Mesmerized by Mr Owl. April 2012.
I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself for having stuck with this whole breastfeeding thing. Rewind to three weeks ago and I was just about to throw in the towel and give this kid some formula. Alice was constantly crying due to hunger as my milk hadn't really come in and I was crying because I was so hormonal and stressed about this kid gaining weight and obsessing over if she was peeing and pooping enough. And I was also totally overwhelmed with this intense sense of pressure that I was solely responsible for this kid's food supply and that really freaked me out. I burst into tears pretty much every night that first week as Alice would be screaming and I would have just finished feeding her and I remember thinking to myself We are starving her. This is too much pressure. I want to quit.
Now I know that many kids are given formula and they all turn out perfectly fine but I was determined before having Alice that I was going to breastfeed exclusively for as long as I could. I knew it was going to be difficult but I was sure that I was up for the challenge.
And it turned out to be much more challenging than I expected.
Those four days in the hospital were miserable from a patient perspective but I think they were key to me sticking with breastfeeding. I have no idea how people who have vaginal births stay in the hospital a mere 36 hours and then go home and successfully breastfeed their baby. I think I bawled my eyes out to three different lactation consultants a few different times while we were in the hospital. And they were so helpful and so knowledgeable and they gave me so many tools to help us succeed with breastfeeding.
I remember many moms who had breastfed their babies telling me You have to give it 4 weeks. Don't give up till you hit 4 weeks. It becomes so easy at that point. And you know what? They were absolutely right. Alice is now just over 4 weeks old and we are now in a wonderful breastfeeding rhythm. I am so glad we didn't give up.
Some helpful tips I learned along the way:
- Pump early and often! I didn't start using a breast pump until three days after Alice was born. I wonder if I would've started pumping earlier if my milk would've come in sooner. Who knows. But I think being proactive would've at the very least help boost my confidence.
- Take a breastfeeding class! I'm not sure why I didn't take one. I read a breastfeeding book which was helpful but I should have taken a class to help solidify all the information.
- Get a lactation consultation! The lactation consultants were amazing (except for one who was a total bitch and made me feel like I wasn't going to make it breastfeeding our kid).
- Make sure your kid is latching on properly! You don't want sore nipples. You just don't. Ouch. And lanolin is your friend.
I have also been using some supposed milk supply enhancing herbs that I feel have helped but who knows. I think when you are a first time mom with a bit of a supply issue (no really, I have one side that produces significantly less... long story) you'll do anything to increase the amount of milk you make. But the good news is, Alice is growing and peeing and pooping as she should be. We had her one month appointment today and she is a whopping 9lbs 7oz and 22.5in long, which is 56% for weight and 93% for height. Sure, she's tall and skinny... but so is her dad.
If you breastfed, did you have a tough time getting started? I did, for sure. If I didn't have this one-sided supply issue, I think it would've been a bit less stressful as I was constantly thinking and obsessing over whether the other side could make up the difference. And guess what? It has. Our bodies are amazing!