I made it to one year! Wohoo! I packed away all the pumping supplies two days before my LO turned one. As my breastfeeding journey comes to an end forever, I have so many mixed emotions. I remember feeding my LO 24 hours a day (literally) for the first 3 weeks or so and thinking to myself, I don’t know how long I can do this to now feeling heartbroken to be ending this journey and experience that allowed me to connect my soul with my daughter’s.
It feels pretty magical to be lost in my baby and not care about the world…just stare at those tiny hands, feet and perfect little face.
- Breastfeeding is NOT easy! It is HARD. You always hear people say, “it will just happen naturally”, but let me tell you, that is not always the case. With my first baby, I struggled and guess what? I am not afraid to admit it. Our culture needs to change. Mothers need to be empowered to express these struggles openly and seek help when necessary. With my first baby, I struggled to find the most appropriate position to feed her, with latching…suffered from mastitis at 1 week postpartum, etc. Every time she cried, I wondered if I just didn’t have enough milk. Sure, you can buy scales and such and weigh your baby after each feed, but among all the chaos that was going on postpartum, it just wasn’t going to be feasible to do this after every feed. My number 1 advice to new mommas would be, “if you think you need help, don’t be afraid to seek help.” Most insurance companies will cover first 4-6 lactation consultant visits. My lactation consultant was a saving grace. If it wasn’t for her, I would have given up.
- Consider using a nursing pillow if you are struggling to find the best position to feed the baby. The primary function of the pillow is to bring your baby close to your body so it can help the baby get a good latch. Also helps mommas that have gotten a C-section since it allows buffer between your abdomen and the baby. Also another fun fact- this pillow can be pretty handy for bottle fed babies as well. And lastly, these can be used for tummy time so all in all, a pretty good investment I would say.
- Check out https://kellymom.com for all breastfeeding related questions. This website is my absolute favorite and an excellent resource. You will not be disappointed.
- Feed on the queue. In the first 1-3 weeks of baby’s life, they may cluster feed, but after a month, they really shouldn’t be feeding any more frequently than every 3 hours
- Consider developing a schedule, particularly after a month. It will be a saving grace. Take my word for it. I had no schedule with the first baby and a schedule with the second baby- it made a world’s difference.
Breastfeeding journey with my first born was a challenge. I was convinced that she either had colic or wasn’t getting enough milk so my husband and I had decided that at any point, if I felt like enough milk was not coming in with the second baby, we would switch to formula. #fedisbest. I was not going to allow my husband, my family, friends or my pediatrician to guilt me into doing something that was taking a huge toll on my physical and emotional well being and in turn causing me to be unhappy, angry, anxious, short-tempered and blah blah blah..you get the point. Don’t get me wrong. I loved breastfeeding my older one, but it is HARD! It is work! IT gets easier as they get older, but first one to two months are hard (at least for me).
After what seemed like a continuous 24 hrs a day kind of feeding for the first 2.5 weeks or so, I decided to call the lactation consultant for help. You’d think things would be easier second go around, but you have so much going on… there is no time to pause. I had all the help one could need around the house but I was extremely emotional; postpartum blues were starting to kick in. I was trying to learn how to be with my newborn all the time and still dedicate time for my toddler. It was really hard and I am not going to sit here and pretend it wasn’t. I was overwhelmed with guilt. I felt inadequate. It was 100% mom guilt mode ON – 24 hrs a day. None of this was helping my milk production and my natural reaction was to breastfeed every time the LO cried. I didn’t even think twice – could she be sleepy? Should I rock her? Should I try to soothe her? Breastfeeding just seemed like an easier way out every time the LO cried. I was on autopilot. When I talked to the lactation consultant, it was was the first time I actually became aware of the reality. I followed her guidance and didn’t feed my LO any earlier than 3 hr mark. If she cried before that, I would try to soothe her and this actually seemed to improve my quality of life.
I started pumping at week 4 because I was supposed to go back to work at 6 weeks. I absolutely love my Medela. I used it with my first born and it was a breeze to use it so it was a no brainer to use Medela again this time around. We love traveling; Medela’s car charger is pretty convenient too. Most, if not all, insurance companies will provide a breast pump for free so inquire about that during your second or third trimester. I exclusively breastfed my LO for the 1st month. I had read that introducing bottle earlier than 4 weeks can cause “nipple confusion”. Not every pediatrician believes in this so be sure to discuss this with your pediatrician prior to baby’s birth. The key thing is to ensure that bottle is not introduced before the newborn gets the hang of breastfeeding. This theory has been rebuked so take it a with a grain of salt. Because I had to return to work at week 6, I needed to make sure that my LO one would get used to the bottle prior to my return to work date. Because she was feeding every 3 hours (day and night)), I would pump every 3 hours during the daytime only (until about 4ish). Once my work finished, I exclusively breastfed her. Once she started drinking from the bottle, I also transitioned her to a routine where she would drink milk for her last feed before bedtime from the bottle. I was still putting my toddler to bed and it was a struggle to time my little one’s feeding in a way that wouldn’t interfere with my older ones night time routine so transitioning her to a bottle right before her bedtime was one of the best decisions we made. This way, my husband and I conquered and divided. He was now putting the LO to bed while I put the toddler to bed. I pumped before going to bed and then breastfed every time LO woke up at night (every 3 hrs or so..I know right!!!). so after first month, my LO pretty much had bottle the entire day except for one feed during the day and many “midnight” feeds at night.
I will let you guys in on a secret. No judgement allowed. I never cared to buy one of those fancy pumping bras. I read somewhere (and a friend told me the same thing) to use a sports bra and cut a whole by through the middle and voila.. you have a pumping bra. Believe it or not, it works pretty great.
I am extremely happy with my pumping bag as well. 3 yrs and still going strong. I own one in gray and one in beige. Looks pretty sophisticated for work and it won’t break your bank.
I followed my pumping routine mentioned above for two months or so. During the day, I was only breastfeeding her once and now (around 2 months of age), she was starting to refuse breastfeeding at times so I stopped all bottles except for the bottle she took right before bedtime (which my husband fed her). I work from home, so instead of pumping, I started to breastfeed her throughout the day. It worked out pretty well actually; it was less time consuming than pumping, washing bottles, etc.
Since we are talking about timing, let’s talk about scheduling. I am a schedule person. Because I had a toddler to take care of after school and because she wanted my attention after school (rightfully so), I worked out a schedule that was in favor of both girls. if you are not a schedule person, that is totally okay but I do think it’s important to figure out what works for you and your family rather than just winging it. You might be happier and take comfort in knowing your feeding/pumping plan, particularly if you already have other children. If you don’t need to do this, more power to you.
I introduced rice cereal at 4 months of age, but she wasn’t really a fan of it so I introduced baby food (pureed banana, mashed avocado, etc) at 5 months of age, however, my LO continued to feed ever 3 hrs, at least during this day. I could have totally started to space apart her feeding more, but with crazy work schedule and life being hectic in general, I was on autopilot. Schedule was working out great so I just continued until LO was 10 months old. I finally spaced her feeding to every 4 hours and actually continued this until 11 months of age.
Finally, let’s talk about storage. I didn’t really have much extra milk on hand most of the times, but I did have to freeze some leftover from time to time. A good rule of thumb is 4-4-6. Breast milk is good at room temp for 4 hrs, refrigerated for 4 days and in the deep freezer for 6 months (make sure it’s all the way in the back for refrigerator and freezer; essentially a place that won’t have much temperature fluctuation). Check this out for more information on storage.
Items that helped with my breastfeeding journey (not sponsored)
- Pumping bag
- Nursing pillow
- Breast pump
- Breast pump supplies
- Pump and store storage bags
- Quick clean bags (loved using these every time we traveled)
- Nursing pads (stayed put the entire day)
- Sterilizer (small, portable and won’t break your bank; I love this)
- Milk Warmer
- Dr. Brown’s bottles
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have any other tips, be sure to leave a comment below. I am in the process of weaning my LO off breastfeeding so be on the lookout for another blog post soon. Don’t forget to subscribe below.