Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Breastfeeding Experience


 First things first, I think it can be kind of a touchy subject but, if you don't/didn't breastfeed, I'm the last person who will judge you.  In my opinion, as long as your baby is getting what he or she needs, it shouldn't matter how you're doing it!  I remember telling Tyler not too long ago that I would never breastfeed our babies.  I was under the impression that in order to breastfeed, I'd have to be walking around Target with a child attached to my boob (I have no problem with other people doing that, it’s just not something I’d personally be comfortable doing).  After doing some more thinking and reading about it, I decided I would give it a shot - it wouldn't hurt to at least try it, right?  I thought since it’s World Breastfeeding Week, I'd share some of my experience, especially since our breastfeeding chapter may soon be coming to an end.

That being said, I'm not really trying to give advice - just sharing my experience from the past three months and what has worked for us.  I didn't take any breastfeeding classes.  I just took the somewhat contradicting information that the nurses at the hospital told me, worked with what Ellie liked, and kind of winged it (as my doctor said I "winged" childbirth, too - turned out a-okay, if I do say so myself).  And guess what?  Ellie grew!  And she grew pretty fast, too.  Her pediatrician was impressed and I think we did a pretty good job together with this whole nursing thing.  Lots of people will try to  give you advice, but not everything will work for you.  I found myself taking bits and pieces of everyone’s advice and then doing my own thing - I don't think there are really any "rights" or "wrongs", as long as it's working.

While it was not all rainbows and sunshine, overall, it was a really good experience nursing Ellie.  The first month or so was the hardest, and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that. Trying to figure things out and make sure she was gaining enough weight was stressful and required a lot of patience.  Not to mention the fact that as a breastfeeding mama, you're really on call 24/7.  It was basically just a cycle of feeding and dirty diapers for me - and lots of falling asleep, sitting up in bed.  A few times, I fell asleep sitting up, and apparently had already put Ellie back in her bassinet thing.  But, when I woke up I didn't remember putting her in there so I nearly had a panic attack thinking I "lost her" in the bed somewhere. Oy.  I also remember the first couple nights, I had to wake Ellie up to eat!  It was such a struggle trying to keep her awake - we'd be blowing on her face, stripping her down to her diaper, playing with and tickling her little hands and feet.  Well, those days were certainly short-lived.  There’s a lot of lost sleep and a lot of wishing that your husband could help out with even just one feeding a day, but it's definitely worth it if you stick it out.

Ellie had her first bottle right around 4 weeks (we barely waited the recommended 4-6 weeks, and it worked out fine).  I didn’t pump much, because it sucks in my opinion, but any time that I needed to leave the house without her (rarely) or take her out in public (again, a rare occurrence), I would just bring some pumped milk with me – no having to whip out my boobs in public. :)  I'd say the biggest challenge with pumping is that I had no idea how much she was eating when she nursed, so I wasn't sure how much was a good amount for her to eat from a bottle.  Ellie also used a pacifier starting in the first couple weeks, and that worked out fine, too – no “nipple confusion” and it allowed me to get maybe a little extra sleep.  She does still comfort nurse quite a bit, and sometimes it seems like it's the only thing that will calm her down, but it's not around the clock.

Breastfeeding is convenient in that there’s no preparation, no bottles to wash, and you can be ready at the drop of a hat to feed your baby.  It’s inconvenient in that no one else can feed your baby so you don't get any breaks, and, if you’re like me, you won’t want to do it in front of too many other people.  So, finding a spot to feed your baby and I guess being away from other people (like if you’re somewhere visiting or have people over and have to go in another room to feed her), is a little annoying.

Like I mentioned before, other than the fact that Ellie was obviously growing as she should be and getting the “best” food possible, nursing helped me lose all my baby weight and then some.  Call me selfish, but that to me is enough of a reason to give it a try! ;) Of course, there is definitely a special mama + baby bond that forms, which is another added bonus.

Here are a few things I used throughout my breastfeeding experience:

Lanolin – Maybe I just lucked out here but I didn’t need too much of this.  I still have unused packets on my bureau from the hospital – maybe they’ll still be good for next time? I also bought Soothies, but didn’t end up using them.  The first week or so was a tad painful (maybe I was just too focused on pain elsewhere, if you catch my drift), but I honestly wasn’t into putting something on that needed to be washed off before Ellie ate again, because she was eating so frequently (maybe that’s just me being lazy).  One of my nurses also recommended coconut oil, but again it needs to be washed off afterwards so I didn’t even try it.  I did see that the Honest Company has cream that does not need to be washed off.  I had planned to try out that kind if I needed it, but never got that far!

Pump - I got the Medela pump through my insurance (for “free”) and I think it works fine.  I don’t have much of an opinion because I don’t really use it that often, but I can say that it does what it’s supposed to do.  It’s not too noisy and it’s pretty small/portable, if you plan on carrying it around with you.

Bottles/storage kit – This is the kit I have.  These are Ellie’s favorite bottles (probably because she’s used to them from any time that I did pump).  It was also recommended to me that I store my milk in an ice cube tray.  One regular sized ice cube fits about one ounce of milk, so it’s easy to pop out exactly how much you need without wasting any of your liquid gold, as I like to call it. ;)

Nursing Cover – I have one of these and have only used it a couple of times.  I preferred just going into a private room and I think Ellie did, too.  She seemed a little confused as to why she was being covered up and I think it distracted her from nursing.  But, I still think it’s nice to have one in case of emergency.  A blanket could always do the trick, too!

Boppy – I already wrote about how much I love my boppy pillow in a previous post, but this thing is so helpful.  I’d highly recommend getting some kind of nursing pillow, as opposed to just trying to use regular pillows to help support your baby.  It really did make a huge difference.

Nursing bras + tanks – I also mentioned that I liked these nursing bras in a previous post.  These tanks are great, too.  They’re really comfortable and make nursing so much easier, especially when you’re just trying to figure everything out still.  Once we got a handle on things, I found I didn’t really care about making sure I wore a nursing bra or tank as much.   Also, both these bras and tanks are really affordable.  Since I wanted to buy a few things to have pre-baby, but wasn’t sure if breastfeeding would even work out at all, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on bras that might never get used.

Nursing necklace – This is a somewhat new revelation for me.  In the photo above, I’m wearing a teething necklace.  When nursing Ellie with this on, she’ll grab right on and not let go.  Do you know how many times I have kindly asked Ellie to stop pinching me, scratching me, hitting me, whatever with her no-matter-how-often-I cut-them-they’re-always-sharp little finger nails while nursing?  Sometimes she’ll hold onto my shirt instead, but it’s great if you have something like these, too.  I’ve also seen these necklaces, which are really cute and will surely do the trick, as well!  I remember the day after she was born, I was nursing her in the hospital and one of the nurses commented on the fact that she was very tightly holding onto my bra strap with her teeny tiny fingers – too much cuteness, I was melting. :) 
  
Water, water + more water – I started drinking more water while I was pregnant and have continued to drink more while nursing.  I always bring water with me to drink while Ellie nurses, whether it is in bed or on the go.  I always have some on my nightstand and will throw a bottle in my diaper bag whenever I leave the house.

Right now, Ellie is drinking formula while I'm at work, and a mix of formula and nursing when we're together.  I'm not sure how long we'll continue it this way, but I'd love to hear anything that worked well for you!  As a first time mama, there's always room for suggestions for next time! :)

6 comments:

  1. Loved reading this..you're a rockstar! I am soooo not the breastfeeding mama...although I sometimes wished I could be one of the ones who just love it so much. With Isla I did it for about 6ish weeks and really disliked it. Of course I was obsessed with her but the second she would get hungry or I knew I'd be having to feed her I would just start bawling my eyes out until she was done because I really didn't enjoy it but as you mentioned it being a touchy subject and all the over the top breastfeeding pushers(your baby will be obese, low IQ, & won't bond with you...yikes!) I mean I am not disputing that it's "best" for baby or having a problem with people who are proud to breastfeed (definitely an accomplishment to celebrate!) but thanks to the intense formula shamers..I felt like a horrible mother. I knew for awhile I didn't want to do it but also didn't want to admit to anyone that I didn't want to continue. When I finally told Devin he was like ok cool so do formula. I was like oh...ok that was easy haha. Then I also dreaded telling her pediatrician who was also supportive when I did tell her. I was instantly relieved & enjoyed being a mommy so much more when we switched to formula. Isla is smart & healthy & I'm pretty sure she likes me a little bit;) With Weston I breastfed in the hospital because I did want him to get the colostrum (and less judging by the millions of nurses you see) but switched shortly after coming home. I definitely agree mamas should do what works for them & that be that! Ps I love Ellia's thighs...so delicious!

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    1. There is so much judgement starting from day one! I had no idea going into it. I think you're brave for doing what you wanted to do and what worked best for you, regardless of what other people thought. I totally get the want to "normalize it" because I think women should be comfortable doing it wherever, whenever, but some people are really pushy about it when it's really none of their business. There were definitely some tears shed over here too! I do like feeding her, it was mostly out of exhaustion and the constant feeding! I had no idea it would be so draining - physically, emotionally, mentally, everything!

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    2. Yes I agree it should totally be "normalized". Although I was exactly like you when I did do it & would go hide in another room if people were around/if we went somewhere...never got the hang of the cover thing (of course I didn't try very hard either but!) It is definitely an exhausting thing for sure. You would think something that comes "naturally" would be easy but nope! I just think it's crazy that it's such a heavily debated topic. I think just do your thing as long as your baby is fed & happy...there are more important things to be debating in the world ;) (don't ask me for examples because I hate debating anything anyway. I totally lost points in that history class in high school involving debate because I just didn't participate hahah)

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  2. Wow! I am not a mama (yet!) but that was such an interesting read. I love to read about your experiences. I shared the link to this blog post with my sister, I think it will be really helpful to her! Keep up the good work Linley, you're such a good mom!!

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    1. Thanks Karissa! I hope it helps her. It's definitely one of those things you'll never really understand until you experience it for yourself, especially since everyone's experience is different. I don't think I emphasized enough how tough it is to be the only person who can feed your baby. I definitely felt some resentment towards Tyler even though he was helping in many other ways. Running on two hours of sleep a night makes you a little crazy. ;) I hope she has a good experience with it! And you too, if you decide to try it in the future!

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    2. It is a million times better now though! So I did get a lot easier :)

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