The Sh*t No One Told Me About: Breastfeeding
As I sit down to edit this blog post to share with you all - I have already begun the weaning process to wean Miss Pix off breastfeeding. But I feel I learned so much in my breastfeeding journey and it would be so incredibly selfish NOT to share. Hopefully, what I learned and did can help at least ONE other mama.
Ok, here goes: the shit no one tells you about breastfeeding.
I had it all played out in my head. I'd give birth to the most beautiful baby that ever existed. We would immediately have skin to skin contact and start breastfeeding with 100% success. My naive first-time mom in me ... even attempted the infamous side-laying nursing position in the hospital. AS IF!!! That is like the craziest and hardest position - and just goes to show how green I really was at motherhood.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that there would be latch issues, raw, bloody and sore nipples, or a low milk supply.
The problem is that no one really talks about breastfeeding. We don't talk about the successes of it or even worse the struggles, fears and problems with breastfeeding. Unless I knew somebody personally in my life who had breastfed and wanted to talk about ...it felt like a hush-hush topic.
So here we were just an hour postpartum and this brand-new infant and I are supposed to know how to do this. Fast-forward 10 hours ... I think I am totally doing a great job nursing her and that she is getting the beloved colostrum from me. She is nursing every 2 to 3 hours at this point and it wasn't until 14 hours into motherhood that a very fabulous and tenured nurse told me that we were doing it wrong and my nipples would get sore because we were doing it wrong.
Because I didn't know what I was doing and neither did Pix, I allowed her to nurse like that and allowed the damage to already be done to my nipples. Let me be clear when I say damage… I mean purple, red, blistered, raw, bloody nipples. If it hadn't been for my sheer desire to breastfeed her exclusively and the fact that we had a fabulous nurse for the latter half of our stay at Prentice… I would have given up on breastfeeding altogether before leaving the hospital.
I knew that breastfeeding was a challenging part of our daily life so I didn't waste any time before reaching out to other moms in Chicago and asking them for a lactation consultant recommendation. By day five postpartum we were seeing Gail (an RN, BSN, and IBCLC) at New Mother New Baby in Northbrook. She sincerely helped me heal my nipples with this incredible magic ointment from her compound pharmacy (if you have bloody, raw and untouchable nipples - call an IBCLC or your OB and ask for a prescription for Dr. Newman's All Purpose Nipple Cream) and then she helped us work on latching better. She suggested I follow up with a second consult to work more on latching and to see how much my supply was increasing.
We really came a long way and got my supply up to 1.4 oz taken at the breast during my peak supply time (morning) and another 1oz pumped. I felt like I had a hold of the entire breastfeeding process. Since writing this post I have decided to stop breastfeeding and exclusively feed my baby girl formula. It was completely against all the hopes and dreams that I had for the both of us - but what I've learned throughout motherhood is that things rarely work out as you hoped and dreamed and you have to just accept it and roll with it. The stress of breastfeeding, giving Pix a supplement bottle immediately following, and then pumping immediately following the bottle for another 10 minutes .... repeating this process every 2 hours was just too much for me. My entire job became centered around my breasts. Nurse, pump, nurse, pump, nurse, pump, etc. It would have been fantastic if all of that hard work resulted in a full milk supply with a happy, healthy, and GROWING baby. But that isn't what happened for us. The pediatrician team had me bring Pix back in weekly for weight checks because they were concerned that she wasn't leveling off in her weight gain/percentile. Talk about discouraging, demeaning, and just overly stressful and disheartening for this mama. So, for my sanity this journey is coming to a close for us over the next week or two (Pix will be 2 months old) as I have already started weaning her off. And ya know what?! I already feel very relieved. I would say the tipping point of my deciding that I had truly had enough of this craziness - was my sister-in-law's mother made a point to come back in the other night to tell me that it's ok to be done breastfeeding. It was like I needed some sort of permission from a motherly figure that I had done my best, but that I had to quit.
I've had so many of you reach out to me via private message, text messages, and an outpour of love and comments on my Instagram and Facebook. So many of you have asked what had worked for me to increase my supply in the beginning and what a typical day looked like for me in terms of breastfeeding and pumping to increase my supply. I thought it would be helpful to share with you in a blog post the different products that I used in addition to the schedule I tried to keep for pumping.
5:00am - Wake up, chug 8 oz water, pump for 15 minutes both breasts - bottle feed Pix either the breast milk pumped, breast milk in fridge, formula, or a mix of those.
8:00am - Wake back up for the day, chug 8 oz water, nurse her for 15 minutes on each side (alternating which breast I start on depending on which breast I ended on last), offer Pix a bottle of 3-4 additional ounces, then pump for 10-15 minutes. Eat a Boobie Bar, a milkmakers lactation cookie, or a homemade lactation cookie. Recipe for my homemade lactation cookies here on my blog!
11:00am - Take supplements (1 lactation blend, 3 Fenugreek capsules, drink my Vegan Shakeology, and take my prenatal one and prenatal DHA supplement), drink 8 oz water, nurse her for 15 minutes on each side (alternating which breast I start on depending on which breast I ended on last), offer Pix a bottle of 3-4 additional ounces, then pump for 10-15 minutes.
12:30pm - Power Pump Session!! Drink 8 oz water and make a cup of Nursing Mama's tea. Sit down for awhile - grab a book, your laptop or your phone.... pump for 7 minutes, rest for 15 minutes, pump for 7 more minutes, rest for 15 more minutes, pump for 7 MORE minutes, rest for 15 minutes. Then, chug more water!
2:00pm - Chug 8 oz water! Depending on how I felt - nurse Pix for 10 minutes per side. Offer her a bottle of 3-5 additional ounces.
5:00pm - Chug 8 oz water, nurse her for 15 minutes on each side (alternating which breast I start on depending on which breast I ended on last), offer Pix a bottle of 3-4 additional ounces, then pump for 10-15 minutes.
ENJOY A BEER.
8:00pm - Chug 8 oz water, nurse her for 15 minutes on each side (alternating which breast I start on depending on which breast I ended on last), offer Pix a bottle of 3-5 additional ounces, then pump for 10-15 minutes.
11:00pm - Chug 8 oz water, nurse her for 15 minutes on each side (alternating which breast I start on depending on which breast I ended on last), offer Pix a bottle of 3-5 additional ounces, then go to bed.
2:00am - Wake up to pump EVEN IF baby was sleeping. Pee - and chug water LOL.
5:00am .... start all over.
I really hope this helps you! I stopped following this extensive schedule after 6 weeks. I still nursed her and would pump when she got a bottle - but stopped with all the 'extras'. My milk supply is so sensitive that it immediately decreased.
However, I would love to hear if you see a difference in your supply after following a similar schedule!!