I thought it would come easy this time around. I had breastfed McKenzie for a year “I will be a pro” I thought, “It will come naturally this time”. Boy, was I wrong.
The first time, I blamed my trouble with getting a good latch on the nurses taking McKenzie to NICU an hour after her birth and not having me try and breastfeed. This time, I know I was so engorged that Maddie’s tiny little mouth just could not fit onto my breast. She was doing great at the hospital, would latch and basically fall asleep after a few minutes the first day or 2. My milk came in pretty quick, the morning after she was born. My nipples were chapped and my boobs were so swollen. I was overproducing milk. My boobs were so full that she couldn’t get a good latch and it was basically an endless cycle of pain, empty my boobs when she would feed, lather up with nipple cream and even lay around with no shirt because anything that touched me hurt me.
I was in so much pain, I was in tears. It hurt to lay down. I couldn’t believe it. I dealt with the pain for 3 days and then decided to pump for relief. Big mistake. My milk came back stronger. I did what every Mom does..go to the search engines for all the Mom tips I could handle. Of course, everyone is different. So some people were saying to pump, others were saying to express in the shower, try the haakaa, more frequent feedings, and the tips were never ending. I finally came across “block feeding”. It said to consult a lactation nurse prior to trying this since it could cause mastitis if you don’t monitor it properly. Since I found this at 12 AM, I wasn’t consulting anyone. So basically you feed on one breast for a feeding, and then 2-3 hours later you feed on the same breast. This sends a signal to your other breast that there is too much milk and to slow down production. So you basically feed on the right for 6 hours and then the left for 6 hours and so on. I did this for 3 days. I also used the Haakaa, this helped to catch the let down – which when you have oversupply – your let down can be super painful. I also used a nipple guard, this helped Madison to latch when my boob was way too engorged for her tiny mouth.
If you are planning to breastfeed, here are all of the things I would have on hand. ( I also have all of these saved in my Amazon Recommendation Store)
1. Nursing Bras – size up. I hate underwire bras, when I would pull the cup down to feed the wire would dig into me over time.
2. Nipple Cream – I love Earth’s Mama, I used this for about 3 months
3. Haakaa – This helped with engorgement, but also everyone has a letdown (especially early one) where your other breast will let down while you are feeding so this will catch it for you and you can save this milk for later!
4. Breast Pump – most insurance companies give this to you for free – get it. I used Medela the first time and this time I use Ameda MYA.
5. Nursing Pads – I think I used 300 the first 3 months, you won’t need these much longer than that.
6. Breastmilk Storage Bags – Once you are in a rhythm, you might find that you can store your extra milk!
7. Refillable Water Bottle – Hydrate!!
8. Lactation Cookies – If you live in California check out my friend’s page Mama’s Cookie Jar.
9. Nursing tank tops. I wore these to bed every night – I stuck I nursing pad in there directly once I didn’t need to wear a bra to bed anymore. The more support the better. Especially when I was overproducing, any way that I turned when laying down I would leak.
10. Nursing Pajamas. These were my favorite. I wore them in the hospital and up until Maddie was 4-5 months sleeping through the night.
11. My Breast friend – I always felt safer while breastfeeding with this on, especially for those night feedings. I would put this on and nurse in my bed and sometimes I would drift off, but this always made me feel safe that I wouldn’t drop the baby.
12. Heating Pad – It’s important to sit in the proper position when breastfeeding, but it’s not always possible. Even if I stare at Madison while she nurses, my neck hurts. A heating pad will come in handy.
13. Lubricant – Yes, lube. You will be extra dry while breastfeeding. Honestly, sex hurt me for a bit but I just pushed through thinking it would get better. It didn’t. My friend recommended this lube – and now I recommend it too!
My schedule with feeding Maddie has changed so much now that she is 7 months old and eating solids. I always fed Maddie after she would wake up so that she would never use my feeding to fall asleep. Of course early on when they are so sleepy she would almost always fall asleep on my breast but eventually she would feed after each nap. Here is a breakdown of what her schedule looked like early on!
0-6 weeks – Feed every 2 hours
6 weeks – 12 weeks – Feed every 2-3 hours
3-4 Months – Feed every 3 hours, 2-3 feedings during the night
4-5 Months – Feed every 3 hours, last feeding before bed was a bottle of pumped milk (she would get too distracted when I would nurse her so this ensured she would get a full feeding) 1 feeding during the night
5-7 Months – Feed every 3-4 hours. No night feedings. Last feeding before bed is 6 oz of pumped milk.
Giving Madison expressed milk before bed took alot of pressure off of me. Not only does it ensure she gets a full feeding, but anyone can help with it. Brian will usually do this 45 minutes before we put her to bed! This is when I can spend some time with McKenzie before bed which also helps to avoid a tantrum.
Some advice for first time breastfeeding Mom’s. The early weeks are so tough. Nothing can prepare you for what’s to come. There is something about being your baby’s main source of nutrient that gives you such empowerment. You are amazing for birthing this baby. You are even more amazing for breastfeeding. It DOES get easier. There is a 3 week hump, and then I would say a 6 week hump that you need to get through. Ask for help. Your partner can help you by getting your snack ready while you feed, get you water while you feed, bring you a pillow to make you more comfortable. Breastfeeding can be a magical thing if you can just get through the humps. I embrace every moment with Madison. I once dreaded feeding her because of the pain was in, but I knew it would go away. Don’t give up! If you want to breastfeed, you can do it!
Let me know your experience with breastfeeding!