I want to start out by saying that breastfeeding isn't for everyone and that is 100% ok. I don't exclusively nurse and we also supplement with formula on the occasion. I feel as long as you feed your baby, that is all that matters. Also, I am not here to give medical advice. This post is strictly about my journey with breastfeeding and what has worked to get us to this 4 month point. Please do not take my advice as scientific fact or evidence and if you have any questions or concerns I encourage you to always ask your doctor.
Oh the beauty of breastfeeding. It is a wonderful thing us mothers are able to do for our babies. I knew from the time I got pregnant that I wanted to try breastfeeding. I've always heard about the benefits of it from a health standpoint as well as the perks of how it can help prevent colic and SIDs. Also, formula can be very expensive. So why not go the free route if I'm able to and take advantage of it's added perks?
Well it's not that simple for some women, me included. I was a formula fed baby (and I think I turned out fine? ;) ), so I wasn't lucky to have my mom as a reference on what to do when it came to this part of caring for our baby. I wanted to try though and I knew it would be hard, but I didn't realize how hard it would be.
At first, I hated it. I wanted to give up. Due to the time of day Kai was born, things at our hospital were moving a little slow and I didn't get a chance to attempt to feed him until he was about 4 hours old. Not a great start. My first piece of advice to all you expecting mamas out there, demand they help you feed your baby within the first hour of their life. It is SO important. The first hour is when they are the most alert and their instinct to nurse is at its highest. After the hour to hour and half mark, they start to get sleepy. This is exactly what happened with Kai and that's where the latch problems started. He refused to latch on and then the cycle of fear began. I was worked up about him not latching so he would get worked up. I think we had 1 successful latch on 1 side the entire 3 days we were at the hospital. By day 5, Kai had lost too much weight when we went to his first doctors appointment, and we were instructed to give him formula for the time being. Our pediatrician told me to pump to get my milk to come in because Kai wasn't doing it for me and we needed it to come in ASAP. This is my second piece of advice, PUMP. If you have any kind of latch issues after a couple of days, please just pump. Don't let the hospital staff talk you out of it. They told me some crazy rule of waiting 3 weeks to try pumping at all and if I had listened to this it probably would have been too late or I wouldn't have been able to breastfeed Kai at all. He needed there to be a flow to get it at this point. I understand the concern over nipple confusion between bottles and breasts but we also have to remember, in the end we need to feed our babies. It doesn't matter how you do it, any way is fine. Formula, breast, pumped, it's all wonderful and gives them what they need.
I'm not going to sugar coat this for all of you, our first week of life with Kai and feeding him was awful. Down right awful. After that doctors appointment things did start to turn around but I was miserable with the breastfeeding side of it. What we did for days 5-9 was attempt to breastfeed for 10-15 min (failed every time), I would pump for 15 min, and Caleb would bottle feed him formula. We did this 10 times a day. The first two days of pumping I got little drops if I was lucky but then it started to come in! I was so excited and we were able to give him that pumped breast milk before giving him the formula. He was gaining some weight back, sleeping better, and going to the bathroom again. My third piece of advice is use regular baby bottles. Do not use the pre-mix bottles and the nipples that come with them. They flow way too fast and this definitely made us take steps backward in terms of him latching on to me. We realized this after a day or two and started using our baby bottles that we had bought. The ones that came out the winner and I truly believed helped with his nipple confusion were the Dr. Brown's bottles. We still use these bottles today, and he still loves to nurse. Then on day 9, it happened. He latched on to me! We got in a full feeding! A 40 minute feeding! It was amazing and the biggest relief aside from actually birthing a healthy baby. The next day we went back to our doctor for a weight check and he was back at his birth weight.
Next came the clogged duct/mastitis. At around 1 month I started not feeling well. I was really achy, my left breast was really hurting, and I started getting a red spot on it. I started to panic that I had mastitis. I actually had a full blown panic attack the night the red spot showed up. I was so ready to be done. I was on the verge of making the decision to become an exclusive pumper. For some reason though, this decision broke my heart. I wanted to be successful at nursing him and I wanted to enjoy the closeness nursing brings. At this point I would nurse Kai all day up until his 8pm feeding and for 8pm, 11pm, and 3 am, I would pump and Caleb would bottle feed him on nights he didn't have to go in to the office, otherwise I would take the 3am shift. It was still so exhausting especially because Kai was a very slow eater. Nursing sessions were at least 40 min each time if not 1 hour each time. I had no idea what I was doing and kept trying to play around with the length of times I let him nurse on each side. He was so sleepy while nursing sometimes I thought he was done. He has never really been a baby that pops off when he's good. Trust me, I've tried. The kid could stay latched on for 40 minutes on one side if I let him (I asked our doctor about this and she told me no, 20 min max ha!) Well apparently I was pulling him off too soon because I got clogged on my left side. I gathered myself up after that panic attack though and tried to make a plan. The next day I was going to exclusively pump every 2 hours to get the clog out and we would bottle feed Kai. Well the times didn't really line up with when we usually fed Kai so I took on a bottle feeding session that day. I only had a couple ounces of breast milk to give him (my clogged breast was barely producing any at this point) and I tried to give him formula to finish out the feeding. He straight up refused. He was screaming his head off and I knew he was still hungry. I didn't know what to do so I offered my breast to him and he took it immediately. He looked at me with this look in his eyes of "I only want you, mama" and something in me clicked. He would have to be the one to fix me. We could do this. I wasn't go to give up. I nursed him at every session the rest of that day and by the next day, the red spot had faded away. We had his 1 month checkup that next day, and our pediatrician graciously looked at it for me and told me I was fine. I never got a fever, so I somehow stopped myself from getting mastitis. So my fourth piece of advice is when they are this young try to get them to nurse at least 15 min per side, never go more than 4 hours without nursing or pumping, and even try to pump after you nurse. It's a lot, I know and understand that, but it's very important to empty our breasts often when they are this young and we've just gotten started with our supply. You will avoid clogs as well as start building a stock up so that you can take a break from nursing once in awhile and let Dad feed baby. I will be doing a post on how I beat mastitis soon, too, as it took more than just nursing Kai all day. My fifth piece of advice that I actually received from our doctor is for the first two months switch nursing positions every feeding. I rotated between football and cradle. When our babies are this little their suck isn't very efficient and so all the ducts aren't getting proper suction if we do the same hold every time. So if you switch your position often then each duct should be getting good suction throughout the day.
It was smooth sailing after this for awhile. Then it was time for me to go back to work. Another milestone that I was worried about. Day 1, pump 1 was a disaster for me. I barely pumped an ounce, I was so stressed. It got a little better after that once I got a routine down, but not fully better. I wasn't producing as much as Kai was eating from the bottle. We always feed him till he's full and as he was getting older and bigger he was wanting more. Without nursing my body didn't know that. I would nurse him when I got home from work, but it still wasn't enough for my body to realize it needs to produce more. So that's when I turned to supplements. At first I tried the Honest Company Postnatal Lactation Plus. The primary ingredient in them is fenugreek, which is supposed to really help promote breastmilk production. Unfortunately these did not work for me. It took a lot of trial and error but here is what I have personally noticed has helped with my production:
The Legendairy Milk supplements took about a week for me to really see a difference with them. They work best when I've been good about drinking water all day. If I am behind on my water intake, I notice a significant decrease. So regardless if you choose to take supplements or not, water is your best friend when it comes to breastfeeding. Eating healthy is very important too, not just for production, but because whatever you put in you, your baby eats, too! Lastly, I stopped taking some additional things that are known to be supply killers. I was put on a progesterone only birth control pill after my 6 week postpartum appointment but I believe this was hindering my supply, too. I also recently started taking allergy pills again thanks to springtime in Chicago and I also noticed a dip with this, too. Our doctor told me that they shouldn't be an issue but once I stopped taking both of these my production has increased even more. So it's something to try if you're struggling, too. My allergies haven't been that bad without taking them and I plan on only taking them if and when I have bad allergy days.
I've been taking the Legendary Milk supplements for about a month and can definitely say they really do help. I take 1 mL of Lactivist with a small glass of water and 2 Pump Princess pills in the morning, after work, and before I go to bed. We're at a point now where we do not have to feed Kai formula anymore and I am slowly but surely building up a stock thanks to Legendairy Milk. I sometimes pump after I nurse Kai, too, and I get an extra ounce or two every time. I was never able to do that in the past. I've also noticed a big difference in the quality of my milk when I pump. There is so much more fat in my milk! Thanks to this, Kai hasn't demanded 8 oz bottles anymore. These supplements really do work, mamas! I encourage you to give them a try if you feel your production isn't where you want it to be.
Here's a quick round-up of all my breastfeeding tips plus a couple of extras I didn't mention above:
I honestly love nursing now. It is my time with Kai and I dread the day he either doesn't want to nurse anymore or it's just time to wean. I personally do not enjoy pumping anymore but I gotta do what I gotta do to get that milk while I work! It's a complete 180 from the beginning though. I am so glad I stuck with it. I have Kai to thank for keeping me motivated and not letting me give up. So mamas, I know it is a very exhausting and time consuming commitment you've made, but if you have that drive to breastfeed then I encourage you to stick with it. It's hard work, but you can do it! You're all amazing moms, regardless. If any of you have any questions, need someone to talk to, or some more motivation, I'm always here for you!
Follow me on Twitter for all my #momlife tweets!
This post was not sponsored. However, I am a Legendairy Milk ambassador and was provided my code for my readers as a part of the program. If my readers use my code to purchase Legendairy Milk products, I will receive Legendairy Milk cash credit. Thank you to Legendairy Milk for this amazing opportunity and supporting our journey here at Tiny Dapper Fox. All opinions are my own and 100% honest and authentic.
I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
Follow on Instagram