If reading about boobs makes you uncomfortable, this is not the blog post for you. Breastfeeding has become a huge part of my everyday life, and I’m still in awe. It’s a beautiful, weird, and nerve-wracking experience that I’m so grateful for. If you find it gross, you’ve been warned!
Towards the end of pregnancy, my OB/GYN asked me at every appointment how I planned to feed my baby. I responded each time that breastfeeding was the goal, but I knew that not all aspects of breastfeeding were controllable. The idea of feeding my baby with just my body was and is fascinating to me. Plus, it’s so much cheaper. Ever since the first week of pregnancy, I knew that “my girls” were getting ready, because I grew out of my bras almost instantaneously.
Quick story: Every year, my husband’s family all gathers together at his grandma’s house on Christmas Eve to open presents and spend time together fairly late into the evening. The first present for the kids (still my husband and I last year) is matching pajamas. I’ve always been a fairly small individual, so they bought me a small size as per usual. Well, like I said, the girls were already poppin at Christmas time. Let’s just say, my top did not fit like it normally would have, but no one there said anything. My husband and I hosted my parents for breakfast the following morning on Christmas, and when my mom saw me, she put her hand on my shoulder and just simply said, “we’ll get you new bras,” Apparently, it wasn’t just me (and my husband) who had noticed. To this day, I have no idea what bra size I wear. All I know is that my G cup bra that fit me during pregnancy is now too tight as a breastfeeding mother. I have been wearing nursing bras and camis that are sized Small or Medium, and they do the trick.
Anyways… I thought my very first breastfeeding experience in the hospital went well at the time. December quickly latched on and nursed for about 50 minutes. The lactation consultants were kind of in the middle of a shift change, and I’m not sure I got 100% of the help I needed. Also, due to the pandemic, I’m sure they were trying to keep some distance between me and baby. The next few days were rough. Even though I was using balm and lanolin, my nipples hurt so incredibly bad. They were dry, raw, swollen, and dare I say he had literally munched to the point the whole side of one was split. That’s probably TMI, but I’m keeping it real here. I could only stand to put a bra on with soft nipple pads against me. I honestly wondered how I was going to keep going with breastfeeding. I mentioned my pain to December’s pediatrician, and he set me up to have a video call with their lactation consultant.
The combination of the helpful call with the consultant and my milk fully coming in was life-changing. I learned how to promote a better latch and tell if he was on well. It was important for me to learn that if the latch wasn’t great, he needed to be taken off the boob to retry. My doctor told me, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Thankfully, December has been latching on well for a while now, and I feel no pain. It’s a good thing too, because he really enjoys nursing. Milk drunk is a real thing.
Besides the rough start with the latch, my milk came in fast and furious. Engorgement had entered the building. When I looked in the mirror, my boulders of boobs had large blue veins all over to the point I thought I looked like a superhero or something. In order to let December regulate my supply, I didn’t use a pump to ease the pressure; however, I did use a haaka to catch the let down from the boob not in use during nursing. Since my stream was so strong, I don’t feel like I altered my supply much (I’ll get to that later). I could hardly lay down or touch my chest, and ice packs/ heating pads designed for breasts were my best friend. Thankfully, my supply regulated over time like I hoped it would. There are times where I feel extra full, and I will pump to have some back up milk now that I am comfortable.
As I mentioned above, my milk comes out unbelievably fast. When I was pregnant, I would look at my nipples and wonder what hole the milk would come out of. Maybe this is just me, but I can spray out of like 5 holes at once and can shoot it feet away from me. It’s hard telling what in my house hasn’t been sprayed with milk. My poor son takes it like a champ. To be fair, I think he is a super efficient sucker on top of my fast let down. All the gulping and breathing that goes on is almost comical and definitely not as calm as I had imagined. Pretty much everything online said it was common to feed a newborn every 2-3 hours for 10-15 minutes on each boob. Yeah…a little different for me. December can do some serious damage in less than 10 minutes total. That said, he does eat fairly often and on a weird schedule. I never really know if I’ll get 3 hours or 1.5 hours out of a feed. Also, there are times he just wants to be on the boob for longer, but I think it’s more for comfort rather than food at that point. I was really worried going into his one month appointment that he wouldn’t have grown enough, but he gained 3 pounds. The doctor told me that there was nothing to worry about, and all babies are unique. He grew well for his second month appointment as well!
With 2 months under my belt, I feel a lot more confident about breastfeeding; however, I feel like I still have room to grow in figuring out his schedule and cues. I haven’t breastfed in public at all besides the doctor’s office because we haven’t really been anywhere, #pandemicbaby. Some of the challenges that we are still facing include:
- Having to spend quite a bit of time burping him due to air intake when gulping the milk down. If we don’t, he’ll spit up quite a bit (sometimes he still does anyway) or get uncomfortable with gas (again sometimes he still does anyway).
- Cutting dairy out of my diet. He was squirming on the boob like crazy and crying afterwards, so I wondered if he had a sensitivity to dairy. The squirming has gone away, and I’m not fully sure if it’s because of my diet or not.
- Feeding at irregular times. As I mentioned, I never know if he’ll be satisfied for an hour or three. It usually has nothing to do with how long he eats. Sometimes 5 minutes lasts 2 hours, and sometimes over 10 minutes lasts for barely an hour.
- If I do have some milk that I’ve caught via the Haakaa or pumped in the fridge, he will not take a bottle from me. He has no issue taking a bottle from my husband, but I think he is confused on why I wouldn’t just use my boobs. We wanted to make sure that he would take a bottle per the doctor’s recommendation if the need arises, so I’m happy he will at least take it from someone else.
Breastfeeding really is a learning experience for both mama and baby at the same time, and it’s a special way to bond and figure each other out. I still can’t believe that my body is enough to sustain him. Every ounce that he grows is from energy that came from me, and I think that’s awesome. I have so much respect for mothers that breastfeed; however, I also greatly respect all mothers no matter how they feed their baby as long as their babies are healthy. I totally understand that breastfeeding doesn’t always work out, and that’s why I feel incredibly privileged that it is working for me.
Motherhood is such a wild ride. Thanks for joining me on it!