From teeny tiny newborns and new mommies learning how breastfeeding works, to the struggles we’ve worked through with our kids, to my favorite breastfeeding supplies, I thought I would do a post recapping it all and sharing our experience.
With all four babies, I have (and am currently) breastfeeding. I was blessed to be able to nurse my oldest three for the first year and then a little past and I hope to do the same with our fourth – who is now 5 weeks old.
I should note that this post is written solely from my families experience and I have no medical background in any of this. I am happy to answer questions based on my experience, but for medical advice, consult your pediatrician, local LLL or a lactation consultant.
My one piece of advice for all who want to try to nurse is to not give up immediately and don’t make any decisions until your baby is 6-8 weeks old as to whether or not you want to continue to breastfeed or not. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. It hurts, it’s time consuming, it can be frustrating and sometimes annoying and it takes commitment. Should you have no other issues, wait a few weeks til supply is established and you aren’t so tired to decide if you want to nurse.
For me, each baby has been very, very different. In the beginning Annie M and Brother took to it like champs. We really had no latching issues and the main problems were along the lines of pain and discomfort of the newness of it all to me, establishing supply and routine. By six weeks, with both of them, all was good.
Moose was a different ball game. By day five, he refused to latch, wouldn’t take a bottle and would just scream all the night long. NOT a good thing for tired Mommy’s and Daddy’s with other kids who needed attention. I tried all sorts of holds, pumping and giving him a bottle, letting the Hubs feed him and all and nothing worked. He didn’t take a paci so there was nothing to have confusion over, but I was stressed. I finally called the hospital I delivered at, made an appointment with the lactation consultant and I took my screaming baby and I back up to labor and delivery to meet with her.
It took three hours and all four of our hands to get him to latch, but he did…eventually. I wasn’t sure how we would do it at home, but she showed me some tricks to try and ways to work with him to train him that we could do while not nursing, and we did those over and over. Within a week, we had NO issues and he was eating wonderfully. Not sure what it was initially, but basically, it came down to he and I working together and me coaching him and teaching him what to do.
When he was around nine months old, I got mastitis (twice). That was AWFUL, but we nursed through it and survived. Other tips I received when I had it (along with continuing to nurse) was to take a hot shower and then pumping right after. Also, put warm compresses on and pump and all of the above helped immensely.
There were moments I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. While I do believe and feel that breastfeeding is natural and innate, there was a lot my third and I had to learn and it all didn’t just come easily. For mamas that have issues, just know that you aren’t alone and lots of us have been there. We have all had to find support, help and fight through this or that and if its a journey you want to continue, then look for !
With my fourth, the first week and a half was easy. I thought we were golden. Week two and a half he started chewing (OUCH) and week three and a half, he had thrush. We are at week five now and thanks to trying a few new things (nipple shields, pumping before nursing, etc.) I *think* we may be turning a corner and hitting our stride???
P.S. Can we just take a moment here to discuss WHO IN THE WORLD came up with nipple shields??? Like what the heck. Weirdest thing ever, but they work, so as we say in the south, God bless ’em.
So, thats the recap of our experience. Tips I have learned along the way are not to give up, ask for help or if you have questions and know that there is a learning curve for you and baby. Don’t be too hard on yourself and know that lots of us are right there with ya!
Since I have shared with you my experience, tips and struggles, I wanted to leave you with my favorite breastfeeding products and supplies that have been kept in stock in our home and helped me to nurse.
I have put them all into an Amazon store for you as its easier to view and quick to shop! It’s below but here are a few thoughts on the items listed.
I could not have survived without my Medela pump. I have linked my favorite one for you below – its hands free and runs off of a battery (i.e. does not have to be plugged in to use). Also, the milk storage bags are clutch for freezing milk and the nursing bras are my favorite. The CamelBak water bottle is a bit random, but drinking is imperative when you are nursing and for general health, so I included my favorite brand for ya!
Lastly, this go around, I have recommended the Zerlar Silcone Manual Suction to every pregnant lady on planet earth. Basically, you just suction this onto the side you aren’t nursing on and it catches the let down plus some.
For you mamas who nurse, pump or like numbers, I get between 2-3 ounces out of this EACH TIME!!! So, I nurse on one side and catch extra on the other side and freeze it. Just from this alone (I have not pumped once since I had Baby Chap), I have over 50 ounces frozen. I plan on donating this to a friend who has twins, as we have not yet started with bottles and so there is no need. Seriously, BEST PRODUCT EVER.
I would love to know if you have used any of the products on my list or if there is anything you would add! If you have tips for other breastfeeding mamas, please share! We are all in this together and I know hearing others stories and advice has helped me along the way!