Whew, breastfeeding. I’m exhausted just thinking about my journey with breastfeeding. I know ALL moms can relate; whether you actually breastfed, you debated yourself if you should do it, or you just listened to every other mom talk about it! I had two completely different experiences with each girls so I wanted to document what I used, what I ate, my routine, and any tips and tricks I learned along the way. I owe all my success to the YouTube moms that shared with me their experiences so I want to pay it forward (but not hear myself talk on a YouTube video).
I joke, but Pia was my easy (God gave me you, so he can trick me into having more) kid. She latched right away, she never had colic, she took the bottle as well, and she ate on schedule. I was able to produce milk pretty quickly but my worried self still gave her formula the first night I was in the hospital out of the fear she was starving (trust me your baby is not starving). And still, she took to my breast after that. She ate from a bottle and from the breast until about month 7, at that time I just felt exhausted keeping up and my milk supply was diminishing while working. So I let myself dry up and fed her my breast milk that we froze and this lasted until right before her first birthday.
My difficult child; I see it already. She actually latched on perfectly the first time I held her. Due to her being in the NICU for 11 days (you can read about that here) I pumped like a crazy person but she was primarily fed through a bottle. When I would visit her in the NICU she would always latch but it would be a struggle. Each visit I would bring them a lunch box full of frozen milk just to be sure she had enough. The nurse actually told me they don’t have any more room for my milk because I had been pumping so much #blessed. When we brought her home, she got a bit lazy and wouldn’t latch correctly. It was painful… like tears and long hot baths painful. I eventually gave up feeding from the breast and now Penelope (my difficult child) drinks my milk solely from the bottle. Feeding from a bottle is so freeing for me, I didn’t feel the pressure to always be the one feeding them but I still felt a connection.
With Pia, I had received my free breast pump through my insurance, but I did my research and picked the Medela breast pump based on it’s reviews. I was happy to see the same brand used in the hospital as their medical grade pumps. It has a lot of settings that I hardly messed with. The suction ALWAYS worked and the pump was strong and reliable. I NEVER had problems with this pump. EXCEPT when I didn’t have an outlet to sit next to. One time, Matthew and I were in Miami for a church conference and long story short, I ended up plugging my pump into an outlet outside of a little boutique hotel with a beach towel covering me. I knew at that moment, that I needed a cordless pump next time. But I have nothing bad to say about the quality of this pump. Strong. Reliable. Easy to use.
My insurance covered majority of the cost on this one, but I did pay a little extra for the upgrade. I really wanted a pump that didn’t require me to be near an outlet. This was also a great pump while having a three year old needing something every 2 minutes. “Mommy, can I have a juice” and “Mommy, I have to potty” I was able to be more mobile with this pump and this pumping bra. Again, lots of setting that I didn’t need to use, but great stimulation to mimic how a baby feeds on you. I had suction issues from time to time where I’d have to take everything apart and put back together, but that was my only issue… it always worked after some finagling. Things that I loved about this pump: Night light… CLUTCH for pumping or changing her diaper in the middle of the night. Portable and small, super easy to walk around the house and tuck away in a basket when not in use. Battery Life, I rarely needed to charge this thing, it would last days!
Game changer. I went back to work after Pia and my breast milk slowed down. I went back to work after Penelope and my breast milk damn near disappeared! I just couldn’t manage taking as many breaks as I did on maternity leave to pump while I was in the office. Elvie was kind enough to send me a pump and I was excited to see if this helped boost my milk after. IT DID. I was able to hide this pump in my bra while at work and NO ONE noticed. It fit in my bra, it was quiet, it was incredible. The consistent, hands-free, and discreet pumping truly helped bring my milk back. For the first two weeks I would put the pump on every two hours and stimulate to get my body into thinking it needed to produce more milk, even if nothing came out. I did have issues where it wouldn’t suction, so I would need to take it completely apart, put it back together and then try again. However, after it suctions, it’s not going anywhere. I thought at first that the cups wouldn’t be big enough to hold all my milk but 5oz per boob is pretty good. I pumped more frequently so I was collecting about 3-5oz each session. I highly recommend this pump as an ADDITION to one of the pumps above. I would still use my Spectra first thing in the morning as that was my biggest collection of milk from the night and use the Elvie throughout the rest of the day. I think it goes without saying that a pump this tiny wouldn’t be the strongest grade, but it did get the job done and in my case help revive my milk supply! For all my working mamas, busy mamas, or mamas with more than one babe… this pump makes your life a WHOLE lot easier! Elvie is very expensive but they were super sweet to provide a discount code for me to give, use code HARVEY15 for 15% off!
Whew, people it was a mission and still to this day (even after a no drug natural birth) I still think breastfeeding is the hardest part of having a baby! Not painful, not complicated, just straight up A LOT OF WORK. They say that a year of breastfeeding can equate to 1800 hours of your time… but it feels like double that. Of course you don’t have to pump, but I did it for two reasons, so Matthew and others could bond and feed the baby, and because I had to eventually go back to work.
For both babies I did the same thing, pump every two hours. I know this sounds crazy, but I looked at it like starting a race; you start off strong, then get tired and exhausted later on and eventually slow down but have a significant lead. And by lead, I mean a significant supply. I went hard for two or three months and pumped a freezer FULL of milk. At night I’d space it out to three to four hours. For me, the key was to set up your pump station where you can sit and pump comfortably. I have a little section in my living room where I’d store my pump, books, and bring over a giant bottle of water and snacks. I’d make sure Pia would have a bunch of snacks, juice, and toys to occupy her while I pumped and kept Penelope close by in her rocker so she could see me too.
Going back to work, I would make sure I pumped first thing in the morning. While in the office, I made sure to pump AT LEAST twice the first few weeks I went back. This slowly became only one pump session at work until Elvie came in the picture and I jumped back up to three pump sessions while working. There was no set time after I went back to work so I just set a goal for at least 5 pump sessions a day. You really have to be committed to this journey to keep up with all the breaks during your work day.
I noticed that nothing helped my milk supply more than water. You MUST drink a lot of water at all times to keep your supply up. I would also drink this almond milk and once a day, Mother’s Milk. As far as food goes, I ate oatmeal with flax seed EVERY morning and tried my best to stick with a Whole 30 diet. My favorite lactation enhancing snacks were Boobie Bars – please note, these DO NOT taste good… but they always worked so I love them for that. I didn’t get too crazy with supplements and different types of lactation goods because they all pretty much have the same ingredients in them and there are a lot of recipes on Pinterest too.
I thought I could just buy all the same bottles I used with Pia and be set… I was wrong. With Pia we used Tommee Tippie the entire first year of her life. I started off with the same for Penelope and she got VERY fussy whenever she would eat from a bottle around 2 months old. We thought it was colic and I cut all dairy out of my diet but still no change. We noticed she would be so hungry and suck really hard on the bottle then cry and push it away. This prompted us to try new bottles. We tried the Como Tomo bottles and she seamed to like those and then grew fussy a few weeks later. We then found the Advent bottles with an air free vent and that changed our baby! She was happy and easy to feed after this switch. Still using them today.
BREASTFEEDING FRIENDLY CLOTHING:
I wanted to have a separate section here because I’ve found clothes that were made for breastfeeding ARE worth getting. Wacoal sent me the most beautiful bras from bralettes to full coverage bras that were breastfeeding friendly! When breastfeeding, there is no more sleeping without a bra, so I found super comfortable bras to hold my nursing pads while I sleep. Obviously, I’m not feeling sexy while I spill milk out of my chest but Wacoal had this one and this one helping ya girl feel cute! Also, my favorite place to find affordable and cute maternity and nursing friendly clothes were ASOS, H&M, and Pink Blush.
MISCELLANEOUS BREAST MILK ACCESSORIES:
I wanted to make a list of the things that I loved during my breastfeeding journey that made my life easier.
Baby’s Brew Bottle Warmer: I wish I had this when we had Pia because we were ALWAYS asking for boiled water at restaurants getting the strangest looks! I thought we were doing big things when I bought the Tommee Tippie thermos but even carrying that around was a pain. I kept seeing ads for The Baby’s Brew on Instagram and thought it looked cool but figured it was just for formula. They must of realized I was stalking them and they finally reached out to us and sent one. We haven’t stopped using it since! The warmer heats up within 5-10 minutes and has four different temperature settings. It fits my Advent bottles so I didn’t need an additional bottle adapter and it’s so compact to carry around! Parenting is just getting easier and easier!
Breast Milk Storage: With Pia and Penelope I used the same Lansinoh storage bags. These ones have a double seal and hold more milk than most. I never had issues with these bags and they are easy to lay flat for easier storage in the freezer.
Breast Milk Transportation: You all know, I love me some diaper bags. I was never a purse girl but as soon as I had a baby, I quickly became a crazy bag lady. I was always looking for bags that had a compartment for solely milk storage and my favorite do-it-all bag was definitely Petunia Pickle Bottom’s Axis backpack. I don’t love big bags but if we were going to be traveling and out for extended periods of time, I would always bring this one to hold my milk with a freezer pack in the separate insulated section of the bag. It was also big enough to carry my pump!
I’m sure I missed SOMETHING in my breastfeeding journey so please ask me any questions and I’ll be happy to answer or find an answer for you! I also wanted to note that I fully support all moms skipping breastfeeding and using formula… for whatever reason you chose, it’s the right one and you’re the best mom to your baby! Love you! xoxo – Day