Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Breastfeeding - Take Two

Some of you may remember that my breastfeeding experience with Clara did not go as I had planned.  She never latched decent, we used a nipple shield for awhile, I didn't respond well to the pump, and we basically had to supplement with formula the entire time.  After 6 weeks or so... I gave up.  You can read about it here.

Because of that experience, I wasn't all that optimistic about breastfeeding this time around, but was determined to give it another shot.  Breast milk really is the best thing for baby, and if you can give that to your baby, why wouldn't you?

A little on that...  I know some people spend hours researching the best carseats, strollers, and other gear for their babies.  They buy the brand name diapers.  Then choose to formula feed without even trying to breastfeed.  No, formula isn't poison, but if you can put the best possible thing in your baby's tummy - why wouldn't you?

OK - off my soapbox.

I know some people simply don't produce enough.  But did you know that less than 3% of moms actually have that problem?  That means that 97% of moms CAN produce enough if they have the right knowledge, support, and determination. 

I know, I know... I thought I was one of those 3%.  I wasn't.  I just didn't have the right knowledge, support, or determination.  I didn't ask the right questions.  I didn't prepare myself.  I didn't trudge through when the going got tough.

The second time seems to be the charm for us!  Hazel has had a great latch from the get-go.  We had some issues in the hospital with her only being interested in one side, but thanks to the amazing lactation consultants and nurses at our hospital, we figured out what the problem was and were able to get her to latch equally on both sides.  Hazel hasn't had one ounce of formula, and I have more than 300oz frozen in the freezer.  It feels great to be successful this time around.  My first goal is 3 months and we are only 10 days away from meeting that!  Yeah!

It hasn't been all unicorns and rainbows though, we've had our share of challenges.  2 bouts with thrush, bruised nipples, cluster feeding, and my array of health issues have given me pause on more than one occasion.  But she continues to get what she needs from me, I'm putting milk in the freezer, and that makes me very proud of our progress!

I'm a firm believer that when you know better, you do better.  So here are some of the things I learned this time around that have helped me to be successful.  I hope they will help someone else!

1.  Build up support for your efforts.  Whether it's family, friends, or an online community, gather a group that you can ask questions to, celebrate those small victories with, and who can support you when times are tough.  Mandy, Linnea, my mom, and the girls on the facebook page Breast Friends have been this for me. 

2.  Remember - your breasts are never truly empty.  If you pump at 2:20, you can feed baby at 2:30 - there will be milk there.

3.  Pumping is not a true measure of what you are producing.  A pump can only transfer 30% of the milk that a baby can transfer.  The best way to know how much baby is receiving is to do a weigh, feed, weigh.  But if baby is having adequate wet and poopy diapers... they are getting enough.

4.  In the beginning, it will seem like baby is feeding constantly.  That's great!  They are helping you build your supply.  Breastmilk eventually becomes supply and demand... by nursing a lot, the baby is signaling to the body to make more milk.

5.  Find a lactation consultant that can help you.  Sometimes you just need an expert.  Like I said earlier, the LC's at our hospital are pretty amazing and really gave me some great suggestions when I hit a slump.  I still don't respond amazingly to the pump, but have learned some tricks that help me. 

6.  In the beginning, breast feeding will hurt.  This is new territory for those nipples of yours!  But a good latch, some hydrogels, and warm water soaks will help.  After a while, it won't hurt anymore, you just have to power through to that point. 

7.  There are some things you can do to increase your supply if you need to.  Drink lots of water, almond milk, eat almonds, brewer's yeast, flaxseed, oatmeal, drink Gatorade.  There are also supplements you can take, but I found that the ones that contain fenugreek cause Hazel to be gassy. 

8.  Breast pumps are expensive - no question about it - but thankfully more and more insurance companies are covering them.  I now have 2, so I will be able to keep one set-up at work and one set-up at home.

9.  If you have a smartphone, find an app to help you.  Those first few weeks it was very helpful to record which side I had nursed on last, how long we nursed, track dirty and wet diapers, etc.  You wouldn't think those things are that hard to just remember... but you will be a hormonal, exhausted mess.  Trust me on this one.

10.   Remember why you are doing this.  Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. 

Some moms can't breastfeed, some choose not to.  I'm glad that I gave this another shot and am able to provide for Hazel in this way.  We'll keep going as long as we can! 

I also wanted to add that I don't condemn moms that formula feed.  Clara ended up being formula fed and she's amazing!  But on more occasions than I care to admit, I had boob envy when talking with friends about nursing.  Formula has its place, but I hope that it is always "Plan B".

Feel free to share your breastfeeding story in the comments below!  Is there anything you would share with a new mom?

Milk Coma


  1. Great encouragement, Mamie! Congrats on a GO the 2nd try, and way to go! ;)

  2. I am so glad it is going better the second time around. I agree it is one of the most difficult things I have ever done but so glad I did with Isaac and that's the plan for baby #2. It definitely takes an excellent support group to keep going during those first weeks - so glad you found a great network this time around. The 3 month goal isn't too far away and I know you can make to 4. ~ Lindsay J.
    P.S. Congrats on the "liquid gold" you have stored in the freezer!

  3. Love this! And love that i made the blog! Happy to share what worked for me... because i remember having a lot of questions and not many friends to ask! Mandy

  4. Great post...I agree the second time around is tons easier! With Nora I was able to breastfeed for 6 months but supplemented while trying to increase my supply the whole time but with Brynn she went a whole 10 months before have a drop of formula and I attribute this to both of us getting lazy and my not keeping up with pumping while working. Great job Mamie...keep setting and achieving those goals!

  5. Good Post. I am glad that the second time is better. Both H and O were good little eaters, I am praying for one more!

  6. I agree, great post. I had the same problem with Weston, horrible latch I got frustrated, thought I tried all I could and gave up at about 5 months. The other 3 were a breeze! So glad I tried again! -Amber

  7. If Cole had been born full term at our local hospital, I don't think we would have made it. They have no LCs and when I was there with Shelby, a 20-something nurse was trying to tell me what I was doing wrong. Um, she's my 3rd, and the other 2 survived. I think I got this. In Sioux Falls, the LCs were great, if not a little pushy. I don't think they would have let me quit if I wanted to. Having support truly makes all the difference in the world. It's HARD! So glad you tried again and things are going so much better this time around.

  8. Support would be great. My first try did not go well-I had little knowledge, little support, and she had a poor latch. Second time went well for a couple weeks until I got sick with pneumonia and went on antibiotics. Really, really hoping third time is the charm. Your blog post has some helpful tips but does anyone know of LC's that will come to your home and help ?