There are many hidden mysteries about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting that you have to discover for yourselves. Honestly I do know why we don’t talk about them with others who don’t have kids, unless they ask: It can be a little scary and overwhelming. I still don’t remember my friends having conversations about tearing, sitz baths, crying babies or teething, but I probably wasn’t paying much attention anyway. When babies are not on your horizon, anything people say simply falls on deaf ears. I don’t think I would have appreciated the stories and information that ladies were sharing (if they even were) before I had Oliver. Now I love to hear women’s birth stories and talk about the crazy wonderful life with a baby.
Breastfeeding is one of those things that I hadn’t heard much about before I had to do it. Of course I went to the classes and practiced with a little doll but you really just have to dive in and navigate as you go. I wasn’t breastfed as I am adopted (have I mentioned that before?) and so is my brother. Our only other family in SA was my aunt and uncle and they also adopted two kids funnily enough. We are all #formulastrong and were happy bottle feeders, but that just meant that I didn’t grow up where breastfeeding was an everyday occurrence.
Breastfeeding: Month 1 & 2
I remember nursing Oliver for the first couple times in the hospital and thinking that I hadn’t stocked up enough on nursing cream. Ouch! I did not expect it to be sore for as long as it was. Of course I was latching and unlatching him few times to try get it right, but I had no idea that breastfeeding was actually work. It required both of us to experiment and try all sorts of different things before getting it right.
Oliver took a while to latch correctly so it was uncomfortable for quite a while, but we adjusted where we could and kept going. I went to visit a Lactation Consultant in Matthews a couple times and it was great to see what I was doing right and what we could work on. I highly recommend getting professional help to give you one-on-one support. Of course, Oliver nursed like a dream baby every time we went (eye roll) so it was hard for them to really picture all the shenanigans he was getting up to, but it was totally worth going to get some help.
When my milk came in on about day 4, I was shocked. I thought my belly had stretched, but was not prepared for the way my boobs were about to quadruple in size. Sometimes I was so engorged that it felt like I had milk all the way up to my armpit. Poor Oliver had to deal with the most intense let down (where the milk comes down from the milk ducts and is ready to flow) and oversupply. Those first two months were very interesting. Oliver was gulping and taking in so much air, I was leaking everywhere and it was just a mess. I was burping him for ages and it still felt like he had lots of air that needed to come out. I initially used a Boppy pillow to help prop Oliver up and give my elbow something to lean on but found that it was not as supportive as the My Breast Friend pillow so I switched.
I started block feeding which is where I would feed on the same side for two feedings in a row and then switch to the other side, not offering both sides at one session. I typically would do right-right-left repeat as my right side had a much bigger supply. I did this on and off for a couple weeks and I think it helped but next time I’ll just offer both and let the supply work itself out. I did not want to go out anywhere during this point because feeding sessions were long (about an hour in total) and Oliver would cry, milk would spray and it was just easier to stay at home. This did make it lonely but it was only for a season.
I hardly pumped at all during this time as I wanted my supply to regulate and calm down a bit, but I did pump once a day to give Daniel a chance to take over one of the night feeds. At about 8 weeks, Daniel started giving him a bottle of my pumped milk so I could get a little bit of extra sleep. I still had to pump while he fed him but it was way quicker than breastfeeding him and holding him upright so I was grateful for the break. Oliver seemed to do so much better with the bottle that I almost quit breastfeeding to exclusively pump after a really tough day. I decided to give it a couple more weeks and sure enough things got easier and easier. I wasn’t going back to work so I didn’t have the pressure to pump more than that one feed to create a huge stash. I did pump a couple times for relief though because Oliver started sleeping a little longer and I would be awake with sore breasts. Oh the wonderful world of motherhood!
Breastfeeding: Month 3 & 4
Things got increasingly easier around the three month mark when Oliver grew out of his reflux and he took in less air when feeding. Suddenly I could breastfeed and do something else at the same time like drink a cup of tea. Feedings took about 30 minutes and he would drink from both sides. Burping was a breeze and Oliver seemed so much happier with life. At four months, Oliver got a little distracted during feedings if someone was talking to me or there were loud noises around us. Feeding in public was a little tricky as he would try to look around and constantly pull the nursing scarf down. I still have to go to another quieter room to nurse as he is very curious about what he is missing out on. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his milk.
Breastfeeding: Month 5, 6 & 7
Read his general updates for months 5 and 6. Breastfeeding just kept getting easier and easier. Also quicker! Oliver takes about 10-15 minutes to feed, unless we are in a new environment and there is a lot going on. He knows how to turn his little body and reach his arms around me before I’m even ready. He also knows our sign language sign for “milk” and gets all excited that it’s feeding time. He feeds every 3 hours and still doesn’t love the bottle. I am having some trouble pumping since I haven’t had to do it in ages but I’ll get there! Feel free to comment below with some pumping tips if you have any!
A friend made a version of these lactation cookies for me when she brought us a meal in the early days and they were delicious! Apparently oats helps your milk supply so I thought I’d try them again now to see if it would help with pumping. Even if you are not breastfeeding, these are a great snack even if they are very sweet!
Vegan No-Bake Lactation Cookies
- 1/4 cup vegan butter I use Earth Balance Original
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder sifted (can use cacao powder too)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- Add all the ingredients, except the oats, into a medium size sauce pan. Melt on low temperature and stir to combine.
- Remove from the heat when smooth and thoroughly combined.
- Add the oats and stir until the oats are evenly distributed in the chocolate mixture.
- Drop spoonful at a time onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Freeze for 30 minutes then store in the refrigerator in an air tight container.
My breastfeeding journey has been beautiful. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought to begin with, but it’s been an honor. I absolutely love feeding Oliver and am very grateful that I have the opportunity to breastfeed him as much as I do. I love how he stops and completely relaxes in my arms. It’s a wonderful thing however you feed your baby.
Have a great week everyone!
How was your feeding journey?
Did any foods/drinks help your supply?