Hi there! I’m Betty from Betty & Baby and am so happy to join you today! I’ve loved reading Motherhood Through My Eyes, especially learning about Tima’s breastfeeding experience. I’m here today to share a little bit about ours.
As of today, I’ve been breastfeeding my son for just about 13 months. May not sound like a long time, but this is really a homerun for all of us. Although baby J latched pretty well his very first day, we’ve had some serious ups and downs throughout our breastfeeding relationship. From super sore, cracked nipples, to lots of late night feedings, a strict elimination diet due to food allergy, not to mention the 3 a.m. pumping sessions to supplement, and the roller coaster supply thanks to Aunt Flow…let’s just say junior gave me quite a hard time. I’m here to tell you, though we had these issues for the first several months, I couldn’t be happier with where we are now, and am so grateful to remain breastfeeding after his first birthday.
Here are a few things that helped me get through the difficult first months:
- Stop googling ‘low supply’ and start believing you have enough milk: I talk about this a bit on my blog, but the bottom line is, most women have enough milk for their babies to thrive off. Yes, your supply may have taken a dip this month and it may help to throw in an extra pumping or breastfeeding session. Ultimately, it helps to know the signs of low supply (seriously underweight babe, consistently unhappy eater, etc.) but seek out a professional lactation consultant before you supplement and worry yourself sick.
- *Do* read about pumping and or watch a video on correct pumping techniques: Sounds silly, but I actually injured a nipple due to incorrect pumping technique. Yes, I actually admitted that. This caused *the* most painful breastfeeding for days, which I then thought was thrush from baby. It all came down to pumping incorrectly which caused a slew of other issues. Your pump often comes with a cheesy demonstration DVD. Watch it!
- Stop comparing your breastfed baby’s growth to his or her formula fed counterparts: Breastfed babies tend to be leaner early on compared to formula fed babies. Don’t allow other mothers or your own mother to pressure you into supplementing just because your baby is lighter! Pay attention to your baby’s individual growth curve. If he or she is remaining along their natural curve, meeting major milestones, and generally seems happy, they’re likely getting plenty of milk.
- Know that you can keep going, and that it’s absolutely worth it to get over the little humps in order to maintain your breastfeeding relationship: What humps, you ask? Well, the initial “I can’t go anywhere for more than 2 hours because I have to keep up my supply,” or how about the happy biter/scratcher/nipple puller, or of course the 3rd, 4th, 5th night feeding in a row. Every time baby J bit me, scratched me, ended a painful session (due to that pesky pump), I swore that I’d have to stop. I am *so* glad I didn’t. Certainly don’t continue if you’re seriously unhappy or if you honestly feel like it’s time to wean. But typically, the issue you’re having right now is temporary and you’ll be so happy when you can say you overcame it and kept going.
- If you have to, count baby’s wet diapers to reassure yourself that they’re getting plenty of milk…then stop counting ;): Remember, babies 4 weeks and older tend to produce about 4-6 wet diapers in a 24 hour period. What’s considered wet? Try pouring 4-6 tbsp into a clean diaper.
- Make an appointment with a registered lactation consultant: Almost every hospital or birthing center has a lactation consultant on staff to aid with breastfeeding. Use them! There’s typically a warm line you can dial to present your issue over the phone and see if a visit in needed. Often the cost is only a copay and most insurance providers cover the rest. If you’re concerned about the cost, just ask before you schedule your appointment. Seriously, a lactation appointment could make all the difference. They can also do a weigh transfer to ensure baby is getting enough in a single session, which will put your mind at ease.
- Don’t feel like you have to stop breastfeeding just because baby has a food allergy: As we mention on our blog, baby J has several food allergies, which we learned about at 7 months. At first, I had to eliminate several foods and I felt so overwhelmed. It only takes a month or two to get used to an elimination diet, and you absolutely can make the change. Don’t kick yourself a month from now because you didn’t at least try it. Ask questions and see an allergist to determine how you can keep nursing. It’s worth it!
When it comes down to it, you are the only one who can determine what’s best for you and your babe. I remember many a night where baby pulled, cried, and I had no idea whether or not my milk or lack thereof was to blame. I honestly believe breastfeeding is one of the toughest yet most rewarding jobs out there. You absolutely have the strength and capability to continue, no matter the issue you’re facing. Don’t forget, you’re made to do this!
Thanks so much for having me, and happy nursing!