I will start out saying I am not a lactation consultant and am in no way a professional! But, I have been nursing my twins for over 9 months so I have learned a thing or two about breastfeeding! In this blog I will post everything and I mean EVERYTHING I know about breastfeeding. I will talk about how I prepared, how I struggled and how I succeeded. There are so many topics I want to cover so this may get long! I promise it is filled with MUST KNOW information if you are looking to breastfeed your baby!
Before baby arrives
Before baby I would recommend taking a breastfeeding class. There was one offered at my local health department, and I learned a lot! If you can’t find a class or don’t have the time, don’t worry! I will mention all the good stuff!
Invest in a nice padded nursing bra and a couple to sleep in! I know, bras at bedtime are torture! But I promise you it will be better than waking up to soaking wet sheets and breasts that hang and hurt due to milk and gravity!
Nursing pads! Because leaky boobs remember??
I bought lanolin cream for sore chapped nipples. I never used it though! I found that self expressing my milk helped the most.
Breastfeeding pillow! I could not have survived the first 4 months without my GIANT Twins Breastfriend Pillow. I found that same company makes a breastfeeding pillow for singletons too! Shop it here! It will save your shoulders and back, plus give you a little more freedom! At least you will have a free hand to change the channel and drink your water! You’ll be thirsty and trapped!
Breast pump! Even if you plan on exclusively breastfeeding, this pump was a necessity! I was able to store milk in the freezer and keep up supply. When I notice supply is dropping I can spend some extra quality time with my pump! Romantic for a Friday night huh?! Plus, if you ever want to be away from your baby for more than 2-3 hours you may want to have some milk on hand!
I didn’t buy nursing clothes. I couldn’t find any that didn’t look like nursing clothes if that makes sense? I bought a few button up tops. (Easy to unbutton) and a dress that had an elastic collar (easy to pull down, even on both sides!) To be honest though, I basically lived in my nursing bras and t-shirts the first few weeks, even though I should’ve just went TOPLESS! At least I had cute nursing friendly outfits for doctors visits and family outings!
At the Hospital
I brought nursing bras, pads, lanolin cream, and my giant pillow to the hospital. Because of tiny hospital beds and a very sore incision, I wasn’t able to use my pillow, and I wasn’t able to tandem feed. That’s alright! We soon got the hand of it! As I mentioned before, I never used the lanolin cream, but the nursing bras and pads came in handy!
My milk started to come in on the third day at the hospital. We left on the fourth day and my milk was definitely in!! My boobs were massive! Throw on a bra for support and some pads to catch all that extra milk!
Refresh on your basics if it’s been a while since you took that BF class! Remember nose to nipple, this way baby opens nice and wide and has a nice deep latch. Also remember belly to belly. (meaning your babies belly touching yours) Have you ever tried to swallow with your head turned sideways? It’s not the easiest especially for a brand new baby!
One of my twins spent a couple hours in the NICU to clear out her lungs, so I got some alone time to nurse Auri. I will never forget the way she nuzzled right into my breast and latched on. She was so alert and her big giant eyes stared at me! It was the most amazing feeling ever! It was weird I will add, the weirdest most amazing feeling ever!
Then Ellie came to the room and tried to nurse. It wasn’t the same. I knew they must’ve fed her. Even though I had asked them not to. If she was hungry and I wasn’t there I guess I understand! I wish it would’ve been different because that magical moment of that first alert, amazing, feeding was stolen from me! I never experienced that with Ellie at the hospital. Not even until a few days into our home did her and I get to successfully nurse! It was so frustrating!
To top it off, none of the feedings after with Auri were that magical either. She was so tired and weak. She wouldn’t want to stay awake long enough, and couldn’t suck hard enough to let down any colostrum. So there I was, spending 10-15 minutes trying to nurse one. Then 10-15 minutes trying to nurse the other. Then 15 minutes of pumping. Then feeding them both with a stupid colostrum filled syringe which took a while because heaven forbid you spill a drop! There was over an hour gone trying to feed my babies “unsuccessfully”. Sure they ate, but they didn’t nurse. They will probably be hungry in another hour and we will start the process over again… it was draining to say the least.
I wish someone had told me that even though that first feeding would be magical, that didn’t mean it would always be easy! Or that someone would have told me that even though Ellie and I didn’t get that wonderful first feeding together, that we would still be successfully breastfeeding 9 months later. So don’t give up! The first week was a horror story! The next week a less tragic love story! But it got easier, then it got hard, then it got easy again! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t give up!
Ask for HELP if you need it
I had the lactation consultant in my room every day. I am sure they were all tired of me and especially my boobs! I wanted to breastfeed so bad I was taking full advantage of any resources while I was there surrounded by nurses (who were also mothers). There should be a lactation consultant in your area if you are struggling with latch or ANYTHING at all! But don’t be ashamed to ask another mother you know who has dealt with similar experiences! My grandma, mother in law, sister in laws and my own aunts are all nurses, and they all breastfed their babies! So I would breastfeed right in front of them and ask them to check latch or burp this baby while I feed this one, or help try I different tandem feeding position. I am not shy though and my babies and I only benefited from it! I am grateful because I was given so much advice and offered so much help that I was successful in nursing my twins! (Where’s my gold star??) Truth be told, I could have never done it without the guidance and help of these wonderful women placed in my life!
When you get home
Set up a nursing station asap if you haven’t already! I had a certain spot on the couch where my giant pillow stayed. Diapers were there too for easy changes. Breast Pump, burp rags, water, snacks, books and TV remote. I spent so much time in that spot that I am REALLY glad we aren’t able to use the pillow anymore.. I have freedom to nurse where ever I want! This permanent station really was a necessity the first 6 months though! You don’t want to sit down to nurse and realize you are thirsty (because you will be!!) and have no water. Or the remote is across the room and you are stuck for 20 minutes just listening to your baby nurse. Or on second thought, maybe leaving the remote across the room wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world!
Give yourself time to get it right
Like I mentioned before, it took Ellie and I a while to establish breastfeeding. She preferred the bottle because it was so easy! I don’t blame her! Had I had just that one stubborn baby, I would’ve wound up pumping and bottle feeding guaranteed. But I was successfully feeding one baby and I was NOT about to go through the torture of nursing one, pumping and bottle feeding. HELL NO! So I remember being left alone with the twins when they were just 6 days old and I had just finished nursing Auri because I couldn’t tandem feed yet. It was Ellie’s turn and she fought me! Just screamed at my breast for what seemed like hours! In reality it was only 10 minutes. I stood up with her and heated up milk. Got it all ready and let her have a sip, then tricked her into latching onto me! This had to happen a couple times in order for her to accept it, but she finally did! Every baby is different, this I know first hand! Allow yourself more time to try and get things right! I couldn’t Tandem Feed until about 4-6 weeks. Meaning I took turns feeding babies for A LONG TIME. I gave myself time to heal and I am so glad I was patient enough to wait!
This is 10000000% the truth!!
Let’s talk pumping
After every nursing session, I would pump for 15 minutes! Time consuming I know! I told you before that I am REALLY glad I am no longer stuck in that corner to nurse for 20 minutes and pump for 15 more! BUT I wish I would’ve kept up pumping for longer! I felt to burned out after that first month of nursing and my twins were successfully breastfeeding EVERY 2 hours. I should’ve really been TOPLESS because I got about one hour where I could have a shirt on! So between 6-8 weeks I cut back on pumping, only doing it morning and night. Then only when I needed a bottle (Which my girls wouldn’t take and I set myself up for that being so stubborn about nursing!) My supply plummeted! I had an over supply just like most women and I though I had more then enough to feed them. And for a while I did!! But come 4 months old, I was having to figure out what worked to boost my supply again! My advice?? Keep pumping and you will keep up supply!
Also, drink water and lots of it!! Breast milk is mostly water, so think about it, if you don’t have enough water in your body, you won’t make enough milk for your baby! I preferred Gatorade because it has electrolytes and actually tastes good! My favorite is the blue and I noticed drinking Gatorade actually helped just like water! Dark beer, which I do NOT like, also helps boost supply. I tried it a couple times, but I can’t stand the taste. It did help though!
Oatmeal or whole grain foods will also help. Lots of protein! This was my main focus along side staying hydrated!
If you are needing an extra boost, like I do with my twins, then fenugreek will be your best friend!! The bottle says take 3, and I was a rebel and would take 8! Not at a time though. Take 3 with breakfast, 2 with lunch and 3 with dinner! When you wake up the next morning I PROMISE you will see a huge difference in how much milk you have! It is a difference you can literally feel!
Power pumping: This process is supposed to mimic your baby during a growth spurt! Remember that romantic Friday evening with my pump I was talking about? This is it! Pump for 15-20 minutes or until you have a let down and empty out! Wait 10 minutes and pump 10 minutes! Wait ten minutes and pump again for 10 minutes! Wait ten minutes and repeat! It should take about an hour in total and you may not have extra milk at all, but this will help increase it. Repeat the power pumping another day if you need and see if there is any difference.
Pumping vs. Nursing!
I was wanting to boost supply and thought if I pumped instead of nursed it would help increase it because I could control how long and see how much I had! This wasn’t the case for me. I wasn’t a great pumper. If I looked at a picture of my babies I noticed it would help! Cheesy I know but something about that release of hormones helped me let down more milk! DO NOT REPLACE FEEDINGS WITH PUMPING! It will only lower your supply because your pump does have the same suck as your baby. Your mind knows the difference and you will start making less milk. Instead, just add pumping session after nursing again, or during their nap, or early morning and night. But don’t take nursing sessions away!
Like I mentioned before, I did not use any creams for sore nipples. Instead I self expressed and it helped so much! Women swear by lanolin cream though if you need something a little more strong and medicated, and it is safe for you baby!
I was lucky enough to only experience a clogged duct one time! It only lasted a day and I was so glad when it finally unclogged itself! Such a relief! I tried nursing nonstop all day on that side to unclog it, but it never helped. So I got into a nice hot bath, laid my best sucker (Ellie) down on the bed and kneeled over her on all fours… backwards! I did this because I had read that wherever your clog is, you should angle it towards your babies chin. Also, gravity can only help at this point! I realize this is a visual of myself I don’t want to engrave in people’s minds, so I will just leave it at that! But, it helped and I felt my clogged duct become unclogged and I felt like a (slightly) more normal milk cow! Clogged ducts can turn to mastitis so make sure to try and unclog it right away!
I never had mastitis and I wouldn’t know the first thing about it! But, I bet Google does. Or your mom. Or your grandma. Or your lactation consultant. I am sorry that I am not much help in this department, but not really. I DO NOT want to experience that and am grateful I never had to. I hear it is awful!
My babies have teeth and I have been bit a time or two. I will unlatch that baby and put her away from me. After some tears shed and feeling hurt I will let her try to nurse again. Luckily, they normally won’t do it again! They associate biting with not being able to nurse and they understand fairly well at almost 10 months! I think the biting comes out of boredom, waiting for a let down or there is no milk left anyway!
Breastmilk is proven to be the BEST source of nutrients for your baby. It offers everything they need PLUS antibodies to help fight off sickness! Every antibody that your body has made to fight off colds and flus will be passed on to your baby! I have heard it referred to as their FIRST immunizations. I have been blessed with two VERY healthy babies. A cold might have hit our house, but nothing compared to the STREP and RSV I have been seeing. I guarantee it is because of breastmilk!
You have to feed your baby anyway. You need to hold your baby anyway (propping up a bottle for a baby is NOT advised and will cause ear infetcions!) WHY go through the extra time of making a bottle? It is the most amazing feeling to grab a baby or two, and cart them right back to bed with me. I remained a zombie and didn’t have to fuss around with making TWO bottles at 3 am.
There is such a special bond that you build. They need you! No one else. While at times it felt like a very hard job and a lot of responsibility, kind of like pregnancy, I was the only one who could offer that to my babies and it felt nice knowing that I am irreplaceable to my girls!
If you read clear to the end, you my dear deserve a GOLD STAR! This was a long one and I still am debating whether I left out anything! I hope you found this helpful but remember to take advice with a grain of salt. What works for me might not work for you. Good luck breastfeeding, it is definitely the HARDEST part of being a new mom.