I knew before Isla was born that I wanted to breastfeed. Of course, everyone talks about how great it is for baby, nutrition wise, and to top it off, it’s FREE! So, I prepared myself. I had a pump, pads, cream, nursing bras, tanks, and a cover. And I had a boppy. I figured I was set! I imagined a completely blissful moment when my baby girl would be placed in my arms and magically I would know what to do and she would too. I mean, how hard could it be, right? I figured babies know where food comes from, so when they are hungry, they’ll get it out, and then of course, drift into a dream like state with a happy and full belly.
I think all moms imagine this, and unfortunately, it’s not always the case. But, luckily for me, it was…at first. The first night and next morning, Isla was a perfect feeder. She latched on exactly how she was supposed to and there was very little pain. Heck, I didn’t even feel like I needed the boppy, I was perfectly comfortable just holding her in my arms. Night two completely changed. After a rush of visitors left, my baby girl was hungry and I offered her my right side. Except, she wouldn’t take it. She fussed and cried and screamed. So, I switched sides. After a few minutes of more fussing and screaming and crying, she finally latched on the left and everything was ok. At the next feeding, it happened again. She wouldn’t latch onto my right side. The nurse came in and tried to help, but unfortunately, the right side was a no go. And we finally were able to get her eating on the left side again. This happened all. night. long. In the morning, my left side was in a lot of pain, and I needed relief on the other side. I asked for the Lactation Consultant to come in the second she arrived.
The LC came in at the perfect time, Isla was just waking and was hungry. The LC was amazing… and I wish I wouldn’t have been so naive thinking that I wouldn’t need her help. She taught me a new position to help and I was able to finally get Isla to latch on the right side. And then… 10 minutes later, the pediatrician came in. Of course. After Isla’s check-up, she came back to me and we went through it all again. Luckily, I was able to get her attached again, happily sucking away.
We went home that day, and I followed the same routine whenever I needed Isla to attach on the right side. It was the only way it worked for that first week. The position was simple, I had to lay down and Isla laid directly on top of me. It allowed her to reach for it, vs. me forcing her into a position. It worked for us.
I enjoyed breastfeeding, for the most part, since the beginning. Although, I haven’t always been comfortable nursing in public… so I always wanted to have a bottle on hand for feeding as well. So, I began my relationship with the pump.
Oh, the pump. I think any woman who pumps has a love-hate relationship with it. On one hand, you’re glad that you’re able to express milk for your little one, but on the other hand, you are attached to the pump day and night. For me, and I think for most women, you start to stress over the amount of milk that is coming out. When the average mom first starts to pump she will get maybe 1-2 oz. out TOTAL. After a while, she will get maybe 2 oz. per side. This is a completely normal amount, however, you hear stories of women who are pumping 8 oz or 12 oz at each pumping session and who have freezers FULL of milk. And suddenly, you begin to stress out about whether or not you have enough milk to feed your baby. At 5 weeks, it happened to me. I was completely fine pumping here and there, and nursing my sweet little girl, but then, I met up with some other new moms. One mom told about how she was pumping only one time per day and getting about 12 oz out each time and had a freezer full of milk, maybe 200 bags. And we talked about another mom who was producing enough for 3 babies. I felt like a failure. Here I was pumping maybe 2 – 3 oz. each time I pumped, and had maybe 12 oz. of milk in the freezer. That wasn’t even enough for one day’s worth of feedings. What was I going to do when I went back to work?!?! I began to research how to increase my supply. I power pumped. I power nursed. I drank mother’s tea, ate oatmeal, changed the size of my flanges, and I started taking fenugreek. The good thing is that it all worked. I was able to freeze almost 200 oz. in the next 7 weeks. I felt like I was doing great and Isla and I had a great routine down before I finished up my maternity leave. I pumped in the mornings, and then throughout the day, I’d alternate between nursing and feeding her and always nursed her at night. I was able to freeze milk every single day.
Going back to work, things shifted slightly. I no longer could nurse on demand. And, I could really only pump twice during the workday. Every week, I stressed. I wasn’t able to continue freezing any more milk, and I knew my “stash” would start to take a hit. So, every weekend, I did everything I could to make sure I could pump more and more. After a month, it happened. Isla needed more than I could pump in a day. After a few days of this, my “stash” dipped down to about 150 oz. I started to freak out, what if this continued and suddenly I had to introduce the dreaded F word…. formula!?!?! Now, I was really beginning to feel like a giant failure. And to make things worse, Isla was no longer satisfied at night. She’d fuss and scream and cry at every night time feeding. We had to feed her with a bottle after I nursed every night, and I was falling more and more behind…
- Breastfeeding FAQ (enfamil.com)
- Be.You.Tiful. Mom Series: Nursing is Not Natural (inspiredbyfamilymag.com)
- Breastfeeding Questions & Concerns (enfamil.com)