Let’s talk the B word for a minute. No, not that B word, the other one. Breastfeeding. Unfortunately, there is such a stigma around it that it sometimes feels like it’s a bad word. I’m lucky to not have been a direct victim of the ever-so-popular term “shaming,” but regardless of that, especially with my first baby, breastfeeding was a source of added stress and it took me a long time to get comfortable breastfeeding in public.
First time around
As a new mom, I had this grand idea that breastfeeding would be the easiest, most natural thing about becoming a new mother, but Scar had other plans for me. How could a day old little human be the cause of so much stress? She had an angry, hangry, cry. When I tried to feed her, she just couldn’t latch on that great. Two days in, I had very sore, blistered nipples and a baby that was not satiated. I started having anxiety over having to feed her. It did get better as the days went by while we were home, but then came the next challenge. How would I feed her if she got hungry while we were out?
Our First Outing
It was a mere neighborhood stroll to our local Starbucks. She slept the whole way there and for part of the time we were sitting down inside. And then, she woke up. I’m pretty sure I jumped out of my seat (post c-section) and said “Okay, time to go.” As we were walking back, the few blocks home seemed like a hundred. Her hangry cry kept getting louder and louder. Finally Josef said, why don’t we stop so you could feed her. We found a park bench near by and I remember a lot of flailing and struggling as I was trying to get her under the cover. She couldn’t latch and was fighting the cover and ended up a sweaty, hungry mess.
I should also mention that at home I did the football hold with pillows as it was more comfortable for me post c-section. So to add on to the stresses of a not-so-great latch, she also did not like the cover nor did she like the cradle position. I ended up pumping early on and giving her expressed breast milk, especially when we were out. I also started a new job and went back to work earlier than anticipated, so we did not really have a stash set aside for the days I was at work. My milk production decreased drastically when I went back to work and I struggled to keep up with her demand. We eventually started mixing formula with my milk when she was only 4 – 5 months old.
Overall, I was only able to pump up until she was about 7 months old.
Second time around
Before Max was born I already knew in my mind that I was going to breastfeed again. She, too, had other plans for me. Her latch was perfect, but as you (probably) read in my previous posts, she had to have emergency surgery. While in the NICU, she was unable to take anything by mouth for about a week. I met with a lactation consultant who recommended that I pump every three hours for 15 minutes to promote milk production. By day three I was pumping 6 – 8 ounces every three hours during the day with a six hour break overnight. I ended up with a huge stash and also had to decrease my supply once she was able to nurse again.
Despite the rough start, Max never had an issue breastfeeding. Even when she was unable to nurse due to her surgeries, she latched right back on when she was given the chance. Her ease of feeding also made me more confident with breastfeeding, especially in public. She’s a little over 8 months and we just recently (literally yesterday) had to start giving her formula. Though she’s a great feeder, the story still ended up the same. Once I went back to work, my supply drastically decreased. This time around, I felt a little guilty since my supply was so abundant at first. I relied on what seemed like an infinite supply of frozen breast milk in our freezer and by the time I realized she was going through it quickly, it was too late for me to catch up and meet her demand.
Though we’ve had to start supplementing with formula, I’m going to keep pumping as long as I can so she’ll still be able to receive the benefits of breast milk.
What I’ve Learned
- Overall, fed is really best. I’ve had my mommy guilt moments when having to give formula, but thinking about it in retrospect, I find myself asking, Why? Your baby is healthy and fed. What more could you ask for?
- Don’t worry about what other people may think about you breastfeeding, especially in public. I know it’s easier said then done, but it’s the truth. There should never be shame in feeding a hungry baby. Period.
- Breastfeeding makes you super hungry and super thirsty. I learned that quickly the first time around. There have been quite a few instances where I felt dizzy while breastfeeding and I knew I had to hydrate more.
- Nursing clothes are your best friend! Nursing bras, are not only super comfy, but also super convenient! Same goes with nursing tops and dresses! Also makes it easier when feeding in public so that you don’t have to worry about lifting your whole shirt or dress when feeding!
- I am not a fan of pumping. I guess the optimist in me will say, at least there are good pumps out there nowadays, but I still don’t like it. It is definitely a labor of love that only a breastfeeding mother will know.
- I would not wish mastitis on anyone. It’s worse than the flu; like you literally got hit by a bus. You can’t do anything. You have body aches, high fevers and chills. I had it bad for almost three days when Scar was about 6 weeks old. I didn’t know what it was until it hit me. When Max was about 5 weeks old I felt some of the same symptoms starting up. So I called the doctor right away and got treated before it got really bad.
- Breastfeeding takes a lot of time, dedication, sacrifice and love. Even with an easy feeder, if you choose to exclusively breastfeed, you as the mother are THE SOLE nutrition provider for your baby for at least the first 5 – 6 months. I know that some women are not able to breastfeed at all, so I am happy with what I have been able to provide for my girls.