If you've been there before, the word alone, probably gives you the shivers. When my second baby girl was almost due, I wasn't nervous so much about the delivery; but the breastfeeding issues I was going to have to deal with, after! If you've watched my most recent GRWM video, I talk a little bit about the issues I had the first time around. To cut it short, my body basically overproduces milk and I am in pain for weeks trying to get my milk under control. I know this doesn't sound like a "bad" problem to those who are on the opposite end and can't produce enough milk; but when you have to wake up every 2 hours at night, to pump because you're engorged and in pain, you will understand.
I learned a few things when I went through breastfeeding the first time around with Kat. No one told me not to pump until I was drained out, no one told me not to pump + feed because your body thinks your baby is drinking all that milk, no one told me not to put hot towels to bring down the engorgement, because it produces more milk. In any case, it was one month of hell. This time around - I knew better.
The second baby Olivia was born, she latched on 20 minutes later. This little piggy was drinking up about 2oz. of milk by the 3rd day and 3oz. by two weeks. I decided I wasn't going to pump this time, unless I absolutely had to! Although Olivia was eating 2-3oz. of milk, she was not waking up every 2-3 hours. She is currently sleeping about 4 hours at night. I am not the "wake them up to feed them" type of mom. I believe the baby will wake up when she's hungry. This way, Kat learned to sleep through the night after about 6 weeks. So when I started overproducing again, this time around, thats when I started pumping again. Except this time, I am only pumping as much as she’s eating (3oz) and not "draining out" the breast. Let me tell you, I wanted to quit after the 3rd day. After a few days of engorgement and pain, I decided to put ice packs on it. Now this scared me because ice will generally "cut" the milk back. But I needed to decrease the production so I can release the pain a bit. The ice packs were everything! I only did it once a day for about 2 days and the engorgement was gone. Now, just as expected, the milk supply did decrease a bit so I started freaking out. I started strictly breastfeeding again, as this is supposed to help with the production of the milk vs. a pump. Luckily, it worked!
Now the evening time trick: Right before her last nap, I will pump the milk and save it to feed when she wakes up at night. Why do I do this you may ask? When she wakes up at night to eat, she gets tired and is literally falling asleep every 2 minutes and stops eating. I have to constantly wake her up to feed her until she is full! Otherwise, she will wake up 15 minutes later realizing she's not full yet. When she feeds with a bottle, its quicker and she eats her full 3oz. right away and goes to sleep with a full belly, which in turn, helps her sleep 4 hours or so. Voila! You've just started sleep training your child and creating a habit at the earliest stage. And guess what? You're sleeping too.
Another great thing about breastfeeding is that they don't need to burp as much. Because they are not feeding from a bottle, they are not taking in much air. At nights, I am able to put her down to sleep shortly after her feeding instead of staying up for another 15 minutes to burp. You also have to be careful on what you are eating, to help your baby digest her food easily and minimize as much gas as possible. You do all this, you will more than likely, have a calm good baby.
Olivia is almost 3 weeks old and the breastfeeding is already under control. You have NO idea what a relief this has been. I've been a little MIA, not because I am busy with 2 kids (they are angels), but because I was battling this breastfeeding situation! I conquered it and I feel alive again.
I've talked to many lactation specialists and everyones case is different; but the most important thing is to have patience and listen to your body. Sore nipples? Yup, been there. Leaking on clothes? Yup, been there. Sleepless nights? Yup. 2 hour mani-pedi appt I had to run back home from to feed the baby? Yup, that too. Listen, no matter the situation, breastfeeding is HARD! It's painful, uncomfortable, emotional and inconvenient; but if we can hang in there, we can pass that threshold. I don't know how long my milk supply will last or how long I will last breastfeeding; but I am happy in my heart that I am able to do this for Olivia. And if you just absolutely can't, don't beat yourself up for it - you did your best. Find a formula you trust that works best with your baby's tummy and she/he will be fed and happy.
What are your thoughts on breastfeeding? Did you go through it yourself? What advise do you have for the other mommies out there? Have you been mommy-shamed for not breastfeeding? Please feel free to share your story. Well done to all mamas, we are superheroes!