Any new mom knows that breastfeeding can be a little bit daunting. When I was pregnant, it was something I didn’t really worry about. I thought it was a natural process that my body would just know how to do it. While that is true, there is also lots more to know about it. Once I had Aiden, the frenzy began!
I realized that I had about a million questions from the get-go, but I was in the hospital and they were telling me when to feed him pretty much, so I was okay. The real fear set in when I got home.
How often do I feed him? Do I wake him up at night? How much is he getting? Is that enough? Is he latching correctly? What if he chokes on his spit up? Can I drink any alcohol? Should I only eat organic? What does mastitis feel like? A blocked duct? Why does this hurt so bad and how long will this last? Is he peeing and pooping enough? Is he gaining weight? The list went on and on and on….
I never felt like I had a huge problem with breastfeeding, but there were definitely obstacles.
The first one was that Aiden didn’t pee from day 2 to day 4. I was really nervous about this so I called the pediatrician and they told me to come in. They determined that he was dehydrated and that I needed to give him a little bit of formula after each time I nursed. We only did this for about 12 hours and he was all caught up.
Secondly, his weight gain was a tiny bit slower than they would have liked in the first 3 weeks. He had gained all his weight back from birth and more after we supplemented with formula. At the next pediatrician appointment, he had only gained about 3.5 ounces in a week. They are supposed to gain 0.5-1 ounce per day at this age. He was gaining enough weight a week by about week 3 though.
Third, my boobs hurt. Lactation consultants say that it shouldn’t hurt, but man, I was in pain. Aiden had a tongue tie so we got that cut to rule that out as a cause. I remember having to breathe through the latching process each time Aiden wanted to eat. I lathered lanolin on them, but there was no getting around it. This got better after about 2 weeks. Then at 4 weeks, I started having this burning in my boobs. I figured out it was a blocked duct. This also took about 1.5 weeks to feel better. I used the Ameda hydrogel pads and realized that I should have been using them all along! They are great!
Lastly, for me pumping was a beast of it’s own. I actually started out with a hand pump and quickly realized that wasn’t going to cut it. I sprung for the Medela double electric pump and it worked so much better. I still was very inconsistent on the amount I would get. Sometimes it was like a tablespoon that would come out! I realized that for me I could get the most milk out when I followed a little routine. I generally get the most in the morning after I’ve fed Aiden and waited about 30 minutes and have eaten breakfast. I don’t ever get anything if I haven’t recently eaten. I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but it’s something I’ve observed. If I do that, I can get about 3-4 ounces.
We are now 10 weeks into the process and it’s going great. I finally feel like my milk supply is well established. Aiden now feeds on demand and I’ve realized that’s the best way to determine when your baby needs to eat – don’t look at a clock after the early newborn days. At about 8 weeks, I was concerned that my milk supply had dropped because I wasn’t getting much out of the pump and Aiden wanted to eat every hour. I went to a lactation group and unbeknownst, he had gained 13 ounces that week!
Breastfeeding is definitely a lot more work than I ever expected. You are solely relying on yourself to keep this little person alive and thriving, but it’s definitely worth the early days of discomfort. I heard it time and time again when I was struggling that it does get better and most women are so glad they stuck with it! The bonding is like none other.
I love going to my breastfeeding support group. It gives me a peace of mind every week that what I’m doing is working. The La Leche League is in every city and they are free! I highly recommend going to a group or meeting with a lactation consultant.