Happy World Breastfeeding Week! This week, August 1-7, is a week to celebrate moms and their journeys with breastfeeding no matter how long or short. Every drop of breastmilk your baby gets is important and wonderful in every way, but not every mom can breastfeed. And that’s okay! I’m not here to jump on the breast vs. bottle debate because a fed baby is what matters. I’m actually here to share my very personal experience with breastfeeding. (Read my first breastfeeding journey with Chloe here!)
**There are some very personal pictures of me breastfeeding in this post. I am very proud of these pictures and have no issues sharing them. If this offends you in any way, I would recommend not reading the rest of this post.**
*Some of the following links are affiliate links meaning if you click through and purchase at no additional cost to you, I will receive a small commission for sharing!*
The Moments After Birth
Right after Brody was born, we did skin to skin and he nursed right away. Thank goodness for my amazing mother who is not only a rockstar mom, but one of the best lactation consultants around. I’ll admit that in those initial moments, I was useless. I had so much adrenaline running through my veins that I didn’t know what to do with my body. My arms were like jello and I honestly didn’t remember how to nurse a newborn. It had been 3 years after all! I actually have a video where I’m telling my mom that I don’t know what to do with my arms and that I don’t have control of them. I was just riding the post birth high and it was amazing. Moral of the story is don’t be worried if you have no clue what you’re doing for that first feed.
During his first nursing session, it felt like starting at square one again. I had no clue what I was doing and let my mom do most of the work. Luckily, the initial nerves and post delivery high wore off, so that by his second feeding, I was already holding him more confidently and getting him to latch easier. It helped that he was a hungry baby and all about the boobie.
Each session after the first few got easier and easier. The nurses joked that I was such an easy patient thanks to my mom! It’s true though, she literally taught me everything I know about breastfeeding.
The First Few Weeks
The first few weeks of breastfeeding are always hard. If it’s your first time, it’s about figuring out this very new thing you’ve never done before with a very new human. Even if it’s your second time it’s hard! It had been 3 years since I nursed a newborn. You forget a lot in three years, but luckily, most of it came back to me fairly quickly. You could say it’s like riding a bike.
I wrote up a post about my favorite postpartum must haves which includes all of my favorite products for breastfeeding! Some of them are specific to those early days like my favorite nipple butter and the Haakaa pump. Those items helped get me through the struggles of the early weeks: milk coming in, sore nipples, positioning the baby just right and more.
My milk came in about 3-4 days postpartum which like the first time was quite painful. Luckily that does eventually pass and the Nature Bond pump (similar to Haaka) was a game changer this time around. It helped to relieve the painful pressure that comes with the early days of nursing. Other than that, I didn’t experience many issues.
Finding a Rhythm
I’m telling y’all that this baby knew what he was doing! He made the transition back to breastfeeding easier than I could have imagined. It took some time to get the hang of it, but in time we found a nice, easy rhythm. He nursed every 1.5-3 hours for the first several months. Since I nursed on demand, I didn’t always keep track of exactly how long between feeds. If Brody was hungry, then he nursed! I didn’t even offer him solids until the very day he turned 6 months old. I didn’t have any good reason to introduce them early, and since I didn’t with Chloe, I chose not to again. Brody was getting everything he needed from momma up to that point!
One struggle we did face is that Brody had a pretty good latch, but he also had a tight upper lip. While he didn’t have a lip tie, that tight upper lip had a tendency to curl under instead of out. Because of the tightness, I had to flip it out most of the time for the first several months which sometimes meant we had to relatch a few times. Occasionally my nipples would get sore, so I used my nipple butter and all was well!
Pumping for my Sister
When Brody was about 5 months old, I started pumping to help supplement my sister’s production. Y’all may remember that my sister gave birth to my first nephew just 9 weeks after Brody was born. Since my sister has several health problems, breastfeeding and milk production didn’t come easy for her. She was able to exclusively breastfeed for the first 3 months of Gabe’s life, but when she returned to work, the real struggle began. She didn’t pump well and a fussy Gabe struggled at breast. In the end, it was the best decision to switch completely to the bottle for him. That’s where I come in.
I offered to pump extra to supplement her milk supply for the first month. That way he would get another month of only breastmilk. Then we would slowly introduce formula and do a mixture of breastmilk and formula! Emily decided to stop pumping after the first month because she was getting next to nothing for all the work she put into it. I continued and was able to pump half of Gabe’s milk supply for the next few months. I was literally feeding a baby and a half! I’m a milk factory y’all!
To this day, I am still occasionally pumping and Gabe is getting about 1/4 breastmilk and 3/4 formula for each bottle. My pumping has finally started to wean as Brody approaches one year and we have some trips coming up. I feel honored that my sister let me help her in this incredibly special way, and I like to think that Gabe and I will forever have a very special bond because of it. I could write up a whole post on just this little part of my breastfeeding journey, but I’ll stop here.
One thing to add is my love of the Motif Duo breast pump (pictured above). Aeroflow Breast Pumps sent this pump before I started pumping for Gabe and it ended up being a Godsend! It has traveled to Florida, California and Mexico and is with me every morning and evening as I pump for my nephew. It can pump in the car, at a football game and even on an airplane. I highly recommend it if you need an on the go pump!
Where We are Now
Today we are 11 months into our breastfeeding journey. I plan to let Brody breastfeed up to 24 months if he chooses to do so. I did the same with Chloe and she self weaned at 18 months! No matter how long he chooses to continue, the brunt of our journey is in the past. After he turns one, it is mostly nursing for comfort, when he wakes up and before bed. I’m completely willing to let him lead the way. Unless he bites me a lot like he did on our last trip. I’m not about that life!
I think the biggest takeaway from my second breastfeeding journey is that I am so much more comfortable this time around. I felt confident nursing and pumping in public when I would have been nervous about it the first time. That confidence has led me to help other women feel the same way. It’s so empowering! I’ve been fortunate to never have someone say anything ugly or hateful to me about feeding my son, and I hope that continues. Breastfeeding is a beautiful part of life!
If you made it this far, I’m impressed and thank you for being interested in my journey! Breastfeeding is very important to me, and I hope to be able to switch gears and work with my mom in the future. I want to help other women who want to breastfeed because it isn’t always easy and not everyone has an awesome mom for a lactation consultant.
Check out my breastfeeding journey with Chloe!
If you have any questions about breastfeeding or breastfeeding products, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments or via e-mail. I love being able to help other women walking this phase of life!