|One of my all time favorite pictures Jake snapped when Sawyer was 8 weeks old.|
After sharing all of the medical drama I was faced with last month, I had several readers reach out asking if I would share some of our breastfeeding journey, specifically how it has been since returning to work full time. I thought I would share some of our struggles, tips for pumping mamas, and why I feel so passionate about it in general.
I guess I’ll start by saying breastfeeding kind of freaked me out before I was the one doing it. I don’t know why, I know it’s natural and we’ve all heard “breast is best” but for some reason the whole thing just gave me the shivers. However, as soon as I became pregnant I had no doubts that is what I was going to do for our baby, although I didn’t have any problem considering formula feeding if breastfeeding wasn’t working. Afterall, I am a firm believer that “fed is best.”
That little guy latched right on within 15 minutes of being brought into the world. We did have to use a nipple shield for 3 or 4 days at first, but one day I was just too lazy to get up and wash it out, and he transitioned fine, so we threw that sucker in the trash! My milk didn’t come in until day 5, and when it did, holy cow (literally) it came in with a vengence. Engorgement is so incredibly painful mixed with raw, bloody nipples and sleep deprivation, it’s no wonder many new mamas go a different route! However, I was determined to make it work. Before giving birth, I researched everything I could get my hands on in regards to breastfeeding. I became a woman obsessed with doing it and come hell or high water, this baby was going to be exclusively breastfed.
I made so much darn milk in the beginning I would have to pump using a hand pump for 2-3 minutes just to relieve some of the pressure so that Sawyer could latch on. When you’re that engorged, it’s like trying to make your baby suck on a wall and then its frustrating for baby and painful for mama and no one is happy. My hand pump was a lifesaver for weeks! That’s my first tip. Invest in a handpump for those early days. If your engorgement feels unbearable or you think your baby is unable to latch, give it a try! I ended up with Mastitis on day 12 of Sawyer’s life, and nursing him on that side was excrutiating, so the hand pump helped during that as well.
To be honest, the first 6 weeks of Sawyer’s life he was just attached to me 20 hours a day. We ended up co-sleeping at least half the night until he was 6 months old because it was just so much easier to nurse and sleep rather than getting up to nurse him in his room 20 times a night. Because of all that sucking, painful nipples are inevitable. Lanolin is your friend. Buy it in bulk. Slather it on after every feeding, every shower, every time you are hurting. Be generous with the lanolin. I stopped using it after 8 weeks because I just didn’t need it anymore, but I probably wouldn’t have made it this far without it!
When I returned to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave, I was nervous about pumping full-time and if I would be able to continue, but luckily I work at an amazing company that is incredibly supportive of breastfeeding mamas, and I would (and still do!) pump 3 times a day. Our schedule is something like: 6 AM-Nurse Sawyer and getting ready for work. 9:00 Pump (he gets a bottle at my moms) 12:00 pump (bottle) 3:00: pump (bottle) and when I pick him up I usually nurse once before dinner and once before bed.
I’ll be honest, when I first started pumping, it was horrible. It’s uncomfortable, you feel like a dairy cow, and I was always worried about making enough. It really faded into some of my favorite time of the day, though! Being a working mom is so hard because you are leaving your heart and soul with someone else for the day, and that makes you feel crummy. I hated not being there for every single feeding, every smile and giggle. Pumping and making Sawyer’s food with my own body gave me a feeling that I was doing what I could to care for him even if I wasn’t around. I also felt comforted that I was doing something for him that literally no one else could. It’s nice to be needed that way. J
I also discovered Perfect Latch Nipple Cushions that you insert into your pump and they make it so much more comfortable. I highly recommend investing in a set if you’re planning on pumping when returning to work! I didn’t start using them until a few months ago and I wish I had them from the beginning. Perfect latch has been so sweet to offer a coupon code for ya’ll so you can use Rose15 for 15% off your first set.
Until we started on solids, I was pumping 16-20 ounces in those 3 sessions. Around 7 months we hit the triple whammy of supply decrease. We night-weaned Sawyer so he was sleeping through, my period came back, AND he started eating solids. I quickly noticed a stressful supply decrease. I am still following the above schedule, pumping 3 times a day at work and nursing 3 times throughout the day, but I am lucky to get 12 ounces in a day, most days topping out around 6. Although Sawyer eats lunch and dinner now, Breastmilk is still his primary source of nutrition so he gets three 4 ounce bottles a day, and when I can’t make 12 ounces, we have to remove some from the freezer. That stash of “milk for a rainy day” is getting dangerously low, so although I desperately wanted to make it to a year without ever having to formula feed Sawyer, I do think we may have to give one formula bottle a day pretty soon here. A great friend of mine uses Sammy’s Milk organic goats milk formula and that is what I plan to purchase if it gets to that point.
Breastfeeding has been the hands down most rewarding and wonderful journey. We have no plans of stopping any time soon, however, I do believe once Sawyer reaches that 1 year mark, we’ll go ahead and wean him so I can have my body back for awhile before we start trying for baby #2. Breastfeeding is hard.freaking.work ya’ll. It is giving so much of yourself all of the time, but if you stick with it and really put your mind to it, you most certainly can be successful.
Like I said before, I wholeheartedly believe a fed baby is a happy baby, and if breastfeeding wasn’t for you or for some reason didn’t work out, that is okay too. I’d also like to remind you that it isn’t all or nothing! Breastfeeding even once or twice a day still gives amazing benefits to your babe, and even if you only breastfed for one day, you did something amazing for your little one.
Sawyer is eating lunch and dinner at this point, and nursing/drinking my pumped milk throughout the day. I will be happy to share our experience if we do end up supplementing with formula in the future. Would ya’ll be interested in hearing more about what Sawyer eats during the day? I’ve had a hard time finding meal plans for babies, and would be glad to share if you’d be interested! Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading beautiful friends!