S I X W E E K S !
We have made it an entire 6 weeks keeping our tiny human alive. More importantly, I have passed a huge milestone that I have set my sights on since before Isaiah was born. Breastfeeding!! While it is quite amazing to have kept a tiny human alive a total of 6 weeks, I was more concerned about passing the 6 week hump of breastfeeding.
I knew that if I could make it past 4 weeks and then 6 weeks nursing Isaiah, I would have a REALLY good chance of making it to 6 months and then 12 months and beyond. I wanted to breastfeed because I learned breastfed babies are more likely to contract few infections. It was the best nutrition I could give him, but I didn’t realize it would be as challenging as it was.
Why do Mommas Quit?
According to the CDC, about 82% of mothers start out breastfeeding but only 55% continue to 6 months. 25% of mothers are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. Knowing that, I was determined to get through it.
The top reasons mothers quit breastfeeding is due to pain, low milk volume, little to no support from family and friends, and being told to supplement with formula.
When I was pregnant I actually thought it would be as simple as latch and feed. I figured there was “no way I will be a statistic” ((let’s all take a moment to laugh)) and I actually thought I had prepared enough by going to one lactation class through our healthcare provider.
The reality was IT WAS HARD! My nipples blistered and bled. Anytime I would go to feed Isaiah, my toes would curl and I would just sob from the pain. My little milk monster would eat for an hour or more at a time. His latch wasn’t right and no matter what I tried, I felt like I couldn’t get it right.
I saw a lactation consultant who pointed out Isaiah had a mild tongue tie, despite TWO pediatricians telling us there was no tie. We made the decision to have the tongue tie revised. It took about a week or more before I actually saw a difference.
I have complied a list of the things that ACTUALLY helped me while on this journey. I also share with you below how I learned to properly get Isaiah to latch each feeding.
1. Cracked, Bleeding, Sore… Must Have
Man oh man, the first 4 weeks were the weeks I have titled “The Meat Grinder Weeks”. I literally felt (and looked) like my little man’s mouth was a meat grinder or a cheese grater. One of the things that helped me soothe sore nipples was Lansinoh Lanolin. I had tried the Earth Mama Organics Nipple Butter that I shared in my Postpartum Care Kit and I felt like it burned. So I stuck with the lanolin. I would put a very thin layer on after Isaiah ate. I would also walk around braless whenever possible to give my nipples a chance to heal. I highly recommend having one in the diaper bag (if you nurse away from the house) and one for home. These mini ones are perfect for your diaper bag!
2. Breast Pads Are a Must for Leaky Moments
Another thing I use often were cotton breast pads. I do have Lansinoh disposable breast pads I use, but I found that they made me itch a little bit. I enjoy the reusable cotton breast pads I have because I feel like they don’t make me itch. They also don’t stick to my skin. If I am going out or I am having people over, I use the disposable because they have adhesive. I am not worried about them flopping out when I go to nurse him.
3. Let’s Talk About Milk Supply
Please whatever you do, forget a “feeding schedule”. With breastfeeding a baby will nurse on demand, not a schedule. Some of the things that really helped me were learning a baby’s feeding cues, before baby starts crying. Crying is a late cue.
A baby who is breastfed will eat more frequently than a baby on a milk substitute. Babies who are fed a breastmilk substitute will space out feedings or sleep longer. Don’t interpret this as insufficient milk. Isaiah was nursing back to back… to back at times. There were many times I questioned myself, but I knew he was telling my body how much milk to make each time he was latched on me.
KellyMom.com has great information on this topic. Mothers may perceive these normal needs to breastfeed more often, especially through the night, as a sign that their milk is not adequate, either in quality or quantity. This may lead to early, unnecessary supplementation, which may then be followed by a real decrease in milk production. There is also a great list here with potential reasons for low milk supply.
I would nurse often, drink water at each feeding, and eat nutritious food like oatmeal, whole foods, healthy fats, etc.
4. Organic Breastfeeding Supplements For Mom
After the 4 week mark I did add in herbal supplements to help keep my milk supply up. I was drinking Mother’s Milk tea, but both Isaiah and I were suffering from gas. After researching, I believe the fenugreek in the tea was causing us to have gas.
I found a company with organic herbal supplements, without fenugreek. Legendary Milk bestseller bundle has a that I started with. I have found the best results with Pump Princess, but I highly recommend trying the bestsellers bundle. After reading the reviews and seeing that different women responded differently, I felt like it was best to try the different products. I’m glad I did because I would have started with Liquid Gold only, but it was actually pump princess that I responded well to.
5. Breastfeeding Coverup
My FAVORITE cover is from Milk Snob. It a stretchy, poncho type cover. I received one as a gift at my shower, but ended up purchasing a second after Isaiah had a spit up accident on my first one. I have the Modern Stripe cover and the Lumberjack print, which is not listed on their site as of writing this. I love the Butterfly Garden one if you are having a girl.
I love that it keeps me covered. I am not worried about it shifting or opening on the sides exposing me or Isaiah as we get settled. I also love that when the fabric is stretched you can’t see through it. Some of the cheaper ones at Target I could see through when it was stretched.
It also doubles as a carseat cover when we are out!
6. My BrestFriend
My favorite nursing pillow (I have 3 different ones) was the My BrestFriend pillow. It is sturdier than a Boppy and I like that it buckles in place, so I am not worried about constantly adjusting it. I also like the pouch on the front because I would keep snacks like granola bars in there and my chapstick.
7. Silicone Breastfeeding Pump is EVERYTHING
Did you know your insurance will (usually) provide a breast pump to you or the rental of a hospital grade breast pump? I got mine and though I am not thoroughly impressed, it was free so I cannot complain.
However, one of the best things I have found is a silicone suction breast pump. For me it is SO MUCH BETTER than my regular AND hospital grade breast pump. I use it in the morning when I am feeding Isaiah. I suction it to the side he is not nursing from and usually can collect 3-5 (or more) ounces per morning. It works so well, I ended up purchasing two for when I am at home and both are leaking like a faucet.
8. Learning How to Latch Properly
I think this is by far the most important thing I learned in my 6 weeks, getting Isaiah to latch properly. I saw 2 lactation consultants and had about 5 nurses show me how to latch Isaiah. It always went well, until I got home and I was trying to remember everything.
The best resource was YouTube. I would sit and watch this video and this video as I was trying to get Isaiah to latch. Each feeding I would see it as an opportunity to practice and perfect our latch. Eventually with enough practice he got it down. I also think time was a big factor too. As he got older, got a bigger mouth, got his tongue tie fixed, and got to practice, he got better.
9. Don’t be Afraid of the Internet
So often I hear and see that moms are told to stay off of the internet. I have been told this myself because I am GOOGLE HAPPY. However, it is 2018 and the internet is where everyone, INCLUDING DOCTORS go to get information. The internet can be a great tool to use as a new mom.
I found great information on KellyMom.com. I also found great help in a Facebook group called The Cleavage Club: Breastfeeding Support. They will even hep you identify if your little one has a tongue or lip tie.
Breastfeeding Past 6 Weeks
Breastfeeding past 6 weeks was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but now that I am here I can honestly say it is worth it. ((Since writing this post, we have actually made it SIX MONTHS! Check out the update here!))
I hope this post was helpful for you. The last 6 weeks have been a total learning experience. I choose to breastfeed Isaiah because it is the best thing for his health. It was so important to me that I did not quit and that I got through the tough parts. I knew with the right support and resources, we could eventually figure it out.
I encourage you to set your mind to getting to the first 6 weeks. Consider seeking the help of a lactation consultant or search the KellyMom.com site. I would also be happy to answer any questions you might have via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please never hesitate to reach out to me.
You can do this, even when you feel like you can’t!