I can’t believe I was giving birth to our son a week ago today! Time absolutely flies, especially during the newborn stage. I was hesitant to share anything on breastfeeding, again, as I was petrified to be ridiculed online, again, about it. It can be such a toxic “community” and while I was struggling with my own battles of breastfeeding Oakley, I was called everything under the sun from selfish to ignorant to some really horrible things. I personally will never understand how people can be so incredibly hateful, especially when someone is being so raw and vulnerable. That being said, I know those same people will be reading this blog and spewing in their own hate. And I don’t care. From the little bit I shared in the last week, the amount of people on Instagram that have messaged me thanking me for normalizing not be a super-producer and for being proud of what I can produce- that is who I want to focus on. Which is why I decided to share for the second time.
If you are new to the blog or new to following me, I did everything in my power to make breastfeeding work with my daughter, Oakley. To read about everything I tried with her, reference this blog. I also want to acknowledge how mentally exhausting and depilating it can be to want to breastfeed more than anything and for your body to simply fight you on it. It feels like it SHOULD be the most natural thing in the world but for some, it just doesn’t work or it doesn’t work to the extent we want it to. I know it can feel like you are on a deserted island while it’s happening, to give so much of your time and schedule to trying to pump and feed to increase your supply and for it to just not work.
I have been there. I lived that. I cried daily with Oakley knowing my body was fighting me on something that felt came easy to everyone else. Looking back, now that she is 19 months, yes it hurt. But it truly was a drop in the bucket. I want to let everyone know who is struggling that is truly is a flash in time. Yes it hurts, it may hurt for a little while, but it will get better. I also recommend everything not to quit on a bad day. I told myself with both babies that I would give it my absolute everything for a month. If it was working, great. If not, a month was enough time for me to know I tried absolutely everything I could. I never wanted to look back and wish I didn’t quit just because I was having a bad day.
All of that being said, and because I need every disclaimer under the sun for my “fans”, I am not a lactation specialist, I am not an IBCLC, I am nothing other than a mom who has had two very different breastfeeding journeys. I am simply sharing what has worked for me this time around and what I changed. It’s always recommended to ask your doctor / IBCLC / whomever you are working with for your specific needs.
What Has Changed
I was induced for both of my children. Oakley was an 11 hour longer labor than Dean. Both delivered vaginally, one with an epidural and one without. With Oakley, as you saw from the blog above, I learned A LOT while working with my IBCLC. I felt so much more confident with Dean simply having had the knowledge I did from my experience with her. I learned about tongue and lip ties, what a latch should / shouldn’t feel like, the sounds a baby would make if they were actually ingesting milk while latched, supplements, warm and cold compress, different pumps, pumping schedules, etc. Simply put- I was more prepared this time around. That isn’t to say every first time mom is going to struggle, many don’t, but going through it once before, I was simply more confident.
The first notable thing I did different with Dean was I rented the hospital grade pump immediately. I didn’t even try to mess around with my hands free pump like I did with Oakley was nearly two weeks. I feel this made a huge difference in my production and how little engorgement I had compared to when I first had Oakley. My hospital allows you to rent the hospital pump (the Medela Symphony) for $60 a month. After delivery, they give you the parts that attach to the machine and you can use the pump while in the hospital and then have the option to rent it for home use. I truly believe it has made a huge difference for me this time around using it right away.
As a side note- I am strictly pumping right now and producing about 1/3 – 1/2 of what Dean needs per day. We are obviously supplementing with the rest and right now we are using this formula. I will be updating this blog with any and all changes and updates that I have regarding this journey.
I am meeting with my IBCLC on Wednesday to assess him for any tongue or lip ties (Oakley had once and they are genetic) and to work on his latch. Right now, as mentioned above, I am strictly pumping. I didn’t want to have him develop a poor latch if he does have either tie. When I was breast feeding Oakley, the engorgement was so incredibly painful due to two things: the poor latch and the hands free pump. It was extremely painful with my implants and something I wanted to avoid entirely. I also really enjoy pumping and seeing how much I am producing. I also would not be opposed to pumping the entire time, it allows Josh to feed him too and create the bond as well.
Another thing I changed is I did not get my placenta encapsulated like I did for Oakley. There is conflicting research on if ingesting it results in a negative impact on supply so I decided to forego it with Dean.
A few other key aspects of this journey have been new supplements I have been using. I have been doing extensive research on breastfeeding and milk production when it comes to supplements, vitamins, minerals, etc. Again, I need to reiterate (to mitigate the internet police for coming for me), please consult with your doctor and/or IBCLC if you have any questions regarding supplementation and your personal breastfeeding journey.
Supplements / Diet
- I was completely dehydrated while trying to breastfeed Oakley and had no idea until I started researching just how much water is recommended to properly hydrate a breast-feeding mother. I saw a little tip online that has really helped me and that’s to drink 8oz every time you pump or breastfeed on top of what else you are drinking during the day. I personally keep my 73oz water bottle next to me at all times and that also helps me visually see how much I have consumed for the day
- Along with additional water, an increase in electrolytes also needs to be a focus of breastfeeding mothers. I have an in-depth blog on the importance of electrolytes while breastfeeding. I have been using one packet of our REPLENISH to help with my electrolyte intake along with an additional magnesium supplement.
- I would like to point out that it is recommended to consume 500 calories above maintenance (this includes workouts) to maintain milk supply. One way to do that is to consume lactation cookies, they are very filling and great for milk quality and production! If you don’t want to make them, this is a great brand to buy!
- While trying to breastfeed Oakley, I had extremely painful engorgement that I could really never get to go away, in part because of my pump I was using I’m sure. This time around, these drops were recommended for overall milk duct health and engorgement relief.
- I have been drinking two cups of mother’s milk tea a day, one cup in the morning and one in the early evening
- Lastly, I have been using our brand new postpartum supplement to not only assist with my overall health, baby’s overall health, PP hair loss prevention, but also a healthy milk supply!
Dean was born on March 7 and my IBCLC (same woman I hired for Oakley) came to the house on March 16. We had almost a two hour appointment and went over everything under the sun that could effect breastfeeding. If you aren’t aware, I have had two breast augmentations (one in 2008 and one in 2014), I have an in depth blog on both of them, here. She has a few theories on why my BA may be effecting my ability to exclusively breastfeed but it is impossible to know for sure. I started off with such little breast tissue that I may have had few milk producing glands to begin with. The fact that my incisions are around my nipples don’t help and my implants sit below my muscles. Regardless, I am going to breastfeed and pump as long as I can produce. I cannot change anything about the original mass of my breast tissue nor can I change anything about my surgeries so there’s no use crying over spilt milk, pun intended.
That being said, we accomplished a lot in our two hour consultation. One of the most important things I wanted her to check was for a tongue and/or lip tie. Oakley had a severe tongue tie and as they are genetic, I was wanting to see if we needed to get him checked into a pediatric dentist. My IBCLC does a twelve point functionality test to test for a tongue or lip tie. While she cannot diagnose, she can recommend if she thinks what she sees is impacting the ability to latch. She did recommend we see a pediatric dentist due to the genetics but she did not feel, even if he has a tongue tie, that its effecting him in any way at the moment- which is great news.
We were also able to perfect his latch on both sides (my left side is so much easier to latch as I am right handed, which is usually the case). The plan is to get him on the breast for at least 1/2 of his feeding sessions a day. 10 minutes on each side and then pump for 10 minutes. I am pumping for 20 minutes (total) when he isn’t on the breast prior to a pumping session. She also wants me to feed him the breastmilk first and then formula and to not mix them together.
She also took a look at our postpartum formula and really like everything she saw, including the multivitamin aspect of it and the lactation support that we included- which is always amazing to hear when an expert in the field approves of a formula. Additionally, she recommended a tool called a Warming Lactation Massager which warms and massages the breast while pumping or while baby is latched.
I hope this blog helps, even if just one tip helped- that’s a win in my book! I truly appreciate the support while being so open and vulnerable. It means the world!
Per my Instagram post on April 2, 2022:
I’ve decided I’m done pumping. I’m done breastfeeding. I’m producing about triple what I did with Oakley. It has nothing to do with supply and everything to do with Oakley, my sleep, my time, and my mental health. I was simply putting too much pressure on myself to pump at exactly every 3 hours of the day. My life is so hectic and chaotic that I was becoming neurotic with the clock. I never wanted to leave the house (still don’t), but I didn’t want to miss a pumping session. I was losing out on a ton of sleep between feeding Dean and pumping every time he woke up (Josh ruptured his pec and cannot use his arm to bear any weight, it has nothing to do with him not “wanting to help”). I was putting so much pressure on myself to get up before Dean and Oakley to pump so that I could still have my mornings with her. If she woke up early, it threw my entire day off because I felt so rushed and pressured to finish pumping so I could tend to her. It also took away so much time during the day from Oakley. I only have so much time with her when she’s little and I couldn’t spare another second.
Props to every single mother who breastfeeds. It’s hard AF and the biggest sacrifice you can give a child. For me, I felt like I was sacrificing too much with Oakley to continue doing it. I just couldn’t find the right balance with work, a newborn, a toddler, and my own sanity. I gave it just shy of 4 weeks and I’m proud of myself for what I was able to do. I also know I owe no one an explanation but I felt like I should shed some light as so many of you have been so encouraging
I have been receiving so many questions on social media on what formula I am using for Dean. The formula that we loved for Oakley is no longer available due to the recalls from the products parent company. The formula we used for her wasn’t effected by the recalls but I could not find it anywhere. Here is the formula we are using for Dean and he seems to love it- no issues at all! Additionally, our coffee machine has an amazing feature for just hot water and you can select the ounces that you want. It’s quick and easy and it’s made mixing his formula extra easily (we do 1/2 hot water out of the machine and 1/2 filtered water to cool it down for him to drink but still keep it perfectly warm). If you are in the market for a new coffee machine that happens to be an awesome machine for making formula, I will link it here.