Friday, June 28, 2013

21 Weeks into Our Breastfeeding Journey

1 day old
I knew from the day that I found out that I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed our baby due the all of the amazing benefits that mother's milk has to offer. I was so nervous about it though because I would be the first in my entire family to breastfeed and I knew I couldn't rely on my mom, aunt, or grandmother for help. Luckily, my best friend had lots of advice for me and helped me out along the way. Honestly though, it's a learn as you go process of finding what works for you and your little one. I know that I spent a lot of time reading books and articles about nursing but I think I gained the most knowledge from reading blog posts about other's women's experiences; so I thought I'd share our journey so far...

4 hours old
 We were very lucky because Aubrey latched immediately without any assistance as soon as she was born and she's had a great latch all along. I really couldn't believe how nature just took over like that and her instincts just kicked in, it truly was amazing. I started off thinking that I was going to exclusively pump or at least pump for the majority of the time because I wasn't sure how I felt about the whole nursing thing but I knew that I wanted her to have my milk. My thoughts changed on that completely after the first day of her entering our lives because it wasn't until then that I realized what an incredible bonding experience it is.

My husband and I took a breastfeeding basics class at our hospital and the lactation consultant said to exclusively breastfeed and not pump until the baby is at least 2 months old. I think she was a little extreme though. I had an over-supply and engorgement issue so not pumping was simply not possible for me. I was still full after her feedings and I needed to relieve some of the pressure so I pumped. I also had to pump in the morning before her feedings because by morning my breasts were ready to explode and not only was I uncomfortable, and leaking everywhere but if I fed her she would choke so it was a mess all around. My nipples were also extremely sore in the beginning so I sometimes pumped a bottle out to feed her because it was less painful than nursing her.

Speaking of being sore, before I left the hospital I told the lactation consultant about my discomfort and she gave me a prescription strength nipple cream and it worked wonders. I use Medela lanolin here and there but the stuff from the hospital works magic, ask for it.

I pumped about 50% of the time and nursed the other 50% for the first month and a half and then I switched to primarily nursing. I still had to pump sometimes after her feedings because she would feed from one side and then the other side would be uncomfortable so I pumped to relieve pressure and emptied the breast. Luckily, I banked all of that pumped milk and have an entire compartment in my freezer filled with that liquid gold.
Aubrey, passed out and totally milk drunk 2 months old

Your milk is supposed to regulate around 12 weeks but it wasn't until about 3 weeks ago that my milk fully regulated. I had a scary thing happen at 12 weeks. I went from being engorged all of the time, with rock hard breasts (sometimes) to a major drop. It was right around this time that Aubrey started to sleep through the night and I can't help but wonder if that was the reason for this. Maybe my body needed time to adjust to her new demand. However, for one night, 12 weeks in I was so low that I had to give her a bottle at night of milk that I had pumped and saved. The next day I went out and bought fenugreek and the very next day my supply was back up and I had enough to feed her. I'm still not sure if it was thanks to the fenugreek or not but either way I was relieved.

Once I had that scare and my supply went back up, I found that I wasn't engorged anymore, my breasts were softer but I was making enough to satisfy her at each feeding. Then at 16 weeks I had another scare. I was almost completely dried up for an entire day, I was popping fenugreek like mad but it wasn't working, I was low for a few days following too. I persistently nursed her as much as I could, pumped after each feeding to stimulate milk production, continued to eat oatmeal for breakfast every day, continued with the fenugreek and finally after about 4 days of this, my production went back up. I don't know what happened but I wonder if stress may have been a factor that week.

So here we are, 21 weeks in and so far my production seems to be satisfying her needs and she is exclusively breastfed. I work from home all but one day out of the week so I nurse her most of the time. She does have bottles (of breast milk) here and there though throughout the week when I need time to get work done and my husband is watching her and she is bottle-fed all day when I'm gone for the day (working outside of our home). I've noticed a bit of a drop when I pump though. I went from pumping 5-6 oz. during each session to an average of 3 oz. (and only sometimes 5 oz.).

I know that the baby is supposed to be able to extract more than the pump can so you can't rely completely on what you are pumping as a gauge. Also, it's important to remember that factor when/if your supply drops because your baby is the best stimulator for production. Another tip that my L.C gave me is to make sure the breast is being completely emptied when you pump. An emptied breast signals your body to make more. Usually you can get two "sprays" so it's important to keep pumping even if nothing is coming out to stimulate the next spray or to at least send the message to your body that your baby needs more.

4 Months
Breastfeeding is hard work and it really takes patience, persistence, and practice but it's all so well worth it. Having a supportive husband certainly makes things easier too and I'm so thankful for all of the support and encouragement that my husband gives me. There have been a lot of ups and downs along the way, that's for sure. I'm doing all that I can think of to maintain a supply, my plan and my goal is to breastfeed Aubrey exclusively for the first year but if something happens beyond my control, I'm hoping that I can just roll with it without loosing it completely. I'm not taking anything for granted after having those scares.





4 comments:

  1. I try not to be a mom that pushes breastfeeding on everyone, I know not everyone can but it really is the best bonding! I breastfed my oldest until about 13 months and my second we stopped just a few months ago...he turned two this past week (he went over what I was comfy with but HE would not stop!) When I pumped is when I needed creams of any sort...just them sucking never really hurt except in the very beginning, oh and when they started getting teeth! Although we just know each other on here...I'm proud that you're breastfeeding! It's hard to stick with but my little brother wasn't and he had the worst skin and scalp when he was little and has been sick a lot more than me and my older brother (both of us were "tot babies") Good luck and really any amount of time is better than nothing.

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  2. You are doing great! It is crazy all of the things you have to factor in (drinking enough water, feeding regularly, stress amounts... etc) to keep breastfeeding at it's best. It's exhausting but completely worth it.

    Aubrey is such a gorgeous baby!

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  3. Your baby girl is absolutely beautiful. I was only able to breastfeed my baby for 3 months. As soon as I came back to work, my milk supply is gone :( Enjoy the time with your little one. Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Happy 4th of July!

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  4. I enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing your story :)
    -V

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