Welcome to another addition of the Breastfeeding Diaries! The support for this series has been amazing! My goal has been to feature all different types of experiences. If you have a special story you would like to share, please email me! Today I would like to introduce you to my friend Jen from David + Jen = Max. Jen had a breech baby (like me!) and has made it to the one year mark of breastfeeding, sometimes supplementing with formula. You can learn a lot from this mama!
My name is Jen and my little boy, Max just turned 1! I am very excited Julie asked if I would share my breastfeeding experience with you. It has been so helpful for me to read about other women’s experiences so I hope you can learn a little from me. I am still breastfeeding twice a day (at night and in the morning). I exclusively breastfed for 8 months while I stayed at home unexpectedly with my son (I lost my job which really did end up being a blessing so I could focus my time on breastfeeding and taking care of my little man who was very demanding). I pumped when I returned to work for 2 months before I called it quits since I was only getting a total of 2-3 oz out for the day. I supplemented with formula for the 2 feedings while I was at work and continued breastfeeding morning and night. Now that he is 1 we are weaning him to almond milk and coconut milk while I still breastfeed those other 2 feedings. I am not sure when I will stop as I think I will let him decide if he is still interested or not. I really like our time together and it has proven to be a great sleep relaxer for him before bed. I rarely get any fussing now when I put him down for the night.
I decided to breastfeed because I have heard all the positive benefits for both baby and mother. It is what our bodies and breasts were meant to do as women. It is also very cost efficient and I didn’t want to spend that money on formula each week. I really want to stress that although it is supposed to be natural to breastfeed, it is not easy. It requires a lot of patience, work and commitment. I have known lots of women who for one reason or another had to give up. I know there are circumstances which prevent women from continuing, but I promise it is worth it if you can keep at it.
I had issues where I didn’t think I was getting enough milk, I had to call a lactation consultant numerous times, I even made milk cookies and swear they helped me build my supply back up. Those first few months (even well into month 2) can be super frustrating. I re-lived it recently with my twin sister who just had her first baby in November. I really just tried to share what I had already experienced in hope she would try her best to continue and she’s done a great job. She is now into month 3 and is SO glad she has stuck with it.
I remember what frustrated me in the beginning and it was trying to make it to the 3 hour mark. All the classes and books say that you should go 2-3 hours in between feedings. Well, when your baby doesn’t nap well and you can’t keep him happy approaching even the 2 hour mark it gets really taxing on your mind and body to feed that often. I would try so hard to make it to the 3 hour mark, when in reality it’s OK to feed every 2-2.5 hours if your baby seems to really want to eat. I wish I would have listened to his cues more than the books.
One recommendation my lactation consultant told me to try to increase my supply (not get extra, just to get enough to feed for a meal) was to pump immediately after feeding. This was to signal to your body that you needed more milk. This works best in the morning, but I did it all during the day feedings for a few weeks and it really worked. It is VERY time consuming because not only are you breastfeeding your baby, you then have to hook up your pump and all your supplies for another 10 minutes of pumping. This works better for little ones who are old enough to play on their play mat or if you have help. Drink a ton of water. Always have it with you when you are feeding. Make sure you are eating. It is very easy to miss meals since you are most likely feeding through them. Have your spouse/family have dinner ready and take the baby as soon as you are done feeding so you can eat. It’s very important to get the proper nutrition or it will affect your ability to produce milk. For some reason as soon as I started to feed Max I began to feel not hungry even if I was starving 2 seconds before.
I highly recommend taking a breastfeeding class while you are pregnant WITH your spouse or mom, whoever is going to be with you the first hours/days. I took a class with my husband and read books, but when it came time to breastfeed I was still clueless. I was just hoping the nurses would hook him up to me and he would take things from there. Luckily that is basically what happened that first feeding, but after that it’s very reassuring to have some help. The nurses are always there if you have questions, but I wanted my husband to look and see if he was latching right or help me readjust him. I had a c-section (Max was breech) so I had a really hard time with a cradle/cross cradle position. I am so thankful I met with a lactation consultant at the hospital. Since I was there for 4 days she came every day and reassured me since my milk didn’t come in till day 5. She showed and taught me the football hold (c-sectioners I would try this) so I wouldn’t hurt my stomach.
Those first 7-8 months are very time consuming with pumping/breastfeeding, but I promise it DOES get better. Imagine only 4 feedings a day! Your baby can and will go 4 hours in between feedings especially after you introduce pureed baby foods. My best advice would be to stick with it and push through. Oh, and lanolin should be your best friend those first weeks/months. It is truly a lifesaver. And remember, your baby’s stomach is the size of a marble when they are born so there really is no pressure right off the bat.
I’m still looking for mama’s of multiples to share their experience…good or bad!
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