LAND OF MILK & HONEY : MY BREASTFEEDING STRUGGLES
Our body is such an amazing thing. Isn't it crazy that it knows to produce milk and that milk would come flowing out at the sound of a baby's cry? Breastfeeding is no easy task to take on after delivering a human being into the world especially if this is your first time. You're exhausted from the labor and delivery, your body is trying to recover, you're trying to understand your baby's cues, you're delusional from the lack of sleep. Throw in a wailing baby who is hungry/hANGRY because they can't latch on correctly is just another slap across the face.
It has only been 15 days since Baby M's arrival so I'm definitely no expert in breastfeeding but wanted to share what I've learned/what has worked well even in just a short period of time as there have been many tears that have been shed (and not all from Baby M).
Here are 6 things (in addition to the breast pump that I got through my insurance) that I have found to be really helpful for me:
***All of the products mentioned are linked below at the end of the post***
1) Baby M normally just nurses from one breast for me so I've been having to express some milk from the other for 2-3 minutes when I'm feeling extremely engorged. The Haakaa is an awesome manual pump. It pretty much suctions onto your breast and just chills there while draining/collecting your breast milk. You can hold baby with one arm and have a free hand to do other things - just be careful that baby doesn't kick off the pump if she's a squirmer. Shoutout to Maci for suggesting this product! You can buy a knockoff version that's slightly cheaper on Amazon here. I've also linked the product below.
This has been a game changer for me. Initially, I would be holding Baby M in one arm while holding a bottle to the other breast catching any milk that would leak out. If I wasn't doing that, I would be wasting time pumping with the breast pump AFTER baby was finished nursing. Talk about being inefficient! With the Haakaa, it saves time AND frees up a hand. WIN!
2) If you've followed us on our InstaStory, you've probably seen me mention that Lanolin nipple cream is going to be your "breast" friend. Well, its been mine! The first few days were really rough for baby and me. I was tired and irritable and baby wasn't latching on very well which resulted in a lot of sores and bleeding. We've been having to play around with a lot of different positions and even now there are times where baby doesn't latch on well. OUCH! The cream has definitely helped soothe and moisturize. I know it's labeled as nipple cream, but did you know you can also use this on your lips, heels, elbows, etc to moisturize?? 2 birds with one stone. ANOTHER WIN!
3) These gel packs have also been really helpful for me when I feel especially engorged and when everything is just straight up painful. I've only used them as cool packs after nursing since it's soothing, but they can also be heated in the microwave to be used as heat packs before feeding to encourage let-down.
4) You WILL leak once the milk starts coming in. I will unashamedly admit that there have been nights where I'm lying on my side and I get up only to find a nice wet spot where I was laying. Not my most glamorous moment.
I started using Lansinoh disposable nursing pads during the day when I'm out and overnight to prevent some of that leakage getting on clothes and the bed sheets. So far so good!
5) In addition to the disposable nursing pads, I've also been using the Medela soft shells. Shoutout to Silvia for lending me hers to help prevent the already sore nips from coming in contact with the clothes/bra. There's holes on the top that allow them to breathe and it conveniently also catches some of the milk when you leak! I've been strategically pouring the milk through the air holes into a freezer bag to try to save as much milk as possible. This is liquid gold, people!
6) Convenience is key for me. If you know me well, you know that I love Target. I love their Gilligan & O'Malley brand because their items are always SO soft and the nursing bra that I snatched from them is no exception. I've found the bras that have the snap function work really well for me as I don't need to completely take off my top and can just snap on and off the front before nursing. You don't want to be fumbling around at 3:30am when you need to nurse and end up frustrating baby because you're taking too long!
With that being said, this is still a huge learning process for me. I've been thankful for our pediatrician and nurses who have been really encouraging and supportive during this whole process. They keep reminding me that if I need to give baby formula for a week when it gets to be too much, it really will be OK. Baby M won't be in a psychiatrist's office at age 18 talking about how mama gave her formula when she was young. So for all the other new mamas out there who are struggling alongside with me, hang in there! It WILL get better.