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“It’s a natural process,” they said. “Your body and your baby will know what to do,” they said.
Ummm… not so much! Breastfeeding, as natural as it is supposed to be, is the furthest natural thing I have ever done with my first-born. It is challenging, stressful, uncomfortable, and confusing.
At the same time, it can be beautiful! However, my breastfeeding journey was not without it’s trials and tribulations. How did I save my breastfeeding journey?
As a new mom, I made the decision early on in my pregnancy that I would try to breastfeed my baby. I didn’t put too much pressure on myself to breastfeed. I was open to the idea of formula.
Not that this is a secret, but formula is EXPENSIVE. Breastfeeding my son would be the ideal choice health wise and money wise. However, I made it clear to myself and my husband that if breastfeeding did not go well, I would not hesitate to make the switch for all of our sake.
After giving birth, our breastfeeding journey started out a little rocky for us.
My son did not latch very well to begin with and this is a common issue that happens with babies. At our newborn check-up (about two or three days after leaving the hospital), we found out that my baby had lost a dangerous amount of his birth weight. This was alarming to us and I felt horrible.
I blamed myself and felt like I was already failing as a mom. The pediatrician tried to put me at ease and gave some suggestions as to how we could improve his weight. We set up a plan for the next steps and made a follow-up appointment very soon.
Following this newborn appointment, I made it a goal that I would try my best to get his weight back up within the those next few days before the follow-up appointment. If I was not successful, we would go to supplementing with formula.
Thankfully, these five things saved my breastfeeding journey and I ended up breastfeeding my son for 15 months without the use of formula. For more resources, check out my recent post 6 Real Life Tips on Breastfeeding. You’ll come to find that I am passionate about helping other breastfeeding moms!
1. Nipple Shield
Honestly, I had never heard of a nipple shield before having my son. I did not know these things existed. Nipple shields are designed to help baby get a better latch because it provides a stronger latch point for babies.
It also assists in the discomfort that some moms face during those first weeks of breastfeeding. Nipple shields saved my breastfeeding journey.
As inconvenient as the shield could be at times, I would not hesitate to utilize one again if needed should we decide to have more babies. There are recommendations that suggest you not use a nipple shield for longer than ‘X’ amount of weeks or months.
From personal experience, I used a shield for four months with my son without any problems. One day I decided to see if he would latch without the shield and he did! Therefore, I decided to wean us from using the shield and we never looked back.
**TIP: Make sure you get the right size nipple shield as this could make all the difference in comfort for you!**
Fenugreek is a natural supplement taken orally. My son’s pediatrician recommended I take it because it helps to boost your breast milk supply.
I began taking this right after my son’s newborn appointment and within two days, I saw a noticeable increase in my supply. The draw back to taking the supplement is that you can begin to smell like maple syrup randomly (it’s a common side effect). I figured smelling like maple syrup for awhile wasn’t a bad thing if it helped save my breastfeeding journey.
**Disclaimer: Ensure you have your doctor’s approval before taking any supplements. I am not a medical professional.**
My son is now 16 months old and I stopped pumping when he was about 13 months old. I do not miss my pump! However, I could not have been successful in my breastfeeding journey without it.
Breast pumps are designed to stimulate the breast to extract breast milk from you so that you can store for later use.
For me to increase my son’s weight, I breastfed him and then pumped right after for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. This extra pumping told my body to produce more milk. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand relationship. Therefore the more you demand from your body, the more your body will supply.
I also made it a point to pump every night after I had taken a nice, hot shower. A warm compress is recommended to help stimulate production.
A hot compress encourages your let-down of milk, according to Brenda over at Paper Heart Family. Therefore, after a hot shower, my girls were ready to go! I stepped out of the shower, quickly dried off, and hooked myself up to my pump immediately.
4. Skin-to-skin Contact
The sweetest part about breastfeeding is the physical contact you get with your little one. You have spent the better part of nine months growing a human inside of you. So being able to hold this precious baby is by far the best experience.
That said, skin-to-skin contact assists in increasing your supply!
I remember a specific night alone with my son when he was a newborn. My hubby returned to work so it was just me and baby. I was tired, frustrated, and crying because I couldn’t get my baby to be content.
So, I pulled down my shirt to expose my chest and took off my baby’s sleeper onesie to expose his little body. I laid him on my chest and he slowly calmed down and stopped crying.
After about five minutes of contact, I felt the tingly sensation in my breasts (you will become all too familiar with that feeling). I attempted to breastfeed again and that was it! He was comfortable enough to latch and nurse successfully.
Your baby longs for your touch and is comforted by your touch, your smell, and your voice. What better way to encourage them to breastfeed than by giving them their favorite person? You! When in doubt, strip down (both you and baby) and snuggle up!
Having a support system in place can make or break a breastfeeding mama. I was new at this breastfeeding journey and often looked for resources or just someone to listen to me.
My mom was a great support and helped make us successful. My husband encouraged me as best as he could. I joined Facebook groups for inspiration, support, and overall education. I talked to other friends and family members about their breastfeeding journeys to draw from their experiences.
The most important thing to remember is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. So, don’t feel like you have to tackle this journey by yourself.
Breastfeeding is HARD. During those nights when you feel frustrated, tired, and at a loss, know that you are not alone. You are doing the very best you can.
Every motherhood journey is different and that goes for breastfeeding journeys. What works for others may not work for you. But, don’t be afraid to ask! Ask for help. Call on your support system.
Tell Me About Your Breastfeeding Journey!
If you are a mom who has experience breastfeeding, share in the comments what helped you to make your breastfeeding journey successful! Any tips you share can be used to help another mom in her time of need! Sharing is caring. 🙂
Good luck on your breastfeeding journey, Mama!
Resources from Other Mamas
Gift Guide for Breastfeeding Moms by Stephanie over at Just As I Am Now
How to Boost Your Milk Supply by Brystan Martinez over at Brystan Martinez Lifestyle Blog
Kick-start your day Red Smoothie Recipe (nutrients for breastfeeding mom and baby) By Natacha over at Busy Vegan Mom
Breastfeeding Twins by Kimberly Cartwright over at Team Cartwright
Medela Pump In Style Advanced with Double Pumping