Before I start with this post I just want to say that I’m in no way an expert on this topic; this is just a post about my personal breastfeeding experience. I also want to say that I’m not a a-woman-should-brastfeed-at all-costs believer. I think every mom should do what is best for herself and for her baby, whether it’s breastfeeding, formula or a combination of both. Do whatever floats your and your baby’s boat 🙂
So, I actually have two different breastfeeding stories because my first breastfeeding experience with baby Lara was very different to Lev’s. And I kind of wish that I would have known some of the things I know now, the first time around.
For one, I never gave much thought to breastfeeding before I had Lara; I just assumed I would breastfeed because it seemed the most natural thing to do and other options weren’t even discussed. Moreover, I also assumed that babies just know how to breastfeed and there really wasn’t anything to it (I was so clueless you guys!). Positioning? The baby must latch on properly? Whaaat? Well, I quickly learned my lesson when Lara didn’t latch on properly, which led to an incredibly painful few first weeks. I mean there were times where I literally thought I wasn’t going to be able to do this after all because each feed was just so painful. It got better after a few weeks but then other trouble started. Two bouts of lactation mastitis later and I found myself expressing milk daily because Lara was a really good sleeper in the first couple of months and getting through the night without doing so just wasn’t happening.
And thennnn, once we got over that part and I craved for that demand-supply balance that all the forums say will happen at some point, Lara started refusing one breast. I mean she just wasn’t having it and boom just like that the milk was gone in less than three days and not even my faithful breast pump could salvage it. Because at this point I still wanted to breastfeed our pediatrician assured me I could continue doing so with just one breast. Super! Let me tell you, that summer was a GREAT bikini season for me. We’re talking Pamela Anderson feat. Kate Moss in one piece.
Nevertheless, Lara and I manage to breastfeed for full eight months. We introduced solids a little earlier than we wanted to because she needed more food but didn’t want to take the bottle with formula nor did she want the bottle with the milk I would express. She weaned herself off all on her own and I didn’t have a single painful breast moment once she did. At that point she was ready and I guess so was my one surviving boob.
In terms of that first experience I wish I had known about the breastfeeding support groups that can really help with any difficulties and I wish I had sought help as soon as we hit our first nursing bump. Maybe it was a language barrier, since at that point I didn’t really speak French yet, and I wasn’t aware that I could actually talk to a lactation consultant or at least my midwife. I think, had I done that, our journey would probably have been easier from the start and possibly a little longer too.
But I did learn my lesson and I was a little more breast savvy going into round two. Just like with Lara I was sure I wanted to breastfeed but this time around I knew what I had to look out for. I applied lanolin like a crazy lady and even though I was super exhausted after my C-section I made sure we nursed often and most importantly I really watched out so that he latched on properly. I talked to our midwife about how to prevent any milk build up and avoid mastitis. She was also helpful when I asked her about milk supply. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Lev is a very good nurser (knocking on wood) and I was initially worried I didn’t have enough milk because he would literally want to nurse every hour or so. The midwife assured me that he was getting just enough but she still recommended a tea and homeopathic granules to increase the milk supply in case I was worried about it. We’ve been nursing successfully for almost three months now and I really hope we continue the same way.
But the biggest thing that stuck with me though from both of my experiences is the special bonding time breastfeeding creates. I loved that time with Lara and I’m loving my time with Lev. Especially with two kiddos, when there is always something going on, those moments are particularly peaceful.
A couple of other things I learned on my breastfeeding journey:
- Breastfeeding makes you sooooo thirsty!
- Both my kids were fussier when I nursed while out and about. Both with Lev and Lara before him those feeds are usually quick; just enough to get them by until we get home.
- My boobs vary between 3 sizes in the span of 24 hours. Every day. It’s crazy…
- Neither of my kids like mixing breastfeeding with the bottle. I’ve tried expressing milk so Vid could do a couple of feeds too and with Lara it was downright impossible. Lev has taken an emergency bottle or two when I was out solo with Lara but he’s not a big fan either. My pediatrician told me it’s common with breastfed babies and that they often refuse the bottle until they’re completely weaned.