Baby Girl turned two weeks old yesterday! (Cue the happy/sad/baby-blues/my-hormones-are-still-going-crazy cry) I can’t believe it. I know people say it goes by fast, and it’s only been two weeks… but seriously! It goes by so fast!
I’ve learned a lot about breastfeeding in the last two weeks. Some things I expected. Others I didn’t. Here’s a quick recap of things I wish I would have known two weeks ago and what advice I have for other new mommys:
Tip #1: Prepare Yourself- Mentally, Physically, Emotionally. And don’t beat yourself up if you have change your plan of attack.
I’m not talking, “oh, we’ll get the hang of it” kind of hard. I had heard so many women say that breastfeeding was a nightmare, and, to be honest, I just assumed they didn’t have the right resources available to figure out how to make it the perfect bonding experience I had expected in my mind.
Well, nope! I was SO wrong. Even with countless resources on my side, I’m still struggling hard core with breastfeeding. It’s not just the latch. It’s “ties” and “is she a lazy eater?” and “oh, crap, what happened to my supply?”
We’re only two weeks in, and I’ve already reached the point that I have breakdowns almost daily about breastfeeding… How am I supposed to make it a year?!
Tip #2: Stock up on healthy snacks! If you want your body to produce quality milk, put in quality ingredients!
This is common with breastfeeding (I hope). I cannot stop eating to save my life. I’ve been eating more now than I ever did at any point in my pregnancy!
I wish I would have stocked up better on healthy snacks… Although, to be honest, all I really want to eat is cereal.
Tip #3: Drink up! At least 8oz with each feeding.
Drink water. Drink water like your life depends on it! Because your supply does. Every time you sit down to nurse, bring a huge glass of water, and don’t get up until that water is gone!
Tip #4: Listen to other people’s advice but listen to your body and your baby more. Don’t just take the easy way out.
Everyone around me gave me advice. They were well intentioned, I know. But, amid the influx of information, I clung to the bits that promised to make my life easiest.
The doctor that delivered my Baby Girl came in to see me the day after she was born. Meaning well, she told me “all she really needs is ten minutes per side. Much past that and she’s just using you as a pacifier.”
Great! Ten minutes per side it is!
Little did I know, Baby Girl is a “lazy eater” and she needs more time. As a complete newb to the breastfeeding world, I didn’t realize that she wasn’t emptying my boobs. I just figured “doctor said ten minutes; ten minutes is more than enough.”
It definitely wasn’t. My supply plummeted, and Baby Girl lost weight. Now I’m in full on pumping mode trying to get my supply up, even though we still have the lazy eater issue to deal with.
Tip #5: Pay attention to the poops! Don’t freak out if Baby isn’t pooping as many times a day as they’re “supposed to.” BUT be sure to talk to your pediatrician about it. It’s your chance to get ahead of the problem before it comes to tube feeding and an intense pumping schedule.
Everyone says the best way to judge if your baby is getting enough food is by how many poops they are producing each day. When you’re in the hospital, they give you a nice little chart with a daily breakdown of what baby’s bowl movements should look like and how many they should have based on how old they are.
Well, at the start, Norah was a rockstar with pooping. She even started transitioning her poops a little early! I was so excited thinking we totally had this breastfeeding thing in the bag.
And then, all of the sudden, she stopped pooping! I’m talking a couple days with nothing. I freaked out. It was also during this time that she had started to become super fussy and wanting to nurse pretty much every hour.
I took her to the pediatrician, and they told me that sometimes, newborns not pooping is completely normal. “They are still figuring out how the muscles work.” The nurse helped her get some out (it was thick– no wonder she was having trouble!) and sent me home. Well, when we went back a couple days later because she still wasn’t pooping on her own, we realized she wasn’t eating enough.
After we started supplementing her meals with pumped milk and formula if necessary, she started pooping more and more (and now she won’t stop!).
In the end, I wonder if she stopped pooping because my supply was just always low. Maybe it was because I wasn’t keeping her on my boobs long enough? Or was it just that the meconium was mixed in and she struggled pushing it out (this is what the nurse said)? I’m not sure. But, I do know that I’m glad I paid attention to the poops. Even if it is normal that they don’t poop as often as the little chart says they should, what they put out is our only way of knowing for sure how much they get in. It’s worth taking note.
In the end, do what is best for you, your family, and your baby
I cried the day I mixed the formula for the first time; I cried a lot. I felt like a failure. I had talked for months about how much I wanted to breastfeed. I read books that preached the importance of breastfeeding for the first year. And there I was, doing the one thing I told myself I would never do.
After about 10 minutes of self pity and another five spent swallowing my pride, I added the formula to the measly amount of breastmilk I had pumped, grabbed the feeding tube, and showed my husband how to finger feed our daughter.
It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was what she needed. She had to gain weight. At the end of the day, I’m doing all of this for her. I just want her to be happy and healthy.
We’ve only had to use about 1.5 oz of formula so far (we’ve been tube feeding for almost a week now) since my efforts to increase my supply have been paying off. But, there are still plenty of challenges ahead of us when it comes to breastfeeding. I’m afraid we still have a couple big decisions looming ahead; decisions I had never imagined having to make.
But, I will make them. And I will make the best decisions I can- not for me, but for her.