31 Days - Breastfeeding

October 13, 2015

We've hit the breastfeeding day of the month, and I'm probably the most excited about this one.

While this might not fall under crunchy in some places, it seems to where I live. Not many women nurse, and I've gotten some interesting comments about it over the past 7 months.

With that said, and all the ups and downs I've experience in the past months, I thought I'd share the tids and bits I've learned so far.

First up are two resources that have saved me many times, one being Kelly Mom. This is what I prefer for middle of the night freaking out. She is also a great resource for pumping.

The second one is what I listen to every single day on the way to work, The Boob Group podcast from New Mommy Media.

Between The Boob Group & a lactation consultant I was able to trouble shoot my way out of a very gloomy few weeks.

You see, it was all roses and sunshine until the end of the second full month when I had a major over production issue. I literally had every symptom in the books but was reaching for help in all the wrong directions.

The doctor was zero help and said the baby problems were due to colic.

I love my friends so don't get me wrong, but they hadn't experienced this and couldn't exactly trouble shoot. They just talked me off ledges.

Finally a good friend of ours directed me to a lactation consultant who immediately said over supply and in no time the problem was solved.

So without further rambling, here are my big lessons I've learned in breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Tips & Tricks

- Nipple Shields don't work for everyone. My sister used them and it set her in motion to have a great breastfeeding experience when her baby initially wouldn't latch, it also saved her nipple pain. I on the other hand couldn't get  the baby to latch onto it to save my life. If you can get the baby to latch to one it can potentially help with all the nipple issues that initially arise.

- Skip the lanolin. Skin allergies run in our group so I didn't want to touch the stuff, my sister was allergic to it as a baby. Instead I opted for an organic food grade alternative, Honest Company Nipple Balm. Coconut Oil works great too, and I've recently seen a new line called Zoe Organics released a similar product. I honestly never had chapped nipples for longer than maybe an hour in the early days thanks to Honest Company Nipple Balm. The entire reason I initially bought the stuff was simply because I didn't want the baby ingesting chemicals while nursing, it seems to be a bit counterproductive to me... and I didn't like the notion of having to wipe mess off every single time.

- Invest in a good nursing pillow. The Boppy has held up great for us.

- The first week of the baby's life lay around and cuddle your baby. Nurse on demand. You, yourself, hold and cuddle the baby. Babies can smell breastmilk from 50 feet away, you will more easily learn hunger cues if your baby is at your side and rooting around for your breast. I didn't do this and I regret it, I allowed other people to dictate what the baby was doing when I was too weak to get out of bed and do things myself. Next baby, that ain't happening.

- Your supply is at its highest the first 3 months. How much you nurse and what demand is put on your body has a big effect on your output in the coming months. My supply was at its highest the first 3-4 months. Over the summer I took a break from pumping while I was off work and that mixed with a baby who dropped middle of the night feeds caused my supply to drop big time (as far as pumping output was concerned). It took quite a bit of time to get it back up to where I wanted it to be.

- That brings me to my next point…there is a lot of mixed opinions on whether or not to night pump after your baby drops the middle of the night feed. For myself it hurt my supply during the day. Without the extra demand my body quit making as much, it would have been great had I stayed home (there would have been zero need to night pump) but returning to work meant that I needed X amount of milk to send to the sitter daily. I tried setting and alarm and not setting an alarm, pumping for 10 minutes & going until the flow stopped…I finally decided what worked best for me was setting an alarm. Your supply is at its highest between 1-5AM, and I’ve found that pumping at 2:30 every morning is my ideal time. It allows me enough time to go back to sleep and enough time to build up what I need for that pumping session.

- There is what I’ve considered the unicorn of breastfeed/pumping that I finally achieved at 7 months and that’s the double letdown. When it finally happened for me it was in the middle of the night during a pumping session and I just kept pumping because the milk kept coming, it was a record pumping session! I’ve honestly seen my response to the pump and my output increase once that happened.

- My big tip for pumpers is to do the same thing every single time. I hear a lot of women say that they could just never let down for the pump, and that’s because you have to treat it like the baby. When you nurse your body recognizes the baby, or at least you do, and you let down. There are telltale signs for every woman, some include crying. Many women like to watch videos of their baby to induce letdown, I’ve found that doing the same thing every time works for me. I either read a book or work on whatever bible study I’m currently on. If I don’t…I don’t let down.

- If your supply plummets you can get it back, there is hope. So many mamas quit when it seems to vanish one day but there is so much playing into it that you do have options! First and foremost up your fluid intake, water is #1 but Gatorade and Powerade are great if you’re a bit dehydrated. (Trust me I understand, I’m not a huge drinker and can easily become dehydrated) Coconut water is another great liquid if you’re trying to boost supply. Your intake for the day should be half of your body weight in ounces, at the least. Next up find your supplements, I like brewer’s yeast and fenugreek. The downside of both is that they make you super hungry, but they will boost your milk supply in no time. For fenugreek take 2-3 capsules at every meal (3 times a day), when you and the baby both start smelling like maple syrup in 72 hours you know you’ve had enough. Don’t take fenugreek for more than a few days in a row at a time. I like making cookies out of brewer’s yeast and will just chomp on several of those for a week. Another favorite to increase supply is to start power pumping, I prefer to just pump an extra 15 minutes after the baby has finished nursing though. Oh oatmeal! How could I nearly pass this stuff up, eat it for breakfast and if you’re feeling low eat a bit before bedtime as well. It’s a miracle food.

- If oversupply ever becomes a problem (baby choking while nursing, spraying milk, green poop) start block feeding. That basically means only feeding the baby from one side per nursing session. If your letdown becomes too aggressive take the baby off and let down into a burp cloth to prevent baby from choking. If you want to take advantage of the oversupply you can pump out the other breast and start storing that milk for later. If not within a few days you will see your supply level out. It may be painful, but if need be pump for a few minutes just to release the pressure. If you don’t want to do that and then clean a pump you can always hand express a bit out. Do be careful to not get a plugged duct though, I had a nasty fever one night when I was trying to correct my oversupply due to plugged ducts.

I don’t think I’ve covered everything I could have, but this post is getting long and at the moment my mind has gone blank. I’d love for everyone to share their nursing tips in the comments below, I always love hearing your ideas!