Breastfeeding is one of those things that mothers-to-be often assume that because it’s natural that it also will come naturally. That’s so not the case. Even if you are one of those women who nurse their newborn baby for the first time and it’s an amazing experience where angels are singing, that doesn’t mean it isn’t work (hard work). I definitely had my struggles and times where I wanted to throw in the towel.
I feel like I had fairly realistic ideas about breastfeeding going into it. I had done the research and knew some of the things that could go wrong (& how to overcome them). Most of all, I was absolutely determined to make it work. I wanted to exclusively nurse Wyatt for a minimum of six months, with my ultimate goal being to stop around his first birthday. There were about a hundred reasons why it was so important to me to do this, but ultimately, I just wanted to be able to have that special experience with my son.
After he was born, they had a lactation consultant come in to help me get him latched for the first time and assess…the “situation”. I was pretty much immediately given breast shields to use to help train Wyatt and myself. I figured that would happen, so I didn’t think much of it. We were instructed to feed him every 2-3 hours. If he was sleeping, they told us to wake him (and how). I had nurses and lactation consultants come in several times to help me with getting him latched, and just to make sure I was doing everything “right”. Everything was going pretty well…
And then we went home. Suddenly the sole job of feeding this fresh little human was on me. My milk came in about 3 days after Wyatt was born and with it came about a 1,000 questions. Was I producing enough? Was he getting enough? Oh my gosh, he won’t wake up to eat, is he going to starve? Is he nursing too long? Is he nursing long enough? And then came engorgement. This was the biggest and least pleasant surprise. I had no idea my boobs could hurt that bad. I slept with bags of ice in my shirt at night to ease the pain. The pain, the responsibility, the questions…it was all so overwhelming. I would just stand in the shower and sob.
And then the nights were worse. I love my husband so much, but the sight of him sleeping next to me at 4 am when I was up for the 4th time crying and wondering if this little baby was going to starve because he wouldn’t nurse (even though he was NAKED and I was TICKLING HIM just like they said), was enough to just send me over the edge. (And it did. Many times. Sorry, Kevin!)
To top it all off, at some point I realized that the breast shields the hospital gave me were supposed to be a temporary solution. What?! So, there I sat. Engorged, emotional, overwhelmed…and now let’s add some more anxiety on top of that because I have to WEAN MYSELF OFF THESE THINGS? I told Kevin so many times that I was done. Go to the store, buy some formula, he’ll be fine. I’m not cut out for this. I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this.
But then the engorgement went away. And Wyatt’s wonderful pediatrician assured me that the breast shields didn’t have an expiration date. That as long as he was gaining weight and thriving (which he so was), that everything was fine. So I relaxed a little. We settled into a nice little groove. When Wyatt was around 4 weeks old, his doctor told me to let him sleep longer between feeds at night. We started weaning off the breast shields at around 5-6 weeks old, which resulted in more frustration, but we were completely done with them by the time he was 2 months old.
Now here we are. Wyatt turns 10 months old on August 8th and we’re still breastfeeding. I feel like a pro now. I’ve become so much more comfortable with it. I (gasp) nurse in public, if duty calls. Though it’s much more difficult to nurse a 10 month old in public than a 3 month old. Just saying. We’re approaching the end of this chapter, which makes me extremely emotional and I won’t even begin to write about that just yet.
Breastfeeding has been the absolute most emotional and overwhelming experiences of my life. But it’s also been the most enjoyable experience. I am so proud of myself for sticking it out, even when I wanted to give up. I just want any mama or soon-to-be mama to know that you can do this, just don’t give up.
There were a few tips and tricks that helped me get through the early days, when things were downright miserable at times. So, I thought I would pass them along to any other mamas out there that are in the thick of their breastfeeding journey or will be someday.
- Spectra S2 Pump.
I did a lot of research on breast pumps and ended up with this one (through my health insurance), because I read that the suction was as good as hospital grade ones. I was super pleased with it.
I eventually ordered a part on Amazon that allowed me to pump directly into my Medela storage bottles. Link.
I also purchased smaller breast shields after reading about that helping with pump output. It totally did. Link.
- Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing Camis.
I essentially lived in these camis during those first few weeks (and months). I purchased them in about 6 different colors. Pro tip: wear dark colors, especially in the beginning!
- Lansinoh Nursing Pads.
One thing I did not mention above is the fact that I had an oversupply of milk, which really is a blessing more than a curse, but definitely means that nursing pads are absolutely essential. Unless you want to wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of breast milk. But, I never really enjoyed that much. These were (and are) the best for me. Yes, 10 months in and I’m still using nursing pads.
- Boobease Balm.
This stuff works and speaks for itself.
- Cakye Nursing Sleep Bras.
Super comfortable to wear to bed and they really make the nighttime feedings easier. I still wear these to bed, even though I don’t nurse during the night anymore.
- Amazon Basics White Washcloths.
These are fantastic for so many different things. I used them to help keep my clothes dry during nursing sessions for the first few weeks, wipe up Wyatt’s face after nursing, and so much more. Super inexpensive but still soft and they hold up really well. Burp cloths also really helped keep me from being covered in breast milk by the end of each feeding.
- Stainless steel cup. Just for water. I always want mine to be super cold, so this is what I used, but basically just have water at all times.
- BabyTracker App.
When you’re nursing 12 times a day, it’s hard to remember which side you started on last. Plus, this helped me track each feed so that I was able to accurately tell Wy’s pediatrician how often he was feeding and for how long. You can also log their diaper changes, how often they’re sleeping and for how long, pumping sessions, etc. Love this app!
- Baskets of supplies near nursing spots.
Basically, get some baskets and stock them with any items you need while you’re nursing, like snacks, nursing pads, water, wash cloths, etc. Keep these baskets in any area that you plan to nurse in. I kept mine next to my glider in the living room and my bed. I also kept some diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream in the baskets as well. This was a life saver during the nighttime feedings, because everything was easily accessed and in reach.
These products & tips were lifesavers for me and I hope they help some other mamas out there! Please like, comment, and/or share this post with anyone you think could use these tips.