When it comes to feeding my babies I’ve done it all – exclusive pumping, formula feeding, and breastfeeding. My experience with breastfeeding hasn’t always gone as planned, particularly with my first two kids, but in the end I’m happy that all my kids are healthy. Since I’ve learned a few things over the years, I’ve decided to share a bit my experience with you. Plus a few resources and supplies I wish I would’ve known about from the beginning.
With Mae, my plan was to primarily breastfeed her since I was going to be home with her. Beyond reading a bit about breastfeeding in my pregnancy book, I didn’t think too much about it beforehand. It’s supposed to be natural, right? After she was born things went OK for a couple of days, but soon there was so much pain when I nursed her that it was all I thought about. I made an appointment to meet with a lactation consultant, who I ended up meeting with regularly over the course of a few months. During this time we discovered Mae had a dairy & soy intolerance, so I briefly stopped nursing her and temporarily switched her over to a special formula since my breastmilk was upsetting her stomach. I attempted to go back to nursing, but she was never able to get a good latch, even with the help of multiple lactation consultants. Apparently she had a teeny tiny mouth, even by newborn standards! I eventually made the decision to exclusively pump for her first year and supplement with formula when needed.
When Winnie was born, I was a little more apprehensive because of my experience with Mae. I spent the first days of her life trying to work on her latch with a lactation consultant. Things seemed to be going a little bit better than the first time around and I was hopeful it’d all work out. On day ten I went to the lactation consultant with her and had a super successful nursing session. I was feeling on cloud nine after that appointment so we decided to head to the outdoor mall to pick up a few baby things and enjoy the sunshine. While we were at the mall I came down with mastitis. In just the course of a few minutes I was so sick I could barely stand up. I somehow got myself to the clinic and immediately started a round of antibiotics. A couple of days later when I was on the mend, I got hit with another breast infection. It was the worst! Within a week I’d finally fully recovered, but I was never able to produce close to enough milk for Winnie. My supply never increased beyond the second week, but Winnie was constantly needing more milk. After a few months & lots of tears, I made the switch to formula. It was pretty hard on me, but after a few weeks I just let it go.
Because of those two experiences, I had so much anxiety about breastfeeding when I was pregnant with Ander. I talked about it a lot with my husband and decided that I’d arm myself with as much knowledge as I could before he was born, give it my best shot, and be kind to myself if it didn’t work out.
So here we are four months out & I’m happy to say that Ander is successfully breastfeeding! Third time’s the charm! It wasn’t easy, and there were a few days when I contemplated going back to exclusively pumping (those early weeks are hard!), but we pushed through and now he’s a nursing champ.
I think the biggest difference this time around is I trusted my gut more than before and was way more relaxed about the whole thing (maybe because I had two other children to worry about, so I had less time to overthink everything). I also focused on making it through six weeks, and didn’t think beyond that. I had talked to a friend before Ander was born who told me that nursing became much easier for her once her babies hit six weeks, and thinking about that was really reassuring in my hardest moments.
Below are some of my favorite resources and products for nursing & pumping. But before I end this (ridiculously long) post, I wanna say a few things to the mamas having a hard time breastfeeding. With some babies, nursing just comes more naturally. I’ve always questioned if I didn’t do enough to be able to successfully nurse Mae, but now that I’ve been on the other side I know that it’s just easier with some babies. Also, there’s a lot to be said for having a happy mama! So don’t be too hard on yourself no matter what happens.
Lactation Link: During my pregnancy, I’d heard a lot about the online breastfeeding classes from Lactation Link in various Facebook groups. Lactation Link was started by an RN and IBLCL-certified lactation coach named Lindsey Shipley. Lindsey offers three online videos about breastfeeding (Breastfeeding Basics, Breastfeeding Hurdles & How-To’s, and Pumping & Storing Breastmilk) that you can purchase individually or as a bundle. Even though I’ve been through this before, they were a great refresher for me, and gave me a much needed dose of confidence going into Ander’s arrival.
Oat Mama Lactation Bars: These bars are full of superfoods and nutrients nursing mamas need. I especially love these because they’re easy to grab when life is chaotic. Which for me with a baby and a toddler (and a little girl) is pretty much all day every day. They also have bars that are dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. They also just released a Lactation Tea, which I’m so excited about!
Covered Goods Four-in-One Nursing Cover: These four-in-one nursing covers provide privacy when nursing your baby in public, but you can also use them as a carseat cover, infinity scarf, or a shopping cart cover. They also work to provide coverage when pumping. They are one of my favorite baby items!
Lalabu Soothe Shirt: This soothe shirt has a cozy pouch where you can carry your newborn. I preferred this over my baby wrap in the very early days because you can quickly place a fussy newborn inside and they feel super secure. It also works as a nursing bra and provides stomach coverage when nursing. I paired this with my Zella High-Waist leggings and an open-front cardigan during those first few months.
Dwell + Slumber House Dress: This modern house dress has a loose silhouette with the perfect amount of stretch, plus it’s 100% nursing friendly & bump friendly. This was a splurge before I had baby #3 and I am still obsessed with it.
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Photos by Ashley Vos Photography.