I wanted to share an exchange an old friend of mine and I had a couple of weeks ago. She is currently pregnant with her second baby and had some questions on breastfeeding. While I am no lactation consultant or an expert in any way on this topic, nor do I claim to be, I felt that maybe somehow sharing this can help others in similar situations as well.
As with all other parts on this blog, feel free to collect, select and reject as you deem fit for your specific situation. That said, I will have to admit I am still flattered that other moms out there would like to hear my opinion. So thank you for that!
In the interest of privacy, names not already mentioned in this blog have been left out.
My Friend: I was wondering how you manage to fully breastfeed, especially now that you have Sam to take care of. I actually don’t know how or where to start, because with my firstborn, So many things happened in his 1st month and in the end I wasn’t able to fully breastfeed him, so I resorted to mixed feeding instead. I was heartbroken because I really wanted to breastfeed him. Now with this baby I want to try again, but I don’t know what to do or how to start. Can you give me tips on pumping, which side to start on and the like? Thank you!
My Mommyology (in my limited experience and humble opinion):
First of all I think it begins with the commitment to do it, above all else. Breastfeeding takes priority over dishes, laundry, or sometimes even sleep (I don’t sleep until after I’m able to pump milk, regardless of what time it is). I made that clear to everyone, especially Sam and so far thankfully, she understands its importance. From the very beginning, anytime Jamie needed to nurse, playtime would stop. Of course I let her be curious and stay beside me or join in the cuddle, just to make her feel included and involved.
A tip from the midwives: Keep a basket of stickers, toys or snacks that are ONLY for when you breastfeed, so that the older child knows how special and important it is.
Also in the first three weeks building supply was critical. I was encouraged to feed both girls directly from me, and introduce the bottle after the third week only (If I really wanted to). With Jamie, I was able to start pumping though after my 2nd week, but I would really only pump to “trick” my body into producing more (Also, I was worried I’d get sick and wouldn’t be able to feed, so I built a frozen stash in the freezer that falls on my husband whenever he opens it).
I would start feeding on one side (say the left first) for at least 15 minutes, massaging around the area all the way from under the armpits forward. After she’d burp, I’d put her on the other side (the right) for hopefully another 15 minutes. Otherwise, I’d drain the right side with the pump. On the next feeding, I start with the right and do the same thing all over again.
It’s important not to get discouraged when you pump and see very little milk come out. For me, I had to keep at it, and fight through the pain, and eventually a steady flow would come each time. You don’t necessarily need to pump all the time, but draining milk regularly will signal your body to produce more.
Other things that helped build milk supply were the daily intake of malunggay (Or Moringa) supplements, eating meals with clear soup and lots of rice (it doesn’t help the figure, but oh well) and drinking more than 8 glasses of water a day.
Some people schedule the feedings and “force feed” their babies to regulate milk production, but I’d have to say that didn’t work with Jamie! She was more of an on-demand feeder so my milk supply was up and down for awhile, and I had to pump out as much as I could.
At the end of the day, after all that’s said and done, I will say this: if you end up having to mix-feed or formula-feed in spite of all your best efforts, especially with a toddler by your side, then there’s nothing wrong with that either (In my humble opinion at least. I had to say it, because I feel it’s not said enough). A lot of babies turn out perfectly fine either way!
If you have any additional tips and advice that you’d like to share for others to learn from, please feel free to do so!