I remember when I first got pregnant, I really had no idea how breastfeeding was going to work for me. I did get some advice but nothing actually prepared me for what was ahead of me…..
My son was born via c-section after 20 plus hours of labor. The recovery was brutal as it was my first every surgery. Although breastfeeding seemed to go well those few days in the hospital, it got a little harder when we got home. I was exhausted, sleep-deprived, in so much pain from the surgery and sore from breastfeeding. My son was colicky the first 6 weeks so you can imagine how that went along with recovery.
My first 2 weeks of breastfeeding consisted of fighting back tears every time my son latched because of the pain from cracked nipples. I remember him spitting up traces of blood sometimes which was very scary. I was advised to pump and feed him with the bottle till I healed but I was determined to make it work. Society has made moms feel like they have to be super moms and manage everything. If one person could do it, so can you? No, because everybody is different. And being the perfectionist I am I couldn’t give up.
My son was gaining weight normally, and the pediatrician wasn’t worried about that at all. I got advice from a lovely sister in our local La Leche Group here, and also purchased some Medela Cooling Pads. The Cooling Pads, along with Lanisoh Nipple Cream and Hot showers were what helped me get through that first phase. Eventually, I didn’t have any cracking and my son’s latch got a lot better and I wasn’t in pain. I nursed my son for 15 months before I decided to wean him when I was pregnant with my daughter.
My second experience with my daughter was a lot better. She was also born via c-section after 40 hours of induced labor. I was in the hospital for 4 days after the labor. With all that medication in my system, my colostrum was coming out in drops (much less than with my first) so it was a little bit of a struggle. Asiyah was constantly at my breast and it felt like she wasn’t satisfied. It took 3 days for my milk to start coming in and when it did nursing got easier.
I wanted to avoid any issues, so before leaving the hospital I made sure to get the latch approved by the lactation specialists. They said I was doing great so I went home feeling pretty comfortable. I didn’t crack and bleed like I did with my first. I was immensely sore from all the feeding (my daughter had a much stronger latch than my son), and in lots of pain from engorgement but with the cooling pads, Lanisoh cream and heat treatment it helped a lot. She fed lots during the day and wouldn’t take long naps so it felt like I was nursing lots more, however she slept for longer periods at night. They say every child is different and here I was with opposites!
Weaning was traumatic with my first. He was 16 months and being my first child, and new parents, it was difficult to hear him cry especially at night. My husband and I fought about it a few times, I think he just felt it wasn’t necessary to put him through that. However, I couldn’t nurse and handle nausea and exhaustion in my first trimester so it had to be done.
Weaning with my daughter was a little easier. She was 20 months when I started weaning and I gradually started to get her used to less feeds and falling asleep without nursing. I started giving her milk more before she slept and also gave her the pacifier more. She’s almost 22 months now, and uses her pacifier a lot more (downside), but is able to understand when I say “mamam is finished”. It breaks my heart when she asks for it. She’s so polite but it was time for me to wean for several reasons and I knew it was best for us.
Things I learned & Tips for New Moms wanting to breastfeed
- Supply Concerns – With each baby, the breastfeeding journey will be different. Supply also varies from mother to mother and is affected by diet and other factors. We tend to freak out when our supply dips a little and forget to consider the factors that may attribute to the dip. Firstly, it’s important to see if there have been any changes in how often baby feeds. And whether we have drunk enough water that day, or whether maybe it’s that time of the month. I didn’t realize till 9 months into breastfeeding my son that supply dips when aunt flo appears! Also after a certain amount of time, our supply regulates and babies become more efficient at feeding. So their nursing sessions may be shorter, but that’s not a cause for worry unless you notice changes in their pee/poop or weight.
- Nursing Covers – With both the kids I used regular nursing covers as I nursed in public and also within public/family gatherings. After my second was born, I came across ones with more coverage (Covered Goods & MilkMaid Goods). I learned the hard way that as they grow older and more mobile, flashing mama would become a norm!
- Breastfeeding Positions – After terrible back pain from hunching over nursing my first born, I decided to use the side lay down position as much as possible with my second. It worked well especially since I got her a little propped up. My first would get reflux because of laying down flat when nursing.
- Burp Burp Burp – I think I was too lazy to burp my first, and it ended up causing severe colicky crying. However, with my second I made sure to have her burp after every feed no matter how exhausting it was. She was pretty stubborn with her burping like her elder brother but as time went by she got better and it helped avoid gassy issues.
- Nursing Essentials – Stock up on Lanisoh Cream, Medela Cooling Pads and anything you might need. Some moms use nipple shields temporarily during the first few days after birth to assist with latching.
- Don’t Give Up & Offer your support – I have heard and read about many moms who give up because they don’t have the support they need. If you feel like breastfeeding is not going well, don’t struggle and try to manage it on your own. When you are stressed and frustrated, that will affect your supply. Reach out to a lactation specialist, breastfeeding support group or even your mommy friends who might have some information. If you aren’t having any issues but know of a new mom who might be, check in on her and ask her how it’s going. You reaching out to her gives her the confidence to ask for advice/help with a struggle she is going through.
- Pump it Up – A common difficulty amongst breastfeeding moms is that they can’t ever leave the baby behind if they go out. I was one of those moms but I didn’t pump nearly enough, so I would struggle at the last minute when I needed to have baby looked after. Something I have heard from several moms that after about 6 weeks it’s a good time to start pumping every day/every few days to start building a stash for when you want to step out or let Baba feed the baby. There is always the concern about the bottle and how it might affect breastfeeding. Whilst every baby is different I can only advise not to introduce a bottle too late. I tried it at 3 months for both my babies but by then they wouldn’t accept it. So play it by ear and try different things, and seek advice from a professional.
- Negative comments in one ear and out the other – Most mothers will hear comments like, “wow you are still breastfeeding”, “your baby is so big you don’t need to breastfeed them so often”,”you don’t need to breastfeed after 6 months/1 year”, “why don’t you use the bottle instead”, “are you going to nurse again??” just to name a few. Please ignore them. Some comments might even come from family members or close friends. Don’t take it personally or tell them how the comment makes you feel. Your personal choice doesn’t need to be explained to everyone nor do you have to feel bad it. It’s a natural beautiful bonding experience for most mothers and no mama should be judged for it!
Random places I have nursed my kids
Now for the funny part! Breastfeeding comes with its own fun and awkward moments too! There have been many places I nursed in/at that I never thought I would. Here we go, get ready to chuckle a bit: Changing Room; Public Restroom because I had a dress at a wedding that wasn’t nursing friendly; Back Seat of the Car; while baby is strapped into their car seat; in the shower when I can’t console or make baby wait; on the kitchen floor; walking around the mall in the baby carrier; cooking a meal; cutting my hair at the salon (under the nursing cover of course); and there are many other more embarrassing graphic ones I shall spare you from hearing….
Here are some pictures of me nursing my babies: http://www.throughmamaseyes.com/breastfeeding-journey-tips/