So. This is my two bits on breast feeding. Things I learned, things I did, things I wish I had done, etc.
Breast feeding is wonderful, if you can do it! If you can't, that's wonderful, too! Feeding, and nurturing your child in any form, is better than no form.
I personally love breastfeeding, and had a rocky road getting to where I am with Logan, today.
It all started in the hospital, after Logan was born, and everything was settled. Logan had been alive, in this world, for a mere 4 hours and I woke him up to feed him. I had read blog, after blog, and article after article, and even most of a book, about breastfeeding. I did not feel confident in doing it myself, so I asked a nurse to come and help me. She told me all the things I knew how to do from reading, and watching videos, and Logan latched on like a champ.
Others are not so lucky, and have a hard time getting their newborns to latch on, and feed the proper way from their first try.
I will let you know now, everyone has a different experience. Do not base your experience off of mine, or take what I'm saying as what will happen to you if you have never breastfed.
Things went alright the first 3 or 4 times Logan nursed, he would eat 15 minutes at each breast, then fall asleep. I was feeling confident, but then the pain started...
Stop reading now if you don't want to read my graphic, and personal story.
My nipples were stiff, and beginning to really hurt. I had been told by a few others that I should get a nipple shield, and try the soothing breast pads. I asked my mom to go to the store and get me a nipple shield, and anything else she thought would help. The lactation consultant brought me some soothing breast pad samples, but I didn't like them. I'm not sure what brand they were, but I found a better brand later. I had lanolin, and I had been applying it to my nipples for weeks, but it was not helpful in my case. I began using a nipple shield every time I would feed Logan, there was a sense of relief, but it didn't repair any of the initial damage.
All the information I read said if there was any pain, your baby isn't latching properly. So if you're thinking "your baby must not have been latching well." He was. If you are thinking "You should have tried holding him in a different position." I did. Breastfeeding was not painful until the end of my second day after feeding my child every hour to two hours, for a half hour each time. I was told by the lactation consultant that everything I was doing, was correct. I came to my own conclusion that my child was the most powerful vacuum you could ever think of. He literally was sucking until the ends of the earth every time he ate. It was good for him, but torture for me.
I hated feeling this way. I wanted it to just be easy, like everyone acts like it is. I cried, A LOT. I got postpartum depression, I didn't want to eat, I couldn't sleep, I didn't want to pump, I didn't want to take care of my baby, which made me even more sad. I just wanted to sleep! I just wanted to take a shower without feeling like there were needles puncturing my nipples with every drop of water. It was seriously tortuous.
You may be asking yourself, "why didn't you just stop and use formula?" The answer is, the same reason I didn't get an epidural. I just didn't want to stop. I had set a goal, and when I actually set a goal, I keep it. You may be asking yourself, " Why didn't you just pump for a while?" I did. But engorgement combined with my nipple pain was worse than contractions. Not really, but it was comparable.
After a few days of wanting to give up, and crying all the time, and scaring the wits out of my husband, I pumped ALL DAY. I got enough milk to feed Logan once. I had Mark do it, while I pumped in the middle of the night. It was a break through! I cried the whole time, and ended up feeding Logan the second bottle I pumped, which wasn't enough, so I fed him at the breast too. But that one feeding with the bottle worked wonders.
What was happening to my nipples was horrendous. They were cracked, and scabbed, bruised and sometimes bleeding. It was like they were hickeys that had gone terribly, terribly wrong. I put lanolin on them constantly, and they were trying to heal, but every time I would feed Logan, all my sores would open, all my bruises would burn, and I would buckle over, and grit my teeth every time he latched on. Sometimes I would cry, only because I couldn't yell out in pain. This lasted about a week and a half. After that the pain started lessening, but I still had to use the nipple shield. I was afraid he was going to get used to the nipple shield, and he would never be able to eat without it. I started trying to feed him without the shield. I could only do it once a day. He had a hard time latching on because my nipples were getting so soft, and they couldn't trigger his sucking reflex as well as before, and as well as the nipple shield. I finally decided I didn't care if I always had to use the nipple shield, because that meant I was still breast feeding, and it helped Logan use a bottle when I would leave him with a family member. But the nipple shield didn't last, every time I fed him without it, I felt so accomplished. I would do a little victory dance in my head. After a little over a month, I could feed him without the nipple shield. It got so much easier!
You can continue reading here, my graphic explanation is done now.
Logan's feeding schedule was a little like this:
Week 1- 30 minute feedings, every hour and 30 minutes
Week 2- 30 minute feedings, every 2-3 hours
Week 3- 30 minute feedings, every 3-4 hours; 8 hours of sleeping at night
Week 4- 20 minute feedings, every 3 hours; 8-10 hours of sleeping at night
Week 5- 20 minutes feedings, every 3-4 hours; same as above
After that it was pretty consistent, and there wasn't a big change until he hit about 5 months.
He now eats solids, and eats for 5-10 minutes every 3-4 hours, and has one night feeding most of the time.
Now for my advice, and things that I wish I would have done.
First off, I wish I would have pumped more after my colostrum was gone, and had gotten in the habit of doing so more often. I have plenty of milk to spare, I just hate pumping. When I do pump, I use it. I wish I had made more of a supply so I could mix up rice, oat, and multigrain cereal more often. Almost every time I do make cereal I have to pump, and it is quite annoying.
To increase my supply, I drink
"Organic Mother's Milk" tea
You can find it at Target, Good Earth, or Harmon's Grocery Store.
I started drinking it when I started feeding Logan solid foods. I used to drink it daily, or at least try. Now I drink it once or twice a week. It smells like licorice, but putting sugar or honey in it makes it taste like regular tea.
I also pumped after every feeding several days a week for the first month to help establish my breast milk (in the breast). I would also like to stress feeding at the breast as often as possible. I literally felt like a food bank, and hated that breastfeeding was taking over my life, but it doesn't last forever! Skin to skin contact helps your body know when, and how much milk to make for your baby, so do it as often as possible.
For soothing my cracked, and sore nipples I used
"Medela Tender Care Lanolin"
It goes on smooth, and isn't stiff like some of the other brands
out there. You can basically find it anywhere. I used is constantly, and even used it before Logan was born. I'm going to try using it sooner next time I am pregnant to see if it makes a difference.
These, are the greatest thing ever invented.
"Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads"
Now, this just looks amazing
"Belmam & Cherub Shower Hug"
Now, I didn't get one of these, but I am going to get one. Every shower I took for that first month was awful. I would wear a sleeping nursing bra half the time because it hurt so much when the water would hit my nipples.
Last, but DEFINITELY not least.
"Medela Contact Nipple Shield"
This picture is the best example I could find. But I only bought a single nipple shield. That's all you need, unless you are feeding two babies at once. This type of nipple shield still allows some skin contact on the breast and nipple to help your baby get less confused. But this is also another one of the greatest things ever created. It saved my breast feeding experience. Use with caution, though, if used too often your baby may not be able to feed without it. I have also heard these are great for babies who have a hard time latching on in general. If your breasts are large, or your baby just has a little mouth, these help your baby be more successful when feeding in some cases.
So there you have it. Again, I stress that this does not happen to everyone. Don't expect the worst, just do your best! If this does happen to you, don't lose hope! It really does get better. Logan has 5 teeth now, and we're still going strong! I'm starting to wonder if he will ever stop, if weaning is a pain I will probably write a post about that as well!