It’s World Breastfeeding Week! I didn’t know there was a week to honor breastfeeding but I’m so happy there is! What an incredible superhuman power us women have. As hard as it is, I have loved this time with George and feel so proud of what my body has done to nourish him the last three months. Although I fully support and celebrate breastfeeding, I believe that “fed is best” and don’t agree that “breast is best” if it’s not right for you. As much as I wanted to breastfeed George, I think exclusively pumping or formula is wonderful if that is what works for mom and baby. I have said this whole time, if I was struggling or if I felt George would benefit if I supplemented with formula, I would do it in a heartbeat. Luckily, here we are 3 months in still going strong! Here is our breastfeeding journey the first 3 months and some tips and tricks that helped us along the way.
In first few days of breastfeeding
I mentioned in George’s birth story how incredible our lactation consultant was during our hospital stay! George did a great job latching right from the get-go, but in those first few hours I could tell it was painful. The lactation consultant explained that it shouldn’t hurt during breastfeeding, which is music to your ears when you think you are going to have cracked and bleeding nipples. She showed us a great way to hold the baby’s head and sort of shove it (lol) sort of up and over onto my boob. I will link a video below showing how! The key is to get the baby to latch on the the areola/skin around the nipple so they are pulling on the breast tissue when they suck, and not on your actual nipple. Ouchy… Not having a correct latch can lead to extremely sore/bloody nipples, engorgement, and ultimately a low milk supply. Here’s a video showing how to do the deep latch technique!
For positions, the two easiest ones for us was the football hold where I had him propped onto a pillow and the cross-cradle hold where I held his head and helped him get a good latch. For the first weeks these were the two positions I used. Now, 90% of the time we are in classic cradle hold or if we are both sleepy and trying to nap we do the side lying position. The side lying position though for me isn’t the best for him to actually ‘eat’ because he falls asleep so quickly. So we do that as more of a little ‘snack’ before a nap lol. Here’s a good description of all the breastfeeding positions from verywell family.
Lastly, the lactation consultant showed me how to better express colostrum – that pure liquid gold that you have for the first couple of days. I was just kind of squeezing my nipple to get it to come out but then she showed me if you place your thumb and your pointer finger around the skin of your nipple and press firm AND THEN pinch SO much more comes out. That is hard to explain, so here is a video showing what I mean on how to hand express colostrum. I could tell George was getting enough colostrum to nourish him since he was peeing and pooping regularly those first couple of days, but you’re always unsure since it feels like you’re producing so little. You have to remember that their little stomachs are only the size of a cherry day one and the size of a walnut by day 3! I would hand express my colostrum onto a spoon and put it into a little syringe to give to George as a snack in-between feedings to help him put back on his weight. He was 6 pounds 13 oz when he was born but dropped down to 6 pounds, which is normal but I wanted him to gain it back as quickly as possible. It is also smart to freeze some colostrum in case your baby is ever sick which unfortunately I didn’t do.
Cluster feeding tips
Those first days and weeks of breastfeeding are a rollercoaster of emotions. I nursed on demand and some of those days we spent what seemed like hours and hours cluster feeding on the couch. George has been a pretty good sleeper, but those first few days I only got maybe 2-3 hours of sleep total so being sleep deprived and having an infant on your boobs all day can be physically and emotionally draining. In those cluster feeding days here are some things that helped me:
- Keep track of feeding using the Huckleberry app or another feed tracking app. This helped me see how many times he was eating a day and patterns so I could help predict our schedule.
- You will be deliriously thirsty… don’t sit down unless you have a huge bottle of ice water next to you. This is the 40oz bottle with a straw that I have.
- Use your support system – I’m so thankful that I had Thomas with me that he could take George and hold him after I would get done breastfeeding, so I could take a shower or a little cat nap if I needed to. Whether it’s your partner or a family member or friend, don’t be scared to say that you need a little break and have them take the baby.
- Thankfully I didn’t have cracked or bleeding nipples, BUT the initial latch is still painful in those first few days. Earth Mama organic nipple balm was my favorite to put on after each session.
- I wanted to use that time to bond with George and didn’t want to be staring at my phone the whole time, but at the end of the day when you spend hours sitting it’s nice to have something to do besides Netflix or your phone (FYI, lets be real, I still binged a ton of Netflix though lol). I ordered a Kindle Paperwhite right before I delivered and it has been the best thing ever for breastfeeding since you only need one hand to hold it.
Establishing a schedule
I wanted to get George on a ‘loose’ schedule pretty early on. A timeline to predict windows of when he would be sleeping, eating, and having awake time. We are all for fitting George into our life and schedule and not the other way around, BUT it’s so helpful to establish a schedule early on that way you can go to brunch or out for a walk and not have a screaming baby you know. We follow Moms on Call and it has been so helpful. They have a “typical days” section in the book that gives you an example schedule that we’ve been following the layout of, however I alter it slightly to work for us and George’s medicine schedule for his SVT. It follows an eat, awake, sleep cycle. Obviously George is only three months old so some days are a little different depending on if he’s going through a growth spurt or leap (like fighting sleep, eating more than normal, etc.) but otherwise this is pretty much how our days go. Also if we are out and about, I try to stick to the main feeding times of 6am, 9am, 12pm, and 3pm that way there is some structure to our day and he can nap in the carseat or I can wear him if we are out.
- 6am – medicine and then breastfeed
- 7-8:30ish – He naps. In the meantime I pump, try and get a workout in and eat breakfast
- 9am – breastfeed and then he’s awake and we do tummy/play time on his mat or go for a walk
- 10:30ish-12 – Nap
- 12 – if we are home we will do a bottle at this feeding. I am doing two bottles a day right now with 5oz pumped milk. This gives me a little break so I can get things done and Thomas or a family member can participate in feeding George.
- 1-2 – I will usually baby wear him using my Solly wrap during this time and he falls right to sleep
- 2pm – give him his medicine and then he usually is content until about 2:30
- Anytime from about 2:30-3 – will breastfeed and have awake playtime
- 4:00ish-5:30ish will take a nap – this nap can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours
- 5:30 we give him a bottle – That way as we approach dinnertime he is nice and full and I can cook if Thomas is home to give him the bottle.
- 7:00-7:30 – start bedtime routine. Bath time, get in jammies, read a book, turn on the hatch and breastfeed until he falls asleep. Usually he goes down anytime from 8-8:30.
- Luckily he’s been sleeping through the night since the beginning of July, but in his second Leap we have noticed that he is definitely been more restless at night. So I have gotten up around 3 or 4am a couple times, but otherwise he sleeps until 5:30 or 6am.
I start back to work next week so things are going to look a little different, but overall I will definitely keep his same feeding schedule and hopefully as he starts eating more we can stretch his feeding times to 4 hours in between. Your schedule will continue to evolve and change over time as baby grows but I highly recommend moms on call to get started!
Pumping and Milk Supply
In the beginning I was questioning how much milk I was producing because my shirt wasn’t soaked in milk like I thought every nursing mothers is lol. I have since learned that that’s not always the case and I must be producing the right amount for him. It’s amazing how our bodies detect these things! Also he pees and poops a ton so that is also a way for you to make sure baby is getting enough to eat if you are ever questioning it. But to create more of an extra stash since I’m not overproducing, I wanted to ramp things up a little bit so I could at least save up a few weeks worth of milk in the freezer.
Right now I am pumping pretty much every time after he eats and during the time he’s having a bottle – so that’s a lot of pumping a day. I use my Medela pump first thing in the morning and at night when George has gone to bed. Since it’s attached to the wall you have to sit stationary, otherwise I am using my wearable pumps to do chores and tend to him. I used the Haaka a ton during those first weeks and cluster feeding on the couch since that was easier than wearing a pump. On my Medela pump I get anywhere from 4-5oz each time and using my momcozy wearable pumps I get 2-4oz depending on the time of day. The Haaka collects anywhere from 2-4oz for me during a feeding.
Some things that help my milk supply:
– HYDRATE and then HYDRATE AGAIN! I am filling up my water non stop and also drink one Body Armor lyte sports drink a day. I do have wine or a cocktail over the weekends so if I do that I make sure to pump before I drink at night and then I drink a ton of water before bed so it doesn’t dehydrate me too much.
– I started taking Legendary milk liquid gold capsules. Verdict is still out if they actually work or not. I only take two pills at night instead of their recommended 6 pills a day. My boobs are so big and engorged with milk by 6am that I don’t know if that is contributing to that or if it’s because I haven’t fed George all night, I would assume the later lol.
– I have done a few power pumping sessions in the beginning where you pump for 20 minutes, 5 minute break, pump for 10 minutes, 5 minute break, and pump for 10 minutes. But I haven’t done that lately since that takes up so much time.
– Milkmaid tea – I like drinking this at night and feel like it helped during my nighttime pump sash.
– lactation cookies – Has the addition of brewers yeast which is said to help with supply + a lot of other good things like oats and flax seeds. Here’s my recipe up on instagram!
Milk storage/Bottle Feedings
- What I pump during the day I transfer the milk into these Phillips Avent storage cups. Something that I recently learned is that your breastmilk has different nutrients depending on the time of day, so I have a cup labeled ‘Night’ so what ever I pump at nighttime I give to George during his 5:30 bottle since it contains more melatonin than the morning milk for example. Also I label the freezer bags with the time of day when I pump that way in the future my mom or whoever thawing the milk can use according for night or daytime bottles.
- Milk can be at room temp for an hour I believe, but I typically transfer it to the fridge right away. Breastmilk can stay in the fridge for up to 4 days. What I pump George typically drinks that day or the following day and anything extra I just freeze right away.
- Right now we are using the Comotomo baby bottles. That is all we have used so I don’t have too much knowledge on other brands but George seems to like these! We are still on the slow flow nipple.
- We’ve been putting these Mary Ruth liquid probiotics in his bottle every afternoon and they have seemed to help with digestion and gas!
- I use this Phillips Avent bottle warmer
- I use the Lansinoh milk storage bags that I get on Amazon.
I am so in awe of women and how we are able to nourish our babies. What a sweet season of life and I am so proud to celebrate world breastfeeding week as a first time mom. It’s not always easy, but what a rewarding experience that I will treasure forever. I want to get at least to the 6 month mark with breastfeeding if it continues going well for George and I and then hopefully up to the year mark from there but we will keep taking it day by day.
Cheers to all you badass mamas out there – whether that’s breastfeeding or whatever way you choose to nourish your little babes 💕 I hope you were able to find something helpful out of our breastfeeding journey so far!