Nursing is such a personal experience for so many people, I’m almost nervous to talk about this because I want to share my experience but also express how awesome all other moms are doing whatever way they do it. I of course am an advocate of nursing because I loved it so much, but I also am an advocate of mothers feeling confident and happy after they have their baby.
I had intentions to breastfeed from day one. Not all mothers have those intentions for multiple reasons, which is totally fine. Let me start by saying that regardless of how you feed your baby, what’s best is taking care of your baby and making sure they are fed and happy, whether through breast or formula or donor. I had so many women write in about their stories and how they had no idea the trials that could come along with nursing so I hope to share some of those below as well to see how unique all experiences are.
When Rooney was born they immediately put her on my chest and it wasn’t until about an hour into her being born that she tried to nurse. She latched relatively quickly and had a great suck. In the hospital my milk came in on day 3 (as a reminder we were in the hospital for 7 days), and from there she has been a champ. I had tenderness of course, and I got a small blister one of the days, but after using Tubby Todd nursing salve for a few weeks I didn’t see any other issues. I had the idea that I was going to try to have another baby after Rooney was 6 months, (boy was I wrong) and so I was pumping a ton to save milk in case I did get pregnant. So I pumped EVERYDAY for about 9 months. I would wake up if she didn’t wake up and pump, or I would pump right before I went in and nursed her. I always got about 6-8 ounces from my pumping. So for months I would wake up almost every night and pump either before I got her or if she didn’t wake up. It takes serious dedication and you really have to be motivated for it.
I remember when I was in the hospital my milk was overflowing. I had it in both breasts, and I seriously was able to nurse her all day and then pump tons of milk. We went home and I drank so much water, made no bake cookies every week for the oats, and then I also did the mothers milk, and the tea that helps your supply. All in all I found that my main things that helped me were:
- Water, water, water. It is no joke, when I didn’t have water as much during the day I could see my milk suffer within hours.
- Eat a lot of oats, almonds, salmon. I also ate a TON of food in general to keep my supply up because your burn through so many calories when you are nursing. I found myself eating almost every hour. I also loved the Oat Mama bars, they were so yummy and quick to eat.
- Power Pumping :Pump for 20 minutes; rest 10 minutes. Pump another 10 minutes; rest for 10 minutes. Do this routine for 1 hour. I always did it in the morning.
- Legendary Milk Supplements: MAN I LOVE THESE. They are a dream come true and work so well. I had such a huge increase when I used these and I have heard from others that they had the same thing. So if you want a supplement I would try this brand for sure. Working on getting a code
Another thing to remember is, at the beginning I would say that breast feeding is so so time consuming. It just takes a lot to nurse all day, and then pump, and nurse, and pump.
So we are 11 months in and I still am breastfeeding in the morning and night at this time, and during the day she has a bottle of the frozen milk I had saved.
Ups and Downs
I remember on day 2 in the hospital, they had a lactation specialist come in and talk to us. I felt like she walked in, talked to me, didn’t ask me if I had questions or help guide me, but more made me feel stupid for not knowing these things and in some ways confused me. When she left me and Trent were so confused and defeated, I realized shortly after that we needed to get some help or ask questions to others. Luckily there were two lactation consultants at the hospital. So after one night of tracking my milk supply and pumping constantly and being in tears from not believing I was doing it correct and feeling pressure from nurses, the consultant came in and confirmed what we were doing prior was correct and the biggest thing we needed was to not stress. I feel like with the pressure of nursing, and then the emotions we feel after having a baby, it can be so stressful when you first start nursing. I sometimes wonder if we approached it saying here are your options, no pressure either way, if women would feel less pressure to “perform”.
When Rooney was about a month old, I started to lose milk in my right breast. I went and saw a friend of mine, Lindsey from Lactation Link, (she is amazing by the way!). She helped me to track how much milk Rooney was getting and see how things were going and ways to up my supply. Even through our meeting and weeks to follow, I never got my milk back in that breast. I have no idea why, but I have found that it actually is a fairly common thing. I am lopsided as ever but my one breast has been a champ and has produced so much milk. So I only nurse from one side and pump from one side. Really crossing my fingers that my boobs go back to normal but I’m not counting on it! I wish I could find a way to keep milk in both breasts but that wasn’t realistic for me, as I TRIED everything I could think of. Next baby I will probably try to be more aware of it.
When I started to lose my supply I thought Rooney had a tongue tie, so we brought her in for that as well. She didn’t but if your baby is having a hard time nursing this is for sure something I would get checked out by your pediatrician or by your lactation specialist.
Overall our nursing experience has been rather amazing. I never had mastitis thankfully, I never had any major issue with latching, and I say that to tell you that you might have the same experience. A lot of moms experience trials with nursing and some find it to be exactly what they needed. Remember we are all different but we are all strong and wonderful women.
Below are the items I have used and have gotten recommendations on! I hope some work for you, and I hope you also are remembering how amazing you are and you’ve got this. Love you mamas!
Hospital Grade Pump: We used one from the Lactation Station if you are local to Utah. We had what looked like a 1980 pump, but it truly was amazing. It did the job, but it was loud as a heads up. It cost about $50 a month.
Lansinoh Manual Pump: I loved this when I was traveling because it was small and easy to use. I also used it when we went out on dates so that it wasn’t noticeable but that we could go out.
Medela Pump Electric: I got this from my insurance. Reach out to your insurance company because most will cover this but if you decide to just buy your own this is the link for it. I really liked this one for a more basic pump. It wasn’t intense so it was more for after my boobs were used to being pumped if that makes any sense.
Willow Hands Free Pump: This was the last one I tried about a month and a half before I stopped pumping. It was so great to have hands free pumping. It took me about 3-4 times to get the hang of it but once I did I really liked it. I think this is good for after you’ve been nursing for about 2 weeks or so, so that your boobs are a little bit more regular. This is seriously one of the best items on the market, if you are wanting something to nurse while you work, I highly recommend this one.
Deep freezer: We bought a deep freezer to store the milk because our freezer wasn’t big enough, but also if you have a deep freezer you are able to store your milk for a little bit longer then normal.
Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags: We loved these for storage but also for tracking how many ounces we were getting each day. They’ve also been great for melting the milk to get ready for her to use it.
Third Love: I wish I had found this earlier but I didn’t find them till about 2-3 months after she was born. They are beautiful normal bras that are nursing bras. I feel confident in them and also love the support. I was not a huge fan of the underwire but I love love the normal nursing bra. I would HIGHLY recommend them. I think this is true to size as well.
Cake Rock Candy Wireless Nursing Bra: This was the bra we used in the hospital and for a few months after I was home. It was a sports bra and I liked it but honestly I didn’t feel like it was a normal bra. So if you want something for right after baby comes for a few months I think this is great or also for working out I think this is a great pick.
Como Tomo: this is the only bottle I have experience with but we love it. Rooney loves it and it feels as realistic as possible. I also love the size and how easy they are to pack. I would HIGHLY recommend it.
Enfamil Infant: I had a lot of moms write in and say this is what their hospital provided and they loved it and continued to use it and no issues
Similac Pro Advance: I heard similar things about this one. The hospital provided it and they felt like they could find the best deals with this one.
These are a collection of questions people asked through Instagram
How did you get through the biting phase? Rooney didn’t really bite a ton but when she did I usually would pull her off immediately and wouldn’t let her nurse for a few minutes. Then I would let her go back and I had minimal issues with it.
How were you able to keep pumping after 6 months? I think by staying consistent my milk supply was still up and so I was able to pump every night still. I also woke up every night at about 2 or 3 AM and I would pump so that I would be ready also to nurse and pump at the 7 am feeding. It took a toll but to me it was worth it.
Nursing in public, how do you do it? Tips to gain confidence and easiest way to do it? I decided early on that I wasn’t going to cover up. It was to hot or annoying for Rooney and I felt like why would I need to hide nursing? So I was very aware of what clothing I wore for the last year so I could nurse. If I am in a shirt I would just pull it up and nurse and I never had any issues showing a ton of boob, but if it did show, oh well. I think just remind yourself constantly what you are doing and how amazing it is that you are feeding your baby. Some people won’t agree but you have to do what makes you happy and your baby happy. If you are more reserved look into a nursing cover, Copper Pearl has amazing ones.
Best breastfeeding positions? I’ve actually only fed her in a cradle position. I couldn’t get the football position to work. I also had back pain doing this but I think I just constantly reminded myself that it was worth it for her.
When did you start bottle feeding? Did you have nipple confusion? We did a bottle for the first time at 5 months, and we never tried giving it to her from me, it was always Trent. So that helped with not having confusion. At about 8 months she refused it, then at 10 months she started taking it from me and nursing and there was no confusion. She prefers to nurse but also does great with the bottle too.
Did you have problems with gassy baby? Rooney never had issue with gas, but she did have issues with reflux. We used the Little Remedies Colic relief with Chamomile and swore by it. A lot of people who wrote in about gassy babies mentioned that they stopped with they type of formula or dairy they were eating, so it’s a variety of issues I have heard. I would consult a doctor if you are having gas issues.
What’s schedule like? With nursing and pumping? At the beginning of her life I nursed on demand, so whenever she wanted it. I would pump usually once in the morning at about 6 AM, 2 PM, and 3 AM. So there were days I was pumping a few times a day. I didn’t always do this but in the beginning I did. After about 6 moths she was still nursing on demand, and I would pump in the morning and the middle of the night. Usually got about 8-10 ounces per time. So I have about 1000 ounces saved at this time I think. I wish I would have kept track of that and I will never time, but that’s just because I am obsessive.
How often does she get a bottle? She now gets a bottle before her morning nap and usually in the afternoon, so about 10 ounces a day of a bottle. Before this she only got a bottle if I was gone. I didn’t like to give her a bottle if I didn’t have to because I wanted to save the milk I had pumped.
When should I start pumping to build up a stash? I would recommend doing it early only because it helps keep your supply up. With pumping you are making enough milk to nurse but also save milk, so you will want to make sure you have a good supply.
How often is normal to get mastitis? I have no idea. I had readers write in and say they had mastitis 3-4 times during the first few months, and some who had none. If you have mastitis, I would contact your physician to get help on that immediately.
Best way to increase milk supply? In my opinion, like I mentioned above, I would say water water water, and then the legendary milk supplements.
The biggest responses I got from evereyones stories were below:
- Tongue tie undiagnosed and waited what they felt was to long
- Mastitis- lost supply when they had it
- Didn’t produce enough milk
- Quite a few thyroid disorders (I actually have hyperthyroidism but have been of meds for over 10 years and nothing came up during my pregnancy. )
- Needing a nipple guard
- C-Section mamas felt like it was harder to nurse and feel that bond immediately or their milk wasn’t ready
I wanted to end this post by saying, for me, nursing has meant the world. I have loved nothing more then spending this quality time with Rooney and getting to bond with her through nursing. While this has worked so well for us, I also am a huge believer that it won’t work for everyone. FED IS BEST. If you nurse wonderful, if you use formula that is amazing, what matters is we are caring for our children. Every single person bonds with their children differently. Remember to stay kind to others around you and support them when they are struggling.
If you are currently nursing and going through trials, hang in there. For me, the hard parts were worth it, but don’t beat yourself up if you decide to not continue. Your sanity is so important for the beginning stages of a babies life so make sure to take care of you!
I love that you said that you wised the lactation specialists and nurses would not put so much pressure on a new mom. I agree with you 100%. It is a new experience and not easy for everyone. When I was pregnant with my daughter I was diaognosed with ovarian cancer. They delivered my baby at 29 weeks so that I could have surgery and start chemo. I was in the ICU and after my daughter (Bella) was born she was in the NICCU. The nurses brought in a pump and told me to get to work before I started chemo. I knew Bella needed the nutrients but my milk never came in. I was so stressed and upset about it. The more the nurses would hound me, the more upset I would become. We tried everything. One day I lost it and my nurse walked in and she could tell that I was devastated. I was sobbing. She put the pump away and held my hand and said… “Sweetheart, this is not meant to be. You have tried everything. You do not even have your baby in your room. You are so stressed and the nurses and doctors have put so much pressure on you that this is not going to work. You need to concentrate on fighting for your life and staying alive for her. We have incredible formula and your baby is getting stronger everyday. Stop worrying about it. Do not be sad anymore. She is going to be just fine. That pump is never coming in your room again.” That nurse was my Angel. It was just what I needed. I will forever be grateful for that kind nurse and her compassion on me. Thank you for staring your story and not making mom’s feel bad if they did not breast feed. 💗💗💗
I Love this post! Thank you for sharing your insight, as well as gathering from other moms around you. I’ve been nursing *almost* non stop for three and a half years! My milk dried up after 2.5 years with my son due to being pregnant. And I have been going strong with my 8 month old! It’s such a rollercoaster of a journey, and it really is mind over matter most days! ❤️
My baby is 8 months old and I never know how much milk she is getting per feeding, she seems to get distracted now and only feeds for probably 7 minutes each time. I started pumping again so I can give her a bottle to make sure she is full and possibly help her sleep through the night a little better. How many bottles a day (including ounces) are you giving her during the day? I know they are different ages but just curious. Thanks!