Thursday, July 6, 2017

My Breastfeeding Experience (With First Baby)

Here's a little bit of a throw back post today. I wrote this post months ago, after I stopped breastfeeding Emmett. I always wanted to remember my first breastfeeding experience. It was so different than anything I had ever experienced before and I wanted a reference to look back on for my future children. I've loved having my pregnancy updates, so it only made sense to me to document this as well :) 

Before I had Emmett I did very minimal preparation for feeding (stupid, I know). But the entire time I was pregnant I didn’t even feel pregnant, and thinking about anything past labor and delivery was just too much for my mind at the time. My mom had told me that she had difficulty breastfeeding, along with all of my aunts. She said that she wasn't able to breastfed me or my brother past 2 weeks, so I tried not to stress breastfeeding to much on myself. My mentality was, if I have milk I'll breastfeed and if I don't I'll just use formula. That simple. I didn't look into pumping, how supplementing worked, or anything. Fortunately, I got an electric pump with my insurance because I didn't even look into it. I didn't realize it, but I basically had no feeding "plan" for Emmett. 

Well, fast forward to giving birth and Emmett's first latch. I don't have some magical story of how when he latched for the first time we had 0 problems and it was so glorious. It was the complete opposite of any of that. Emmett is an aggressive eater, literally from the moment he came out. That first latch killed! It took everything in me not to rip his cute little head off of me! The nurses saw the pain I was in and suggested that it was due to tender breasts and him latching incorrectly. So, they worked with us on his latch, but every single way was causing me the same amount of pain. I have a condition with my breasts in which some women with he same problem can't breastfeed at all due to the pain and the baby not being able to latch. So, they suggested using a nipple shield (I guess some women with this same problem use it during their entire time nursing because it's so helpful)... I said "lets go for it" (anything to protect me during these feedings, because at this rate there was no way we were going to make it past this feeding). But when I used it, it hurt even worse. I started crying because I was in so much pain (this was much worse for me than labor and delivery combined... times 3! haha) and once Emmett got off that feeding I looked down and my nipple was bleeding. A lot. The nurse grabbed the nipple shield off, and suggested that I focus on pumping. I tried pumping and it was still painful but nothing like Emmett's latch. So I did that mostly in the hospital, while trying to work on his latch. 

When we left the hospital, they let me take a hospital grade pump for about a month due to my boobie problems, in hopes that it would help our feeding problems. The nurse said if I ended up not being able to nurse him because of the pain, I could at least work on my supply to bottle feed him. I remember leaving the hospital and being scared of how I was going to continue nursing him. I worked on nursing and pumping a lot more during those first few days and I felt so bad for Emmett because my milk still hadn't came in. He lost a little bit of weight at his 3 day appointment, not more than the normal amount but he looked so skinny to me, and it made me super concerned. But the doctor reassured me it was normal for milk to come in at day 4/5 and that nothing was abnormal. His doctor told me to wait it out until then. After getting back from that appointment, I still felt discouraged and wanted to give Emmett formula because I felt like my milk was probably going to be similar to my mom's and I didn't want to starve my baby.

But then the very next day I took a shower in the morning, I put on one of Wyatt's t-shirts and some shorts, and then went on with getting ready. I came back to the bathroom to brush my teeth, looked in the mirror, and my entire shirt was soaked. My milk had came in. I rushed over to my pump because Emmett was sleeping and started pumping. I pumped 6oz out of each side. I was amazed at how much milk I had and was excited to give it to Emmett. Since that day, and until he was about 1 1/2 months old he was drinking about 4/5 ounces every 2/3 hours. It was crazy. There was a dramatic difference in his sleep. He started to sleep in 4 hour increments through the night. But for me, it was all still painful. Not only was the latching still uncomfortable, but I was constantly engorged. I had friends tell me that feeling of engorgement would eventually go away in a few weeks, but it didn't go away for me until Emmett was about 4 months old and I had gotten pregnant. I just remember thinking, "will I ever not be so sticky and in pain?"

But after the first month, things got better with Emmett's latch. I switched to a different latch the "laid back/semi reclined" which I used like 90% of the time I nursed him. That worked best for us because but my milk would come in so fast. It was so much for Emmett that I was literally be drowning him if I cradled or did the football hold. With that being more manageable, I actually started to enjoy nursing. 

I had an overproduction from the moment my milk came in. It had its positives and negatives. I felt fortunate to be able to produce a freezer full of milk while nursing, but I was constantly engorged. For Emmett's first 4 months I could leak ounces and ounces at any moment. I remember walking through Target when Emmett was about 3 1/2 months old. He was completely asleep in his carseat as I pushed the cart and another baby in the store started crying and my milk just let down, like an entire feeding. I went through the nursing pads I was currently wearing and I wanted to die! haha! I felt like I was never going to taper off or even out. I felt like I was constantly a ticking time bomb of milk, because I would let down at any minute. It was discouraging for me to ever want to leave the house because of it.

But when Emmett hit about 4 months old he wasn't latching as well as he did before. He started drinking more from the bottle than from me, like I mentioned in previous posts. Also, my engorgement was finally going down. It was amazing! I cut back on his feedings because I just figured he was growing out of it a little bit. I was stoked because it felt like my milk production was finally evening out. But Emmett would still pop off of me, which was abnormal for him. I started feeling like I was going to start my period, so I figured it must be my milk supply. But I was still pumping the same amount. Well that feeling of "getting my period" came and went and I still didn't get my period. That's when I started to think that I might be pregnant. You can check out the post HERE if you want to know how we found out. But sure enough, I was pregnant and my doctor said sometimes babies can taste the difference in hormones and your milk supply can decrease when you get pregnant. So, that was around the time I started to wean him, which fortunately for us was so easy. I was able to wean him off of nursing onto my freezer stash.  But that went pretty quick with how much Emmett was eating. I don't remember how much I had exactly because I never counted or kept track but it lasted about 3 weeks and it was gone. 

I had some immediate mommy guilt when I started weening him off of nursing because it felt like my body was starting to cater to our new baby more than Emmett. But Emmett didn't have any resistance to only taking a bottle. It was such an easy transition, and I was only engorged for about a day. Also, we are just so excited for baby sister. We feel incredibly blessed to have these babies so close. 

Anyway, my breastfeeding journey with Emmett ended at about 5 months, but when I look back at it I'm surprised I lasted that long, because I really had no longer term plan on feeding. I was really just "winging it" haha! With baby sister, I've set a few milestones goal for myself. I'd love to go at least 6 weeks, because I will have two kids under 1 and I'll be recovering from my 2nd pregnancy in 1 year. I feel like 6 weeks is a realistic goal for me and anything I can do after will feel like an accomplishment! Until next time :)


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