Hi, my name is Samantha and I occasionally blog over at the Reason why. And by occasionally, I mean monthly updates for my daughter and the once in a blue moon post about something else. I'm a slacker. However, I wanted to be part of Julie's Breastfeeding Diaries because it helped me so much when preparing for baby. I knew that I wanted to try breastfeeding, but I had myself pretty much convinced that it wouldn't work out for us. In my group of family and friends I don't know anyone that was successful at breastfeeding. It seemed so foreign and odd to me.
Fortunately for myself and my daughter, Charlie, breastfeeding did work for us. A quick trip down memory lane; Charlie was born two weeks early. If you want the whole birth story, it's over on my blog, but the gist of it is she was born within 10 minutes of our arrival at the hospital. The entire hospital staff was amazing. My labor and delivery nurse was a rock star and she's the one that helped me with breastfeeding the most. She asked if I wanted to and if I had taken any classes. Funny thing about it, I was scheduled to take a breastfeeding class the following night. Ya know, since I wasn't expecting baby girl to arrive for two more weeks. Lucky for me, L&D nurse had 4 kids herself and had breastfed all of them. Like I said, rock star.
Our breastfeeding journey has been mostly without complications. Unfortunately, my daughter does have silent reflux. She spits up way more than she should with the occasional screaming session when it's bad. Other than that, I have been very, very lucky with how breastfeeding, pumping/working have gone for me. But what I really wanted to touch on were some of the subjects or thoughts that I never ran across in all my blog reading, research during pregnancy and even afterwards.
My first thought about breastfeeding is that it's a huge sacrifice.
It's a sacrifice for both parents but mostly for mom. Dad has to sacrifice the ability to feed baby. This can change as mom starts to pump and perhaps daddy can do a bottle a day. But mostly it's a sacrifice for the mama. Baby is fussy or has a lot of gas? Mama needs to change her diet. Whether it's a simple fix as avoiding spicy foods or a major change as dropping dairy completely. Baby needs to eat every 2 hours? That's all you mom. Baby wakes in the middle of the night? Right again, mom, you're up. Mom returns to work and has to pump to supply for her baby. It's a sacrifice of your body in the most amazing, extreme way possibly.
And although the first few weeks are painful, they're amazing. The cluster feeding is HARD and you'll want to throw in the towel. But don't. Because those only last for so long. Then you hit this honeymoon phase, where it's all just clicking. This is usually right before you return to work. The crappy part is, when you return to work it goes back to hard. Not the breastfeeding part, the figuring out how to continue breastfeeding and working.
Our first, at home, milk coma
So since going back to work is the norm, there's the pumping while being a full time mom. It is the most aggravating, annoying, rewarding task I've ever endured. Spoiler alert, you may not pump the number of ounces you need while at work. In fact, you may need to get up in the middle of the night or earlier in the morning to add in a pump session (while you watch your baby who sleeps through the night on the monitor). Only then do you (barely) have enough ounces for the day. Like I said, sacrifice. And while we're talking about pumping, don't always follow the recommendations. Follow your gut. I was only pumping 20-30 minutes when I first came back to work and that certainly wasn't cutting it. I simply thought my pump just wasn't the same as my baby and I wasn't able to empty out with it. Wrong. Now I pump 40-45 minutes to feel empty. And you should feel empty after you finish pumping. That's how you signal your body to produce more. Play with your pump, push the let down button more than once and adjust the settings. Find the right balance for you. Also remember to eat. And eat a lot. I experienced a major decline in my already risky supply during a week that I just didn't feel hungry. Once I got my appetite back, everything returned to normal.
My breastfeeding tips to share it would be these two favorites. Because I'm so well endowed and my daughter is such a peanut, I have to hold my breast while I'm nursing. All of that careful preparation for my "nursing station" was not necessary. I can't reach a single item. Do not fear, you learn to adapt. For here is my secret - those trusty receiving blankets? Ball one up and stick it under the boob so you have a free hand. Another fabulous secret? Netflix and/or your DVR. During our entire maternity leave, I would go downstairs to our living room for the middle of the night, early morning nursing time. I'd watch one of my recorded shows while nursing. Then once Charlie was satisfied, I'd lay her down on the couch beside me so I could pump. All in all, it would take me about an hour to an hour and a half for this process.
Every time she nurses, she sleeps...
Breastfeeding in public is intimidating and scary. At least it was/is for me. I hate it. I cringe when it is necessary. After a while I've learned to adapt and find the right balance for myself and Charlie. A lot of times, I found myself in the backseat of my car to nurse while out and about. As much as you prep for a nursing station in your house, prep for a nursing station in your car. Find out where to plug in your phone that you can still reach it. Where to sit that you can see the clock but still be able to nestle yourself down in so you're not completely visible to the windows. And if you're in the market for a new car, may I recommend leather seating? Baby spit up of your own milk is no joke. When public breastfeeding was the only option, I'd recommend the Aden and Anais swaddling blankets. Aden and Anais blankets are wonderful for covering up while nursing. They're light weight and are plenty big enough. Tie a knot in one corner, place the knotted end under your bra strap opposite of the side you're going to nurse on. Then sling the blanket behind your neck and over the shoulder of the side you'll be nursing on. Big cover, breathable for baby.
Even if breastfeeding is going well, there's always the critics. Perhaps its the type of person I am, but I have a bit of guilt over the fact that I was able and still am breastfeeding. Several of my friends, family members have formula fed their babies. And while that doesn't bother me a bit, it's the comments they make that bother me more. Whether they realize it or not, they make me feel guilty for being able to breastfeed. Most I think are trying to justify for themselves why it didn't work or they chose not to, rather than realize that they're hurting my feelings. Just keep in mind that not only are there individuals that push the breastfeeding, there's always some on the other side of the fence too with their own opinions and everybody will let you know how they feel about it.
I didn't expect to enjoy breastfeeding. But I have so much. My daughter is still exclusively fed breast milk via bottle or nursing as of 5 months. Currently we're continuing day by day and slowly introducing solids. Although it gives me some anxiety trying to figure out when the right time for us to wean or if my supply will keep up, I enjoy it more than I can say. Because this little girl is growing, thriving on what my body can give her. How cool is that?
Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries series at the top of my navigation bar. If you would like your story featured, please email me at thegirlintheredshoes @ gmail