Are you a first time mom? Have you breastfed or are you considering breastfeeding? Well I am a first time mom and I am providing breastmilk as the primary source of my child’s diet.
Kali is now 6 months old (and currently rolling around in the bed next to me. It’s 7:45am and she just ate so I expect her to be taking a nap soon lol).
In addition to the 7oz. of breast milk that she drinks every feeding, she also eats baby food. She began at 4 months old (she loves butternut squash and apples).
I stopped nursing Kali after she turned 1 month old and I don’t regret it one bit! Yes, I just flat out quit nursing. Let me tell you why!
Expectations vs. reality
I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby from the start. It was something that I knew would make me feel proud if I was able to accomplish it and provide for my baby naturally.
We’d thought about formula and the costs associated with it. I figured, if I could naturally produce milk for my baby to drink and potentially save money, then let’s go for it. After all, there are many benefits to breastfeeding.
It is said that breastmilk heals sore nipples, helps your baby’s immune system, your ovaries shrink back to normal quicker – heyyy pre-pregnancy weight, and so much more. In my experience I can definitely say that I quickly got back to my pre-pregnancy weight shortly after giving birth. Maybe I was all baby, even though I felt like a whale. Now I just have to strengthen my stomach muscles after the c-section. Back to topic of breastfeeding….
Not once, did it occur to me that it would be stressful, time consuming, and a JOB. I didn’t have many people that I could talk to about it and ask for details or tips. I just knew once she was born, it was game time, no riding the bench or time outs.
Should you breastfeed?
How you decide to feed your child is your decision. If you consider breastfeeding, think about if you will have time to get everything done. We live in a microwave society that believes everything has to be done right then and there. Will pumping or breastfeeding fit into your schedule without you feeling stressed or rushing?
If I can be perfectly honest, there have been times when I have rushed a pumping session and it usually ends with me pumping less milk that I expected, which is frustrating! It’s like the stress from rushing blocks your milk ducts or something. I am not saying that this actually happens because that is not my field of expertise. So take your time, especially if this is your child’s main source of food. Rushing a pumping session at work could potentially mean your child doesn’t have enough milk to drink at daycare the next day. (That’s what it means in my house). So then I have to go home and try to get more pumping sessions in to make up for what I didn’t pump at work – more stress).
Right now Kali eats every 3 hours, and sleeps through the night for about 10 -12 hours. So she is eating about 5 times a day, or 35 ounces a day. As long as she ends up with three bottles of milk for daycare (I feed her before I work most of the time) then we are GOOD!
First day home
The first day home from the hospital was crazy! Kali screamed and cried the majority of the day. It upset me so bad that I’m sure she felt my stress and together we were a mess! I wanted to cry that first day. I’d already had a stressful week – unexpected c- section, being told I can go home, then as we were ready to walk out, we were told we couldn’t go multiple times because my blood pressure went up, etc. After day 5 in the hospital, we were going mad lol.
When I was in the hospital Kali was breastfeeding very well. She was latching onto my nipple with and without the nipple shield. (I have inverted nipples so I was told that I needed to use them to nurse her). But once we got home, it’s like she forgot everything. I was so upset, it was like I forgot too! So we both were fumbling and we just couldn’t get right.
Not producing enough milk
On top of Kali and I playing the nursing game, I tried pumping, but I wasn’t producing a lot of milk at the time.
If you’re wondering, I received a Medela Pump in Style Advanced through my insurance from work.
I remember getting a check up call and I was asked how many diapers Kali was having in a day. They also asked how many ounces she was drinking or how long she was nursing. Every number I gave them was low! They said she needed more milk and that she was supposed to have more wet diapers than what she had.
The amount of wet diapers she should have is equal to how many days old she is, up until a week old.
For example if she was 3 days old, then she should have 3 wet diapers that day. After day 6 she should have 6-8 wet diapers a day.
Do you know how horrible it feels to not be able to provide what your baby needs, when they need it? It’s the worse feeling in the world, especially when your expectations aren’t anything like the reality of it all. I had to quickly change my mindset of formula. I used to wonder why some mothers chose not to breastfeed. Every mom probably has different reasons why they made their decision, and it’s just that, their decision. Don’t be so quick to judge mommas who don’t breastfeed; it’s a challenge! It’s a mental game if you ask me.
It also puts all the work on you (momma) during feeding unless your baby is bottle fed early in age. It’s not like your hubby or significant other can help breastfeed. This may cause a little resentment when you find yourself up alone with the baby every two hours while your significant other snores next to you in bed.
You’ll make it, it gets better!
Supplementing with formula
Since Kali was dehydrated, I was told to supplement with formula. That meant that I needed to add formula to my breast milk to top it off at the amount she was supposed to drink for her age.
Hearing this made sigh. At the time, it was a sign that I’d messed up, and that I was failing at providing.
I’d also gone to her first check up and her weight wasn’t where it was supposed to be. She hadn’t gained all her weight back. (She lost weight in the hospital which is normal. They usually gain it back within a week or so).
My ego was bruised. I wasn’t making enough milk while pumping and Kali wasn’t getting what she needed.
We had received free formula in the mail and her pediatrician had also gave us a sample. We tried that and her poor stomach went haywire. She had colic and at the time we didn’t know it was the formula. So although she was gaining her weight back she was also probably miserable. At her next visit her pediatrician gave us a different sample, Similac Alimentum, to try. It smelled so bad lol, I guess formulas don’t smell like apple pie right?
At this point I was getting fed up with nursing.
Although I was fed up with nursing, I knew I had to do whatever it took if Kali needed it. I would pump, give her the breast milk with formula added, and she drank it. She took the bottle just fine by the way.
I started focusing more on pumping and eating right so that I could produce more. I even tried Mother’s Milk tea and that went horribly wrong. Kali was so gassy! She fussed and screamed so much!! I tried so many things to help like bicycling her legs, gripe water and mylicon drops (after asking her pediatrician). We tried holding her different ways, nothing seemed to work.
What I did wrong with the Mother’s Milk was, I drank too much. I made so much as well. I mixed it with Gatorade and drank so much over a three day period. Whatever it was – I’m still not sure if it was the fenugreek- but it disagreed with Kali. I felt like a horrible parent for not finding the correlation earlier.
Once it cleared my system she was still gassy and fussing. I then had to focus on my diet. By Thanksgiving and Christmas Kali was exclusively breastfed via expressed breast milk. She was still fussy and that was more than likely due to the holiday meals I was enjoying.
The light at the end of the tunnel
I’m so glad I decided to exclusively pump. Pumping around the clock is hard work. Especially when she was eating every two hours. Hello sleep deprivation! Goodbye sanity!
But, it felt so good knowing that I didn’t have to fight with a nipple shield while Kali is screaming from hunger. I no longer had to calm her down while screaming so that she knew my nipple was there waiting for her to latch on. No more changing Kali’s positions on the Boppy pillow (which sucked for me – not enough support due to my c-section) or Brest Friend (I loved this pillow).
No more scrambling to find the washed nipple shields that were in my face but camouflaged since they were clear or stressing when Kali knocked it off my nipple from wailing. Finally, no more struggling with Kali to get her fed. I didn’t have to guess if she’d gotten enough milk and fell asleep frustrated. This has happened. We played the feeding game every thirty minutes with her nursing and stopping.
I used to be so overwhelmed with nursing. I would nurse then pump right after to try to “empty” my breasts. But I had to be careful so that I wasn’t pumping too close to her next feeding time. Can you imagine how hard this is when your baby is feeding every two hours? I mean, when is the timing every good?
I also had to squeeze in pumping sessions when I tried to increase my supply. I gave up having a stash. Some moms make it seem so easy. “I did this to have a freezer full of 300 ounces of breastmilk.” I’m totally over exaggerating. But having a freezer stash is not necessary in order to have milk for your baby when you go back to work. I didn’t have a stash and things are fine.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s probably great for when you want to take a trip and your baby isn’t going. Whoever you leave your child with, will have breastmilk to feed them which is great! I haven’t crossed that bridge yet, but Kali will probably have to drink formula if we decide to take a trip, depending on her age at the time.
It’s a little easier for us to travel. We have bottles, milk storage bags and containers, and a cooler if necessary. We don’t have to take her out of the car seat when traveling to feed her. I can jump in the backseat and pump while giving her a bottle. I still have to throw on a cute cover up and pump in the car, but at least Kali is secure in her car seat and chilling.
I feel hopeful that I can and will continue to breast feed Kali until she turns one.
The result – a healthy baby who gained her weight back and is gaining weight normally. I am able to visibly see how much milk I have and I know whether or not I have enough.
One thing I wish I would have done, was take a lactation class. It’s funny because I was enrolled into a class and since Kali came a few week early, I missed it. It was scheduled for the 12th I believe and Kali was born October 9.
I’m not knocking anyone who is nursing or anyone who feeds their baby formula. I’ve done all 3 and I’d give my baby formula in a heartbeat if she didn’t have any breast milk. The end goal is the same – to feed our baby.
Are you breastfeeding? How old is your baby? Are they eating baby food yet? What are some challenges you are facing or have faced?
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