Let’s Talk Breastfeeding 🐮
I have been asked lately a lot about breastfeeding. I felt there was a lot to share with first time moms and moms who want to make it work. So I decided to share my personal experience, some tips and tricks about breastfeeding with both my babies, I hope they will help you with your journey.
First of all I want you to know that I am a supporter of best is fed and that every mother will do her best for her child whether she chose to breastfeed or not! Her boobs, her choice. We shouldn’t even expect a mother to explain why she had to stop or not do it at all! At the same time, I am a big fan of breastfeeding your child because it has a lot of benefits that im sure you already know about.
My experience with Toufic wasn’t easy! I can say it was hard for the first three months! I wanted to quit every day! I had a lot of complications with latching, cracked nipples, and unbearable pain! The first week, I had to supplement with formula once per day just to rest my breasts! I was in so much pain that I had to take painkillers and just couldn’t even touch them. (You might not experience this, it might be extremely easy for you) I was lucky enough to get full support from my mom and my husband's sister who kept on telling me “it will get better” “wait till he’s 2 months” and they were right, everything got better and I finally experienced the “you’re gonna fall in love with it” after HATING it! No, you’re not gonna fall in love with breastfeeding right away and feel this “connection” people talk about! It will take you some time to like it. With Lynn it was different, I was more experienced and knew exactly what to expect. But still, I remember when the first feed, I felt I didn’t have enough energy to do it!
Please note, that the below is based on my personal experience and choices! You might not go through exactly the same, you might still hate breastfeeding after 3 months, you might have complications that I didn’t go through. I’m not a breastfeeding consultant, but with two kids, I kind of became an expert about it. So this is how I did it with some tips, tricks, and rules to be a successful journey like mine.
In the article below, and not in the same chronological order, I covered the following (based on my personal experience): phases of breastfeeding, the hard part, and the easy one, cracked nipples and how to heal them, how to maintain a good supply, how to lose weight without compromising your milk supply, growth spurt, confusing growth spurt with hunger, pumping, and pumps, storing your milk and more. Regarding weaning, since I’ve been asked to write about, I will share my experience and some of my friends, because honestly, it was extremely easy for me since I weaned Toufic at 8 months. (which is easier than weaning at an older age) but of course the longer you breastfeed the better it is!!
Here we go :
1) You need to know that the first weeks are the hardest, you are extremely tired and sleepless, your body didn't adjust yet on your new sleeping routine, your nipples are hurting and baby needs to eat every three hours. Your milk might not come in directly (this is when everything gets easier), first you will get colostrum it’s what baby will feed on in the first few days until milk is here; in addition, you are teaching your baby how to latch! Something he never did, and you are learning too! So take it easy, try to get all the help, rest and be patient very very patient. Things are going to get better.
2) Your nipples hurt like hell! Try beeseline nipple cream, if they don’t get better, try mebo (was recommended for me by a breastfeeding consultant) just make sure you wash your breasts before you feed your child. With Toufic I had to take painkillers. So do it if they hurt that bad. I also supplemented with formula once or twice per day (not that I recommend it!! I didn’t do it with Lynn) because I was in so much pain I couldn’t even blow on my boobies!! once milk was here and pain was gone, I excluded formula and exclusively breastfed him for the next 8 months.
3) You will experience major engorgement, this is due to the fact that your body still don’t know how much milk your baby needs. So it will produce much more than needed. People will tell u don’t pump because your body needs to adjust. I tell you PUMP! your body will eventually adjust whether you pump or not! First: it will release the engorgement and second which is even more important, I got to store milk that had colostrum!! I had pumped milk and was breastfeeding my child at the same time. Something you won’t be able to do later on because your body will adjust to you baby’s needs and number of feeds so you wont have extra milk to pump (unless you pump on a regular basis --> everyday) usually breastfeeding consultant advise not to pump and give baby bottles before 6 weeks because baby might confuse bottle and nipple and not accept your breast anymore since it’s easier and faster for baby to suck from the bottle so if you want to breastfeed, try as much as you can to avoid bottles the first 6 weeks.
How to store your Breastmilk: You can store your pumped milk it in the freezer for up to 6 months in special sterilized bags (I use the Medela ones) you can find them at cookie dough boutique and make sure they are stored deep inside the freezer not in the door. Also make sure you write on the bag the date when you pumped and the quantity (when frozen, you won’t be able to determine the quantity) Once you need that milk, you will thaw the bag in the fridge, pour it in the sterilized bottle and feed it to your baby. (btw the bottles that worked for Lynn are munchkin latch, for Toufic, dr Browns, both available at le bouquet)
4) PUMPING: the best pump is Medela freestyle double, you pump from both breasts at the same time hands Free! I once did it while driving :D it comes with a special bra that will hold the bottles in which the milk is stored and tadaaaaa you’re done in 10 min. You can order it from amazon for 300$. It’s much more expensive if you get from Lebanon.
5) One major rule you need to keep in mind for breastfeeding: it’s supply and demand. The more you breastfeed the more your body will produce milk. So if you skip one feed, your body will adjust the quantity and lower your supply (this won't happen over night), For example if you breastfeed your baby 12 times per day and you decided to replace the last night feed with formula and make it 11 times, your body will adjust into producing milk for 11 feeds. (this is if you replace it everyday, it wont happen overnight) Or you can choose to pump this feed and store the milk. Your supply won't drop if you are breastfeeding regurarly. Your breasts shouldn't feel engorged all the time. Soft breasts don't indicate a drop in your supply! That's why when baby starts to sleep at night, your supply will drop which is normal and should happen, and that's why if you choose to breastfeed you should do it on demand and not schedule your feedings, (unless you are exclusively pumping)
6) Here comes growth spurt. Growth spurt is when baby’s stomach is actually “growing” and needs a larger quantity of milk. Some days, your baby won’t leave your breasts! Literally. This is NOT BECAUSE YOUR SUPPLY DROPPED or because baby isn’t full. The reason behind this is simple: Baby needs more milk and its the only way to tell your boobies: give me more milk. Don’t supply with formula (if you want to exclusively breastfeed) put him on your breasts (sometimes every half an hour). You'll feel engorgement (yay, the thing you love the most) and your body will adjust to your baby needs.
7) You can't schedule feedings with breastfeeding (unless you are exclusively pumping) because you can't know how much milk your baby got. He might breastfeed every 3 hours or 2 and then breastfeed after 1 hour! It’s better to breastfeed on demand.
8) You Can lose weight during breastfeeding. No not because you burn calories while you breastfeed! I craved more when I breastfeed than when I was pregnant! BUT the tricks to lose weight without compromising your milk supply and quality are the following:
-Cut carbs ONLY at night, have carbs during the day on breakfast and lunch. You need those carbs for your energy and for the quality of your milk.
-Cut all unnecessary calories like chocolate and unnecessary sugar. Replace them with fruits.
-Drink a lot a lot a lot of water. Water is the main ingredient behind a good milk supply!
-Exercise! The only way to get your metabolism back on track is through exercising.
9) Don’t let breastfeeding completely change your life! You can still have a glass of wine if you’re breastfeeding! (don't overdue it thought) Just make sure that baby won’t breastfeed before 3 hours and if you feel that you consumed and large quantity of alcohol, EASY, pump and throw! Worth that glass of wine if you are a fan!
10) Every mother’s fear: my milk supply is dropping how can I increase it. They think that their breasts are soft (not engoreged) because their supply dropped. TOTALLY NORMAL. what did you expect? Engorged breasts all the time? Don’t over worry about this. If you’re drinking well, eating well and breastfeeding on demand, your supply won’t just disappear! But if it makes you feel better here are three things you can do about it: eat Brazilian nuts (from alrifai), drink hipp nursing tea (You can find it at any pharmacy) or eat lactation cookies from mama sues (tried and loved)
11) Weaning: As I have mentioned, this is my personal experience with breastfeeding and since I only breastfed for 8 months, honestly weaning was easy for me: I started introducing formula 2 weeks before I stopped and increasing the number of formula feeds every day. By the time I stopped, babyT was totally ok with it and didn’t go through a hard time. I felt guilty and was sad about it (you will still feel the guilt even if you stopped at 3 years) For mother’s who chose to breastfeed for a longer period, weaning might be harder. I would really appreciate if you’re a mother and share your weaning story with us in the comments. I’m sure some mother’s would love to read it. But I think you just need to take the final decision, stick to it and be strong :( might be hard on you and your baby but you will eventually have to.
NB: If I forgot to mention anything and you have any question, please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Breastfeeding mammas 🐮
Also check this article for the first three months of your baby and everything you might need.