I don’t have all the answers. I’m just a mom who’s done this breastfeeding thing twice.
Breastfeeding the first time was like learning to ride a bike up a steep hill during a Category 5 hurricane – with a cliff on the other side. It was hard. It took me a solid 7 weeks with Laila to finally get the hang of it and not have to cross my eyes & toes when she latched on. The journey this time has had its challenges, but overall a much smoother ride. Here’s what I learned this go-round.
With Laila I put so much pressure on myself to make milk in the beginning in order to avoid giving her formula. There’s clearly no need for that.
When Liana was born, I immediately began nursing the moment we could be skin to skin in the recovery room. However, it takes a few days for your milk to even come in. In the meantime, I happily asked the nurses for forumla to supplement. Why? Because stressing over something I couldn’t control wasn’t on the agenda. I relaxed and understood a fed baby is a happy one. I breastfed when I could, supplemented when I couldn’t or wanted to give myself a break, and a month later my supply was well on its way! Now I have 160+ oz. in the freezer, my supply is stable, and I no longer need to use formula for feedings.
Cluster feeding will happen. Get used to it.
If you are a child’s main source of nourishment, you are going to have to get used to cluster feeding when growth spurts happen. With Laila I used to get so frustrated when this happened! “I just fed her! How is she hungry again?” While many will “believe” that your milk is not a reliable source and would encourage you to ditch it altogether, it indeed is and your baby is growing. When your baby demands more, your body makes more and typically your supply increases.
When baby is constantly feeding, just grab a comfy spot, grab you’re phone, a book, headphones to listen to a podcast and chill. Cluster feeding does not happen everyday, but it happens. It hurts. It sucks. But it comes with the territory. I get the struggle. This too shall pass, mama.
If you’re going to breastfeed, be all in. No, for real.
Breastfeeding is a lifestyle. It’s more than just making sure your baby stops crying for hunger. It may require you to change for the sake of not killing your milk supply or causing your baby to have gas pains later. It’s possibly giving up the foods you love to indulge in to make sure your baby’s skin doesn’t break out. It’s embracing a healthier lifestyle to possibly build your supply. It’s a myriad of things – but most importantly, it’s a lifestyle!
No matter what, trust your instincts if something seems off.
When nursing Liana in the beginning, I noticed she had a hard time staying latched unless I held the back of her head. When she was done, she always seemed to be extra gassy after every session, which lead me to believe she had a case of silent reflux or colic. While that was partially true, there was a root cause that was even bigger than I expected.
While doing one of my many searches in various moms groups (because when you wanna know, that’s what moms do), I happened to do a search on “Silent Reflux”. Many moms believe their children have a case of reflux when in reality they could possibly have a lip or tongue tie. As I continued to read more into it, I found a list of characteristics that matched exactly what Liana had! I checked her tongue and it looked normal. When I lifted her top lip, I could see it was tight and partially attached to the gum. Liana had a lip tie! What I also discovered was pediatricians are not necessarily trained to look for lip and tongue ties. So this is why it was never discovered at birth.
I found a pediatric ENT specialist who could help and possible clip it. At 6 weeks she had a frenulectomy, which took less than 5 minutes to do, and since then she nurses like a champion! Had I not taken the time to truly examine my child, I would have a 6 month old who I would “believe” had some sort of ailment when all it truly turned out to be something else!
Listen to your instincts when you’re breastfeeding. Always.