Breastfeeding – am I the only one who is overwhelmed?

To my mama friends out there in blog land – I have one question: Breastfeeding – how did you do it?

We took a breastfeeding class on Saturday, and I must say that it was pretty overwhelming. I already knew it was going to be challenging, and probably painful at times, and that I wouldn’t get much sleep. But my goodness, you hear all of it at once and it makes me wonder how women have done this since the beginning of time!

Between the leaking and engorgement and keeping baby off a bottle (but making sure she’ll take a bottle) and pumping (but not too much pumping), not to mention washing the pump parts and heating the milk and storing the milk and not poisoning the baby with milk that’s been sitting out too long and not leaking in public and holding baby in the correct “football hold” position and keeping my supply just right and … AND… AND…!!!!

So for you expert moms out there – please send some encouragement and (positive) advice my way! You know at 37 weeks pregnant, I don’t need ANYTHING to send me over the edge – so please keep your horror stories to yourself! (although I do love a good laugh – so if you’re determined to tell a horror story, it had better be crazy funny)

Here’s what scares me:

1. We’re pretty gung-ho about trying to get baby on a schedule (aka – Baby Wise). I realize not everybody is a fan, but according to what I learned in class, it seems nearly impossible to have a baby who sleeps through the night AND have my body produce enough milk during the day. Have any of you managed it?

2. Working moms – how did you manage pumping every 2-3 hours at work? (I’m going back to work at around 9 weeks.)  My schedule is different every single day (besides the fact that when you’re putting on an event, you can’t exactly pump in the middle of it) and I just can’t figure out how I’m going to swing that. 

3. Working moms – did you end up supplementing with formula just to survive? I don’t want to – but do you have any other secrets for survival? Or if you supplemented, feel free to tell me I’m not a horrible mom…

Any other misc. tips you can send my way (or encouragement – heck, just lie to me if you need to) would be greatly appreciated! I know that I’m not the first – or last – new mom to give breastfeeding a try. I’m in good company.

And one thing I know – baby girl is never going to go hungry, regardless of whether or not I figure this thing out. And she will be loved. And I’ve never heard of someone ending up in therapy because their mom couldn’t figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. So there’s that.

26 Comments

  1. Bethe, the most important thing is to not freak out! Honestly, there is a reason they make formula; let that alone take some of the pressure off. Something about knowing that yes, you would love to nurse, but if the whole thing goes pear-shaped, it’s not that big if a deal in the grand scheme. 🙂 I nursed Lauren for only about 2 months. It was just a struggle and my supply couldn’t keep up. But, I nursed Lily Reese for nearly 9 months. I always gave her breast milk mixed with formula in a bottle before bed to help her get “fuller.” Also, it was a good way to introduce the bottle because otherwise she would nurse to pacify before bed. Your baby will give you these clues. Wrenn will guide you, so don’t feel like you’re having to figure it all out alone…you will do great! Don’t over think it; just go with the flow until you can see how Wrenn’s schedule develops and then you can manipulate and tweak it so it works for you too 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement Amy! And, so you know, one of my favorite maternity shirts is that blueish-green one you sent me. And the gray shorts – they’re some of the only things I have to wear around the house that fit and are comfy at this point!

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  2. Due to circumstances out of my control, Campbell had a very difficult time breastfeeding. I ended up exclusively pumping for 8 months. You will be able to figure out your work schedule. IMO, once you have been pumping for awhile, pumping at EXACTLY 3 hours isn’t as necessary. You will learn what is best for you and your sweet girl. Definitely let me know if you have pumping questions. Lots of experience there!

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    1. Camille – my sister also exclusively pumped with her son and it worked great for them. I’m open-minded about doing whatever works for little Wrenn, even if it’s unconventional. PS–Campbell is such a cutie!

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  3. If I could be a lactation consultant without going back to school I would!!! Loved nursing.
    I will say, it was a breeze with #2 but a HUGE learning curve with #1!!! I will say, if you make it through the first 3 weeks (OUCH!) then it’s pretty much smooth sailing. And…keep that lactation consultant’s number on speed dial and her email as one of your “Top 10”.

    Football hold didn’t work for me. Boppy was awesome. Medela nipple cream is a must before and after each nursing session. DRINK TONS of water. Yes, you will leak through your shirt the first few months in public. It’s whatever. It just happens. Lansinoh nursing pads were my #1. The reusable/washable ones are only for when your supply is well regulated (4-5 months).
    I worked when Will was nursing and would climb in the back of my suburban with the car connector and just used a cover. I found the best most private parking lots and just rocked it. I only made it through 7-1/2 months of nursing Will because, well, working and nursing was just hard and I couldn’t keep my supply up. I started supplementing at 6-1/2 months and was upset about it but guess what?! Will survived!! 😉 Since I stayed home with HG, I was able to nurse til she turned one and never supplemented.

    Tips I have:
    Babies tend to fall asleep nursing, so I would do a diaper change at halftime (aka in between sides) and that seemed to wake baby enough to eat well on the other side.
    It’s OK to yelp and cry during those first few weeks when it hurts. It will be hard for your husband to see and hear, but it seemed to help me

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    1. Agreed! When she falls asleep while nursing, you can also squeeze your booby. That added pressure gets her going again

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    2. Such good info – thanks Jenny! And I could totally see you being a lactation consultant – you were always such a good cheerleader/encourager. Plus, I’ll never forget that one night in the dorm when I walked into Lesley’s room across the hall and found all you girls… well… a lactation consultant would have been proud!

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  4. Be patient is probably the best advise I can give you, because it can be hard & painful at times, but it’s so worth it if you can make it work! Either way, don’t be too hard on yourself!

    Ryan & I took a couple of classes in preparation of Myles’ birth. All good information, but all that stuff gets thrown out the window when they hand you that baby! You just have to figure out what works best for you & your baby!

    I was completely overwhelmed in the hospital! Luckily, I was at a VERY breastfeeding friendly hospital (helps that we live in Austin w/a bunch of hippies) & they were very supportive (like hands on supportive). I hope that you’re not modest, but if you are, try not to be! I had all kinds of hospital staff touching & man-handling my boobs! It’s amazing what they can do with a nipple to get a baby to latch!

    Be open to trying different positions! I ended up w/a c-section after 32 hours of labor so I was limited to the different positions initially, but my favorite now is the side-laying one! Itt allows you to get some rest while baby is feeding & it’s just awesome to lay there & watch him (her, in your case).

    At your first Pediatrician appt, they will suggest a feeding schedule, usually every 2-3 hours during the day & as he wakes overnight. We didn’t keep a feeding schedule overnight. I would & still do feed him on demand so if I notice that he’s gnawing on his little hands, I’ll feed him. You’ll learn her cues & cries!

    I exclusively breast fed for the first month. No bottles & no pacifiers! At one month, we introduced a bottle so that my hubby could be involved.

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  5. I think I reached my letter limit!

    Anyways, my hubby felt left out so I started pumping! He now does the PM bottle before bed & random feedings during the weekends! As much as I love feeding my baby, it is nice to have a break. In that first month, you just feel like a milk machine going to work! It’s tough. & demanding, but so worth it! We bought the Medela Freestyle & I love it! It’s hands-free & easy to use! It is expensive (almost $400), but if you plan on breastfeeding upon your return to work, you’ll be glad you spent the extra money!

    We haven’t had to supplement w/formula. Luckily, my supply has been sufficient! If you have to supplement, don’t get discouraged.

    I hope that this informations helps you out! There are so many things that we aren’t told as women & future mothers so I’m always up for a chat if you have any more questions/concerns!

    Enjoy what’s left…

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  6. i went through the same freak out, but it was the 101 class for delivery. what those classes do is tell you everything that COULD happen so that there are no surprises. not all of those things occur…and everyone is different. grace was in nicu and was given a bottle. also she was c-section and therefore it was harder for my milk to come in. the key was getting her weight up so she could leave the hospital. i did struggle with breast feeding…but there was a lady that came into my room and helped me.she even gave me a pump to try for a few days and i could rent it. but i was given a pump from a friend. and back at the hospital, there was a BF center where i could come in anytime and ask questions, weigh her, meet other moms that were bf. so you will have plenty of support. i did not bf as long as i wanted, but guess what? that is okay. she got the important milk and that is all that mattered to me. plus i was not bf (i am adopted) and i turned out healthy. just breath…it will all be okay! my hospital (harris heb) was very supportive, they had a bf center. i am sure your does as well.

    i think the media and other moms even put too much pressure on you to it all. you can’t do it all. do what works. my awesome husband (and you have a great one too) realized about day 3 that i was sleep deprived and having a melt-down. he took the early morning shift for feeding so that i could get some straight sleep…this was a tremendous help. i don’t function well without sleep. ASK FOR HELP. this is very important. don’t try to do it all Bethe, you can’t. — that is why there is a Daddy, mother or sister! Let go of trying to do it all now. I didn’t go back to work, but i know plenty of women that did…you will manage. be your own advocate and do what you feel is the right thing. don’t listen to anyone but your own voice…

    babywise is a great guideline. we used that method, well most of it. but i will pm you what worked for us.

    is that enough advice? lol! you will do great. because you care and that baby will very well taken care of because she is loved. and also you have a supportive husband who will be there for you.

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    1. Ha – we had a couple “oh my goodness!” moments in childbirth 101 as well (although fewer surprises in that one since I’ve talked to lot’s of friends/my sister about what to expect. Great advice on asking for help! And you’re right – we both are blessed to have great husbands!

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  7. I know where you’re coming from! And first let me say that the overwhelming LOVE you have for your little baby girl when you first see & hold her will make EVERYTHING better, and different. Secondly, I will say that Babywise & breastfeeding only works for SOME babies! The schedule cannot be your highest priority (though routine is great!). Feeding, nourishing & transitioning brand new baby is the priority. The more often you put her on, the more calories she gets.
    Abigail took a bottle fine & nursed to 12 months. Micah is 8 months, nursing great (quite chunky in fact), took lots of bottles at first then decided around 6 months that he doesn’t like bottles. Go figure. Each baby is different. You study & know yours! And remember James 1:5-6!

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  8. You aren’t alone. I’m nursing my second child and it is still a bit overwhelming. It is hard to give advice on such a personal topic, but I would say give it six weeks. I think it takes about that long for you and the baby to really get the hang of it. Then, if things aren’t working out she will still have gotten breastmilk in the important first weeks, or, if things are going well, the worst is behind you. It is easy to say in hindsight but you really have to trust your body to produce what the baby needs while knowing that an occasional bottle/supplement/missed pumping session won’t irrevocably damage the whole process. A few tips:
    – find a lactation consultant that you trust. Classes are great, but there is no substitute for someone there helping in real time. Plus, the have heard all the questions and counseled many new mothers.
    – fenugreek tea/capsules worked well for me when I needed to boost supply when I returned to work
    – I listened to audiobooks when I was pumping. It made it something to look forward to rather than a chore

    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks for the info Renee – and great idea on the audio books! I’m already a subscriber to audible.com so I always have a new book handy – great way to make it something to look forward to.

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  9. Hey sweet friend, I know I’m in the same boat as you and that I don’t have any previous experience so take what I say with a grain of salt 🙂 our childbirth class instructor gave us very good advice on this, be careful what you read and take in.about breastfeeding because many will tell you all the.hundreds of things that could go wrong without reassuring you that although it can be difficult at times, like birth, it is a completely natural process that our bodies were made to do and that women have been doing since the beginning. This helped me a lot..she did give us a few websites that she requires us to look at. I can get those to you. Lactation consultants are supposed to be lifesavers so I would look into who is that person at your hospital. My.sister in law went back to work and her schedule is very sporadic too but she continued to nurse and pump. Ill get some tips from.her and let you know!

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  10. You have a ton of great advice and supportive friends on here. I just want to also encourage you. It will be a little daunting at first, but you know what? It will all work out. I had freaked out because I ended up having an emergency c-section under general anesthesia and the first thing I said when I woke up was, where is my baby and I need to breast feed! I was totally out of it for the first 12 hours, but it all kind of worked out some how.

    I was able to breast feed/pump exclusively for the first year ( a little over actually) and my friend is going through the same thing now. The nursing never bothered me, but I really did not enjoy the pumping.

    As far as those special events go… I think the best advice I could give (as one who had a few events, although much more low key) is to:

    1. Make a plan, pump before set up, as soon as the set up is over (before the event begins), and as soon as the event ends…. basically any time you can break away. It will probably mean an awkward bathroom pump or car pump. The battery pack or car adapter will be very happy (assuming you have the Medela PIS)
    2. Keep a cooler with ice pack/ice readily available or have access to a refrigerator.
    3. Don’t worry about pumping for a set amount of time in these situations. A bunch of shorter pumping sessions will be better than one or two super long sessions. (It also helps to boost your supply if it seems to be waning)
    4. One thing that helped me a TON was having a bunch of extra flanges for pumping. It made me much less stressed about always washing them and saved me much needed time away from work.
    5. Go ahead and buy a pumping bra/bustier hand free devices make our lives easier.

    Another few general recommendations (and some women might think I am crazy for this, but it worked for me)

    We struggled with thrush off and on for about three-four months. Didn’t bother her at all, but it caused me some moderate to sever breast/nipple pain. If you can avoid you/her taking antibiotics I would (if needed of COURSE take them) but if you do, be sure to supplement with some sort of probiotic (I would recommend the refrigerated kind sold behind the pharmacy counters) you can take the pills, but you can also mix the granules in with your milk for Little Wren. And eat a ton of yogurt… the good stuff, not the fruity stuff (mix in some honey/fruit to make it more palatable)

    Also, sometimes pumping just hurt me (especially towards the end when I needed to have marathon pumping sessions to increase the supply). I would just put a fine coat of coconut oil on my nipples (feels so weird to type that out) to use as a little lubricant and it helped immensely. Coconut oil also has anti-fungal properties which helped while eliminating the thrush business. (it is also safe for baby, FYI)

    OK, I know that was a TON of info, but I hope it is helpful. Having a supportive husband was the biggest help of all. Surround yourself with a support system and you will be amazed at how empowered you will feel.

    Best of luck friend.

    Reply

    1. I completely agree with all this info! Medela pump also has a little “handle” that makes the flanges into a manual pump. That makes it small enough to put the dissembled parts into a purse. That way you can slip in the ladies room if you need relief (or prevent leaking). You’d be amazed what a 5 min pump can do!

      In addition to drinking lots of water – while getting your milk supply regulated- you should have a little to eat every time you nurse. For me, that often translated to a few bell pepper slices, a piece of cheese, and a small handful of nuts

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      1. Ick – bell pepper slices? But great advice on the snacks – I need to think ahead on easy-to-grab snacks that are also healthy. A friend of mine told me about peanut butter & oatmeal balls, which Mr. Right and I love. I may have to make some and freeze them!

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    2. Ash – this was so helpful, especially the event stuff. And great idea to buy the extra flanges – it will definitely help when I’m on the go, which is pretty often. Sounds like a good investment! We already have a mini cooler (thanks breastfeeding class for the freebie). And we were told that coconut oil also works well in diapers instead of butt paste every time, sounds like it’s a bit of a wonder product! I appreciate all your ecouragement – I sure wish I could meet that beautiful baby girl of yours! Maybe one of these times you’re in town we can get together for a visit again?

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  11. I nursed both kids and we did a babywise schedule from day one. I think the biggest thing is to just relax. My milk came in earlier with Aedan than it did with Adelaide and I got some pressure from grandmas to supplement her first couple of days since she was fussy. Had she been my first, I may have, but we stuck with it and my milk came in and all was fine.

    Also, around the 2 week mark with both, I remember feeling like my supply was going down. I think it is because the exhaustion catches up with you around then. I made it a point to get a good nap in and felt much better.

    Both of mine took a bottle just fine until about 2/3 months and then refuse. We did bottle bootcamp with both and it was pretty easy so if you get to that point you can check out my post here. http://dechiros.blogspot.com/2010/07/bottle-boot-camp.html

    Oh and I pumped exclusively with Aedan from 4-9 months before we weaned with no problems (other than getting pretty tired of pumping!).

    I think the best thing to do it trust yourself. You will have a good feeling about what your baby needs so above everyone’s advice, trust your gut. We switched Adelaide to formula a 4 months because it was the best thing for me. I had to let go of a lot of guilt about it, but in the end it was the right thing for us to do and she is perfectly healthy just like Aedan.

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    1. Wow – such great info – thanks Lauren! I really enjoyed your post about bottle boot camp – I may be referring back to his in a few months…

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  12. Lots of Great advise you have gotten! I was bound and determined to breast feed. I told myself if I can at least do it for a month then I would be happy, then if I could just do it for 3 months etc etc…. Logan is now a year and half and still nurses just at night.

    The toughest part about breastfeeding for me was the first 6 weeks. Im not gonna lie…its tough. Your hormones are adjusting, you sore down there, and well your the most tired you’ve ever been in your entire life. The lack of sleep is the hardest part. But the joy of the new baby keeps you going of course. 🙂
    There were moments when I just wanted to give up and give him a bottle just so I could get more than 3 hours a sleep at a time but I had Logan in December and the flu season bad and etc etc and I just wanted him to have all the nutrients from mommys milk.

    I work from home so breast feeding was actually easier for me than feeding him a bottle so I had an advantage there. Easier bc he could lay in my lap while I worked.

    As far as sleeping through the night Logan started doing that at around 2 months and slept 9 hours a night……BUT as soon as we transitioned him out of his bassinet and into his crib the sleeping through the night stopped and he still to this day still has me up several times a night. So…Im sure that is a different blog at a later date. But all I can say about that……is that its SUPER important he learn to put himself to sleep. Logans problem is that he cant self soothe himself back to sleep. SO hence the prior comment that Logan only nurses at night and its only to put himself back to sleep.

    My most important advice I can give is to not expect any of this advise will work for you bc every child is different. You will find your way and some how we just figure it all out. We are mommies and all this just comes naturally.

    Just shoot for small victories with breast feeding and don’t beat yourself up if you cant do it. I could not imagine having to pump at work.

    Gatorade, Oatmeal, fenugreek and relaxing was the best way to increase milk supply for me.

    Breastfeed before they take the baby away. Make it one of the first bonding things you do. Besides meeting your bundle of joy for the first time….that first latch is pretty amazing to see that they just know how to suck instantly.

    As your probably learned in class- breast feeding should not hurt. If it hurts then baby is latching wrong. Use your lactation consultant for help before you leave the hospital and afterwards if you need it.

    If you suddenly get flue like symptoms out of nowhere you might have mastitis. Call your doc…even if its after hours and they will get you on antibiotics and you will feel better fairly quickly. I had it when logan was about 3 months old.

    I gave Logan a paci in the hospital and he got nipple confusion. He would bob his head on my bood bc he liked the hardness of the paci. So we had to take the Paci away so that he would nurse.

    I had to cut all dairy out of my diet when Logan was about 2 months old. If Logan was awake he was typically fussy and after trying every gas drop, colic stuff, tummy massages I thought I would try my last resort and take out dairy. IT WORKED. He was a different child.

    Okay. I think that’s it! 🙂

    You will have so much fun with your precious baby, Mommyhood is such a blessing and full of adventure everyday!

    Reply

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