I want to start off by saying, you do not have to breastfeed in order for your child to be healthy. And you should not feel guilty for not breastfeeding no matter what the reasoning may be. This is definitely one of those things that always causes a big mess of a debate. And my intentions for this post are not to throw statistics at you, but to share my own experience in hopes of helping even just one mom. I’ve had several new moms message me asking for advice and my experience because holy moly they weren’t expecting it to be THIS hard! Between the pain some women feel, the discomfort, latch difficulties, stress of not producing enough, or producing too much causing more pain, the list goes on. So many questions are asked as well, which can be a bit overwhelming especially to a new mom. Will you or will you not breastfeed? Will you do it exclusively or will you supplement? What are your goals?
Just like with anything in parenting, when making a decision to do something you always have to remember to keep an open mind because it may not go just the way you want it to. And that’s okay! You need to do what’s best for you and your baby. I feel like I hear about so many women beating themselves up over not breastfeeding long enough or not doing it at all and unfortunately I think a lot of that stems from what the community at large expects from you. We can be so quick to judge without actually knowing a persons reasoning. We can get so caught up in strongly believing in a topic that we forget how harsh our words can become and how that ends up effecting people. When I had Hudson I was excited to breastfeed. I felt powerful and motherly as most of you do, I’m sure. Unfortunately this specific bonding time with him only lasted about 6 months and was far from exclusive especially towards the end. If you’re struggling with your milk supply I’m sure you’ve already googled by now and have read that stress is one of the culprits decreasing your supply. Having moved across the country from Florida all the way to Alaska just a few short weeks after Hudson was born, I saw a significant drop and my body wouldn’t give it back, so this time around I wanted to do better.
I thought I’d share a few things I set out to do in order to hopefully make my breastfeeding endeavor with Cooper much more productive and last as long as possible.
Drink LOTS of water. Like a lot. I don’t know about you, but I often forget to drink water all throughout the day. But it is key to producing adequate milk. It’s like growing a garden. Your plants won’t grow if you don’t water them. That’s probably the worst analogy for me to use because I literally kill EVERY plant I own because I forget to water it, but hey it makes total sense. They say you should be drinking an 8oz glass during every nursing session and even more in between. In order to remind myself of this, I set alarms on my phone. I also try to infuse a few pieces of fruit and herbs to make it a little less boring.
Try Fenugreek. This doesn’t work for everybody unfortunately and if you don’t like taking pills you’ll hate this one because you have to take three a day. But the good news is, a nurse recently told me that if you don’t see an increase in your milk supply within the first three days, you won’t see one at all. Definitely worth a try! Note: it makes you smell like maple syrup lol.
Comfort is key. I learned this the hard way. As we drove across the country we tried to find the most inexpensive places to stay since it was such a long trip. One of the nights we decided to stay in a KOA Cabin which was actually really awesome but I had zero pillows while trying to breastfeed a two month old in bed and let me tell ya, it was not fun. Your body does so much better when you’re relaxed and comfortable. I highly recommend a nursing pillow and/or at least two pillows. Aside from you being comfortable in your pile of pillows, comfortable nursing friendly clothing helps. I’m not saying you have to go out and buy clothing advertised as nursing friendly but a lose shirt that you can easily pull up or down or a button down dress go a long way and are things I’m sure you already have in your closet.
Pump regularly. Even if you are a stay-at-home-mom. Pump! This not only helps build your milk supply but you’ll already have some stored if you need to getaway for a bit. I can’t tell you how stressed I get if I need a bottle of milk for whatever reason and don’t already have some ready. Filling your freezer with breastmilk also comes in handy if you do eventually find your supply dwindling down. Plus, if you end up with an excess amount at the end of your breastfeeding journey, you can always donate it!
Good nursing bras. Nothing beats a good nursing bra. I’m currently wearing a few different styles that were sent to me from Bravado Designs and have nothing but good things to say about them! I never thought having a good nursing bra could make a difference until I got these. My favorite one is the Ballet Nursing Bra (the one I’m wearing in this post) because I can just pull it aside rather than clipping and un-clipping. It’s my go-to when I’m relaxing at home or sleeping. I also really love the Nursing Cami as I can throw that on alone with a cardigan and walk out the door easily being able to drop one side and nurse on the go. I’ve also worn the Buttercup Nursing Bra which is a favorite when getting out of the house and the Body Silk Seamless which I love for working out or going on a hike.
A few other things I want to mention:
You will question if your baby is getting enough at some point. Besides the stress from moving, I believe this is one of the main reasons my breastfeeding journey didn’t last long. I constantly second guessed myself which made me supplement more than I probably needed to. As long as your baby has enough wet diapers throughout the day and is gaining consistent weight, your baby is getting what they need from you. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, it is always best to talk to your physician.
Aside from drinking a lot of water you need to make sure you’re eating enough as well. Here are a few things that are known to help your milk supply – Oatmeal, yogurt, avocado, quinoa, legumes/beans, salmon, leafy greens, lean red meat, apricots, eggs and peanuts. There are also an insane amount of lactation recipes on Pinterest. Check out my lactation board here.
Thanks to Bravado Designs for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
Photos by: Sydney Akagi