Thursday, May 15

My Breastfeeding Experience {and Pumping}.

Breastfeeding and pumping seems so simple, but it's really so complicated, mostly because every experience is different. I feel like I still have questions about it and I'm 6 months into it. I want to share my experience with the hope that someone can relate!

The first days... 
Sullivan was immediately an "aggressive" feeder, as the nurses told me. We never had a problem with her latching, which I am so thankful for. The problem we initially had was it didn't seem like colostrum was enough for her. The lactation specialist at the hospital said she would be fine, but when we got home she just didn't seem satisfied at all after feeding. She just seemed really hungry and would cry and couldn't settle down/fall asleep. I was sent home with some individual "bottles" of formula {just in case}, so finally after a day or so I caved and let Jeff feed her a 1oz of a 2oz bottle. I cried the whole time and had to leave the room because I felt like a failure that I wasn't "enough" for her. I also feel so lucky that I was never sore, or dealt with cracked or bleeding nipples.

I kept waiting for my milk to come in {which I guess the average is 3 days}, mine took a week {7 whole days}! It was so exciting when it finally happened, but I was so worried and stressed that entire week that I wasn't going to be able to breastfeed. One of our older friends down here told us an old school trick, and had Jeff buy me a dark beer. So I'm sitting in my rocking chair, nursing Sullivan, and drinking a Guinness. About an hour or two later MY MILK CAME IN! We were so excited! From that point on it's pretty much been smooth sailing, but I regret how stressed I was the first week of her life, and feel like I really missed out on just loving her and getting to know her.

I have also never experienced too much pain or that full feeling, except for when Sullivan started sleeping for 8 hours straight. I have always done a dream feed {feed her while she's still kind of sleeping} at 10:30PM then she sleeps until 7AM. The first few times she started sleeping for that large chunk I woke up in pain and had to instantly feed her or pump. After a week or so this eased up and my body adjusted to the new schedule.

Pumping has been OK. From the start I could never pump more than 2oz {TOTAL, from both sides}. Everything I've read and the lactation specialist at the hospital all say that I'm the norm, but every person {really, every person} that I've talked to/know can pump gallons. It's been frustrating, but we've managed. She only needs a few bottles a week, but I just couldn't get ahead. I have two friends who have "donated" their milk for Sullivan. I don't know how people feel about that, I guess it's a little weird, but I'm so thankful! I had my wisdom teeth out, and couldn't nurse for 24 hours... my supply would have never lasted for all that milk, but fortunately I had my friends' as back up!

I have tried every size flange {the funnel part of the pump} because we thought maybe that was the issue, but I kept getting the same results.

In the beginning I never tried super hard to live on the pump, I was overwhelmed enough with how often and long she was nursing for, to then sit and spend another 15 minutes on the pump. I'm assuming if I would have been really disciplined with pumping in-between feedings that would have made the difference. It's definitely made things a little complicated. For example, our doctor recently said to give her MiraLAX, for constipation, by mixed in her milk once a day. That's an issue because I don't pump enough milk for a full feeding {or enough liquid to mix the MiraLAX with}, so I'm not sure what to do.

Other than needing more milk for convenience and so that I can leave her more, it's really easy to just let her nurse. She's super quick and efficient these days and there is no mess or clean up involved!

I hope this helps SOMEONE. Let me know if you have specific questions, I'd be happy to share more details and info. OH, and I've mentioned this before but I found a breastfeeding support group with a lactation specialist who is there every week- that was beyond helpful {for random questions/concerns those first 3 months}, not to mention she gives free products/pump accessories. I highly recommend it! 

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