Breastfeeding. It can be really tough at first.
Every mother seems to have a different experience with this. Some women/babies absolutely flourish and everything runs smoothly from day one. Other women have a hard time in the beginning but it gets easier. I know a few people who had to use nipple shields, which are little plastic nipples (they look like thin bottle nipples) that you put on top of yours. This is because the baby wont latch for some reason. Maybe they are preemie and your nips are too big for that tiny mouth. It could be that your nipples are bleeding and you use a shield to help them heal. Your milk flow may be too fast or too slow for your baby etc.
See, breastfeeding is hard and every mom/babe duo is different.
When I first got pregnant my best friend was letting her 8 month old play with her car keys while we were at lunch and she was like "I swore I would never do this" but there she was. She went on to say, "I can never ever judge any moms because what works for you may not work for them and vice versa." That always stuck with me and now here I am with a 4 month old and she was 100% right.
Rounding back to the 'bleeding' I nipples I mentioned. Brace yourself pregos. Those first few weeks (at least for me) are very painful. I didn't realize it at first but I was burying some deep frustrations with breastfeeding for the first 2 months. Its hard when you are sleep deprived, trying to teach your baby how to breastfeed, teach yourself how to breastfeed and then you basically just have someone giving you a major titty twister all day and night. Ugh it gives me the chills just thinking about it.
It does get better though. I'm on month 4 and my nips haven't hurt since around week 11. Although, I did go through a weird few phase with pumping where one nip just wouldn't expel any milk and it hurt like a bitch (sometimes my right and sometimes my left) So I just plugged that side of the pump and took milk from the boob that wasn't torturing me. It was probably a clogged duct.
So anyway, here's my experience with feeding the babe.
It became apparent at about 2 1/2 months that I wasn't producing a whole lot of milk. At first, Wimberley was eating 2-3 oz a feeding. We blinked and that number shot up to 4-5 oz. There was even a point when she took 7 oz the face before bed. This was all before she was 3 months old.
I was under so much stress about this whole milk production thing and I didn't even realize it. I was so obsessed with producing milk that I would get a little pissed every time Josh said she was hungry. I was like... just because shes crying doesn't mean shes hungry. Luckily it didn't take long for me to be like.... okay she can eat as much as she wants that's why i'm pumping day and night.
How to up your production
Lactation supplements changed my life. I used Lactation Plus from the Honest company and within a few days my milk had doubled. I wish I had started taking them sooner.
Pump, pump, pump. The more you pump the more your body thinks your baby is hungry and the more milk you will ultimately produce. Even if you pump and nothing comes out, just keep pumping. 15 minutes of pumping tells your body to make milk even if nothing comes out. You also may want to consider scheduling a pump sesh in the middle of the night. Just know that what goes in must come out and you may end up with an over supply which is a job in and of itself. If yo do find yourself with an over supply you can donate your milk to a NICU and it will go to preemies or babies born addicted to drugs etc.
Brewers yeast. Its a magic ingredient that helps with milk production. So any lactation cookie recipes you find will all have one thing in common. Brewers yeast. I haven't personally tried it because I had so much success with the pills but I have friends who swear by the stuff.
I freaking hate pumping. I've been pumping while writing this entire breastfeeding post and so far i'm at 9 oz in 45 minutes. I'm off my lactation pills because I am phasing out of breastfeeding so 9 oz is a lot!
My hairdresser said that she used to get 9 oz (PER BOOB) in 15 minutes. WTF that seems like a lot to me. Good for her. Like I said, I was obsessed with storing milk for a really long time so that's kind of amazing.
For the first few weeks I didn't have a pumping tank so I literally held the bottles in place. Do not do that to yourself, I was perpetually covered in milk and my hands would go numb. I use the tank by -----------
As for my actual pump, I use Medela which I got for free from my insurance. Its my understanding that pretty much all insurances provide you with a breast pump these days the brands are just different depending on your coverage. So be sure to talk to your insurance and your healthcare provider about that in advance.
I love breastfeeding but it wasn't always this way. It use to cause me a lot of stress and anxiety. Your baby has to learn how to nurse and it takes time. Wimberley use to be such a spaz when I nursed her. While my nipple was in her mouth she would just thrash her head side to side trying to find it. She would get upset and start crying because she was hungry and i'm like.... its literally in your mouth what do you want from me. Then eventually she would latch and it hurt so effing bad. Every suck would just give me goosebumps. This went on until she was 2 months. Once she hit that 2 month mark everything started to slowly get easier. By month 3 she was a total pro and would latch before I was even ready for her and it actually felt good. Its kind of an addicting feeling of relief for her to take that milk out. For some reason pumping just doesn't have that same addicting feeling. Must be the oxytocin, which is a hormone released during breastfeeding.
Now that she's 4 months old I am trying to breastfeed her as much as I can. I only have about 3 more weeks until I stop nursing her all together and its bittersweet. I wish I could go back to when I was a crazy pump lady and just nursed instead. Although, I had my reasons for being a crazy pump lady. She just wouldn't get full nursing because she was being such a freak so we would both sit there for over an hour trying to fill her up and it just didn't happen. She and I were both frustrated. So to just give her that big bottle of pumped milk was the best thing for us at the time. Also, for the first month I literally had to wake her up to feed her. Newborns are notorious for falling asleep during feedings. I found myself basically slapping her in the face with my boob like Yo wake up! Eat! Even now she falls asleep on the job sometimes. I have found that giving my boob a little jiggle usually gets her sucking again.
You see, every mommy baby duo is different! You are literally a team and you have to work together but you are in charge, don't forget that. There are times where I let her be the boss and it got out of hand really quickly.
Something else you may want to know is to keep your babe on the same boob for at least 10 minutes. Because your milk changes as you nurse. First you produce foremilk, this is a thinner milk that comes out at the beginning of a nurse session and has a lower fat content; then comes the hindmilk, it is a creamier milk with high-fat content. So basically, if you throw your babe on each boob real quick to release some pressure then they are only going to get foremilk which has a low fat content.
Positions! You can hold your baby like a football and nurse that way, you can cradle your baby or (my personal favorite) you can lay on your side in bed with baby next to you. I think that last one works best if you have giant boobs like I do.
I never hold her like a football because 1 she is extremely long and 2 she will push off of anything she can get her feet on. i.e. the couch, the wall, my elbow, the dog. When holding your baby in a cradle position I recommend investing in a Boppy, especially if you have smaller breasts. Its so comfortable and simple. She seems so comfy and satisfied while using it and it makes life easier for me because I don't have to keep repositioning.
Not my favorite thing. There are all types of formula out there and most of them have added iron. A friend of mine retired as the director of labor and delivery for a huge hospital in Houston and she told me that added iron isn't necessary but I can't find 'regular' formula anywhere.
I am vegan so my babe gets soy formula. It was also recommended by my pediatrician. They say that dairy formula increases your kids chances of allergies but who knows if that is actually true. I don't know any other moms other than me who use soy formula. Organic Baby's Only was recommended to me by a yoga friend and it has worked great for us.
Here's what Wimberley eats, Organic Baby's Only - Soy
Its half the price of most formulas and Wimmy seems to love it. Picking a formula is super nerve racking. At least for me it was. It felt so weird giving it to her for the first time.
In the formula section of the store you will find 'special' water to mix your formula with. Meh, take it or leave it. I don't know anyone who uses that.
Josh and I were joking one day because we were buying that 'special' gallon water, boiling i,t then adding it with her organic soy formula. We started calling it her gourmet formula.
Baby's Only reads 'toddler formula' across the top. Don't be alarmed by this. It only says that because Baby's Only believes that babies should be breastfed for the first year of life but the formula is safe for infants also. And its true, babies should be breastfed for the first year of life but that doesn't work for everyone. All babies need to either be on breast milk or formula for the first 12 months. You can introduce real food at 4-6 months but they will still be consuming formula or breast milk.
Also, once you have a baby you can expect to get some samples of formula in the mail. Somehow 'big brother' knows you had a baby and formula will just show up at your door. Usually its Enfamil and Similac. These are samples and safe to use. I know its weird to give your precious tiny human some random powder that showed up at your door but eventually you won't see it that way.
Doing anything for the first time with your newborn is pretty nerve wracking. Once they turn 3 months though they should be holding their head up pretty well and they are chunkier and will latch on to you when you carry them. Idk they just seem more solid and easy to handle. I think for me, this is when I was like ...okay you are going to be fine and I probably won't break you. Josh use to count her fingers when putting her clothes on just to make sure he didn't snap one off.
Back to the formula. Be prepared for lots of bubbles in the bottle. I tried glass bottles by Avent and had a lot of issues with them over time. They leaked, got pressurized after warming and would just shoot milk out like a water gun, they were heavy and did I mention THEY LEAKED. Pass. Try these instead, Dr. Brown's Bottles
I love them and the little straw in there helps prevent colic, which is basically severe intestinal gas caused by air intake that is very uncomfortable in babies.
Keep in mind that there are different nipple sizes! (this goes for pacifiers too) The bigger your baby gets the faster they are going to want their milk to flow, hence a bigger hole in the nipple.
Now once your baby is on formula be prepared for them to have yellow spit up, stinky burps and poops that smell so bad you will want to dry heave. However, formula will keep your baby full longer, like a lot longer. The first night Wimberley ate formula she literally slept for 7 hours straight and I ended up watching Netflix at 3 am because I was so freaked out and couldn't sleep.