My Breastfeeding Journey: Breastfeeding was not my number one goal for Caden, I wanted too, but I wasn’t going to force it to happen. My number one goal was for him to be healthy, whatever that looked like for us. I knew that stressing my body over trying to make something happen, wasn’t going to be worth it for me, or Caden. So before going into the hospital I told myself that if breastfeeding wasn’t going to work we were going to be just fine.
At the hospital Caden and I had a hard time with breastfeeding and connection. It was probably due to the pain, the medication, and exhaustion. I tried it all, but my milk wouldn’t come in and Caden didn’t want to latch which meant I heard the horrifying hunger screams often and it broke my heart. I consulted with several lactation consultants to help me, but before we left the hospital Caden had lost so much weight and I was in pure exhaustion over it. I wanted it to work out so badly, but when they told me we might need to start supplementing I was sad, but totally on board, because I just wanted my baby to be happy and healthy. I thought maybe the breastfeeding journey had come to an end for me.
We ended up going home without any supplements and I was a bit worried that I wasn’t going to know what to do at home on my own. I think with a mix of comfort of home and bed, along with time for my body to catch up after a c-section delivery, my milk came in. I was in TEARS, I was so happy for what my body was able to do. We were at Caden’s doctor twice a week for the first two weeks checking in on his weight. I didn’t make it to some of the doctor appointments because of the pain, and just wanting my body to heal without overdoing it. Jacob took Caden to these appointments and would report back to me, we would always get so excited when we saw his weight going back up. I kept Caden close, fed him frequently and we soon were synchronized in breastfeeding, just Caden and I together.
I’m very thankful that since then breastfeeding has become very natural to me. I didn’t say it was easy, because it wasn’t for many weeks. Trying to manage the pain of c-section postpartum and learning how to feed him in a variety of ways that made it a little more comfortable was a tedious process, but WE DID IT! Sore, cracked nipples, and painful latches, we made it through and now I absolutely love it.
I’m proud to say that I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding for over 6 months. As a first time, new mama, I’m really not an expert, but if there’s just one person that could be in a similar situation, I just hope this post can be an encouragement to them along their breastfeeding journey. I support you mama, no matter how you feed your baby- formula or breastfeeding, as long as you and baby are healthy.
My number one tip is do whatever makes your baby happy and healthy. Your mental health is also very important to a healthy breastfeeding journey. It’s not worth it to be stressed out over how to feed your baby. A stressed out mama, leads to a stressed out baby and it’s just not worth it for the sake of your baby’s health and your health.
I knew what my limit was, and I’m thankful my body did too, because it sent the milk in just in time. Some things I did throughout the 6 months to help me in my breastfeeding journey, and to keep up the supply:
- breastfeeding on demand– breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. The more you have baby latch, the more your body signals to produce. In the beginning I just had him latch whenever he was hungry, no schedule which meant sometimes I was nursing pretty frequently as we both learned. I still kind of do this with Caden, but he got himself into his own schedule early on of every 2.5 hours and I can read his signals for when he’s hungry.
- find comfortable positions for you and baby– the football hold worked best for me for the first few days after surgery. Using a boppy pillow was very comfortable for me and Caden when I felt like I was able to have a little more pressure on my belly. Now, I just feed Caden in whatever way possible-laying down, sitting up, standing up, hunched over his car seat in the back of the car. 🙂
- eating healthy foods and snacking frequently– I found that keeping my calorie intake up was helpful for both myself and my milk supply. Breastfeeding is draining and takes a lot from you so keep up the calories give you those calories you need for energy and producing. I eat three hearty and healthy meals a day with snacks in between.
- drink a lot of water– in pregnancy you need to drink a lot of water, and I just kept that up. You don’t need it excessively, but I found I was always thirsty, and I know that’s my body’s way of telling me to keep hydrated.
- taking care of myself– a stressed out mama can lead to a stressed out baby. Once Caden had gone to bed at night, and even during the day, I’ve found ways to decompress and relax. When I feel stressed, my body gets tense and tight, which throws everything off. The rise of the cortisol hormones can really affect the milk supply which can also affect the baby, and honestly it’s just not worth it! My “me” time is a hot shower at night, a warm glass of tea, and lounging for the rest of the night with tiktok, drawing on the iPad, or just watching Netflix. During the day I also find ways to keep my stress lower, it differs each day, but I love going outside and swinging with Caden, taking a stroller walk, having a nap, or doing a light exercise.
- find what works for you– if breastfeeding it too much, it’s too stressful and it’s just not working for you, then it’s not worth it for you or baby. Breastfeeding works for me, but pumping doesn’t. I’ve never pumped (outside of using my haaka). It was too much for me and I didn’t force it to happen, and I’m totally ok with that! Maybe exclusively pumping works for you, that’s great! Maybe none of it worked, and your formula feeding! I’m cheering all my mamas on that are doing what works for their family because a happy family is a fed family, whatever that looks like.
TIP FROM MAMAS:
I sought out mamas for some tips to try with breastfeeding I’m a new mama, so I thought it might be best to also have the input of other mamas. Here’s what they said!
“Elvie pumps are a game changer”
“Give yourself grace, ask for help! It’s a huge learning curve and it takes time. Loved bamboo nursing pads, they are so soft. Meeting with a lactation consultant was SO helpful for me”
“Take the down time (while nursing) to pray over your little”
“Do what works for you and your babay and don’t compare your breastfeeding journey to others”
“Check for tongue ties! Nipple shield until ties could be revised. It saved our BF journey”
“Silverettes! They heal your nipples. Life saving!”
“It get’s easier. Just take it one day at a time”
Here are some breastfeeding products I have LOVED and have made this all a little more comfortable.
Target nursing bras 2 pack– I pretty much only wear these bras still to this day. You can’t beat a 2 pack for under $20 and they are so comfy!
Amazon nursing tanks 3 pack– I wore these mostly in the beginning as my milk was coming in and we were nursing often. This made it easier, and they are very comfy.
Nipple cream– I used what I received at the hospital, the gave me the Medela Purelan Lanolin Nipple Cream and it worked amazingly!
Boppy Pillow- as I was getting used to breastfeeding, I really enjoyed the boppy pillow, especially for night nurses. I used it everyday for the first couple of months and now it has transitioned to being Caden’s. So it’s nice and versatile.
Breast pads- it’s no joke when the milk comes in and your body is adjusting to breastfeeding. You leak ALL THE TIME. I was using these disposable pads, but then also loved using these organic washable ones (wash them right away and don’t let them sit with milk on them could lead to a yukky infection on your breasts)
Haaka: the only “pumping” I did was from my Haaka in the first few months. It’s great because it catches all the leaking from the let down while nursing and I saved several bags while doing so!
You can read Caden’s birth story HERE.