Hi! I'm Chelsea from Two Twenty One, where I blog about a wonderful array of topics-- DIY projects, home & holiday decor, organization, recipes, lifestyle, and more. I gave birth to our little guy, Owen, 12 weeks ago, and we've been breastfeeding from day one.
I chose to breastfeed for a multitude of reasons. The health benefits for Owen and me. The economic benefits-- although breastfeeding isn't completely free (nursing bras and tanks, nursing pads, breast milk storage bags, etc.), it is less expensive than formula. I also like the convenience aspect of breastfeeding. No time wasted preparing bottles. No need to carry bottles, formula, and bottled water in the diaper bag. Not having to constantly wash bottles. Another reason was because my mom breastfed my older brother and me. She is a strong proponent of breastfeeding and encouraged me to breastfeed.
Another reason that made me want to have a successful breastfeeding experience was because I wasn't able to have the labor and delivery I wanted. Not having the birth I desired made me want to work hard at breastfeeding. I wanted to feel like something worked out the way I wanted it to.
I think it's really important to have a supportive partner while trying to learn the breastfeeding ropes. I'm so thankful my husband was willing to do things like look up YouTube videos on latching or run to the grocery store at 10PM because I needed cabbage for my severely engorged breasts.
Since I'm taking an extended maternity leave from my day job, I'm able to exclusively breastfeed Owen 24/7. I'm his personal 7-Eleven. Owen typically wakes up around 8AM for his first feeding of the day after sleeping for 7-9 hours through the night, and then he goes back down for a 2-4 hour nap. He eats again after that nap, and then we usually start a feeding schedule of nursing every 2-3 hours for the remainder of the day.
I don't pump often, but I have a freezer stash from when I was pumping more in the beginning. The freezer stash came in handy last week when I went on a 48 hour business trip. I was able to pump 5-6 times per day while I was away, so I ended up coming home with about 50 ounces of breast milk to replenish some of the supply Owen depleted while I was gone.
The most rewarding part of breastfeeding is knowing that I'm providing all of Owen's nutrition. It's a crazy feeling knowing that my body is the reason why he has his chubby thigh rolls. Another rewarding aspect of breastfeeding is the bonding time that we have together. We spend at least two hours of every day together nursing, and I love that one on one time I get to have with him.
The most surprising aspect of breastfeeding has been how easy things became after the first 4-5 weeks. It was like night and day when the nipple pain subsided. I won't lie and say breastfeeding has been easy. The first few weeks were rough. Every time Owen latched on it felt like I was nursing a crocodile.
And then there's my large and in charge milk cyst. When my milk came in and I experienced the party that is engorgement, the cyst filled up and it hasn't gone away since. I had an ultrasound done when Owen was 3 weeks old. The radiologist didn't know what it was filled with so they suggested that I have it aspirated with a syringe. So they shoved a giant needle into the side of my boob and aspirated 50 mL of breast milk. But the cyst filled back up with milk within 24 hours. I had a follow up ultrasound 5 weeks later. This time they spotted some questionable tissue inside the cyst so they suggested another aspiration and a core needle biopsy. They aspirated 45 mL of breast milk that time. When they did the biopsy it caused a hematoma inside the cyst so every time I expressed breast milk, for the next week, blood would also come out. While this wasn't painful, it was slightly unsettling. Thankfully, the biopsy came back as benign. I've since seen a breast surgeon to talk about my options. We're going to try to treat the cyst conservatively (massage and ice) since it's not too terribly uncomfortable (I'd rate it a 2 out of 10). I just ask that people don't hug me really tight. Hah. So needless to say, this whole milk cyst thing has been the biggest challenge.
I'd advise new moms who plan to breastfeed to sit down with a lactation consultant before going into labor. There's so much is going on after you give birth that it's hard to take everything in. So I'd suggest scheduling at least one visit with the LC at the hospital where you plan to give birth so you can ask her questions and she can give you information so you feel prepared when your baby arrives. I really wish I would have taken the time to do that.
I'm also telling all my expecting friends to get Dr. Jack Newman's All Purpose Nipple Ointment before going into labor. Trust me, you'll want it from the beginning. You can read more about my experience with this life changing ointment here.
Another piece of advice I would offer is to brush people off when they say breastfeeding is "so hard". I heard that all the time when I was pregnant, and I have to admit, it got annoying. While it wasn't discouraging to me, if anything it made me want to make it work even more, I could see how hearing that could discourage expectant mothers. Yes, breastfeeding isn't a walk in the park for most people, but know that it's very rewarding and worth all the hard work you put into it.
Thanks so much for having me, Julie! This is such a wonderful outlet for moms to share their breastfeeding experiences.