gained great! I was then given the okay to not set a timer to wake up and nurse her every 2-3 hours. She still nursed a few times throughout the night for those first few weeks – month, but it was nice just following Taya’s lead rather than setting a timer.
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1- 2 MONTHS OF BREASTFEEDING
After a month of exclusively breastfeeding passed, I still decided that I didn’t want to pump yet. This was also shortly after quarantine began and since I work from home, I just didn’t see why I’d need to pump. Instead, I purchased a Haakaa which is what I like to call a “milk catcher.” You suction it onto your breast and it will catch any milk that leaks out.
Taya has always only fed from one side each feeding, so I would attach the Haakaa onto the opposite boob when I nursed her. This worked out SO well for us. I didn’t collect a ton each feeding – the most I’d ever get was 1.5 oz at a time and that was rare. Using the Haakaa helped me to start my freezer stash, even though it was just a little at a time.
I’d say about a month after using the Haakaa, I started to not get much at all. This was because my milk had regulated. It was to the point where it was more hassle than “reward,” so I stopped using it regularly.
I would drink 1 Body Armor drink a day and I also had these yummy lactation cookies! I really believe the Body Armor drinks helped me stay properly hydrated, which in turn, keeps a good supply. The cookies? Eh! I don’t know if they helped but they were delicious! And back to the nipple balm – I actually stopped using nipple balm about 1.5 months into breastfeeding. My body just adjusted so I didn’t need it anymore.
Taya only nursed on one side for each session. I would offer both breasts but she only needed the one. She was also very quick and efficient – averaging 7-10 minutes each time she’d nurse. This worried me at first but her pediatrician assured me that every baby is different. As long as she was gaining, all is great.
REAL TALK TIME. WORRY.
During these first 2 months, I wasn’t ever stressed about my supply or nursing but I did have random bursts of worry come over me often. I’d worry that Taya wasn’t getting enough… worried that I was drying up… worried that I wasn’t producing enough. It was really such a tough place to be and challenging myself to pull myself out of the worry was difficult. I’m grateful Michael has always been supportive about my breastfeeding journey, so he really helped me through that time.
3 MONTHS TO NOW
Taya and I have really found our rhythm with nursing! It has been a very smooth journey for us, even despite the uncomfortable first week of it all.
Taya is and has always been quite efficient! On average, she only nurses for about 5-7 minutes on one boob each feed. She is very quick, haha. She nurses every 1.5 – 3 hours, depending on if she’s going through a growth spurt or leap. On average, she only “wakes” once in the middle of the night to nurse around 2:00 – 3:00 am. I say “wakes” because she’ll just start to fuss a bit but doesn’t actually fully wake up. During growth spurts and now that she’s teething, she can sometimes nurse 2-3 times a night again. It all ebbs and flows as she grows. 🙂
I did incorporate dream feeding between 2 and 3 months. Dream feeding is when you nurse your little one between 10:00 pm and midnight without them waking them in an effort to reduce the middle of the night feeds. This kinda worked for us but not to the point where I felt I needed to do it consistently.
We both are loving the bond. Sometimes she’ll nurse for comfort, especially if she’s just had shots or if she’s having a really rough teething day. I don’t mind at all. This is only a season so I want to enjoy every moment of it. I’m already emotional just thinking about when she weans one day.
MY GOALS & PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF NURSING
Up until now, Taya has never had to take a bottle. This wasn’t my original plan but I’m happy it worked out like this. And to be honest, it’s just more convenient for me to have her latch rather than having to deal with the hassle (for me) of bottles, warming milk, etc. But, I am thinking about starting to pump here and there – I’m still trying to decide what I want to do. I want to be able to make breastmilk freezer pops for Taya which will be great for teething.
My plan is to nurse Taya until she’s at least a year old. I’m not opposed to extending that at all! We’ll see how it goes. 🙂 So grateful to have even made it this far! Each day is an accomplishment. I cherish every moment!
HELPFUL FACEBOOK GROUPS
I highly recommend these two Facebook groups if you’re breastfeeding. They’ve been so helpful to me!
I hope I was able to answer your questions! I tried to incorporate all of my answers into more of a timeline rather than Q&A style. I’m happy to answer any other questions in the comments.