Ah, Breastfeeding.

my angel

its Ah, breastfeeding because its aww and its ahh.

its aww because its simply the most special beautiful wonderful thing ever. i never knew. 

its ahh because it comes hand in hand with 25 things i never knew existed and they arent all easy.

I’ve had a packed little breastfeeding experience so far in these short 7 weeks…and you know what? i’ve learned thats the common thing. i never ever knew that, i thought you just put the baby on and that was that and i dont consider myself an uninformed person. blame it on my sister who fed 4 kids like she was little house on the prairie. i knew she got mastitis, but that was it. i had no idea that most people have a breastfeeding experience.  just as every pregnancy is different for every woman, same goes for breastfeeding. and each time if different for each kid.

i never knew there was a plethora of issues you could deal with, with breastfeeding.

(just starting out…this is a long post. i listed out some TIPS i wish someone told me, and if you dont want to read all this, just scroll to the bottom and read the tips. not because i’m some educator, hello im new at this – but this is long….kinda like not reading the book in high school and cheating with the foot notes.)

blisters. open cuts. bleeding nipples. tongue and lip ties. plugged ducts. bad latch. poor suck. WTF babies, get it together. i mean it makes sense, nipples are this delicate little item thats even rarely seen the light of day and now we have them out 24/7 with little mouths chomping away.

speaking of that. prior to my own experience with breastfeeding (BFing), when i saw a woman breastfeeding, a friend or in public….i was like oh. shit. i. must. avert. my. eyes. they must be embarrassed if i meet eyes with them. i shouldnt look.  wow they’re so brave. not like i was judging in a bad way,  i was just like whoa i could never do that! how brave! i think in general its such a weird topic for americans. a breast! to feed a child! i understood the whole breastfeeding in public thing….yes….those women should be able to feed their babies. i understood it in that way. like logically. but not really any actual understanding. like no, i wont even *think* about taking my baby into a gross bathroom stall to feed her. um, no. and even understanding the connection, the bond. no clue. and thats not all *my fault* – there’s just no way to know or somehow explain the beautiful bond that breastfeeding is. there’s no human way, til its you. i would hear the hearts and flowers about BF’ing and just did. not. get. it. i remember my sister crying to me on the phone when she was going thru the start of her treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis and the medicine she was taking meant she had to stop breastfeeding, and Liam was 6mo. Her last baby, she wasnt ready to stop at 6 mo. she took pictures and journaled or video’d it – was so emotional about it. i felt bad for her. but now i get it. 

i had no idea i would feel so emotionally tied to feeding my daughter so quickly.

ok. so fast forward back to the story.

yep, i am sharing breastfeeding pics. something i never even thought i’d want a photo of. but this is a normal thing. a wonderful thing. and i want photos to remember it. keep it private you say? its my blog…you can keep yours private on yours.

our doula stayed once i delivered and helped with BF’ing. getting it going. and they help you in the hospital, when the nurses come in. my sister had told me, just grab your boob and offer it like a sandwich. essentially like a C shape grab, and flattening it, and putting it into the babies mouth. we had a segment (one night) in our birth class. thats basically what i knew. i was gonna read the Ina May breastfeeding book, but it started off well, so i really didnt think i needed to read anything.

I’m sharing – because – WTF, no one talks about this and i knew basically nothing going into this and we need to know and we need to be sharing. that’s something about our generation i think, less sharing, more googling, more figuring it out on our own. shared experiences help teach. we should be talking and helping. breastfeeding is normal, not something to be done in the corner or pretend it doesnt exist. i’ve noticed the topic averted, like we’re talking about something risque. or not even that there’s something wrong…its just not talked about in general. so much is shared about pregnancy, but not really with breastfeeding.

ok so, we got off to a good start. they handed me a nipple shield in the hospital and didnt even show me how to properly apply it. whats a nipple shield? yea i didnt know either. its a little soft plastic shield that has an artificial nipple that you put over your own nipple, that guards against pain or helps with flat or inverted nipples. well mine were “not ideal” – basically just continuing my boob shape, nothing “nipply” for the baby to grab on to, so the shield helps pull up my nipple more into a shape for the baby to grab on to. really helpful. but also a bitch when you start thinking about feeding in public…because, its a whole ordeal to get it on (which i’ve now done on a plane in row 6 with people boarding and watching), it has to be clean, etc etc….I liked using it but i wanted to get to a point without it so i could feed her on the go and not have this whole setup (not to mention its a bitch at 3am). our doula saw us like 3 weeks PP and and said we’d probably need to hire a Lactation Consultant (LC) when we wanted to stop with the shields bc Portland would prefer the shield. my sister was concerned i was using them and wanted me to start trying feeds without it. Whats advised is taking it off mid feed when she’s already got her suck going and pop her back on and hope she doesnt notice! i did it a few times with success but it was too close to the end of the feed and she was like…yea thats ok, this is different, i’ll just be done. 

then, at about end of 5 weeks – Portland started staying on for lonnng periods of time. i thought she was just a good eater. no idea. i mean, we took the (one day) class but i really didnt know that much and thought just letting her go how long she wanted was normal. typically she’d just pull off and be done on her own, 25-30 min. sometimes 40. but then it became 45. 50. 60. 80 and yes 90 minutes. my nipples started looking like someone rubbed sandpaper on them. one night i looked down and there was blood on portland’s white shirt – alarming – and also ouch. i had been feeding her on one side per feed since the beginning. it was easier, and i didnt know how long she would feed each feed so how would i be able to guess what half her feed was and take her off, get the nipple shield set up on the other side and go. yea…it was just easier to do one side per feed. (which my midwife has since told me is totally fine and she did that method in her BF’ing) But generally you’re advised to offer both sides at each feed. You want both sides to be stimulated each time. which i have learned is important for your milk production. (again, news to me i would have liked to know prior to starting this journey.)

This was thursday-friday 2 weeks ago, and we were going out of town for a 1 day stay in Bellingham, I knew we needed to call a lactation consultant. we called, Sound Beginnings, because they were the only in-home lactation consultants i found easily…and it was actually the gal who taught in our birth class with Penny Simpkin. i recognized her voice on the phone. the only time we could get was 7am the next day. taking an appt at 7 am, well you gotta be motivated because i am not seeing humans at that time of day unless its really important. i couldnt go one more day not knowing what was going on and i needed to figure out what the deal was so i could hopefully get my nipples healed and a better breastfeeding situation going on. its not a problem you can put on the back burner, because every couple of hours…you have a tiny mouth reminding you of it.

we had a wonderful consultant – she and i really got along and we felt totally taken care of. there’s definitely something great about doing in-home….#1 you dont have to drive anywhere but #2, its more homey for something really intimate and you get to be in your own element which is so nice….and you just feed more at ease talking. she did a comprehensive evaluation, that was so helpful, and watched a feeding session.

  • Portland has/had a posterior tongue tie (never heard of this before a few months ago) basically the tongue is tethered down more than it should which impacts a good latch and suck.
  • She’s a “lazy eater” not doing much hard sucking, just light little sucks. Which i then learned can mess with your supply.
  • We now know she has a bit of a recessed chin – that we are seeing an Occupational Therapist for in early april which we were told (in her opinion, the Dr who snipped P’s tongue) is impacting her suck more than the tongue tie.
  • It still was taking her a good amount of time to coordinate getting latched on. she bobs around for a while, still trying to figure it out – which again i had no idea wasnt normal – she said by now at 6 weeks, she should be able to get right on. news to me!

I switched sides at about 20 min (nope never did that before) and she was able to weigh P before and after the feed with a scale that can see how many ounces she got in a feed. She got about 3 ounces. good for where she was at, 3-4 ounces being a good amount for her size/age. She recommended we get the tongue tie fixed, because it can impact BF’ing (which it was) and can have consequences later on: dental problems, speech impediments, interference with milk supply, pain for the mother (bleeding, plugged ducts, mastitis) extreme pain with latch, termination of breastfeeding, baby failing to thrive….whoa thats enough consequences for us, we knew we wanted to get it fixed. I also didnt know how common a tongue tie is! i feel like i’ve heard of so many now that we’ve been aware of what it is.

we felt so much more in the know after our consultation. i will just say. WTF, lactation consultants should be a NECESSITY for every new mother like WEEK ONE of breastfeeding, here we were on week 6 with problems and i wish we would have known about them and solving the problems weeks ago, and before my nipples became cracked like the salt flats. if you’re about to have a baby, schedule (and find a LC) before you have the baby and when you have the baby, get that gal over asap. If you want to breastfeed, its so beyond helpful to have a professional one on one, better than some hour class or “knowing tid bits from a friend or sister” or even worse KNOWING NOTHNG about breastfeeding beyond the passing advice from nurses in the hospital. HIRE ONE. most are covered by insurance in WA.

anyhow, so then our next mission was to find a Dr ASAP to perform the frenotomy for her tongue tie. We were referred two in seattle that Sound Beginnings will ONLY refer to. The Docere Center and One Sky Medicine (Elias Kass) – of course they were both booked way out….but i got ONE spot available with Docere and booked it asap. two days went by and i got back to excruciating pain and thought i CANT wait one more day. and went on a mission to find someone to do it that week before we left for spokane to visit my family. I found the really known Dr for Tongue tie in Portland, OR – Dr. Ghaheri  who appears to be the local beyonce of tongue tie. i told them a bit of what was going on and they were gonna get us in the next day even tho they didnt have availability til end of April. praise the lord! I told CJ and he quickly shut driving to portland and back in one day down (enter: tears) and said he would find us someone local. i only wanted to go to the best of the best (enter: duh) not just anyone….but i do realize driving 6 hours for this would be a bit much…but to me (and my nipples – it sounded well worth it). Of course – just as he does – he found someone to do it and the next day (there is no problem he cant solve)  so i agreed to cancel with Ghaheri and drive the 15 min to Ellen Passloff here in Seattle.

i’ll speed it up. we met with Dr Passloff – who was really nice and hey! trained by our Pediatrician Dr. Carol Doroshaw at the Kids Clinic – so that was cool. she performed the procedure, it was terrible listening to Portland gag and cry and i DID NOT watch (CJ did) and it was over in a few minutes and i nursed her right after. The Dr said it was a pretty minimal tongue tie and in her opinion it was her recessed chin that was causing problems for eating. I was a bit disappointed that they didnt have a lactation consultant on hand like the other two offices we were referred to. because there, they will ONLY do it with a LC present. whatever, it was done and i couldnt be picky about it but just trust that she did a good job.

SIDE NOTE: (i think she has an upper lip tie as well and I’m gonna schedule something with one of the specialists to have it looked at. maybe she doesnt. but maybe she does. and the LC or doctor, i dont remember ever verbally saying i looked at her upper lip and its fine. which is frustrating to me. bc now i need to schedule another appointment to have it looked at. now that i know all this, i will be vigiliant about crossing my T’s with the next baby…we cant rely on them to cover everything, it looks like i need to make sure myself!) 

ok.

so operation heal nipples. because i let her go such long periods of time on one side – i had huge cracks. like open flesh cracks. not fun, and i think you can imagine how bad cracks and bleeding on your nipples can be. then have a little mouth sucking on them. yea…it got pretty excruciating that i was not looking forward to feedings – when prior – that was my favvvvorite parts of my day. i realized every time i let her on, i took one step back in healing and the best way to heal and get back to it was stop breastfeeding until they heal.

enter the saddest, most heartbreaking thing yet for me.

not being able to feed my baby, myself.

i know it sounds dramatic, to have to switch to bottles, but there’s no way to explain how beautiful it is to have their tiny body on you, all those hours of real quality time, the insane bond you feel. its incredible and now i can understand why moms BF their kids til their 12. haha juuuust kidding, but i get it. and i felt this incredible emotional bond to portland by breastfeeding. i was giving her everything she needs. i got to spend SO much time with her. i learned so much about her in those hours. i got to be next to her more than anyone else. she needed me.

i started pumping exclusively and we did the bottle game. Dr. Browns bottles – recommended by our LC. when we’d been using comotomo prior. i like both. there’s more parts to Dr Browns. Comotomo is a bit harder to handle and travel with because its so wide. So because i HAD NO RESERVE besides a bag of colostrum that i had to pump for comfort when my milk came in, which we used, and gave her way too much, because we had no idea how many ounces to give because you dont see that when you’re breastfeeding (i guess we could have googled it, duh) and so we are living bottle to bottle. build a reserve folks. do it. I’m now a whole whopping ONE bottle ahead of the game, but only by being religious about pumping every 2-3 hours, yes even in the middle of the night. (Enter getting less sleep because of a pump, not my baby)

a tongue tie can mess with your supply. as can a poor suck. because she’s not stimulating to a deep enough duct (or something, i’ve read too many articles) to tell your body to make more….and i was doing all those weeks with one boob at a time per feed. so one boob was getting stimulated every 5-6 hours. not good. well. not good for our setup. i should have been feeding on both sides. or pumping the other side each feed. again, lesson learned. when she fed with the LC present…and was weighed, she said she got a totally fine amount, so maybe i literally have no problem with my supply, but pumping and seeing it coming out, messes with your mind and wondering if you’re producing enough…so, naturally, i was worried i wasnt providing enough.

 So. then i went from this beautiful, emotional bond of breastfeeding to pumping exclusively and worrying if i was making enough. and racing against the clock of her naps and my pump schedule.

and it fucking sucks.

  1. there is so much shit to wash and clean and dry with pumping.
  2. you have to be hooked up to a machine and it all becomes so mechanical and not emotional at all.
  3. you start focusing on numbers and a math game instead of this precious time spent with your baby
  4. more work in the middle of the night to find the plug in, get them properly right on the center of your boob. again. clean it all.
  5. and i’ll say it again. it becomes a math game. you visibly see how much milk you’re producing – and never before did i worry about my supply – but with pumping you’re judging yourself with each pump sesh. one of the times CJ said, “oh thats all you got out?” …which he didnt mean in a bad way…but you’re expecting all this milk and you dont realize how much they are getting breastfeeding because, well duh, you cant see…so it just takes the joy out of it. it became an assessment of how much i can pump in a session instead of this emotional lovely time of feeding my daughter. // now, i have been working on my supply a bit, because she had been sucking with a weak suck, i know that can affect my milk supply, as can the tongue tie…and i have no idea if what im pumping is even considered low, but its messed with my mind and I’ve been taking lactation herbs and making lactation cookies and stuff to help build my supply (as wanting a reserve) which isnt all bad of course….but i was never anxious about my abilities until i started pumping.

all in all to say, pumping hasnt been the funnest. AND not to mention its been incredibly difficult to pump and not be able to physically feed her. i pump and CJ feeds her (nights and weekends) and when he’s at work, i feed her with a bottle, then put her down eventually then pump. basically its a full time job…when before i was able to breastfeed her and have my day while she was napping. now my job is to pump when she naps. when we were visiting my family, i had to pump and everyone else got time with her, to give her a bottle. this was terrible for me. it should be me. a few times at night when i didnt even get to hold her, there i am next to CJ all hooked up while he cuddles her and gives her a bottle. my hours with her significantly went down. if im being honest, not breastfeeding definitely impacted the joy i was feeling as a mother. im not depressed or anything, and now that its been 2 weeks, I’ve gotten more used to it… but it was just so sad taking away that time with my baby that i was so used to getting. being her litle expert. knowing all her moves and tendencies. she’s my baby. and i had to watch others and hold her. while im hooked up to a machine. sorry, but it blows big time.

one of the nights last week i was crying and crying all hooked up while CJ held her and i couldnt even touch her. its really hard to get used to when that was you each and every time.

its like going on a date when you’ve been long distance dating, and having plexi-glass in between you. 

its like having a beautiful wonderful meal in front of you and only being able to smell it. 

still a tiny bit good. but nothing of what it was intended to be. 

now i know i should be politically correct and say, any way is good and feeding your baby is feeding your baby. and im grateful im able to pump and still provide for her.  but im being honest on this blog…and it sucks bad. and just adds so much more to do. and i was feeling less joy this way. i was desperate to get healed and get back to feeding my sweet baby and now watching from a distance.

Breastfeeding Is:

  • ready to go all the time
  • with you all the time
  • cant spill it walking up the stairs
  • does not need to be cleaned and sterilized
  • is 110447330220% more satisfying and emotional (to me) to breastfeed than bottle feed
  • and you dont have this visual hurdle to get over with each pumping session wondering “how much will i make?!?”  and feel inadequate if it doesnt meet the standards of what you think you should be making or this math stat.

(Now being 2 weeks in, there are some benefits. like CJ helping if i am not able to feed her at that moment when she wakes up (aka middle of making dinner) or we’re running out the door and cant stop to feed thhhat moment, etc so its not allll bad and I’m glad we’ll have the flexibility with the bottle for things in the future. now that I’m out of the suuuuper emotional state of not BF’ing her…i do see some good parts about the bottle)  

Im so over the black and white i thought i would only want for her. pink and florals alll the way.

SOME TIPS I WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TOLD ME

this last weekend a girl and i, who we were in birth class together, were chatting about breastfeeding. and we both were so shocked that with breastfeeding and birth, there are SO many things they leave out! Yea yea we took a BF’ing class to learn all the positions to hold the baby, but to me…thats the least important, i can google that. we need to know that HEY your milk wont always be like it is when it first comes in, it will stay at the demand you’ve built over the first weeks, so hey..its important to build a good supply. or hey, protect your nipples, they are so important. or hey. if you’re having troubles..it could be this this or this. and what the heck a tongue tie was anyway! So here’s some stuff Ive learned and would love to hear your lessons as well!

  • Pump the other side or pump an extra 5-10 min after feeds to build a reserve from the beginning! Especially in the first weeks when your milk is pourrring out and dripping everywhere.  My sister told me to do this but i had SO much milk i was freaked pumping was gonna give me this nutso supply that i couldnt keep up with so i was like naw im not gonna pump extra. which i will totally be doing next time around.
  • Pump a ton of colostrum. you only have it for a bit! Maybe you only have a certain amount but i believe its a certain amount of days not certain amount of ounces…so i should have pumped more and had it on hand for when she is sick and just because its “liquid gold” and here for a limited time! (i could be wrong on the amount but i dont want to take the time to google it. ha) 
  • Colostrum (the super nutritious milk that comes before your regular breastmilk…) is yellow. its stains! then your milk turns white. maybe after a week? i dont remember. i was like omg breastmilk is yellow and it stains?! great. dont worry its only for a little.
  • Feed her for 20-25 min on each side every feed. she should empty out your breast in that time. you dont just have milk in there for 900 hours, which i was clueless about so either she was such a slow sucker that she was still getting milk (probably) OR she was using me as a pacifier. I could have saved my nipples all this hurt and all this time off breastfeeding if i would have taken her off those long feeds. well actually i read your milk is always being produced, so maybe you could go forever, but to protect your nipples and self: feeding 90 minutes is not normal, take them off. Now i know!
  • Stimulate both breasts at each feed! even if one side is the pump. To keep up your supply and build a reserve.
  • Get a My BrestFriend – i already have it, but im putting that here in case you dont have it. GET IT. its the best pillow evvver for feeding. so many reasons. you can see my write up on it in my Fav Things post that I’ll post tomoro.
  • Build a reserve. use those weeks in the beginning when you have an oversupply to keep that demand. i was so worried about having an oversupply because i had so much and didnt want to have this insane supply to keep up with, i didnt realize the opposite is worse. its easier to let yourself regulate your supply to less than work at getting it to become more (which i am doing now aka pumping evvery 2 hours).  week 6 or so, your hormones level off (lac consultant told me this, i didnt look it up to confirm, so if its wrong…blame her) and the cues you’ve built to show the “demand” of your baby, your body will regulate to…so do more than less. you’ll thank yourself at having a good supply or at least a good reserve especially when/if a bump in the road comes – like I’m in – where a reserve would have saved us from being behind and having to give her formula a few times and then living bottle to bottle because i never expected to have any problems so i built no reserve. Even if you dont have bumps….you should have some so dad or grandparents or a nanny can give her a bottle if you’re on an errand. i literally had no reserve besides a bag of colostrum i pumped bc my boobs were exploding and i had to pump. i never thought about having a reserve, because #duh i would just breastfeed her. might not always be the case. build a reserve.
  • Get some back-up formula. My sister told me this and i didnt even think about it. When i started running errands, or you know had a root canal when she was 3 weeks old, i had so much anxiety about leaving her and not being back in time, she didnt know how to take a bottle then, which i realize you can put breastmilk in a bottle too – but if something were to happen and you dont have any stored, you need something in the house – because running out to the store with a hungry screaming baby would not be good. Case in point…a few weeks ago, a semi turned over in Seattle and people were stuck on the freeway for 6 hours…there had to be a mom out there that was screwed with their baby at home. just saying….having emergency formula even if you only exclusively breastfeed, its a good thing to have on hand.
  • It wont always be like when your milk comes in. My milk came in on day 3 and i was bursting at the seams. The little globes that fill up were like marbles and my boobs were so massive and so painful. I thought THAT was what it was gonna be like while breastfeeding. this insane fullness and tenderness. dont worry, thats only for a few days, then its more normal (but still huge) and so I was like nope nope nope im not gonna be able to breastfeed if this is what its like!  I had to pump often to get some relief and comfort and i was like omg i cant do this for a year, its so painful! i didnt know it leveled off. and i still got regularly engorged those first 1-5 weeks but it was nothing like that first week. and now that I’m past week 6 and my body has taken over, my boobs have totally returned to a normal gush feeling, not hard marbles inside or between each feed being able to tell what side i fed on last just by feeling which one was engorged…they are more boob consistency back to normal.
  • Trust yourself. if you think something is off, it probably is. hire a lactation consultant asap.  its soooo much better to nip it in the bud early than let it go for weeks and possibly bleed into other problems (pun intended).
  • Hire a Lactation Consultant WEEK ONE of being home with a baby. its sooo worth it. just do it. if you plan on having a long and healthy BF’ing relationship…just do it. This should be a US law. other countries are obviously way ahead of us on this (surprise surprise).

INCREASING YOUR SUPPLY

like i said – pumping made me self conscious that i wasnt producing enough. im sure i was producing the same good amount as when she was BF’ing but visually seeing it makes you wonder. she was always content and happy with BF’ing – way happier, well, she would pull off herself and be so happy instantly, because SHE was choosing when she was done. with bottles, she cries and wimpers for a few minutes after the bottle is gone no matter almost how much we give her. she doesnt like not being in charge of when she’s done. a few minutes goes by and she realizes she’s full and she’s her happy self but i dont like that she has those minutes of wimpering. when we’ve given her more, thinking she’s still hungry, she will spit up a ton, which means her stomach is over-full so we know the amount we’re giving is good….she’s just much happier on the boob.

so anyhow, i started thinking about increasing my supply. the lactation consultant said the amount she got after the feed was totally fine, so i think just switching her to feeding on both breast would solve the problem if she wasnt getting enough on one side orrr just finally getting enough after 50-80 min on one side. regardless, upping my supply for each side or being able to build a reserve is good. i bought some herbs and started having more lactation tea.

HERE’s the SITCH of what i was using. 

  • Fenugreek // the most common herb used for lactation. its what is used to flavor artificial maple syrup…you know you have the right amount in your system when you start smelling like maple syrup (there could be worse things) and i totally do right now. ha. You take like 10-12 pills a day. i just take like 4 every time i pump.  $5 for a pack of 100. super cheap.
  • Lactation cookies or bites // Ordered a mix on amazon, I ate an entire cookie batch in a day soo thats not really the best solution for long term. Not trying to gain 40lbs here. And made some bites with a PB base, more like peanut butter balls – really easy to grab. with Flaxseed, Brewers Yeast, peanut butter, honey….
  • Honest Lactation Plus // from Target – they have Fenugreek, Milk Thistle, Fennel, Shatavari, Marshmellow extract.
  • Upspring mlkflow (amazon) // Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle
  • Gaia Lactation tea

Ok so this seems like a lot now that i typed it all out…I was curious to see what worked and what i liked. Truth is, i have no idea what worked bc i tried them all at once. haha. so great plan there. The Honest pills ($20) have the most in them but the straight up Fenugreek is cheaper and i really have no idea what works best.

  • Pumping a TON // the more your boobs are empty, the more you make. i thought it was like a empty it out, let it build up again and empty it out again was how it worked. (which in a sense is true, but not how you build up a supply) this is not true. your body is always producing, so the more you keep an empty breast from nursing or pumping, will tell your body your baby is in greater need and you will make more. NO idea thats how it worked. looks like i needed to read a book prior to breastfeeding. #duh And once again this is the shit people need to tell you! i just thought oh yea, the longer i wait the more will be in there…which is true buuuut it also is telling your body thats how much you need to make and being 5-6 hours spaced out like i was when doing one boob per feed…was telling my body her needs were that far apart. Anyhow. this has been the most helpful tid bit to me to understand.

I read a ton of articles and info because – like i said – pumping made me anxious i wasnt making enough – and the most helpful thing i read was to be vigilant about emptying your breast as much as you can. as i said above. the more you empty it out, the more – and faster – your body will produce. it doesnt have to be a wait for it to fill back up thing. like i thought it was. in my experience, i believe this it was allowed me to start producing more, was being consistent about pumping every 2-2.5 hours in the day, and 3-4 hrs at night. It wasnt instant – like how we want results, like THAT day – but I started really doing this over the weekend (its tuesday) and reaalllly starting to do it monday and tuesday and I feel like I’m seeing and extra ounce total in each pump session. So I’m sure being consistent with it over time will be even more. my sister and mom both had oversupply so i shouldnt be worried about it (not that it means i will have their experience) but its a good indicator. I dont think i would have ever even had these thoughts had i not switched to pumping this past 10 days but thats what happened. I guess it was a good lesson learned because it has really impacted me guarding my supply, knowing that its sensitive and not just “oh it will be like this forever” when my milk came in situation.

HEALING MY NIPPLES

They got pretty bad, there was a crack on the left that you could fit the edge of a quarter in. after i’d feed her, it was pulled apart and red and fleshy. if that doesnt make you squeal in your jeans, i dont know what would. I had been using earth mama nipple butter…basically like a coconut oil blend which i really like but didnt seem to be doing any healing.I switched over to lanolin and that seemed to provide more healing. Once it got bad enough and I wasnt able to feed my sweet baby myself and walked into this pumping full time job, I got pretty motivated to get healed.  i – as we do – did sooo much reading online at the best way to heal nipples and here’s what worked best for me.

  • Saline Soak // Mix 8oz warm water with 1/2 teaspoon salt and soak your nipples in it for a few minutes. We all know salt heals, and i thought this would be a nightmare – putting salt on an open wound?! – but the soak has the same amount as tears so it shouldnt hurt and i can vouch for that.
  • Switched to Lanolin // which seemed to help heal faster than the coconut oil blend i was doing.
  • Airing them out! // Since they were bad when we were around family, it was hard to find time to be topless but now that I’ve been home, I’ve been Pumping…then doing a Saline Soak, then putting on the APNO. then alternating with Lanolin bc you can only use the APNO 4 times a day.
  • APNO Ointment // All Purpose Nipple Ointment – this is more an old fashioned thing i guess, i started hearing about it a lot on message boards and that it saved womens journey of breastfeeding and people saying it was a necessity and that every woman should have this that breastfeeds. its a compound prescription – so they pharmacist has to mix 3 different ointments to make it. originally, my friend who is a lactation consultant said that i could make my own with cortizone cream, polysporin and lomotrin – which i ran out to make and used for one day then called Swedish just to see if they would call in a prescription without an appointment and they did! so i got the prescription bc I wanted the real stuff and get myself healed ASAP.
    • I think this legit really worked and fast. I got it monday and its friday now and they are pretty much healed, I know its been time, other factors and pumping to let them heal but i really think this is what did it. If you are having problems, I would really see if your Dr can call this in. // There are only a few pharmacies that will do compound prescriptions – I got mine at Kelley Ross in Capitol Hill.
    • UPDATE: i have fed her on my right a few times and its still sore but close to healed and i did my left which was the really bad open wound one and it was too soon. hoping i didnt take a step back, but I’m gonna let it really heal and then some before i put her on the left. my goal is to be back to breast 100% by the end of this week.
    • I was worried that she would forget how to breastfeed, since the bottle is easier and less work for her, or that she would prefer that…really my fear here because i want to almost exclusively BF…but in the times i’ve put her on my right, she’s been fine and actually getting on way faster (maybe the tongue tie helped or maybe the bottles?) so thats great, but she’s gotten frustrated 2 out of the 3 times and FREAKED at the 20 min mark (maybe my breast was empty) but trying to switch her to the other boob, she was way too worked up and i had to do bottle the rest of the feed. I know it will be a delicate game getting back to breast and i need to be patient. she will get it and we will get there.

 

Longest blog in the world. 

wow, breastfeeding. its been my most favorite thing of motherhood so far. sadly its been 10 or so days and I feel like its been 58393 days and i dont even remember it. I’m easing back into things with a few sessions a day working towards full time as my nipples heal fully. i never knew i would care just so much about how i was feeding my baby and i never ever knew there were so many issues with breastfeeding. pain. supply. latches. tongue tie. all that. as soon as I wrote something about this all on IG, there were SO many stories and people that shared their experience, and i was blown away at just how many of us have these stories…how did i not know this all before? i really feel like sharing is so important and helps us all so much. maybe its me, because I always am propelled into sharing whats going on when I’m learning and experiencing new things…so for now, its gonna be all’otta this me and my boo thang grow thru our mama-daughter things.

i’d love to hear your experiences.

and with that, I sign off this worlds longest blog post.

byyyye.

//

ALSO!  as we do, I made my tiny baby an Instagram account. I’ve been posting the best of the best on my own IG but there’s just sooo much more i want to show and wouldnt on my own. plus those people didnt sign up for a baby feed (but duh i’ll keep posting) but if you follow her, then i dont feel bad about cramming your feed with photos and videos of her. yayyy. I went back and posted everything i liked from day 1 of her birth i havent shared all on my own IG or FB…so if you want give her a follow, its:

@PortlandJenkins on Instagram

6 Comments

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  1. Great job Pandi! This stuff should not be left up to moms to learn on their own. I wish I had been in the room that first week so I could have just put the pump in front of you and told you “I know you think you’re fine but just DO IT!” Haha!
    The one thing I would add to milk production and healing is that your milk and ability to heal is only as good as what you put in your own body. If you have a diet high in grain, sugar, soy etc. you likely won’t have as robust a supply as if your diet is heavy in healthy proteins and fats (coconut and olive oils, homemade bone broth…) and lots of vegetables.
    Love,
    Your Sister

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  2. Hey Andria! Thanks for the post! So great to hear another moms journey! I had the benefit of having good coworker who was also a LC. I wanted to share with you that ou can put all your pump parts in a ziplock (rinsed or not) and store them inbetween feeds without having to wash them, up to three uses I believe. Plus the cool nipple shields feel nice on soar nipples. Hope this helps cut down sometime at night for you!

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  3. I loved reading this because I felt the same way 11 months ago. I really do wish there was more information about the actual process of breastfeeding. Throwing out an extra tip (not sure if your LC’s mentioned this to you): massage your breasts while pumping and using a warm pack right before your pump to help get more milk out and empty all the ducts.

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  4. Ugh, there’s so many things they don’t tell you! Also, I’m at the end of my breastfeeding journey, after 17 months, and nobody told me how hard it would be to stop! One product I loved was the Milkies Milk Saver. You know how when you’re feeding on one side and your other side is leaking? This little gadget catches that milk for you so you can add it to your reserves. You wouldn’t think it was very much, but I’ve caught over 2oz with it in one feed. Definitely worth it, as each drop helps. Hope you heal up soon.

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  5. Wonderful blog Andria! I went through many trials on my own years ago when I was a new mother. Flat nipples, problems latching on, etc. My nipples cracked, bled, etc. Even had a vaginal yeast infection which went thru my whole body. Ended up in my nipples and my daughter got thrush. It was hell! But perseverance won out and nursed her to 10 months when she quit abruptly! (And this was in 1991, so no internet to Google!) The LaLeche League had experienced advocates that would come help. Lots of work, but oh so worth it!

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  6. Thanks for all the helpful info!! I know it will be a god send in 2 months when my little girl is born. I just screen shot like the whole thing haha Love seeing your journey & learning from you & your beautiful daughter xoxo

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