Wednesday, December 14, 2011

breastfeeding doesn't suck

**Warning: This post is about all things breastfeeding,  so if you don't want to read about it then don't!! 

I've been meaning to do a post on my thoughts and advice on breastfeeding for quite some time now, but I just keep putting it off.  Since we are nearing the half-way mark of my goal {one year} I figured I better get on it!!  This post is all about my experience with breastfeeding and some of my favorite things.  I want to share this so that it can possibly help others to be successful with breastfeeding too!

I thought I would start this post off with a funny video I saw when Pearson was first born!!
My Mom was extremely successful with breastfeeding me and my brothers, so before I was even pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed my children someday.  I really wanted it to work for me so I spent lots of time talking to my Mom about it, asking other Mom's questions, reading about it, and going to classes about it.  You would think that since breastfeeding is so natural that it would be easy, but let me tell you......It is not easy!!  It eventually gets easy, but it is very difficult in the beginning.  I had an extremely hard time in the beginning and came across just about every problem you can have with breastfeeding.  I told my Mom multiple times that if I wasn't so passionate about being successful at breastfeeding I would have already quit.  There were lots of times in the first few weeks where I could totally see why people quit breastfeeding so early. I hope that if you are a new Mom or a Mom to be that this post will help you be successful with breastfeeding.  If you have any questions please let me know!!

Here's my 5 pieces advice on breastfeeding......

1.  Educate yourself on breastfeeding.

  • Don't be afraid to talk to a nursing Mom about breastfeeding.  I would say most nursing Moms aren't shy about it and actually would love to talk about it. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions.
  • Read books about breastfeeding.  I read Nursing Your Baby By:Karen Pryor & Gale Pryor and on a lighter note I read If Your Boobs Could Talk By: Shannon Payette Siep & Adrienne Hedger {So funny!}
  • Go to a breastfeeding class at your hospital and drag your husband to it.  It was a 3 hr night class and we learned so much.  They gave lots of great handouts that I used a ton when I was first breastfeeding. I was glad that Matt walked away knowing all of the same information.  It was helpful in the beginning to have Matt remind me of some of the things we learned in our class.

2.  Invest in good bras.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I could already tell that my boobs were getting bigger.  I was uncomfortable in my regular bras so I decided to go ahead and invest in nursing bras to wear the remainder of my pregnancy.  I bought 4 bras at Motherhood Maternity and 1 at Target.  I loved the one from Target to sleep in and wear around the house, but it was not a good daily bra.  I decided to wear just one of my Motherhood Maternity bras for daily wear until after I had Pearson, and I'm so glad I only wore one, because I ended up hating it for nursing and took the other 3 back.  All of the Motherhood Maternity bras have underwires, and you aren't supposed to wear underwires while you are nursing.  Also, because they have underwires, they don't unhook and fold down easily which is so annoying when you are trying to nurse.

Here is a list of the nursing wear that I have and love....
The Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra {purchased at A Mother's Gift in Plano Presby}
This is my favorite bra, I wear it just about everyday.  It's super comfortable to nurse in, but it looks great under your clothes too.  It has great support and it actually feels like you are wearing a real bra.

The Bliss Nursing Bra {purchased at A Mother's Gift in Plano Presby}
This is my second favorite bra.  I wear this one during the day and in the beginning I wore it at night as well.  It doesn't have as much support as the first bra, but it still okay to wear with clothes as it has privacy pads in it.  It so soft and smooth that it feels fine to sleep in it as well.

Target Nursing Sleep Bra {purchased at Target}
This was the first nursing bra that I bought.  I bought it before I had Pearson to have a bra in the hospital.  It worked great for the hospital, but there is no support and it is very thin.  When I sleep in a bra now, this is usually the bra I wear.

Seamless Convertible Strap Nursing Cami {purchased at Motherhood Maternity}
Love, love, love these tanks.  I have one in black and white.  Before breastfeeding I almost always wore a tank over my bra just so you couldn't see my bra through my shirt.  Well, it's kind of annoying to wear a tank and a bra when you are nursing, so this is the perfect tank because it's a nursing tank that feels like a bra. There isn't a ton of support, but it doesn't just feel like you are wearing tank.  You actually feel like you are wearing a bra.  It's great because you can just let it hang out the bottom of your shirts like it's a tank and you can even cross the straps in the back if you want to wear something razor back!  I haven't found a razor back nursing bra, so this was perfect for me this summer!!

**If you live near Plano Presby, you can go to A Mother's Gift and get fitted for nursing bras.  It's best to go after your milk comes in because that is when they can measure your true size. If you are delivering at Plano Presby, you can get 20% off of all their bras.  The ladies that work there are so knowledgable and super helpful.  I highly recommend A Mother's Gift.

3.  Be prepared with breast care supplies.
Lansinoh Lanolin

This stuff works miracles.  Pack it in your hosptial bag and apply it after EVERY.SINGLE.FEEDING whether you think you need it or not.  Trust me you do not want cracked/bleeding nipples.  It's extremely painful.  You don't have to wipe it off for the baby to nurse and just know that it is very greasy and it does stain your bras.  If you don't want to stain your bras be sure to wear nursing pads underneath your bra. 

Lansinoh Nursing Pads

 I used these nursing pads when I was still using lanolin.  They are disposable and very comfortable and discrete. I think most nursing Moms have to wear nursing pads for a while so that they don't leak, but I have never had problems leaking so I don't wear nursing pads.  

Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads

 These little guys are expensive but I highly recommend them. .  When your nipples are extremely sore in the beginning these gel pads feel so good.  They have a cooling effect that really helps take the pain away. You can only reuse them for a day or so, but they are so worth it. 

4. Invest in a pump.

Pump In Style-Advanced Backpack
This is the pump that I have.  I bought it used from a friend and then bought all new parts (about $25).  Sadly it's on it's last leg and isn't very efficient.   But it does work if I need it too. I mainly used my pump in the beginning when I had really sore nipples.  I would feed on one side then pump on the other to give one side a break each feeding.  I also used it when I got clogged milk ducts.  I would feed Pearson then pump and massage my breast to try and get the clog out.  I don't know what I would have done without my pump in the first few weeks.  If you plan on going back to work, I recommend buying one of the nicer pumps.  If you are planning on staying at home, I don't think it is neccesary to have a fancy pump.  If I would have had to purchase a brand new one, I think I would have just bought a single electric pump. I hate pumping, so I rarely use my pump.  It  is just not necessary for me to have a fancy one if I don't even use it.  Also, know that you don't have to buy a pump before you have your baby.  You can rent from the hospital then when you decide if you need one, and if you do need one, whether you need a simple one or a nice one.  I have heard of plenty of people that buy a $350 pump then 6 weeks later quit breastfeeding and have a pump they barely used.
I used these Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage bags.  I used a few other kinds and these were my favorite.  {Just a tip, when you freeze your breastmilk, lay bag down flat like a pancake to freeze.  After it is frozen, you can stack them up easier to store in the freezer than if you freeze it like the picture above.}

5. Don't give up.
Breastfeeding can be very hard in the beginning, but it DOES get easier.  I promise.  It's frustrating when you feel like you don't know what you are doing, your baby doesn't know what they are doing, you are in pain, and you don't even know if your baby is getting enough to eat, but don't quit.  If you can get through the first 4-6 weeks, you'll start to feel like you know what you are doing and after that, it just gets easier and easier.  If you are feeling frustrated or feel like quitting, call someone and get help.  I called my Mom, my friends and the lactation nurses at my hospital plenty of times. Not only is breastfeeding best for your baby, but it's free, convenient and so rewarding.  It's worth trying to stick it out.

If I can help you in anyway, please let me know!!

And I'll leave you with this.....
10 reasons why breastfeeding doesn't suck.
{via The Bump}
1. You'll feel far less crazy (we promise!)
A study of postpartum mamas found that those who breastfed their babies showed far less anxiety and more mutuality at one month postpartum than those who didn't.
2. It lowers the risk of childhood cancers
One study found the risk of childhood cancer in formula-fed children was 2-8 times that of long-term breastfed children. The risk for short-term formula feeders was 1-9 times that of long-term breast feeders.
3. ...And breast cancer in mamas!
Get this: If women who breast fed for less than 3 months were to stick it out for 4 to 12 months, breast cancer among parous premenopausal women could be reduce by 11%. And if they stayed with it for 24 months or longer, those risks could be reduced by nearly 25%.
4. Smart kids rule
Studies show that breastfed babies have significantly higher IQs by 8 years old than babies who didn't breastfeed -- even after adjusting the stats for differences between groups and Mom's educational and social class.
5. You could save on braces
The longer you breastfeed, the lower the liklihood that baby will suffer from malocclusion -- aka a fancy word for misalignment of the teeth and dental arches.
6. It cuts down on childhood obesity
Breastfeeding has long been tied with reducing the rate of childhood obesity, regardless of Mom's diabetes or weight status.
7. Allergies and ailments are no biggie
Respiratory wheezing, influenza, diarrhea, allergies, and eczema are way less common in breastfed babies -- think about all those trips to the doc you won't have to make!
8. It saves lives -- and government money!
If just 90% of US mamas breastfed exclusively for 6 months, not only would an estimated 900 babies live, but the United States would save $13 billion per year. (Yep, $13 BILLION.)
9. Oh, and it'll save you a ton of cash, too
Believe it or not, formula supplies for just six months can cost upwards of $1,000.
10. You'll fit into your skinny jeans faster!
Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories a day. Yes, really. Need we say more?

**If you are/were a nursing Mom, feel free to chime in your advice in the comments!! I'm sure new Moms and Moms to be would love the advice!


The Roberts' said...

I would like to add... you will hear that it is normal to feel pain for a couple of weeks in the beginning, which I still assume is true, HOWEVER, if it is intense pain, specifically shooting pains through to your shoulder blades, go to the doctor! Thrush hurts SO bad. I didn't realize it was more than normal pain until Elliot was 5 weeks old, & it took a couple more weeks for it to heal. OUCH!!!

Also, it's okay to not like it! I didn't. But I breastfed for a year because I knew it was best for Elliot! I'm glad I made it that long but I'm also glad to not be doing it anymore. :)

The Links said...

I agree Courtney, if it is an unbearable amount of pain. Call your doctor. It's normal to be in pain, but there is a point where if it hurts too bad, the baby is not latching on right or in your case, you had thrush.

And thanks for sharing that you didn't love it. I know there are lots of times as a Mom that we feel alone in how we are feeling or what we are doing. I'm sure some Moms think they are weird if they don't love it, but you aren't the first person that I have heard say that, so I know that will be encouragement for a Mom that feels like she is doing something wrong if they don't love it.

Thanks for sharing your advice!!

leah p. said...

no kids yet, but i think i'd like to breastfeed my children some day. isn't that what your boobs are for? :)

Christine said...

Great post! Thanks for your nursing bra review. If we ever have a second baby, I definitely plan on investing in one really good nursing bra. I have a couple of underwire ones from MM that I wear for dates or special occassions, but for the most part I wear nursing sports bras that I got an MM (because they were cheap). I don't really love any of them, but they work for now and I'm almost done. Oh, and #s 1 and 10 from the list didn't really work so well for me, but that's just me. :)

Micah and Nicole said...

I got 2 nursing bras at Babies R Us of all places that are razor back. I wear them on a daily basis. They're good for daytime & night time. Also, K had trouble latching at first & I had to use a nipple shield. It worked wonders! So there's another tip for mom's who may be struggling. It helped him latch, and helped with the pain on my end.

Last piece of advice, I'd introduce a bottle for at least 1 feeding pretty early. I hate pumping & I'm home all day, so I never bothered with bottles. Now he doesn't like them. So I'm worried about the weaning process. I still want to nurse for a few more months, but I'm hoping we don't have a problem making the transition.

Carissa said...

Thanks for the advice Katy. I will be starting this process in July and I am kinda of nervous about it, so hearing your thoughts and struggles really helps. My mom wasn't able to breast feed because she just bled the entire time, so I am really hoping that I will be able to.

Christina said...

I LOVE breastfeeding, but I will admit, it was not easy at first. I had dry, cracked nipples which bled a bit until they healed, not to mention a plugged milk duct, as well as flat nipples. The first 2 weeks were the hardest, but it continually got better. I knew I had to stick it out and I'm so glad I did. Now, I'm dreading introducing solids b/c I don't want to reduce our breastfeeding sessions.

I knew I would be going back to work so I started looking around at different pumps. I was able to borrow the medela pump in style advanced backback pump from my sister and it is GREAT! I pump 3x/day. If you are going back to work, an electric pump is a must. I pump into 2 8 oz bottles (12 oz) during the day and when I get home I separate the milk into 3 4oz bottles.(I do this b/c the bottle carrying bag does not hold 3 bottles in addition to the ice pack). Going back to work knowing I had to pump was VERY daunting for me, but it is working great. Also, I know that there will come a day soon where I may have to travel for work so I have a stash of about 30 bags of frozen milk in the freezer ( I totally wish I had laid them on their side as you recommended b/c they do take up a lot of room....luckily we have a freezer in the garage for this). I pump many times before I go to bed to either add to this stash or supplement what I was not able to pump during the day.

Breastfeeding is so important for your baby that I am considering donating to a milk bank so that babies in hospitals who cannot breastfeed for various reasons can still receive breast milk. I encourage/challenge all breastfeeding moms to donate milk:

The Links said...

Christine- You definitely need to invest in one of these bras if you guys have another!! I love mine!!

Nicole- I'm glad you shared about the nipple shield. I did not use one because it actually hurt worse to use one. I had also heard from some friends that it was hard to "wean" your baby off the shield if you used it all the time. So I think it works for some and doesn't for others!! Also, I TOTALLY agree about introducing a bottle early. We gave Pearson his first bottle at 4 weeks and he did great going back and forth. I gave probably 1 bottle a week just because we always seemed to have something where I was away from, we had friends over and we were out and about and I just didn't want to stop and nurse. He did great until about a month ago. I accidently went about a month without giving him a bottle and now he doesn't like them. If he is absolutely starving, he'll give in and take it, but he doesn't take it easily like he used to.

The Links said...

Christina- I had all the same problems that you did. They gave me some "breast-shields" that helped pull my nipples out and also I pumped in the hospital to help with that.

I am just like you, I love breastfeeding. It really is so rewarding to know that you are providing everything your baby needs for the first 6 months. I think it is SO awesome that you have been able to continue nursing while you are working. That is a huge accomplishment meant. I know a lot of Moms quit when they have to go back to work, because it just gets too hard. So go you!!!

Don't dread introducing solids. Peasron has been having solids for about 3 weeks now and I am still nursing him 5 times a day as well as giving him 3 meals a day. I think he is defnitely taking in less, but I haven't dropped any feedings yet.

The Fenner's said...

Congrats on your half way mark.:) That's very exciting, I can't believe he is 6 months already!

Something that I don't think a lot of people talk about, especially in the classes is that not everyone can breastfeed. I know that they say that our bodies are made to do it, but for some, it just doesn't happen. Despite doing everything this time around, Fenugreek, mother milk pills, pumping, Graham having a perfect latch, nursing every hour, nothing provided me with enough milk to keep my babe healthy ( and not attached to me ALL THE TIME!:)) I tried exclusively pumping, but could get no more than 1.5 oz( combined) after 45 min. I even bought a new pump this time, a madela freestyle!:) So this obviously doesn't pertain to you because you have been successful, it's more for those who might be about to venture into the world of nursing or others who are also having trouble with supply. It happens. Do what you can and don't stress! Formula WILL NOT hurt your baby. My first was formula fed for 11 months( because of supply issues), and hasn't had any problems:) Don't let people think you are a failure!:) A happy mom makes a happy baby!:)

PS: No trick to get my boys to sleep longer, Dylan has never been an early bird, and Graham is waking up at 12 or 1, then again at 4, and sleeping 4-5 hour stretches so it just happens he doesn't get up until 8:30ish!:)

The Days said...

Thanks for posting Katy! I am 32 weeks along and was actually just making my list of must-buys before our little man arrives. I appreciate you being so specific and candid- what helpful advice!
- Lauren Day (not sure if you remember me, I was Ally Saxe's roomie at A&M)

Unknown said...

Great advice, but some mothers just can't breastfeed. Doesn't mean we don't try or don't want what's best for our baby. Various factors: flat nipples, not producing enough milk, stress. I spent many hours crying because I felt I couldnt provide nourishment for my baby in a natural way. Finally a dr told me ITS OKAY. I'm still a good mom, it doesn't mean my child won't be a genious or get cancer. I tried my hardest and it just wasn't happening. It is every ones personal choice but sometimes there is "mommy guilt" when you can't breastfeed. But, I have two smart, healthy children and that is all that matters.

The Adcock Home said...

Thanks for posting this. I plan on BF our little one, but I'm a little nervous with having to be on rotations. At my first appointment, my doctor's office gave me a bunch of brochures. One of them was for a BF class at the hospital. Super excited to go to the class.

The Links said...

The Fenner's & Unknown- Thanks for your input.

But I want new Moms too also know that the teacher of my breastfeeding class said that "just about every problem people have, there is a solution, you just have to be willing to stick it out to see if you can find the solution."

Like you both said some people just can't breastfeed, and I agree, but if you are super passionate, it's worth trying really hard. There are lots of resources to check out before you quit. And if you do have to formula feed.....I's no big deal! Your baby will be just fine!!

The Links said...

The Days & The Adcock Home- If you guys have any questions, let me know. I'd love to help.

And Lauren, I totally know who you are. Congrats on your baby boy!

The Adcock Home- Be sure to mention your concerns about rotations at your class, they can give you tips on how to make pumping work for you!

Holly said...

Hi Katy,
I wrote a comment a few days ago and then it "disappeared". Anyway, I'll try again. I've had two vastly different breastfeeding experiences. With Lydia, she did not latch on. When I took her for her first visit (3 days after she was born), she had already dropped 10% of her birth weight. I tried everything...breast shield, all advice...lactation consultant...I panicked and realized she needed to eat and I no longer had time to wait and talk to someone in a few, I started the journey of "pumping and feeding". I did that for six months because I thought breastfeeding was so important. The first time we gave her a bottle, she looked at us like, "Where has this been?" :) I was working full time at the time so it wasn't as stressful since I would have already had to pump. At home, it was a challenge if I didn't have a bottle on hand and had to pump while she cried. I did get to a point where I could pump quite a bit and stocked up.

With Lily, I was again determined to breastfeed. In the hospital, they had me try to nurse right after she was born. She latched on right away and has been the best little nurser ever. When I pumped with Lydia, I did have clogged ducts. With Lily, I have had no problems at all. She has not ever had a bottle - which I'm now thinking I'll pay for later - I was so nervous at the beginning that one bottle would ruin our breastfeeding (I know that's not the case, but having my experience with Lydia, I didn't want to risk it). My plan is to breastfeed until Lily is one. Both she and I enjoy it a lot.

Miss Lily is our last little peanut and I am thankful for this experience.

I will say that Lydia has been so healthy and I do think the breastmilk helped. Lily is too...

With these vastly different experiences, I will say that with Lydia, I don't think I could have gotten her to latch but with Lily it was so natural.

On a side note...
Three months after Lily was born, I got my first period (I know, I know...not supposed to but my body is big into routine :)). Anyway, when I ovulate, my supply dips and my nipples are on fire for about 5 days. After that, we're back to normal. When it first happened, I panicked and thought we were done. Then I read about it and found out what was going on. So, for anyone going through that, it is normal :)
Happy Nursing!