Breastfeeding is hard. I think it’s the one thing no one tells you just how hard and time consuming it is. Especially in the beginning and especially as a first time mom! Everyone is different and there are no wrong or right ways to do it. Fed is Best is the way we should be taught, but why is there so much out there that makes you think differently? We need to be more informed, supported & empowered!
We wanted to share both of our stories so that hopefully some insight can prevent you from feeling the stress from society and know that whatever way you choose to feed your baby…that way is the best way!
Jessica – I have a now 2 year old (well 2 yrs and 4 months, so a 28 month old haha – hate when people know the months, as I use my fingers to count over here!) I breast fed for 9 and a half months and I’m not sure what I will do with my next, but I can’t imagine doing so well with another kid running all around me! I went into breast feeding with the thought of “if I can, I will and if I can’t, I will be ok with that too”. You have no idea if you will be able to produce enough milk, if the kid will latch, if they won’t take your milk, etc. I also told myself I am not changing my diet because I love spicy food too much and god forbid I can’t put crushed red pepper on my food for the sake of my kid! I know that’s not nice, glad she didn’t mind, and I probably would have stopped the spicy if I needed to haha. So the first thing I had no idea about, besides how to do it, was that they’d be throwing your boob in that kid’s mouth the second they come out. Like “Hi nice to meet you, let’s take some pictures and then feed you”. You are tired and people want to see you, but any nurse will just touch you all over to show you how. I had friends and my sister in law visit helping me and that’s the last thing you want when people are visiting your room, but I didn’t and that’s probably selfish of me. Especially with your first kid, everyone wants to visit!
Then you go home with this tiny baby and just figure every time they cry you need to feed them – at least that’s what I did. I tried to have a schedule and tried to write everything down,”right side 5 mins, left side 7 mins” and so on to keep things even. Totally stopped writing things down quickly after that! After a few days or weeks, they are all the same, maybe around 4 weeks she wasn’t gaining weight and they had me put her on formula. I was sad because you think you failed, at least I did, and I had to keep telling myself how I went into it; if I can I can, if I can’t I can’t, but it was still hard. Well formula helped her gain the weight she needed, it helped so much she would sleep through the night. So anyone who knows us knows we now swear by it. I tell everyone to use formula at night to help a sleeping baby! I also used a nipple shield which for some reason is clear and my dog definitely ate over 10 of them. You could never find them when they were needed! I used this because, not totally sure other then people in my Willow’s mom group used them, but they helped! I also never got too much milk when I started to pump so wasn’t sure if I just didn’t get enough and that’s why she wasn’t gaining weight. I would take Fenugreek pills, lactation bars, would make overnight oats, lactation cookies and protein balls with oats in them. So let’s just say I smelt like maple syrup for a good 10 months! The good thing about formula, you can do it anywhere. I remember seeing Amber at the WIllow’s Mom Group and she would just make a bottle the second Kennedy cried while I’m over here trying to figure out how to do this under a sheet and get that nipple shield on without Cathy seeing 🙂
Breast Feeding isn’t for everyone and there is nothing wrong with formula! I never knew of mastitis before having it, got that twice. I also know how it feels to lose all the frozen milk in the freezer because the door was left open…I cried like someone died. I pumped in a janitor closet for a week at a trade show. I shipped milk back from a work trip, which if anyone has to do this, look into MilkStork.com, and expense it. Gone through security at the airport while they opened every milk pouch to test it. Went to London on a work trip, the voltage is different over there (fun fact), blew a fuse and the pump broke. I spent all night looking for a drug store, even calling hospitals for a pump. I stressed at work every time I had to pump, 3 times a day and still try and do the same amount of work as everyone else. I went to the breast feeding room at the Yankee Game and in airports – nice they have those. And when it was time to ween, I thought it would be so sad for both of us and then she got sick and we just stopped at the same time! It is a lot of work, it is worth it, and reading this reminds me that as stressful as it was, it makes for some great stories and lessons! #fedisbest
Amber – I have a now 2 1/2yr old girl and 4 1/2yr old boy. I remember when I was pregnant with Camden, every single person talked about how I would get no sleep and/or how the time with a newborn will fly by and enjoy the days while they are little. Literally no one told me how HARD breastfeeding was going to be…not one person. I was one of the first of my friends to have a child, and of course I asked my mom for advice, but my twin sister and I were in the NICU for 2 weeks after we were born, so we were only formula fed, and that was pretty common back in the 80s. When they laid him on my chest for the first time, you think that they will magically crawl right over to your boob and camp out – not the case. They are learning just as much as you are. The amount of nurses and doctors who come in and wrestle your boob and the baby is mind boggling, and with all the emotions of just pushing out a baby, how are you possibly going to remember all of these tricks when you go home tomorrow?!? Camden was not the best eater, even though my milk came in a couple hours after he was born. He lost about 6oz before we went home and then when we went in for his checkup he was getting close to having jaundice and was still losing more weight. I was pumping constantly to keep my supple up and trying to feed him, but he just cried and cried. Then, I discovered the nipple shield. The best invention ever, TMI – especially if you have small nipples. Things got better for Camden and it was easier to feed, but I wasn’t producing enough after all the time had gone by with him not being able to latch properly. Around 1 month, I was given formula to substitute while I still kept breastfeeding and pumping. Although feeling like a failure (who ever goes into motherhood thinking they wont be able to produce enough milk) is heartbreaking, I knew how happy he was after being fully fed. And everyone loves a happy baby. I breastfeed Camden and supplemented till around 4 1/2 months, right after I went back to work full time. I started pumping at work and then breastfeeding him at night. That got really frustrating really quickly. No where to pump in the office, people thought my boob milk in the fridge was weird – it was just a nightmare. I weaned pretty quickly, most likely from the stress of all of that. The milk just disappeared. I was really sad that those moments came to end, but OK with the decision and OK with the amazing Baby Breeza that I also came across at the same time. Warm formula bottles ready to go in 60 seconds?!? Count this mama in!
Kennedy was a whole different story. And if you had a hard time with your first, don’t expect things to go the same way with your second or third. She was the complete opposite of Camden. She crawled up to that boob and found my nipple right away – it was so crazy to me! The only issue I had those first few days was because Kennedy was early, my milk did not come in for 3 full days after she was born and she was starvinggggg at the hospital. I was only producing the liquid gold at that point, so at nighttime, we substituted with formula after breastfeeding and I was 100% OK with this. The look on her face from not getting enough food from me was enough to put my pride aside and feed the poor girl. Luckily the minute I got home, the milk came in and she was happy as could be. She would feed anywhere and I didn’t need a shield this time!! I was pumping in between feedings and this girl could eat – I remember she was eating about 3-4oz her two weeks and we nicknamed her piggy. The ease of her latching completely made me relax and look at breastfeeding a whole different way. More enjoyable this time and less stressful. I also was a second time mom, so I would prepare bottles before we went out just in case, and it just worked. Around 2 months, this one needed about 6-7oz to feel full and I was at most only producing 5oz. I was eating all the lactation cookies (thanks to Jessica’s recipes), throwing flaxseed and brewer’s yeast into smoothies and honestly – nothing helped. My body just could not produce as much as she needed. So, I started to feed her formula after I breastfeed and all was OK. Around 4 months, we were moving into my in-law’s while our house was under construction and I just easily and painlessly weaned her. I just didn’t feel right about having to hide under a blanket in front of a house of people, when before, at home, I was walking around with no bra on lol. I think this time letting her wean was a might more emotional because she really was so easy to feed. This is one of the last pictures I took of feeding her before we moved. After she was weaned, she was 100% formula fed. And the Baby Breeza came to the rescue again – that thing gave me 2 years of amazing, warm formula bottles for 2 kids and the sleep deprived mom was forever grateful.
Breastfeeding is a journey, and no journey is alike. We hope that by sharing our stories, you can relax a little bit and know that WHATEVER you do for your baby – that way is the right way. I always tell my friend’s this saying I heard… “No Kindergarten teacher will ever be able to tell who was breast fed and who was bottle fed. Just feed the baby”.
Happy Breastfeeding Mamas
xoxo Jessica and Amber