Hey friends! I'm Kait and I blog over at The Jones Journal. I have a rambunctious little guy named Winslow who just turned two, and am pregnant with Baby Boy #2 on the way in February. I am excited to share my breastfeeding journey with y'all and am so glad Julie decided to do this awesome series.
Winslow took his sweet time getting here (9 days late!) but we had a great delivery and started breastfeeding right away. You can read my birth story here. As a first time mom, I always assumed I would nurse and that it would be "easy". No one told me anything about how hard it could be or any of the things that goes along with it. He latched right away and I thought everything was awesome! A few hours later though, he didn't want to latch anymore. I spoke with a lactation consultant who said I was doing everything right and that everything looked great, but we still had a hard time. Before leaving the hospital, Winslow had lost around 10 ounces and was so worried he wasn't getting enough to eat.
Every single feeding, it would take him almost 15 or 20 minutes just to latch. I tried different holds and different positions, but nothing was working. I remember crying every single time he wanted to eat because I felt so defeated. I was his mother and I couldn't provide for him what he needed. One nursing session would last around 30 minutes and then I would do it all over again in 1.5 hours. Finally a friend suggested I used a nipple shield and that was a game changer. He finally would latch and I was not crying! We used the nipple shield for around 3 weeks and then he learned how to latch without it when he was around a month old.
Man, that first month was so tough for me. Pair that with hormones going crazy and you have a full fledged crazy momma. The one thing that got me through that hurdle was SUPPORT. I had the best friends who I could text any time of the day for advice and without them, I knew I would have given up. So if I have any advice for nursing mommas, it is to have a good support system. Ask for help. Breastfeeding is not easy.
After a month, we got the hang of it and things were so much better. At three months old, I went back to work part-time and so I had to pump when I was away from him. He started refusing milk in a bottle and I couldn't figure out why. Finally, after searching online on kellymom.com, I found out I had high lipase in my milk. This is an enzyme that breaks down the milk fat after the milk is expressed. A high amount can cause a "sour" taste once it's expressed. So the solution? Scalding the milk stops the enzyme from breaking down the milk. Read more here. Every day after work, I would scald my milk on the stove and then freeze it. He then took the milk with no problems. It was a few extra steps and at first seemed very overwhelming, but I got the hang of it and figured out I could go up to 5 hours before it would turn "sour". I continued pumping until he was a year old and then we made the decision for me to stay at home.
Our nursing journey continued until Winslow was almost 16 months and we only stopped because my husband and I wanted to try for baby #2 and my cycles were not normal. We had a wonderful journey and am so thankful we made it as far as we did.
So my advice to breastfeeding mamas:
- Find support. Whether that be online, through a few friends, your family, or just your significant other, YOU NEED IT. Seriously, without it, I would have given up for sure. And if you don't have support, come talk to me. I'd be glad to help :)
- It will get easier. The first month for us was TOUGH. I thought I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel. Slowly but surely, though, it got easier with each feeding. I'm thankful someone told me it wouldn't always be that hard. My mom told me something that I still remember. She said "The baby has to learn how to feed just like you are learning. It's a learning process for both of you."
-You are a GOOD mom. I beat myself up so much about not being able to nurse easily and I wish I wouldn't have. I was doing the best I could and it did end up paying off. You are a good mom and no matter if you breastfeed for one day or one year, you are doing what's best for your children.
-Enjoy each day. I feel like I spent a lot of my time worrying about this or that and looking back. I wish I would have been a little more laid back. It's okay if he doesn't eat every 3 hours on the dot. It's okay if he wants to eat every 30 minutes. You're not going to lose your supply if he sleeps through the night. Just relax and soak in the baby smells and coos. :)
-Set short term goals. I remember setting a goal of nursing for one week. Then after that, a month. 3 months, 6 months, and then a year. Setting short term goals helped me a lot and took the pressure off that sometimes we put on ourselves.
-Document your experience I took photos along the way of our nursing experience and am so glad I have them to look back on. If you don't feel comfortable taking photos, just write about it. It is so fun to look back on and relive the journey.
If you have any questions or just want to come say hey, please do! You can find me over at my blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org