#5 Breastfeeding isn’t for the faint of heart
Breast feeding is a controversial topic for whatever reason but I’m gonna give you my thoughts cause this is a blog and that’s what a blog is, my personal thoughts haha. Anyways, breast feeding is no small feat it takes a lot of work and dedication to breast feed but is also very rewarding for most. Now this is not a judgement on anyone who didn’t breast feed, whether you chose not to or had trouble doing so and couldn’t or maybe your baby didn’t like your milk, if for whatever reason you didn’t I am not judging you nor should you judge yourself. We are so lucky to live in a world that gives you options not only do we have formula but there are a ton of different brands and amazing technology that has created a very nutritious and healthy alternative for your baby and that my friends is amazing all in itself. You’re feeding and loving your baby and that’s the goal right? So be proud to be the mom that works best for you and your baby. But this post is specifically about breast feeding just my experience and some of the information I’ve been given throughout it.
So, I am very blessed, I’ve had little struggles with breast feeding and I’m not bragging but had a very “to the book experience” so it’s what you can expect if you don’t have any additional obstacles but we will talk about some of those as well. My baby latched right away with no issues, it was honestly a huge relief. Not being able to breastfeed was one of my biggest fears, even more so then labor actually so I was thrilled when she latched on immediately. It was a really cool moment, because you just did all this work to birth your baby and now you get to feed them for the first time. It’s incredible that we are designed to do this and your baby will know what to do though never having done it before. They will start suckling before the nipple is even to their mouth, and they kinda peck their head at you searching for it. They are born hungry, I mean they just went through a very traumatic experience themselves and it took a lot of work for them too so they want to eat. The nurse or in my case midwife will help position your baby, and your hold and usually give some guidance with your nipple hold and placing the baby and then they latch on and immediately start feeding, and you feel like the queen of the world. At least I did, I felt like I had just won a million bucks and it may sound ridiculous but that initial bond was extremely rewarding, it’s the first form of love you receive from your baby and that felt amazing.
Now you’re home. This is when things start to become a little more exhausting and challenging, at least for the first couple weeks and then it does get better. So you’re milk doesn’t actually start producing until several days later you actually produce what is called colostrum and it more of a yellow color and is full of essential nutrients for your baby, it’s what helps develop their defense system amongst a million other things but it doesn’t have a lot of density to it so they will actually loose weight until your milk does come it. That can take anywhere from 1-10 days on average. Mine came in on day 3 and you will know when it happens, it’s like a tingling rush in your breasts. I actually had my right side come in first and my left came in the next day so I had very uneven boobs for at least a week until they leveled out. I literally woke up the next day when my left side came in and it was huge! Like boob job huge, which looked awesome but didn’t feel great. When mine first came in they were very full which creates a lot of pressure until you release it. There’s a catch twenty two though, I’m sure you’ve heard it’s a supply and demand, so the more you release the more it creates so I didn’t want to pump to release because I didn’t want to produce more and be even fuller but they don’t eat that much at one time in the beginning so you gotta do something. I decided to “hand express or self express” meaning you squeeze your own boob to release what will come out easily to release some pressure but your not working extra out so hopefully it won’t cause you to produce more. Now being full is fine but my left side was starting to turn red and become warm to the touch and that can be concerning because it could be the beginning of a clogged duct, which thankfully hasn’t happened yet, or mastitis which I fortunately have not had either. Mastitis comes with flu like symptoms which I have been told are awful they say if you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus and have flu symptoms that it’s most likely mastitis. You can get infections in the breast from it, so if this happens make sure to call your nurse or doctor or midwife or whoever immediately so you can get antibiotics and shut it down as quickly as possible. That being said I would take a hot shower and massage both sides with a fair amount of pressure and squeeze them to help break up the milk and then release enough to get some relief. A couple times I literally would express into the sink because it was so full and even though that all was obnoxious and uncomfortable I know I’m blessed to have produced quickly and abundantly. I also have what is referred to as a fast letdown, your letdown is the process of your body releasing milk into the breast. Mine happens very quickly, which results in a lot of milk at one time so I leak a lot because of the pressure, also my baby had to learn how to chug at a young age haha. So our feedings usually have milk all over the place, she will cough and choke sometimes because there’s too much of a flow happening, and she pulls off frequently to give herself a break to breathe which then results in my nipple spraying milk all over her and myself amongst other things, it’s entertaining to say the least but took some time to adjust to. She also would make clicking sounds a lot in the beginning which I later found out is because of the fast let down and amount of milk that’s there makes it hard to have a solid suction but she’s getting much better so there’s less clicking now. I had to change my breast pads frequently in the beginning, sometimes my bra multiple times a day because I would be soaked. I would wake up with a wet spot next to me from too much milk at night or her clothes would be wet because the opposite boob would soak her while she fed from the other so we were kinda a mess for a couple weeks. It also hurts, the first week actually wasn’t bad but the second week was the worst. I remember my girlfriend texting me to see how it was going and I told her it was starting to hurt and her response was “ya like razor blades huh” I hadn’t really pinpointed the feeling until she said that, it’s just like that every time she latched was like razor blades, it took my breath away. It was only that bad for about a week though, after that it was uncomfortable and sore but manageable by the fourth week it didn’t hurt anymore and now I can actually enjoy the bonding time with her. There’s a lot you have to do for them at first to feed, because they have no strength it’s literally all on you except for the sucking and swallowing. You hold their head position along with their body as well as holding your boob and squeezing it properly so that it fits into their mouth fully, you have to make sure their mouth covers the areola and that their lips are positioned properly, they say you want them to have fishy lips where the top and the bottom are both puckered out to create a proper latch and suction. It sounds like a lot huh? Well sometimes you can do all of that right and it’s not enough, my nipple would literally be in her mouth and she would scream and cry at me as if I was depriving her because she was frustrated for whatever reason. So breastfeeding is challenging to say the least and takes several weeks if not months to really find a good rhythm, but with dedication and perseverance you will get through the hard part and start to reap the rewards of breastfeeding.
My production has leveled out so I don’t leak as much which is nice, I recently learned that your production starts to really level out around 3 months. At first I thought I wasn’t producing enough anymore because I had gotten used to how full they were but apparently everything’s fine and this is totally normal. The rule of thumb is if they’re having several wet diapers a day and continuing to grow you have nothing to worry about. Now my boobs aren’t as big, and they don’t fluctuate in size as much, basically it’s all a lot more consistent now which is nice. I also make sure to always have a burp cloth when feeding so I can catch what leaks while she feeds and can cover my nipple when she pulls off. I highly recommend the bamboosie breast pads, they are heart shaped and thin so they don’t show through your clothes but you’ll want regular bamboo for at night, the cotton are terrible my nipples would get dried stuck to them and I’d have to pull them off!! Also get the lanolin nipple cream, I tried an organic natural one and it didn’t stay on long plus the smell of it mixed with the smell of my milk was gross, the lanolin is safe and works great. Anyways we’ve found a rhythm of sorts though it continues to change. It’s finally become enjoyable and rewarding, i now know her feeding que which is coughing by the way, my baby fake coughs at me when she’s hungry lol and vigorously moves her head back and forth it’s pretty hilarious, and she smiles afterwards. Then when she’s done she pulls back, stretches and then looks at me and smiles, and that’s the best part of it all. It’s an amazing exchange of love between the two of you that no one else has and could ever replace. The point is to do what is best for you and your baby and not matter what it’s going to be hard at first but I promise that it’s gonna be worth it.
P.S. if you’re a having trouble breastfeeding or just want some help and support you can visit a lactation consultant to help or visit a breastfeeding support group for emotional support and tips for breastfeeding. Sometimes it’s nice to just chat with others about what you’re going through. You can experience a myriad of struggles with breastfeeding and it’s nice to have some reassurance and guidance so don’t be afraid to reach out for help or utilize your local Momma resources.