Getting Started

Knowledge is power

First, I was all about learn, learn, learn.  Read, read, and read some more.  I read every article under the sun and I took every class there was to take about breastfeeding.  The birthing center where Madison was born provided free classes (most do to those with insurance even if you don’t plan to give birth there).  I took Breastfeeding 101 and Pumping & Returning to Work classes, and after she was born we went to support groups once a week.

This paper/compilation/whatever you want to call it is my attempt to compile all the knowledge I have gained throughout my experiences and summarize them for you.  This is my first time ever doing it, so it may be disorganized or clunky, but if you benefit just a little bit from it and it helps you, just a tad, to be successful, then that’s all that matters.

Community is so important

The breastfeeding community is something I have never seen before.  We found a local breastfeeding support group on Facebook and any time I have a question, I’m able to post it to the discussion board and get a huge amount of answers and encouraging words to help me through whatever it is I need help with.  It’s also a great place to post pictures, or just share victories or little funny things that happen to those who understand best.  It has been invaluable to me.  If you can’t find one, let me know, and I’ll ask the group.  Our group is complete with several Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants or IBCLC, nurses and even a doctor.  And now over two thousand moms who are just starting out in the their breastfeeding journey, ones about to embark on theirs and ones that have been doing it for years (I think the record among us is a mom nursing a 6 year old and another mom that between all her children has been nursing for close to 12 years).  These little communities of fellow nursing moms are everywhere and I’m certain you will find yours.

Support is vital

I had three lactation consultants at that I texted regularly (still do from time to time) during the first 6 months of Maddy’s life and almost daily the first month.  One I had come to our home to help us, one I had a very close relationship with through breastfeeding classes, at my hospital bedside after Maddy was born, and through local support groups.  The most recent consultant I only know via the Internet.  Each one holds a special place in my heart.  I truly believe they are the reason we made it so far, and they will never know how eternally grateful I am for their support.  Find a lactation consultant and become their best friend.  They will answer your questions and work with you one on one, usually free of charge, with anything.  I only paid the LC that came to our home for travel expenses.  One is more than enough. Three is, maybe, a little crazy.

Find yours here: https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/breastfeeding-counselor-locations

Follow your instincts

At the end of the day, you know your baby best.  Answer their cries, and when in doubt, whip it out!

What is today is not what is tomorrow

Just about every question I get from moms I answer with “Ride the wave.”  This journey is ever-changing and fast – especially in the first few months.  You will be introduced to a completely different baby each time they open their bright little eyes from a peaceful slumber.  Their little brains are developing at a rapid speed (thanks to your liquid gold) and that mostly happens when the growth hormone is released during sleep.  Each time they open their eyes they see the world differently and you are introduced to a new baby.  Sometimes when they are going through changes they need you even more, because they need to readjust to this new world they are seeing.  “Mental leaps” as they are called can be scary, and growth spurts need a lot of nutrients and then sleep.  You and your breast solve all problems, along with physical touch.  We are mothering through breastfeeding.  Because of this rapid change in our babies, us moms tend to get frustrated or confused when we feel like we mastered something just in time for them to flip the script.  But believe me, what seems hard one day you will master and it will be easier the next.  If your LO seems to be nursing like crazy one day, she might sleep the entire next – enter growth spurt.  If one day they like to be held a certain way or like a certain bfing position and the next day they don’t, it’s completely normal.  Just ride that wave and follow their lead, and never, ever quit on a bad day, because tomorrow is just around the corner.

Our story

Ok, let’s get into it!  My story from the beginning as a breastfeeding mother (is a blur, but here’s me giving it a whirl):

Birth:

Our breastfeeding story begins the second she entered this world.  She was born into the hands of my midwife and myself.  As I caught her, I brought her to my chest, (with some assistance, my husband always gently reminds me).  She came to my chest with nothing on her but the remanence of birth. She was not wiped, she was not suctioned, and her cord was delayed from clamping.  We were covered with a warm blanket and there we stayed, with my husband standing next to the bed gazing at us.  [Side note – Next time I want him embracing us as we, perhaps, experience a home and/or water birth because the bed seemed so empty without him there.  Anyway, back to it.]  She stayed there for almost 2hrs.  During that time she and I bonded and she was able to latch within the 1st 45 minutes.  After resting and enjoying each other she nursed on the other side as well with her first real nursing session lasting about 20 minutes.  The “Breast Crawl” is truly a miraculous thing to watch.  They don’t really need any assistance.  Nature is a beautiful thing.  She was lifted off of me and it was evident that her first nursing session was a success by her gift of poop all over me!  Yup, she pooped on me and it was the most wonderful thing!  She was taken for the normal things like getting her weight, etc. On her bassinet there was a sign, “Please no pacifier, I’m a breastfed baby.”

Days & Weeks after birth:

Our wonderful lactation consultant came to visit us on day two.  Carrie, IBCLC was so wonderful.  Her latch was a little shallow.  I will never forget how she took charge.  One thing to know about me:  I’m not shy and I’m not modest.  So this may provoke a different reaction from moms that are.  If you get a IBCLC that is very hands on, in my opinion, that is better.  They can feel the anatomy of your breast and help you more than if they just sit back and watch.  They will perhaps need to compress your breast while your little one (LO) is latched to assess the latch more closely.  Carrie took my breast and started to massage it.  She then took Maddy’s head and held it with her index finger and thumb behind her ears.  When she opened wide she pressed Maddy’s face deep into my breast.  The latch should be deep, and I was being so delicate with her that I didn’t want to be a little forceful with her.  I was also fearful that she couldn’t breathe being that deep onto my breast.  As Carrie explained to me, we are born with a nose that is fit for breastfeeding.  Their nose flares out and it can be completely buried in our breast and still have the ability to breathe because of the flares on the side, so don’t be afraid that you are suffocating your LO.  I also remember her saying, “They are tougher than you’d think!”  And she was right.  The latch was perfect.  She was sucking and doing well.  Carrie praised us and went over all the tips and tricks and facts about bfing while we nursed.  She complimented me and gave us encouragement and just sat with us for a couple of hours.  She positioned Maddy in the cradle position, football hold and sittine up just so I could get a feel for them.  One piece of advice that stuck with me was that breastfeeding can be “aggressive”.  It’s sort of true as instinct kicks in and the baby is trying to latch for milk.  Knowing this going it helped me not get intimidated when it happened, so I pass that on to you as well.  She even helped me change her diaper.  I’ve changed plenty before, but I guess with it being MY baby there was a new fear inside me that I was somehow going to break her.  She again reminded me of her resilience and strength.  With Carrie’s blessing we went on our merry way.

In the days and weeks after she arrived, Maddy breastfed pretty constantly, and for long stretches.  Sometimes she would stay at the breast for up to an hour.  I remember Eric feeding me with a fork because I had no hands.    When I was first starting out, I had one hand holding her head just so and the other holding my breast.  You might find this necessary in the first month just until you get used to it.  Everything takes practice.  Maddy was nursing constantly for good reason and she was never given a pacifier.  According to the research and lactation consultants, a binky could cause nipple confusion and could also cause her to miss a feeding.  These are crucial days to you building your supply and you building your bond.  The more they are at your breast the better as they are stimulating your breast and placing the order for more milk!  At this stage, what baby wants, baby gets.  Which is, you guessed it, you.  In addition to placing the order for your milk supply, this is also a very frightening time for your little one.  She had just come out of the most comfortable place in the world, the only place she knew and now there are bright lights and harsh fabrics on her skin.  For your little one, being next to you and at your breast is the closest thing to being back in the womb.  Don’t let anyone tell you, “you are spoiling your baby.”  It’s just not possible, especially at this stage.

Skin to skin is essential during these early weeks of life with you and your husband.  So be prepared by having a button up shirt to wear around the house.  I also found a robe very nice with just underwear on underneath to allow more skin to touch her with my legs
being exposed.  There are microorganisms on you and your husband’s skin that get transferred to your baby thereby building their immune systems.  Doing skin to skin often and a lot is great for your baby and great for you and your husband as you both continue to bond.

This is also the time when you will start to master the “latch”.  The ever, so important, latch.  It must by deep, it must be great, it must be. . . you get the idea.  But in all honesty, if you look at the latch, you might not see exactly what it’s supposed to look like.  What really matters is how it FEELS.  If you feel burning at the initial latch and it sends you through the roof, it needs adjusting.  If it hurts, it may need adjusting.  Breastfeeding should NOT hurt.  If it does, call a lactation consultant, go to a support group, do whatever you have to do to seek help from a professional.  Support early on can make all the difference.  If you wait, it could be difficult to reteach your baby how to latch properly.  Don’t believe anyone that says it’s “normal” for Bfing to hurt in the early days.  This is “normal” in the respect that most moms just deal with it, but it does not have to be, and should not be.  Please, DO NOT use a nipple shield unless under the close watch/advise of a IBCLC.  I have heard of midwives and nurses throwing these out to new moms as the saving grace when in reality they can be detrimental to the nursing relationship, causing it to end prematurely.  This should be an absolute last result (or better yet just pretend like they don’t exist).  I would even go as far as to questioning a lactation consultant if they suggest one.  Ask why, and what the plan is to get them off of it.  Many babies have great difficulty getting off one so please be very weary of this. (Sorry, I’ve just heard of too many moms getting them like lollypops at the dr’s office and it infuriates me!)

If your latch still seems to be painful, it may just take some time to “get it together”, as so graciously put by a nurse at my birthing center (loved her).  You’re both learning, and it will take practice.  And believe me, practice will make perfect.  (Maddy can now latch properly upside-downJ)

Our Lip Tie/Tongue Tie Journey:

Now as my little one was taking on BFing, we realized she was not able to empty my breast.  She was gaining fine and her latch seemed fine after her mouth grew, but as it turned out, she had a lip and tongue tie, class 2.5.  If caught early, this can be a little bit of a setback, but nothing you and your little can’t handle.

Tongue Tie Fact Sheet

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxTh2T4H6ZivMzY2Y1p0NFJWY00/edit

Tongue/Lip Tie Symptoms

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxTh2T4H6ZivWmlzOU9oT2xidTQ/edit

Every baby is different but as our story goes, she was gaining weight fine and the thought of getting her revised scared the shit out of me.  So naturally I waited and put it off.  I had chronic clogged milk ducts and had mastitis twice as a result.  In addition I had over supply and overactive let down.

Her latch was a little shallow and as a result her nursing was noisy and she clicked while eating.  With each click, unbeknownst to me, she was swallowing air, and this caused her to have gas, or commonly known as colic in her early weeks.  We would bicycle her legs and do everything we could to make her comfortable.

Lip/Tongue Ties are just emerging in the medical field and because of this is one of the many battles going on right now between the breastfeeding community and the medical field.  Madison had what they call a posterior tongue tie which some medical professionals refuse to acknowledge even exists.  Madison’s primary doctor said she was fine.  That breastfeeding should hurt in the early days, they said, so we went on our way.  Well thankfully I don’t like to take everything a doctor says as gold so I sought second opinions . . . from lactation consultants.  Two independent lactation consultants (internationally board certified is very important) that said she had a lip tie and pointed me in the right direction to a DENTIST that was certified and teaches professionals around the world how to diagnose them.  Dr. Kotlow in Albany, NY.  People come from all over the country to see him and I’m so thankful he was in my back yard (so to speak).  There are some that cut the ties, but Dr. Kotlow and the best way to do it is by laser.  So that’s what we did.  It sounds awful, but to be honest it is not bad at all.  It’s much less invasive than a circumcision and if I had another child I would do it again in a heartbeat.  The pain they feel is equivalent to a burn you get from eating a hot piece of pizza and burn the top of your mouth, and the risk of infection is nonexistent.  And most importantly, it saved our bfing relationship.  At month four, your body will regulate and your breasts will become less full and be exactly what your baby needs.  In my case though, that regulation would have meant a plummet in supply and an end to our journey.  This happens to many women with babies that have undiagnosed lip/tongue ties because they just don’t know it’s a possibility.  This is why I share this part of my story.  Not to scare you, just to let you know that it exists.  And if it happens, you will make it through to the other side and be on your way to a longstanding, successful, storyline.

The moment after the revision we were at the office of Dr. Kotlow as he handed Madison to me.  It was a quick 3min procedure and we waited less than 5.  He asked me to nurse her.  She was distraught so the breast (the breast that fixes all) was exactly what she needed.  I will never forget that latch.  For the first time in 11weeks, on December 15th, 2016, she latched and I felt what a true suck was supposed to feel like.  She was sucking before, but remember those hour long nursing sessions?  Because her latch was weak, she would fall asleep at the breast and take longer to get what she needed.  She was still gaining because I let her do what she needed to do to get her milk, even if it meant nursing for an hour straight. Well this was the first time I could feel milk coming out of all corners of my breast.  Don’t let anyone tell you, your baby is a “lazy” nurser because they fall asleep while nursing as you sit there unemptied from your nursing session with a sleeping babe.  Seek help and get to the root of the problem.  If they have a lip/tongue tie, they fall asleep because they can’t physically do it.  Their muscles are held back, and the anatomy of their mouth will not allow them to get a good latch and therefore a good, efficient suck.

One story of a baby that I know through a friend:  Her mother wasn’t really excited about nursing.  She used the tie as an out.  She was almost relieved that she could stop nursing because she couldn’t latch at all (the baby has a class 5 which means it’s tied all the way to the tip of the tongue).  Now at age 2 she has issues with solid foods and chokes on them which has made her a fearful eater and she will only eat mac and cheese (now labeled as a “picky eater” and they brush it off), and her overbite becomes more prominent as her facial features develop.  One of the IBCLC’s told me that her son was tongue tied and later on she had to spend thousands of dollars in orthodontia work that was painful for a 12 year old to endure, because back then the ties were so unknown.  She also has a tongue tie that is untreated as they are hereditary.  She also has symptoms as an adult including migraine and TMJ.  If she could go back and do it all over she would get herself and her son, now 14 years, snipped in a heartbeat.

Once Madison’s ties were fixed it was pretty much smooth sailing from there.  No more clogged ducts for me, her congestion pretty much went away, and so did her gassiness.

We began the work of practicing her new latch which was now more powerful and deeper.  No clicking and she became more efficient.  Hour nursing sessions were a thing of the past.

Finding our groove:

We went through growths spurts and sleep regression and everything in between.  The thing I always remembered during each phase was to just “ride the wave”.  Each week that came, I was introduced to a completely different baby.  Different likes, different dislikes.  I followed her lead.  Nothing is set in stone and she can change her mind on a dime.  One week she liked to sit and play in the rock and play, the next she’d hate it, then the next day she’s like it again; same with the bouncy seat.  And the vibration feature on the two was hit or miss too.  I remember I kept trying the vibration and she would squirm and grimace, as if to say, “Get this off me!”  Then one day, she sighed and acted like I had just turned on heaven.  It was the funniest thing.

One thing though, that did stay constant was being on me, being next to me.  The first three months of life are commonly known as the 4th trimester.  She was getting to know her new environment but I was still “home”.  She still would have rather be back inside, and was still adjusting to the idea of being outside the womb.  The Moby Wrap, skin to skin and breastfeeding made this transition from womb to the outside world a little less scary for her and a little more gradual.  One thing that made this easier for me, was learning to nurse while baby wearing.  Learn it, master it.  You can find a plethora of you tube videos on this.  And once you get it down you can walk through a mall (or a music festival or a beautiful outdoor strollJ) while nursing like it’s second nature (probably because it is just that, natural), hands-free and with no one even noticing.

As a breastfeeding mother, we created this bond you’ve heard of.  It’s something deep inside us that takes hold physically and emotionally.  In my experience this equates to literally shaking and wanting to crawl out of my skin when my baby cries.  This is why, for me, “cry it out” (CIO) or any variation thereof was simply not an option.  So that’s how we went about not really asking any questions about “Am I doing it right?” or worrying about what my friends were doing with their babies.  When I did decide to do some research, apparently this is called “Attachment Parenting”.  There are many proponents of this type of parenting in the professional field now but there is an entire history of how it went from completely natural since the dawn of time, and then became completely unthinkable, to now gaining some momentum again in our generation, that I find so fascinating.

Apparently it’s called “Attachment Parenting”:

Just from memory of what the combination of things I have read it sort of goes like this:

The human species is the smartest of all species, as you know.  We also sleep together.  This combination has lead us to evolve into a species that is the most venerable of all mammals at the time of birth, due to the size of our hips being narrow to accommodate our sleeping, thereby making it necessary to give birth to infants that have smaller head circumference with brains that are the least developed compared to all newborns in the animal kingdom.  When a baby is born, their brain is less than 30% of their future adult brain.  We are also called “carrying mammals” which means our mothers carry us everywhere.  Our breastmilk makeup accommodates that and is one of the reasons we need to breastfeed often as an infant (that and the size of our stomach is the size of a small pea).  In comparison to deer which are nesting mammals that leave their young in the nest while they go off in search of food.  Their milk is higher in fat content to accommodate leaving their young for long periods of time.  In addition, a baby isn’t supposed to cry.  In the Stone Age a crying baby was dangerous as it attracted predators.  We as a human race have gotten away from this notion unfortunately but, slowly, people like us are paving the way for this to become the norm once again.

In the 1800’s a group of doctors decided that babies were dangerous to touch for fear of spoiling them.  An author of a book during that time that became wildly popular said rocking your child was an “unnecessary and vicious practice”.  This was around the same time that the crib was invented because the basinet or basket used to keep babies close would make it too enticing to a mother to touch their baby throughout the night.  The mentality around parenting was to not let a baby change your lifestyle or your schedule and make them adhere to your life, not the other way around.

Thankfully, there have been some heavy hitters in the attachment parenting realm.  Dr. Sears became widely popular in the 1980’s and is a huge proponent and also some psychology professionals as well.  Of course there are still some on the other side that are referred to as behaviourist in the psychology sector.  One thing I have learned in all my research is that you can find anything on the Internet to suit what you want to hear.  What I have tried to do is read them all (literally) and decipher what I feel works with my lifestyle and what my heart says is right.  I read the other side or the behaviorist’s opposition to bed sharing, sure, but when I read and get through all the muck it just doesn’t feel natural to leave my baby to cry in her crib.  It doesn’t feel right to try and force her to be on a feeding schedule.  How did nature intend for this all to work?  If the Internet wasn’t here, what would my instinct tell me to do?  It would tell me to pick up my baby and feed her or nurse her whenever she wants.  And there is plenty of research showing how that is the most beneficial way of doing it.

There are studies that show that bed sharing prevents SIDS.  I also look to European countries and their way of life a lot of the time.  They, from what I have found, are more in line with my style of parenting and appreciating nursing mothers and their babies.  The rate of bfing to full term (baby lead weaning) is higher while it’s less than 29% of US women that exclusively breastfeed their babies to 6 months as recommended by WHO.  I also go by World Health Organization, or WHO that recommends babies be exclusively breastfeed to 6 months of age and breastfed to at least 2 years of age.

There are also psychology studies that show that answering a baby’s cries and accommodating their needs, while it’s tough and demanding in the beginning of their life, actually makes them more independent as they get older contrary to what you might think.  It teaches them that if they cry, someone will be there.  If they need anything, their parents will be there.  Leaving a baby to cry in the infant stages or even throughout toddlerhood teaches them that if they cry or need something later in life it’s not certain that they will receive the help they need, in turn, making them insecure and fearful of the outside world and insecure in their adult relationships.

I feel I can attest to this as I have watched Madison grow into an adorable little 14 month old with confidence and a kind spirit.  I’m overcome with joy and pride as she walks into a crowded room ahead of me (knowing I’m there if she needs me) and smiling strangers or semi familiar faces.  If a baby cries she will show empathy for that child and look at me to help them (which is adorable because half the time we’re in public and I obviously can’t help every crying baby at the mall).

It has also been proven that human touch helps speed up development, and the confidence they gain from their caregivers being near and close has been shown to allow them to be early walkers and crawlers.  Walking, as part of their development, has a lot to do with having the confidence to try.  Madison walked at 10 months old.

The beginning of our attachment parenting really started at the very beginning of her life and really became apparent that it was the way for us when we started bed sharing (not to be confused with co-sleeping where they are in a basinet next to the bed).  Bed sharing, or having her sleep next to me, touching me, in my bed, has been proven to have scientific benefits when done safely and with a breastfeeding mother.  I, as the breastfeeding mother, helped to regulate her temperature and breathing.  In addition, our sleep cycles have become in sync.  When she is in a deep sleep, so am I; when she is in a light sleep, so am I.  There was a sleep study done on a baby with sleep apnea.  They stopped breathing several times throughout the night while alone in a crib.  But when the same sleep study was done while the baby was next to their mother, the baby’s breathing patterns regulated and they breathed normally.  And lastly, the breastfeeding success rates of mothers that bed share are higher and their supply is higher as they are able to breastfeed on demand throughout the night.  They are also less likely to need to supplement.  I say all this because for Maddy and me, I believe this is how we were able to go so long, especially as a working mother.

As a mother that works full time, bed sharing is our way of reconnecting after a long workday.  In addition Madison still wakes to nurse.  There is nothing wrong with her, and there is nothing wrong with any baby that wakes at night to nurse.  Nursing meets many more needs than just food.  If they are scared, confused, need a cuddle or hungry just to name a few.  Also, no two boobs are made the same.  If you end up pumping, you might get 9oz, or you might get 2oz. As this article explains more (https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/does-your-older-baby-still-need-night-feedings-0) some breasts have a smaller capacity and that’s totally normal.  Mine happen to be on the smaller side so it requires that Madison eat throughout the day and night to meet her quota.  This was also another reason why I refused to “sleep train” my baby.  It has been shown that sleep training babies that wake at night can cause the mother’s supply to plummet and the baby to lose weight.  Any mom that nurses their baby at night do not all bed share that’s completely fine. Just for us, it was the most natural, the most restful way we were able to accommodate her needs.  Madison has never needed to cry at night to let me know she wanted to breastfeed.  She simply turns her head and latches on.  Neither one of us are awakened from our peaceful slumber.

Mothers that “night walk” often are exhausted from the act of having to wake up completely to meet their baby’s needs.  Both mother and baby have to wake up completely each time the baby has to nurse, and also makes it more difficult for the baby and mother to go back to sleep.  Bed sharing alleviates all the fuss.  I had a diaper station at my bedside as well for each time she needed a new diaper throughout the night.  At about 3 months though, she stopped needing a new one overnight and I change her first thing in the morning.  As for Eric’s position on the whole baby in the bed scenario, he’s completely on board.  Why?, you ask, well a baby not crying at night is a good thing for all involved J.  Here is one of my favorite articles about attachment parenting and your relationship: http://themilkmeg.com/how-to-combine-attachment-parenting-with-a-marriage-or-partnership/ .

Pumping

Per my IBCLC I started pumping once a day at 4 weeks to build up a supply for when I went back to work.  Don’t be alarmed if you only get a couple of oz your first few pumps.  We were told we only needed to get about 30oz of a stash, if that, to be ready to go back to work.  Some mothers only make enough for one workday and then just pump and use as the days go on.  Each day you’re away from you LO you will pump what they will use the next.  We got our 30oz stashed up and never used it so I ended up donating it, which can also be a great thing to do.

Pumping is not indicative of your supply.  Your baby is much more efficient than a pump and a mother’s body reacts better to your baby than a plastic thing plugged into a wall.

I started pumping once a day and in the morning because the milk producing hormone, prolactin, is higher in the mornings.  Once I got the hang of pumping I did it in the evenings for convenience sake.  Just once a day for 15 minutes on each side.  When you start offering a bottle this is also a great time for Dad to offer it while you pump in the evenings.  At first I only got maybe an oz but as time went on and by the time I went to work, I could get 4oz per session and that’s still what I’m able to get now.  A pumping session should be every 3 hours if you are away from your baby and you should produce about 1-1.5oz for every hour that you are away.  Or if your baby is taking a bottle of expressed breastmilk you should pump to replace that feeding.

Bottle feeding

This is also all they will need when you are away from them, 1-1.5oz of breast milk for every hour you are apart.  If you are told they need more, make sure they are pace feeding (link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH4T70OSzGs).  You will also never need to change the flow of your baby’s bottle.  You should always use the 0-3mo slow flow nipple.  As a breastfed baby, they will always need to suck to get breast milk from your breast and therefore should always need to suck from the bottle nipple.  This ensures that they will not get nipple confusion or get frustrated at the breast because they get use to not having to suck at the bottle.  You want the bottle to be as close to the breast as possible.  We had a little bit of a battle with this with our daycare. They asked me and pushed me to move to the faster flow nipple.  I caved once and changed it but she became increasingly fussy at breast, so I changed it back after talking with my support group.  They reminded me that the flow of my nipple will never change, so neither should the bottle.  Made sense.  Once I changed it back not without objection from my daycare of course, she was back to normal.  As it turned out, the daycare just didn’t want to spend the time waiting for her to drink her bottle slower.  I’ve learned that I have to be my baby’s advocate in these situations, and though it may have been hard, I’m glad I stood my ground.  A woman in the support group told me that she made her change at the request of her daycare and their breastfeeding relationship suffered and ended shortly thereafter.                      

Our bottle using had a little bit of bumpy start thought and I’d even say this may have been harder than breastfeeding for us.  We offered her the first bottle at 4 weeks under the advice of our IBCLC, but at 6 weeks she flat out refused.  As it turns out, at 4 weeks old their brain is not developed enough to make a decision.  They are simply taking the bottle because it has milk and they need milk to survive – so they’re going on instinct.  Well at around 6 weeks they develop the ability to decide if they like the yucky plastic nipple compared to mommy’s warm cozy breast.  I mean, what would you choose?!  The first three weeks I was back to work, Maddy did not drink anything while I was away from 8am-5pm (maybe an oz here and there) though I did nurse her at lunch luckily.  She was 9 weeks old.  (I went back too early.  Side note – take whatever you can for maternity, believe me).  Anyway, she “reverse cycled”.  That means she flipped her days with her nights and slept all day and had a party at the boob all night long.  This was when bed sharing became a thing in our household and when I started doing research on all the benefits.  I basically was exhausted and had to function at work.  She was always next to me in the co sleeper before I went back to work, but this is when the co sleeper became the bed rail (it attached to the bed don’t worry). Back to the bottle:  She eventually took it with the help of the daycare providers and after trying nine, yup NINE, different bottles.  Just in case your LO does this, some tips I’ve learned are as follows:

Best bottles we found: Playtex with the plastic insert liners.  They collapse mimicking the breast collapsing when they suck.  Also, we got the Playtex variety pack of nipples and tried a new one each day.  It’s a pack of four different nipples that fit the same bottle.  This is nice so she could see which one she liked and we didn’t have to buy a ton to figure it out.  The winner ended up being the “Breast Like Shaped” Nipple (go figure J).  Links here: Bottles and LinersNipple Variety Pack.

In conclusion

So.. I just threw a TON of information at you, I know.  Basically everything I could remember I tried really hard to get down.  At least the things I’m passionate about and what, I believe, gave us the tools for success.

But after all my soapbox rants, and experiences thus far what I’m left with is this:

Breastfeeding after you get into your groove is EASY.  It is the most convenient thing I have ever done when it comes to parenting.  I don’t need anything to feed my baby.  Literally.  Nothing.  No bottles.  No formula, no money to buy such things, no sterilizing, no work whatsoever.  All my baby needs is me.  That’s IT.  JUST. . . me.  It’s a powerful and weightless feeling almost.  No pressure of how am I going to feed her.  Even at 14mo’s.  She doesn’t NEED food.  We’re only JUST starting to transition to solids being her main source of nutrition and if she’s sick and doesn’t feel like eating, that’s ok.  She has me.  Breast milk is full of nutrients that formula can’t even touch.  Pedialite that doctors will recommend when your lo is sick is NOTHING compared to your breast milk.  It’s 80% water and 20% gold – antibodies, fats, etc. and each time she nurses she “orders” exactly what she needs.  Her saliva goes into your body and your body then produces exactly what she needs at that moment in her life at that time.  It’s specific to your baby.  There is nothing on this earth that is more tailored.

Traveling?  All you need is your baby, and all they will need is you.  I remember my mother being so perplexed when I was packing everything for Maddy when we went to Alabama and Dallas.  “What about your pump?  What about your bottles?!” she asked with this worried face.  “She’s got me.” I replied.  I still don’t think she could even comprehend that I wasn’t bringing ANYTHING with us to feed our baby.  “So you’ll just feed her?”  It’s funny to look back at her reaction.

So sure, getting into your groove might come with its challenges, (and please know that Madison and I have had more than most), but once you get there, it’s truly the best thing you will ever do.

I at the beginning of our journey thought it was weird to nurse a baby past 3 months.  I thought it was scary to nurse a baby with teeth.  I thought it was strange to nurse a baby that could sign “milk” to me when she wanted to nurse, but honestly now. . . I dread the day that she doesn’t.

I truly hope you find value in this.  And I wholeheartedly wish you success, and I know you will have it.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. F Ford says:

    Thank you for all this info! This is great stuff for new moms here. Heck, it’s a lot of great stuff for me, and my dude is 16 months old this week. (How I wish I had read it earlier! We probably would have seen Kotlow earlier.) One question I’ve got to ask: the stretches I have been hearing about, for after his lip and tongue tie procedure – how bad are they? (Or do you even remember? If not, it might mean they aren’t too bad, right?)
    TIA and thanks for sharing it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Libby says:

      I’m so glad you’ve found this helpful! I wish I had this to read too! As for the lip tie & tongue tie revision stretches, yes, they are not fun and they do hurt. For Maddy, at 11wks old, we had a rough few days and even a quick nursing strike post revision. But by the end of the 1st week, we were getting the hang of it (or well, I was). I learned to get them done as quickly as possible and got better at “putting my game face on” when it came time to do them. You have to put your momma bear pants on and get done what needs getting done. Then, after a few times, she would nurse right afterwards and it would soothe her immediately. The cry was always there when performing stretches but gradually became shorter lived (thanks to booby magic) and she recovered quicker and quicker. Someone compared the pain to a hot pizza burn. The first few days we did use the recommended dose of Tylenol and a tiny bit of the numbing gel provided by Dr. Kotlow. The revision experience might be completely different for an 11 month old, so take all his advice, and work closely with a lactation consultant (even via text) while going through the motions. In looking back, the revisions were awful but they were short lived. 3xs a day (morning, noon, and night) for 2wks and we were done. I fed her with a cup of expressed breast milk for the short lived nursing strike that lasted the evening of the revision and I didn’t do stretches until the following day because she was in so much pain already. The morning after the revision we got busy with stretches and stuck with it until the end. The last thing you want is for it to reattach and have to go through it all over again. 🙂 You can do it! And it will be so worth it in the end. There are a whole host of problems you will solve for him that go well beyond nursing and even babyhood. ❤

      Like

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