BLOG WRITTEN BY TALIA AUGUST 7, 2013 (my baby boy was 12 weeks old at the time)
First of all, if you’ve made up your mind to breastfeed your baby and you want to store up as much milk as possible, kudos to you! Welcome to a very exhausting, delirious, but super rewarding experience. Besides all of the proven goodness you are giving your baby, let’s face it! It’s free!I never understood when people get grossed out by something like mother’s milk, yet have no problem giving their babies goat/cow milk and God knows what else is in formula. Seriously, have you read the ingredients? I have nothing against women who have to go the formula route (like you Mom, if you’re reading this ), to each her own. But at least TRY. Or make it through the first few weeks. Let me preface everything by a more personal note. After a very long and painful labor with Amelia a few years ago, I didn’t think anything could feel worse. Until I breastfed. The pain is EXCRUCIATING and I understand why many mothers quit in the beginning. If you’re like me, you’re stubborn and self-taught. I didn’t do my proper research into all this baby stuff, what with scheduling my first labor class umm, the DAY Amelia was due. I guess I assumed that “hey! Boobs are getting bigger, there must be milk in there. Sweet.” I also didn’t deliver at the best of hospitals, and didn’t have the best advice in the beginning or a good support group. Hospitals are so quick to offer you breast milk if you’re “not producing enough” which I found out much later that the babies don’t come out hungry. They come out with full bellies, and all they need are those few drops of colostrum. It is so common to think that you are not making enough milk for the baby, so once mothers go through the pain of attempting to breastfeed and are handed a bottle of formula they think “this is a no brainer!” The first three weeks of breast feeding are painful. Your nipples will crack, bleed, scab up, then go through it all over again. I would spend nights just crying. Also, both my babies didn’t have a “proper suck” according to lactation consultants (and I saw quite a few).
*If I don’t answer your questions in this, please leave a comment — there’s a lot to this process, so please excuse me if I forgot to cover something.*
You have a couple options if you want to only give your child breast milk. You can choose to feed straight from the boob if you plan on staying at home. It’s rewarding as well, and you will officially be at your babies beckon call 24/7. Don’t even think about leaving for a quick grocery run.
I had to go back to work almost right away after having my babies. When you are a small business owner (and I am not talking about my height, or lack of height), the benefits to pumping outweigh solely breast feeding.
I don’t have to be the only one who feeds the baby. The baby will be used to the bottle when they’re still young enough to train. Sometimes if you wait too long and introduce them to the bottle they look at you like you’re crazy and they won’t take it. Your will power has to be stronger than your babies. I didn’t care that they threw a bit of a fit in the beginning when a bottle was put in their mouths. It’s still my milk, and danggit, you’re drinkin’ this kid! Same mentality our parents had with us as children! “If you don’t eat your dinner you don’t eat.” TRUST ME. Your baby WILL eat. Jeff also loved that he could have those bonding moments with the baby and be able to feed them while I pumped.
I could drink coffee afterwards or wine afterwards (depending on the time of day) because I knew that it would be hours until my next pumping session and by then the milk would be fine.
I could leave the house and do what I had to do, and now that Sebastian is almost three months, I can work a full days wedding. Life feels somewhat normal again.
Every pump is an ab crunch. Every suck from the baby is an ab crunch. Those who know me know I don’t work out. Ever. I lost 20 lbs in 20 days with both babies. By now my body is back to what it was before getting pregnant…except for a few battle scars/stretch marks that have yet to disappear. It’s a forced work out and so worth it!
I am able to monitor how much my baby eats for his feedings. This way when there’s a baby sitter, I make sure I have enough milk set aside and the proper amounts so this liquid gold doesn’t go to waste!
There are ways in the beginning to produce more milk. These methods haven’t been proven, buuuut I’ve done them both times and I’m milking like a cow over here. At 37 weeks pregnant you can start (if you don’t, you can do this after the baby arrives, don’t worry) – I was drinking raspberry leaf tea (you can find this online or any Whole Foods) and also taking 1-2 tablets of malunggay pills every day. Both are all-natural and known to increase breast milk supply. I stopped taking the pills about a month ago when my son was already 8 weeks old because I had more than enough milk to feed triplets! The raspberry leaf tea I still take at times because it’s yummy. I like to put a little bit of honey and milk in it. It’s caffeine-free as well, so you can drink it any time.
Now. BOOB TRAINING. Yup! You read that correctly. You have to train your boobs early on. By day 4 you will become engorged. After a few days of thinking you aren’t making enough milk, as long as you continue to have the baby stimulate your nipples to get the milk out, suddenly, it arrives. And it’s painful. You don’t think they can get any bigger and viola! Ouch City. By day 4 I was advised by the doctor to pump every 2-3 hours. WHAT. Yeah. 20-30 minute sessions. Once you’re done it feels like you have to start all over again (especially after washing all the bottles, putting it all away…wow that time really flies!). You need to have a good support system around you. Because this is not easy. I was pumping 2-3 hours for 2-3 weeks straight. At first you do not get a lot. Maybe in the milliliters to start. Please do not become discouraged! (I did, both times.) You sit there for 30 minutes and get drops. It’s awful. But at the end of the 3 weeks, I was getting 7-10 ounces a session. *Also! There were times where I wasn’t able to keep up with him and have enough saved in the fridge, so Jeff and I did give formula feedings a few times and this baby was not picky! He ate it like a champ, and it allowed me to relax and not stress about trying to catch up. Look, in all honesty, if you can only give your baby 2-3 feedings of breast milk a day in the beginning and supplement the rest with formula, you are still doing a WORLD of difference for your baby. As long as they get a little a day, it’s the best thing for them.
You will notice a color change in the milk too. It starts out a darker yellow and gradually the color is white like the cows milk you would put in your cereal. This is when you can comfortably start storing.
The second month I was pumping every 4-6 hours. This month was easier, the only tough time was that pump session in the middle of the night (anytime between the hours of 2am-4am), I was already worn out from lack of sleep but I couldn’t let them go on for too long without pumping or the pain would be there and it’s not worth it.
So now on to the process of how I am surviving this daunting task..two times in a row. The pump I use at home is a Medela Lactina Select Breastpump. I have used the cheap ones (and by cheap I don’t mean cheap at all…they were $200-300+ from the store). Before seriously pumping with Amelia I saw a lactation consultant almost 5 times. Whenever I would visit I would be so engorged that they would have me use their hospital grade pumps to pull the milk out. There is SUCH a difference in the way the milk is released on a hospital grade pump. Best news? Most insurance companies will cover the cost for a rental! We only had to pay $8 a month to use this (of course they give you brand new pieces that actually touch your milk, but the unit itself can be rented out). If we didn’t have this approved through insurance, we would’ve been able to rent it monthly and out of pocket it comes out to 7-80$ per month, still cheaper than formula, still better for your baby. If your boobs are bigger, you can go online and get bigger cones – these normally come with 24mm but online they sell them past 30mm. I like to line the cones with lanolin. You will most likely get a free mini sample from the hospital, but you can buy it at any Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Target. It’s used to put on your sore nipples after breastfeeding or pumping but I find that taking a little dot o