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Monday, January 10, 2011

Breastfeeding- My Failures, Successes and Info you should know

  Why breastfeed?  Why not just use formula?
Health benefits:

      I thought I would post some parenting topics on here, there is an insane amount of information on everything and anything online, but for first time parents, or even parents of multiple children, it is sometimes overwhelming to know where to turn.
Todays post is on Breastfeeding.
  Lets start at the beginning of this journey...
When I first found out I was pregnant with Aiden, I knew I would breastfeed, that wasnt even a question.  BUT, I wasnt totally sure how long I wanted to nurse, I wasnt sure whether I would supplement, and so on.  I researched A LOT when I was pregnant with him, thats pretty much all I did for the last trimester, since I was just sitting at home.  I knew 6 months of breastfeeding was recommended, but noone I knew personally had nursed that long, at least noone that had ever mentioned it.  So I decided we would shoot for 3 months, exclusively, then I would allow myself to supplement if the need be.  That is what I decided I would be DETERMINED to do.
 So I read and read about proper latch, how some people have a little trouble at first, but you will surely figure it out, how there may be some discomfort, but it will pass...
  Forward to Aiden's birth.  (I had pain medications and an epidural with him).  I waited maybe an hour or so to try to nurse him.  There were friends and family in the room, they wanted to see the baby, and even tho I had just given BIRTH in front of most of them, I just wasnt comfortable with breastfeeding with everyone in there.  So once some people left the room, I tried. It didnt work so well, at all.  Aiden was asleep, he really didnt want to wake up to eat.  ( And this is where having a birth plan comes into play...  I have been to the hospital when others have given birth, in most cases if the baby doesnt eat after the first couple of tries, the nurses will push formula on the mother.  I had written in the birth plan and handed it out, saying that NO formula would be used, so thankfully the nurses at my hospital NEVER brought it up, no matter the troubles I was having. So write your birth plans!!)  He would try to latch, and wouldnt suck, or he would suck, but wouldnt be latched, and most of the time he was just sleeping.  We tried torture. Stripping the hours old baby naked, putting wet rags on him, we did everything we could to wake him up at his feeding times.  It just wasnt working.  It also didnt help that his bad latch had me bleeding, cracked, and in pain. The lactation consultant came, she didnt have any more success than anyone else, because he just wouldnt wake up.  I saw the lactation consultant the one time, and that was it.  We went home after 2 days, in the same situation as the day before, with no help other than a nipple shield. (A nipple shield is a plastic piece, think a paci or bottle nipple, that you place over your nipple so that the baby can latch to it and possibly eat easier).
    We get home, and he had really barely eaten at all for 2 days, whenever I tried to feed him he was getting frustrated and screaming, and especially as a first time mom, it was very nerve wrenching.  So....   I started pumping.  I would pump, feed him, wait 3 hours, pump feed him, etc.  This went on for 6! weeks. Six long long weeks. I would occasionally try to nurse him, but we were both just so used to our routine that I didnt try it often enough.  At 6 weeks old, he learned to latch. One day he just decided that he knew how, like he had always been doing it.   That sounds great right?   Well it seemed like it.  But, all of the scheduled pumping, had caused my milk supply to be, well, crappy.  He was wanting more to eat, and I was only making enough to get by. As the next month and a half went by, we were still doing scheduled feedings, because that was the routine we had gotten so accustomed to, and my supply wasnt keeping up.  By 3 months it was a daily struggle to feed him enough. I would sit with that awful pump for ever, and sometimes not even make enough to feed him.
    I had reached the goal I had been determined to meet, so we began supplementing.  It was honestly felt like a relief at that point.  Two months later, I was hardly making any milk.  We were out of town at the beach, and I can still remember that day.  It was in the afternoon, and I got in the bath at the condo, Aiden needed bathed too.  I sat in the tub and he immediately found me and began nursing, something he usually wouldnt do.  I think we had never had the 'nursing relationship', the bond, that you hear so many people talk about.  And I felt that bond for a moment, I let him eat, and I knew that that would be the last time.
  At first it seemed like a relief after we stopped, but my emotions soon took a toll on me. I really felt like a failure as the weeks went on.  I really regretted my milk supply, I felt like I should be able to change things.  It was just depressing.  I eventually just realized that I did my best, way more than most people do, and that we would have another child, my nursing days weren't over.
    Fast forward...........  
   So I get pregnant with Landon, and am determined again to breastfeed.  But this time I set no limit.  I decided 6 months exclusively, would be the minimum, and there would be no limit as to how long we would go. (Now Im determined to shoot for 12 months). I again read and read, but focused much more on the details of breastfeeding, not just the main points.
So here are some things that I learned that I did do wrong the first time, should do this time, I have used, and they have worked.
   I put out of my mind the anxiety of nursing in front of others.  If I was going to do it, and REALLY do it, I couldnt be concerned with that. Now Im not an exhibitionist, I do cover up, but I wasnt going to let others make me shy away from feeding my child.
  I got a GOOD pump, I was so afraid we would have troubles again, and a crappy pump can lead to a crappy supply.  So if I needed it, I was going to have the best at my aid.  (Never buy used pumps, only hospital grade pumps should be used by multiple users.  There is no effective way to sterilize a used personal pump. The milk can get in the diaphragm, and there is no way to clean that. See  )
   I was at the hospital for a friends birth while I was pregnant, and noticed that the baby was the most alert within the hour after she was born.  I realized then that the articles that say 'Feed your baby within the first hour after birth' were true.  If you want the baby awake and eager to eat, that is the time to do it.
  With Landon I had no pain meds or epidural, as soon as my stitching was done I took him while he was still alert, and tried to feed him.  I was mentally prepared for battle.  I was not going to get frustrated by his cries, I was not going to give up, he could and would nurse.  Well, he did. He was a pro.  I was fortunate this time.  Then again could it have not been chance, but my own preparation?...
    Remind yourself that women have nursed for CENTURIES, when formula did not exist, it was not an option.  Someone honestly not being able to nurse, is rare.  It happens, but it is not the norm.
   Dont let yourself give in to pumping because you are having trouble.  Unless there is a medical condition that makes this necessary, dont give in to the pump.  It is recommended not to pump for the first 6 weeks.  It also recommended not to give the baby a paci the first few weeks.
  For the first few days, and ESPECIALLY the first couple of days,try to feed the baby whenever he is awake.  The hospital recommends you feed every 2-3 hours.  But that is the minimum. Anytime the baby is awake, feed him. If he hasnt been awake in 2-3 hrs, wake him.  If he wont wake up enough to eat, wait half an hour and try again.  If the baby is hungry, he WILL eat.  The baby mostly sleeps the first couple of days. It is NORMAL for him to not eat much during that period.  When your milk comes in, usually in 3-5 days, the baby will start eating more.
  The recommended way to feed your baby is: Start with one breast. Let the baby eat from it 10-20 minutes or until it is empty. If you dont want to time it, you can assume that side is done when the baby takes himself off or falls asleep.  (As they get older they may take less time to eat, you will get used to telling if you are empty).  Switch the baby to the other side, again let him feed til he falls asleep or takes himself off.  The next time you are ready to feed him, you will start with the last side that you fed him on.
   The football hold is an easy hold to use for a newborn.  Here are various holds:
    Most nurses are unfortunately very uneducated on Breastfeeding.  It is unfortunate, but you cannot rely on their knowledge.  You need to gain this knowledge for yourself, before your baby is born.  If you have a friend who has successfully breastfed their children, keep them on hand.  If a nurse tells you your baby needs formula the first couple of days, second guess them.  If they tell you you are in no condition to pump, second guess them.
   When your milk comes in it may be difficult for the baby to latch, and you will more than likely be in a great amount of discomfort.  If you are too engorged for the baby to latch, you may need to pump a little bit to relieve the engorgement. But try to avoid pumping, it will make the engorgement worse because it will be signalling your body to produce more milk.
   Trust your body.  Many people may think they dont make enough milk.  This is most often not true, especially if you nurse on demand.  Let your baby nurse when he wants. Some days it may make you crazy. He may cluster feed, wanting to eat every 30 minutes some days. This is normal, he is telling your body to make more milk.  Its hard to do, but trust yourself and your baby.  If you get the baby on a schedule that you wont break, and dont let him cluster feed, you may very well end up with a low supply.
  Dont skip feedings.  It may be easy to think, "I need some sleep, Ill pump some extra milk, and my husband can do a night time feeding'.  If you skip feedings, your body will make less milk, thinking the baby doesnt need it.  There will be times when your baby is older that you will give him milk in a bottle and possibly skip a feeding, and that is ok, but it cant be routine. It cant be a daily thing.

Special Problems:
   Ive had many issues with clogged ducts. The best solutions Ive found:  Dont skip feeding.  Let the baby completely drain the breast.  If you get a clogged duct, usually massaging it and pumping/feeding the baby will help a clog that is just starting.  If it gets bad, fill a water bottle with boiling hot water ( I use water from the keurig), wrap a washcloth around it, and apply the heat, as hot and as long as you can stand it. Massage the clog, pump, repeat if necessary.  Clogged milk ducts can be VERY painful , so try to prevent them.
   For especially large breasts-  If your are having trouble keeping your breast elavated enough for the baby, try rolling up a receiving blanket/towel, lifting your breast, and put  it underneath. Then put the baby in the football hold and try feeding. (For those that know me, you know I dont have this problem!  But its on here for those that do.)
   Sore nipples:  I swear by Lansinohs Soothie Gel Pads. Put them in the fridge first, they work wonders!  You should also have some Nipple butter or Lansinol cream on hand.

Sites that I recommend you read:  -The La Leche League Site

Milk storage guidelines:

My favorite products:
                         Soothies gel pads:

   Lansinoh lansinol:

  If you have any questions, let me know or leave a comment!


  1. VERY well written. Every word of it is true to my experience. I'm breastfeeding my 19 month old. I've mostly weaned him (had to to get pregnant) but he still comfort nurses every few days. I remember thinking "I can make it to 6 months. Its only 6 months. I can make it that far" to pump myself up when I was in those early days of sore nipples and waiting for my milk to come in...

    At one poitn I was producing over 100 oz a day---all because my hungry man LOVED the boobies. And that bond was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. I can't imagine not having it. I've fed babies formula before, but never felt that same closeness I instantly did when I heard that first little "gulp" as he swallowed MY milk---I was ALL he needed in the world. No one else could give him that. Amazing feeling!

  2. It is amazing! And this baby is so attached to me! Emotionally, and phisically, haha!

  3. I had a similar experience as you, I had trouble breastfeeding my first child. I contribute it mostly to my lack of experience and knowledge of breastfeeding. My second child came along and we haven't had any problems at all! (except that I have a very forceful letdown) I contribute my success to the experience of feeding my first, even though I was pretty unsuccessful, like you, by 3 months I had a very low supply. I think the BIGGEST piece of advice is to feed your baby within 30 to 60 min of them being born, like you stated. They have a natural instinct to latch and suck at that point and if you don't utilize it then they forget it pretty quickly and have to learn, which makes for VERY sore nipples. Your guide is very well written and informative I hope lots of first time moms read it!!!