Thursday, August 17, 2017

My New Mom Breastfeeding Essentials

Before I share the tools that have been essential to breastfeeding my son I wanted to share how our breastfeeding journey has been going so far. I was so excited to start breastfeeding my son (can you tell I like saying "my son?"). It was probably the thing I was most looking forward to after his birth. I couldn't wait to know what it felt like, to experience the closeness of it, to know that my body was providing all he needed. My mom told me that both my sister and I had no problems nursing so I had high expectations that everything would be similarly straight forward and simple. Breastfeeding is natural, which to me meant it should be relatively easy.

Tommy latched on not too long after he was born and went to town. It was like he was starving after his journey earth-side. And while it wasn't exactly hard... it didn't exactly feel easy either and my nipples started to really hurt more and more each time we went to feed. This was a sign to me that something wasn't right with his latch and I was worried about doing more damage to myself that would make breastfeeding even harder later.

After that first night of gritting my teeth through each feeding session and maybe a few tears I demanded to see a lactation consultant as soon as possible the next day. She came in and agreed that his latch was a bit shallow and that while his suck was really strong she didn't think he was getting as much as he could be which was probably why it felt like he was gnawing on my boobs. She tried to get him to have a deeper latch but my nipples were already so sore and painful that we agreed it would be best to give them a rest for a little bit. She showed me how to hand express and then helped T.J. and I spoon feed him the colostrum. Then later in the day she brought in a hospital pump to use and we filled tiny syringes with the pumped colostrum to feed him drop by drop. So during our second night there I pumped, then T.J. would slowly feed him the syringes of milk, then we'd all try to sleep and then start over again. It was a lot of work but at least we knew exactly how much he was getting to eat and he was having plenty of wet and dirty diapers which was a good sign. But it was still really overwhelming for me and I got nervous about going home and having to manage all of it on our own. I was discouraged and disappointed that I couldn't just feed him straight from the source.

Luckily after a night of rest and a bit more syringe feeding in the morning, I was feeling less pain and decided to try to breastfeed him again the next day.  And it was...better. Not great but getting there. They discharged me that day with some extra syringes just in case and while I did pump some that first night at home to have on hand we've been successfully breastfeeding ever since! It took a couple more days for it to be pain free but praise the Lord it is such a relief to have it all worked out! Especially because I know so many women who struggle long after they leave the hospital and not everyone's breastfeeding journey has the same happy ending.  But these are a few things that have made breastfeeding easier for me and have become crucial to our routine.

Medela Soft Shells- These are a game changer. The lactation consultant gave me these in the hospital and they go inside your bra to keep your clothes from sticking to your sore nipples. They let them breathe and give them a rest between feedings. They are also great during feeds for catching milk that leaks from the side you're not feeding from. I am always amazed how much comes out and am so glad it's not all over my clothes. They are discreet and I totally wear them out and about with no shame!

Baby Feed Timer app- I love this app!! You can time how long he feeds on each side and then it tracks the time between feeds and lets you know when it's time to feed again and which side to start on. During the day he is really good at letting me know when he's hungry but it's still nice to know when to expect him to feed next. And at night he would definitely sleep longer than the recommended 2-3 hours between feeds. During these early days I've been told to wake him up to feed (hardest thing ever!) since newborns will sleep through hunger cues but this app helps me to know the best time to do so.  I really just like having all the information tracked instead of trying to remember it in my sleepy state.

Nursing Bras- This soft cup bra from Storq is my favorite for during the day. I love that it doesn't scream nursing bra, it's super soft and comfortable and you don't have to deal with clipping and unclipping latches, you just pull aside the cup. At night I sleep in this bra from Kindred Bravely and again it's so comfortable and easy to use.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter- I lather this stuff on in between feeds before popping the soft shells into my shirt and I feel like this combined with the soft shells totally helped heal the bit of damage I did in the first days of learning how to breastfeed.

Breast Pads- Good thing I registered and received two big boxes of these things because holy leaking boobs!

Boppy- I plop myself down on the couch with my water bottle beside me and the boppy on my lap and we are ready to nurse! I got the cutest cover on etsy which makes it so I don't mind having it laying around the house.

All this is to say that while breastfeeding is natural and the perfect source of food for my baby, it definitely did not start as easy breezy as I hoped or thought it would. Now though, our whole day revolves around when he last ate, how long he ate on which side and when is it time for his next feeding. But it's a full time job that I am so privileged and overjoyed to have.

5 comments :

  1. You must look up the Ollie Gray nursing and pumping bra immediately.

    Secondly, you are doing amazing! Very similarly, I just expected nursing to be easy and come naturally because it is...natural and my nipples were bleeding by the time I left the hospital. I wasn't fortunate to have a good lactation experience while I was in the hospital and I was actually surprised they still let me leave with my daughter but the lactation consultant I saw after was incredible. I loved her so much that I actually felt sad when I didn't need to see her anymore. Nursing is one of the most amazing things ever. I'm so glad to hear you guys are doing well and off to a great start!

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  2. Interesting information. No experience here but I'm so happy it is all going well for you both now. Ditto your mom's comment!

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  3. I am so proud of you for giving yourself grace and doing what was needed for your body and your son to learn how to feed him. I can only imagine how disappointing that was when it was something you looked forward to for so long. I'll have to keep this post in mind as my pregnant friends have their babies.

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  4. Very helpful tips! I haven't had kids yet, so I feel overwhelmed when it comes to this.

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