I will start off by saying that breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. There is nothing that can prepare your for the physical and emotional demands it brings. I was so determined while I was pregnant to “breastfeed for one year”. I wanted my baby to have the best of the best, and that meant breast milk. I just knew I would be able to do it. Gracie weighed 7 pounds when she was born on a Thursday evening. I had complications, we had family in and out of the room, and there was not a nurse or lactation consultant available to help me. This all added up to not even attempting to nurse for hours after birth. Actually I take that back, right before the family came in to see her I tried nursing on my own for a total of about 60 seconds. I am a nurse and precepted on an OB floor, so I used what little knowledge I had and tried my best. Eventually one of the nurses came in to help me and she immediately offered to bring me a nipple shield. I had been told by a few moms to not get started using one of those because baby will get used to it and then you will be stuck with it. I politely declined and said I really wanted to give it a good try without a shield first. (pretty sure I made that nurse mad…) Babygirl did not quite latch on until the second nursing session. I really had no idea what I was doing. However, now I know what I will do differently next time. I did not use the nipple shield while I was at the hospital at all, and I thought baby was latching great. We came home Saturday night and it hurt so bad that I could not stand it. I know it hurts, because it hurt at the hospital. However the pain I felt Saturday was the type that I could not grit my teeth and bear it. I was jerking her off as fast as I can. I sat there in her nursery and just cried because I was so emotionally and physically exhausted, and breastfeeding was just supposed to happen right? Wrong. I finally remembered that I had the nipple shield from the hospital, so I dug it out. It was bearable wearing the shield. So I used the shield because if not I was getting out the formula we got for free in the mail while I was pregnant!
Sunday I nursed with the shield. I wasn’t sure she was getting much, but I knew she didn’t need much at this point. Monday morning we went to see the pediatrician, and Gracie had dropped down to 6 pounds 5 oz. My milk had not came in. I really wasn’t sure if my milk had come in or not because I did not know what it was supposed to feel like. I had not felt engorged any, and hadn’t really saw milk. My doctor recommended that we supplement with some formula. I was really hesitant to do this because I really had my heart set on no formula whatsoever. But, on the other hand, I wanted my baby to eat. Mom guilt was hitting me hard. At this point, Steven and I were run pretty ragged. Gracie was up what felt like 24/7 screaming. I was falling asleep nursing her, and Steven was falling asleep holding her. It was actually very unsafe now that I think about it. My doctor recommended that, if we were able, we should allow someone else to take over night feeds for one night using formula. My mom offered to stay and do this. She fed Gracie with a syringe to prevent nipple confusion. This was seriously the best thing we could have done for ourselves and our baby. We got a full night of sleep, and it truly made me feel like a new person. I had a rough time during labor and delivery. You can read about that here. So, I was extremely sore and basically felt bad all over. Getting out of the bed hurt, standing hurt, walking hurt, sitting hurt…Everything hurt all of the time. Getting up and down to get Gracie at night really took its toll on me because getting out of the bed was so painful, so when Steven or my mom could just bring her to me it really made a world of difference.
That next day we went back to the pediatrician, and believe it or not my milk “came in” at the office. It “came in” all over my shirt and my pants lol. I was soaked! I could also see it in the nipple shield. Nursing was still very painful, however I was sticking it out. Gracie had gained 7 ounces overnight. We came in for weekly weight checks until she was back up to birth weight. I continued breastfeeding with the nipple shield as well as supplementing, and eventually started trying to pump too. I feel like my supply was low, especially in the evenings because Gracie always seemed hungry still. We started supplementing after I finished nursing her in the evening and she would drink some more and then fall asleep. This seemed to help her sleep better
Pumping is so hard! I was constantly having to adjust the shield to get milk to continue to flow, and the whole “hands free” bra thing? Totally did not work for me due to the constant need to readjust. Pumping took forever and was painful and actually caused me to turn bluish purple. This of course worried me because hey I’m a nurse and all of my red flags in my head screamed no circulation, so it can’t be good right? Pumping never got better. I tried all sizes of shields as well as the pumpin pals shields. They all hurt and caused the bluish color. Please someone invent better shields before we have our next baby!! So as you can tell breastfeeding was kind of miserable for me. Of course I had a few of those cuddly moments with Gracie, but still. I was to the point of dreading every single feeding, and constantly stressing and worrying about feeding her and having enough supply and pumping and such. I basically spent all day either feeding her or pumping, or worrying about feeding her or pumping. It was also still so incredibly painful. I know the first few weeks are supposed to be painful, but 2.5 months? and its still painful?
When Gracie was 2.5 months old at the end of August we went to the beach. I was still using the shield (without, it was excruciating). I nursed some at the beach, but mainly gave formula during the day. Eventually I was only nursing Gracie to sleep. Once we got home from the beach I was only giving Gracie formula. Sidenote: She was diagnosed with a dairy/soy protein intolerance (hence the all night screaming), so I had to cut dairy and soy completely out of my diet a few weeks before going to the beach. She took, and still takes Similac Alimentum. This helped tremendously with the gas pains and crying at night. We discovered she had this allergy because of her gas, as well as mucousy stool. She also had visible blood in her stool at one diaper change. At 2.5 months we were officially done breastfeeding. I slowly cut out the nursing sessions while we were at the beach. I must have not had much milk anyways because i never felt uncomfortable or engorged when I was cutting these out. I was of course glad to be free of the constant pain, and having to sit in the car to feed, and just the hassle it was to get the shield out, make sure its clean, attempt to get her to latch, and then put the medicine cream on afterwards. But, I was so sad to not be nursing her. I felt like I had failed. (I wish so badly that she would just latch on tpainfree no shield at all-if that was the case, then nursing would have been wonderful!) But ladies…do not let yourself feel like this if you go through a similar situation! It is ok to feed your baby however way you can. Just feed your baby and drown them with cuddles and kisses!
Ok so I have totally lost my place in this “story” lol! That Tuesday after bringing Gracie home I saw a lactation consultant at Life Circle. You guys, I would 100% not have made it 2.5 months without going to see Christine. I will have her at my bedside after my next birth (I don’t care how much it costs or what I have to do!). Every week, right before I would go to my appointment with her, I would tell Steven that this was it and I was quitting. She would encourage me as well as tell me things to try to help with the issues I was having. I completely recommend everyone to meet with her while you are still pregnant before going into labor. Also make sure you get a prescription of Dr. Newman’s Nipple Cream. This ointment was also the only reason I made it longer then 5 days nursing. It made a complete difference in 24 hours.
Breastfeeding is HARD. But, I recommend EVERYONE to do it! It is best for mom and babe. It is free. However I also recommend everyone to go into it PREPARED! This is my advice for someone planning to breastfeed as well as what I will do the next go round.
*Meet with lactation consultant before birth
*Have Dr. Newman’s Nipple Cream on hand
*Nurse immediately after birth for as long as baby will-aim for an hour
*Have family wait until Mom and Baby are settled in before visiting- this is something that will be hard for Steven and I to do. However, I want to concentrate on building that bond with my new baby as well as constant skin to skin and nursing!
*More SKIN TO SKIN (all the time)
*No nipple shield use (unless the alternative is formula)
*Have a lactation consultant help with nursing immediately after birth
*Have lactation appointments already scheduled weekly after birth (your insurance may pay for this, ours did!)
*Buy the Halo Bassinet (I would not have had to get in and out of bed if I had this!)
*Pump at the hospital ( I wish I would have pumped from the beginning to increase my supply and help my milk come in)
*Have a family member or nanny stay with you when you get home for as long as possible. If your in the amount of pain I was after we left the hospital, then this is a total game changer. I felt so weak and tired as well as sore and I was not able to give Gracie all of the attention she needed as well as care for myself. Thank goodness my mom is a teacher and was on summer break. (I am totally pro baby nurse-if I had money for that I would totally do it!)(Obviously don’t let someone completely care for your baby, but it is very nice to have help with cooking and cleaning as well as just holding baby so mom can get a nap!)
*Sleep when the baby sleeps. No seriously really sleep every. single. time. the baby does.- I did not do this and I should have!
*Restrict visitors to a minimum those first few weeks home. We had constant visitors, and it was great we had so many people who love us and Gracie, but I was never able to rest, and I also let Gracie go too long in between feedings because people were holding her. Not to mention we were unable to have any sort of schedule.
*Get a schedule! I don’t mean stare at the clock and feed by the hour. I just mean try to get in some sort of routine. Whether you use some type of method like babywise, or just try to get baby to wake and go down for the night around the same time each day. I strongly recommend that you get baby and yourself in some sort of routine.
*NUTRITION!- I sucked at this. I really really slacked when it came to what I ate. I did not feel like grocery shopping or preparing meals, so fast food it was. Every. Single. Day. I am still paying the consequences too. No energy and still toting around the baby weight. More on that here.
I am not a professional by any means, but this is what worked and what didn’t work for me and my family! Whatever you choose, just remember that you are a great mom, and that baby loves you no matter what is filling his/her tummy. Your not alone, and if you just need someone to vent to about how hard this whole mom thing is feel free to email me here. No judging from this mom! I hope this post encouraged someone or helped someone make it just one more day, because really you just have to take it one day at a time. Thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for more “mom posts”. Also if you have any ideas of blog posts you would like to see just leave your ideas in the comments below! And to see “real life mommin” >>>Snapchat: haleyleighanne1