Monday, February 9, 2015

Tips For New Moms Struggling With Breastfeeding

breastfeeding is hard, how to breastfeed

I'm sorry. I can't help it.

I have to vent: I have met so many new countless new-moms who are struggling with breastfeeding their newborns. You are not alone.

Three years ago, I was that struggling-to-breastfeed, sleep-deprived, maniacal new mom. I hear loads of stories from mothers who went through the same thing when their kids were young, too.

There are thousands of mothers out there struggling with this and not enough women talking about it.
Breastfeeding bullies, breastfeeding tips, breastfeeding support
We were worried and freaked out about not breastfeeding the exact way the breastfeeding bullies told us to do. I had one friend who was not producing milk yet so scared of not breastfeeding to perfection that her son ended up in the hospital with dehydration. Awful. The nurses at the hospital told her she should have considered giving him some formula. Thing is, she had but the breastfeeding bullies had her believe she would cause irreparable damage if she fed him formula.

I'm here to tell you:
Define what works for you and do it. What works for you might not be what works for your doula, your mother, your best friend or sorority sister. 
Again: Do what works for you. 

Bloody Areola Isn't A Band?

Before I had my daughter I thought Bloody Areola was a poorly named Portland-area punk band. Once I had a kid, bloody areolas were my hell. I'll spare you the intimate details but, for many reasons, getting Jordan to latch was tougher and more painful than the actual birth.

Sleep-deprived, delirious and exhausted about a week after having Jordan.
I breast fed her for two months solid, mainly through a bottle containing breast milk I had pumped. I also supplemented my breast milk with Similac. Yep. Shoot, vilify and criticize me.

I don't care.

It saved me. There is value in being a sane, happy parent. I recognized that and went full speed ahead.

I was vigilant about taking Fenugreek, a supplement which is said to increase milk production in lactating mothers.

I also pumped consistently. I highly recommend a hands-free pump so that you can do something else while suffering through pumping hell. I used a Lasinoh pump. It worked like a charm.

breastfeeding schedule, breastfeeding tips, breastfeeding bullies
Jordan's feeding journal
Following that protocol, I was a milk-producing machine, even going so far as to take my breast pump, which sounded like a pig in heat, to New Orleans with me and pump while I was at a Saints/Lions game. I did some extra pumping during those first two months and froze much of that milk.

In all, I breastfed Jordan for nine solid weeks. We had about an additional five weeks of breast milk frozen that we were able to supplement with formula. We were meticulous about keeping records of her feedings, logging them along with her poop and sleep patterns for 11 months.

Being done with the pump, the creams, nipple shields (TMI?), the ice cubes and all the other crap that comes along with breastfeeding was one of the best days of my life.

Life Under Breast Arrest
For me, breastfeeding was breast arrest. It was a prison-like hell that didn't feel right on any level. I hear some women wax poetic about the joyous, maternal warmth they get from breast feeding. Good for them! For me, that warmth was the painful, burning hell of bloody areolas. I did my two months of hard time and was done with it.

Guess what? Jordan is fine. No, outstanding really. She has been sick only twice in three years. Once after her first birthday when she around a ton of kids and adults. She also had an ear infection this January. If that has anything to do with my lack of going full boob for a full year, my bad.

RELATED: Diet for a healthy breastfeeding mom

She understands Spanish and English, as well as some French, is a great little athlete and enjoys reading books as much as she does riding horses. She's a dream. In fact, I think she's better off because I wasn't an insane miserable bitch trying to get her to latch onto the boob for the first six months of her life. Instead we were enjoying every moment with her. That, for me, was magnificent.

Again, don't just listen to me. Listen to yourself and medical experts you trust. More than anything,  do what works for you.

If you're struggling trying to get your newborn to breastfeed in these early stages, know that you're not alone. There are other sleepless moms out there struggling, screaming at their spouses and agonizing over the entire breastfeeding experience, too. And whatever your educated decision is in regards to breastfeeding (remember to consult your doctor if you have questions), I'm with ya, not against ya.

Is someone you know under breast arrest? Share this with them...please.

Breastfeeding Resources That Worked For Me