I have been putting off this post for so long. Why? I couldn’t tell you really. Maybe because when I start writing it in my head I immediately feel guilty.
Yes, this is going to be a post a lot like my ‘The Struggles of the First Trimester‘ post. Raw honesty that you may not find anywhere else. Because people are so afraid now to speak their mind. Because whatever you have to complain about, it could always be worse.
I got a lot of flack for that First Trimester post. I guess it was TOO REAL. People were mad because I was pregnant and I was complaining about being pregnant. If that was you READ NO FURTHER because I CAN BREASTFEED and I am about to complain about breastfeeding.
My Breastfeeding Journey
Let me start by admitting that I did not want to breastfeed from the beginning. I mean from before I even got pregnant.
It started with all of the bloggers I followed that had babies before me that immediately went straight for the bottle. I mean their babies were being fed bottles in the hospital. They had zero guilt. They told me motherhood was soooo easy. Their kids slept amazing and they were always traveling and out on the town without the baby. And to be honest… most of the time they were drinking.
That sounded amazing to me! So freeing!
Then my sister had a baby and was breastfeeding. It just seemed so daunting. She was basically chained to my niece 24 hours a day. She would come over to do a shoot with me and only have an hour because she would have to run back home to feed. She couldn’t travel anywhere without the baby.
When I would think about breastfeeding before these two cases I just thought of it as something that hurt like hell. I never thought about it any further than that. I didn’t think it would be freeing not to do it or that it would feel like you didn’t own your body anymore if you did it.
When I was pregnant I kept telling Troy that I would be happy either way. If I couldn’t breastfeed that would be OK (I knew so many people that wanted to breastfeed but just couldn’t produce enough) and if I could breastfeed then I would. I was secretly hoping I couldn’t.
I think my sisters both really kept my breastfeeding journey alive. I may have quit without them. The guilt and the shame I would have had to endure with them was enough to keep me going. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that almost every day for the first two months I wanted to give up. Almost every morning I would wake up and google why breast was best. My sister even pulled up a lecture from her medical school classes about breastfeeding and read all of the pros aloud. I think I asked her to read them again for three days in a row that week.
I don’t remember all of those facts. There were just a lot of percentages and multipliers in there. Something like 3x more likely to get ear infections, have childhood obesity, have issues with attachment, allergies, and so on. Of course the 3x multiplier isn’t accurate.. just giving you guys an example.
At the same time I knew Troy was completely bottle fed. My Mother-in-Law said back then they had no idea that breast was best. They were never told the benefits of breastmilk. Formula was just easier. My husband seems pretty dang OK to me. So wouldn’t Miller turn out perfect too?
I think I cried five times total about breastfeeding those first two months.
Ya’ll, BREASTFEEDING IS HARD.
It is hard because you are constantly questioning yourself which leaves you feeling so insecure as a mother. IS MY BABY GETTING ENOUGH? I mean, how do we even know? I still don’t know. I could weigh her every single time if I wanted but how accurate is that? What if she peed during the feed would I have to change her and weigh her again? Sometimes my supply drops and on those days she decides to cluster feed and decides she hates the bottle. She just screams and there is nothing I can do because I can’t fulfill her needs. Recently I have had to start giving her an ounce of milk in a bottle after her two afternoon feeds because she is acting like she isn’t getting enough from me.
It is hard because as much as you want to breastfeed your baby some moms just can’t. Some moms can’t produce enough milk no matter how hard we try or how many lactation cookies we eat or how much we pump after every feed. And then we feel like a failure. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE! 2% of all women can’t breastfeed from the very beginning. Recent studies have then showed that 12-15% of women lose their supply within a couple of months. THOSE ARE HUGE NUMBERS! You are not a failure and you are not alone. You tried, and that is what is important.
It is hard because it is so time consuming. I work from home, so every 2-3 hours I am feeding her. As soon as I am done I am on a clock: how much can I get done right now before she needs to be fed again? It is so time consuming because for those first few weeks you are pumping after every single feed to increase your supply. You feed for 20 minutes and then pump for 10 over and over and over again. Some of you guys still do it and have to pump for even longer than 10. Those of you who work away from home are just constantly pumping all day at work.
Breastfeeding is hard because you are glued to your baby and. Some people only produce enough to feed the baby. That means no reserves, no stock. That means NO TIME AWAY from the baby. I have friends who literally have to take their baby with them everywhere. To every event, every wedding, every date night, every trip. Some people have plenty of reserves but their baby hates taking the bottle. Your body no longer belongs to you when you are breastfeeding. It belongs to your baby. And then when your husband also wants your body you want to scream. You just want to crawl in a hole and be by yourself for a little while.
It is hard because you are constantly leaking. ALL DAY LEAKING. ALL NIGHT LEAKING. I am so tired of the leaking. I have to wear washable nursing pads in every single bra all day and all night or I ruin clothes and leave a mess all around me. Plus, milk is liquid gold so when you leak it out into your clothes you are wasting liquid gold.
It is hard because it is painful. Your nipples get chapped, raw, and sore the first couple of months. Some worse than others. You may get mastitis (I haven’t yet-knock on wood). You are engorged after a few hours and if you can’t feed or pump it hurts!
Breastfeeding is hard because you are constantly worrying about what you are putting inside your body. When you want to have a drink- is it going to be two hours before I feed again? If I want another will I have to dump my precious milk? If I eat these beans will you be gassy all day tomorrow? Is she lactose intolerant? Do I need to be gluten free?
It is hard because you may have to feed or pump in public and that is just another stressful situation. You need to make sure what you are wearing is nursing friendly and that you have your nursing cover and that she isn’t too hot in there. You may have to pump in a bathroom or in your car.
It is hard because some of you have toddlers at home too. You have to feed your baby even when your toddler is screaming or tearing up the house. Sometimes you have to feed when your toddler needs you.
It is hard because it is exhausting. Breastfed babies are known to sleep shorter periods, to need to feed more often. Did you know you burn 500+ calories a day while breastfeeding? It physically AND emotionally drains you.
IT IS HARD.
If you don’t think it is hard good for you. You are supermom. I am insanely jealous.
I think breastfeeding is a very selfless act. Yes, I said it. You are doing it for your baby. You are doing it because you read all the stats and you know this is how God intended it to be and you are doing it because you believe it is best FOR YOUR BABY. You could have easily chosen formula from the beginning. You could have eliminated all of these hardships, these heartbreaks.
If you have broken down numerous times already while breastfeeding you are not alone! Just stay strong mama, it does get easier I promise!
Now, before I get the million mom messages saying how much they love breastfeeding: SO DO I. Now. After two months I love breastfeeding. It is easy. It is natural and it is a habit. Miller and I love our time together.
Does that mean I want to do it for the next year? No. When will I stop? I am not sure. The only thing I know is that I will be doing it for at least six months if I am able. I will re-evaluate then.
*If you are one of the women who want to breastfeed but can’t, I am so sorry. I know how hard that must be for you. A couple of my best friends have gone through this and it is heartbreaking. Fed is best and your baby will still be perfect because you love him and want what is best for him and that is all that really matters.
Here are some answers to the questions you have asked me:
- Alcohol and Breastfeeding. We asked our pediatrician about this. She said as long as you have about 2 hours in between a drink and a feed you will be fine. She said if you feel like you aren’t too tipsy to drive then you can feed your baby. She also says if you are worried about it you can pump and mix half of that milk with a different batch of milk. You can also buy THESE TEST STRIPS and they will tell you if any of the alcohol will get to your baby before feeding him.
- I did not take a breastfeeding class or see a lactation consultant. Miller latched right away and my sister helped answer any questions I had.
- I have not tried the Willow Pump. I hear mixed things about it. I think they are pretty good at taking it back if it doesn’t work for you.
- I do not pump in the middle of the night. I used to, but as long as you keep pumping in the middle of the night the longer that you will have to. As soon as you start pushing that pump back more and more you will notice your boobs won’t wake you up anymore. We put Miller down after her 7-8pm feed, then I pump right before bed, and then I pump after I feed her in the morning.
- I use the Kiinde system for pumping and I store those bags in a deep freezer. Your milk lasts 3-6 months in your regular freezer and 6-12 months in a deep freezer. We bought a small deep freezer from Lowe’s. Just make sure all of the air is out of the bags so that they don’t oxidize.
- If you are leaving for a work trip and want to save your milk you have to 1. find a freezer to store the milk (you can only keep it in the fridge for 3 days) and 2. you will want to pack a portable cooler big enough to hold all of your milk and ice packs to keep the milk frozen for your return home.
- I breastfeed now for about 15 minutes. She is much fast now at 10 weeks than she used to be. She gets around 4-5oz.
- I don’t pump at all throughout the day. Only at night.
- Yes, there is so much guilt tied to breastfeeding. I would say do whatever you think is best for your lifestyle! The happier you are, the better it will be for your baby as well! Everyone’s circumstance is different. Don’t let anyone guilt you! We are all just doing our best.
- I solely give Miller the boob unless I am not home or unless we think she didn’t give enough.
- Breastfeeding got better at around 8 weeks.
- During the first three days home we gave her an ounce of formula after every feed and I would pump while Troy fed her the formula. We did this until my supply came in and she was getting enough! Never be afraid to supplement and never be afraid to give her a bottle early on. We use Dr. Brown’s bottles. She is 10 weeks now and we are using the bigger bottles starting today! Also use THIS sterilizer for the bottles. It is big enough for he haakaa and all of the pump parts too.
- During the first two weeks I pumped for 10 minutes after every feed to increase my supply. After that I used the Haakaa pump while I was feeding her.
- I use the Spectra S2 pump and love it. I got it for free with my insurance through Aeroflow. It is a website that does all the work for you and they ship you the free pump and then all of the free parts you get with insurance!
- God intended for babies to be breastfed. When your baby is born it will know what to do. You will have constant weigh ins to make sure your baby is feeding so don’t worry! If your baby isn’t getting enough they will bring in other milk. You will also have a lactation consultant come by your room to check on you and answer any questions.
- Miller is 10 weeks old and we feed her every three hours during the day (sometimes 2-2.5 in the late afternoons!) Moms on Call has a good schedule for feeding depending on your baby’s age. I recommend everyone grabbing that book!
- Here is my lactation cookie recipe! I definitely believe they help! I also eat tons of broccoli, chickpeas, mushrooms, carrots, and avocados. I read that all of those help with good fats and supply. Oh and I am also still taking my prenatals based on my OBGYN’s recommendation.
- I still have struggles with breastfeeding. She doesn’t seem to be getting enough in the afternoons now (the 1pm feeding and the 4pm feeding) and that has been hard. I think it is because she is sleeping through the night so my supply has gone down. I am still trying to figure out ways to increase my supply without doing a middle of the night pump. Will keep you updated!
- Milk can sit out for 6-8 hours before it needs to be refrigerated.
- Milk oversupply- STORE IT UPPPP!!! You won’t have that forever and you will want all of the reserves you can get! I had an oversupply for about a month and loved it. Our freezer is now well stocked with that milk.
- The early weeks are so hard. The only tip I can offer is just to keep telling yourself IT GETS EASIER. I wanted to throw something when people kept telling me that, but now I realize it is so true. Around 8 weeks it will all change and become so natural and normal for you.
- Get a scale if you want to be really comfortable. It will tell you how much she is getting. You can get a smart scale like the Hatch Baby Grow, which keeps track of feedings and tells you exactly how many oz the baby drank, or just a regular scale and do the calculations yourself! Weigh her before and after her feed and subtract.
- Miller wakes up, feeds, has an hour of awake time, sleeps for an hour and a half, and then feeds again. I don’t make her wait to eat. If she wakes up and is crying then I feed her.
- Miller sometimes cluster feeds in the afternoon. Usually when she is going through a leap or growth spurt.
- I used THIS nipple cream in the first couple of weeks and didn’t chap at all.
- You should pump as much as you would feed if you are away from your baby. This will keep your supply up.
- Miller usually burps in between boobs but usually never burps when she is finished. We try though! She NEVER burps during her night feeds.
- Since we introduced the bottle to Miller during the first week she has not had many problems taking it! My pediatrician doesn’t really think nipple confusion is a thing and does not mind bottle & breast feeding. Sometimes I will pump and have Troy feed her the bottle if I am going to be busy during her feed. This helps them bond as well.
- Work on building up reserves from the beginning so that you have milk to give during her cluster feedings. It helps so much!
- Latching advice- no idea. Miller just latched right on. You will have nurses and consultants at the hospital who will help you with that.
- You will see your pediatrician within a few days and if they are worried about the baby’s weight they will offer advice and see you again a few days after that! They won’t let your baby starve, don’t worry!
- I used the My Breast Friend pillow for the first few weeks. I was weak and recovering and it helped me so much. I don’t use it anymore. Now I just hold her and love it.
If you have more questions or comments please let me know in a comment below! I will do a post on my favorite nursing bras and sleepwear soon!
I hope I didn’t offend anyone with this post! Just know you are not alone if you find breastfeeding extremely trying. You are not alone if you find it impossible either. If you are currently trying to make the decision whether or not to breastfeed, please seek medical advice and ultimately make the best decision you can for you and your baby!