Readers, You. Are. AWESOME! I asked for help, and you came through! Thank you so much, to all of you who took time to suggest products and offer advice.
My own addition: I started pumping for my triplets about five hours after their birth. It took several weeks of full-time support of a staff of lactation specialists, nurses and my husband before they were all able to take an entire feeding at the breast. It wasn’t until this past month that breastfeeding itself was something I’d say I enjoy. I took to pumping right away because it made me feel like I was doing something in those early days when I couldn’t hardly touch my babies. Providing breastmilk has been my goal all along – breastfeeding was just something to do to help supply and because I didn’t hate it.
The babies are seven months old today, and breastfeeding is enjoyable. It’s quick. It’s more efficient than bottle feeding.
It took us seven months to get here. (Click here for more about my breastfeeding adventures.)
Without the support of readers, Twitter friends, IRL friends, family, our nurses, my LCs and, most importantly, Rob, I would have given up long ago. I’m happy I didn’t. I’m happy I still haven’t.
I’ve worked my butt off (though not literally because I eat a ton – calories and fat are IMPORTANT! I’ll diet later. Or, you know, I’ll just chase after three crazy toddlers.) to provide breastmilk for three babies. I don’t acknowledge that enough, and my lack of acknowledgement isn’t good for me or for my readers. I’m not SuperMom. I’m not SuperBoobs. I have an oversupply thanks to PCOS, but that oversupply has been kept up with diligent pumping, eating, drinking, breast compressions, herbal supplements (a recent addition, though I’m not sure they’re doing anything – I may be producing my max already and just have some hungry babies), single-baby feeding, feeding with these two babies, feeding with those two babies (Callista & Co. are a better pair than Toby and Eleanor together), yada, yada, yada – short of prescription medications and dancing naked underneath a full moon while chanting, I’ve done it all.
I haven’t regretted one second of the last seven months.
Comments from the original entry are organized into four sections: resources, products, tips and encouragement. I’ve linked to specifically named items and quoted bits of comments. You may also want to check out the comments in their original context.
La Leche League: http://www.llli.org/
About’s breastfeeding page: http://breastfeeding.about.com/od/lactation/a/handling.htm
LLL’s milk storage guidelines: http://www.llli.org/faq/milkstorage.html
Kelly Mom: http://www.kellymom.com
“So That’s What They’re For,” by Janet Tamaro
“The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers” by Dr. Jack Newman
“Breastfeeding Made Simple,” by Nancy Morbacher
“The Nursing Mother’s Companion,” by Kathleen Huggins
“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” (La Leche League’s book)
Gentian violet (for treating thrush)
Olive oil (for lubing up the pump flanges)
My Brest Friend pillow (single and twin deluxe)
Gap nursing tanks
Destination Maternity nursing tanks
Bras from Destination maternity
Lansinoh nipple cream (Polysporin if you’re allergic to lanolin)
Double electric pump and extra parts
Big water cup or jug (Bubba jug or a Tervis Tumbler Big T drinking cup with the straw and lid)
Jack Newman’s All-Purpose Nipple Ointment (must get a prescription)
GNC fenugreek supplement capsules
An Itzbeen timer or application to track feeding durations and times
Washable/reusable breast pads (though disposable are less likely to harbor harmful bacteria)
Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter
Bamboobies reusable nursing pads
“Go to a LLL meeting. Find one near you and go when pregnant. I thought it was silly too but man was it worth it.”
“Have a stack of clean pump parts ready for nightly pumping sessions.”
“Find a lactation consult. you can trust. … Abuse her.”
“… If you have a fast-flow and seem to choke and drown your baby, pump about 1-2 minutes BEFORE you feed–just on the side you plan on feeding on.” (This milk can be saved and combined with milk you may pump later. Definitely combine it, though. Foremilk on its own can make babies gassy.)
“Drink plenty of water and eat enough calories to keep up your supply. I personally am horrid at drinking water because I am so sick of it. You need to consume at LEAST 64oz per day. Try tossing in frozen berries for some variety. They act like ice-cubes and naturally flavor your water without sugars and sweeteners. A few squeezes from lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, etc. help add some oomph to a boring glass/bottle of water.”
“Get some pure lanolin before you have the baby. Apply it each and every time you nurse whether you think you need it or not. It doesn’t take long before you really need it and prevention is half the battle.”
“… Nurse on demand. As much as they want it. It’s good for your milk supply and it’s good practice. It sometimes takes a while for you two to figure out how to work together.”
“For me the number one thing I tell people is to feed on demand! (Single baby, I know it is different with multiples). Just because your baby ate an hour ago and wants to eat again does NOT mean they are not getting enough milk. They are getting bigger, need more milk and by feeding more they are increasing your supply.”
“Start pumping and freezing when you’re back up on your feet. There’s no such thing as too much frozen milk. At some point your milk supply does diminish. Having a huge surplus is totally worth it. Related: frozen milk can smell really bad. It’s not spoiled. Don’t throw it out!”
“Get a pump, even if you never plan to pump. A little hand-held one is cheap and a lifesaver when you’re so engorged the baby can’t even latch or for the first time the baby sleeps for more than 4 hours and you feel like dying.”
“I recommend expressing for the overnight feedings so that your partner can give a bottle. It’ll allow for them to bond and share in those quiet moments where Baby is eating and looking at you with total love. Plus it’ll allow you some extra and much-needed sleep.”
“Don’t be scared to use a nipple shield if you have to.”
“My warning – breastfeed hurts during the beginning, and for me it lasted 2 weeks. I mean really hurts, i used to pinch myself to feel pain somewhere else while she latched on. But after that 2 weeks it didn’t hurt at all.”
“Do not be lazy about missing a feeding/pump session this is how I would end up with clogged milk ducts.”
“I could go on and on, but the one trick that turned things around for us (after struggling for 5 weeks) was to line babies NOSE up with your nippe, not their mouth! Them, when they open wide and you pull them in, you will automatically get that “up and over” technique desired to get the majority of the upper side of the areola in their mouth. By lining up their mouth with your nipple and pulling them straight towards you, you are more likely to just get the nippe, and not the areola.”
“The one thing I wished I had known more about was the warning signs of Mastisis. It happens when a clogged milk duct isn’t worked out and infection sets in. Some of the symptoms are full body aches, vomiting, fever with sweating, followed by freezing chills. The infected breast will feel REALLY hot to the touch. It makes you think you have the flu, which is what I thought I had! Until I realized my breast was hurting really bad and the skin around the clogged duct was HOT AS FIRE. It is treated by medication (which doesn’t hurt the babies milk).”
“Figure out your “let down” early. Pay attention to the sensation, how long it takes, how patient your baby is. I thought mine was just a crummy nurser–she was tugging, kneading, and frustrated until one day I actually felt the tingling of a let down and realized my milk was taking several minutes to start flowing. Once I figured it out, I focused on my body and let down cues, and got it to start flowing much faster.”
“Engorgement will kick in after a few days. This sucks, but you can pump and nurse to establish a good supply early. Don’t waste that extra milk.”
“When you pump, go for at least 10 minutes. You might get another let down and empty your breasts even more.”
“If you’re trying to establish a good supply, nurse and pump as much as you can. It’s exhausting, but you’ll have extra in the freezer and a better supply in the end.”
“Cluster feeding WILL happen to you. It’s exhausting, too, but necessary to boost your supply.”
“I don’t wash or sterilize my pump parts between sessions. I pump about 3 times a day at work and I just use the same parts, un-washed, un-rinsed and un-wiped. My thinking is that if you can leave milk out in a room for 5-7 hours, then the milk on my pump parts should probably be okay for that amount of time too.”
“You need to start on the opposite side of the last feeding. I always wore a simple hair rubber band on the wrist of the side I needed to start on next. When you’re feeding round the clock, you won’t remember what from when. Simple and inexpensive reminder.”
“I’ve had a 10 lb baby, 7 lb baby and 4 lb baby. The smallest was the hardest to nurse because she was so small. The lactation nurse described it as a “sandwhich” but she took my breast squished it like a sandwich and shoved it in. Kid took right off.”
“Beware of yeast and blocked ducts…it happened 3x to me. BF-ing is work. There are a lot of nay sayers out there that will tell you to quit. But don’t it is the best thing for you and baby.”
“Water makes all the difference in milk output. Drink more than you want, and then have one more glass after that!”
“Breastfeeding is by far one of the most difficult things I have EVER done in my life, and nobody told me that it would A). Get much easier and B). That the never ending black hole of solitary and sleep deprivation would not last forever. In the whole scheme of things…it is such a short snippet in time…a time that looking back on…wish I would have savored more and slowed it down.”
“Treat breastmilk as liquid GOLD! This is something you need to make sure your husband and caregivers understand. This milk is tough to get – do NOT waste it or throw it away. Treat it with respect since you are doing so much work to get it.”
“If I could do it all over again, I would definitely take a class before baby’s arrival; I was completely unprepared, thinking that ‘oh, it’s so natural, it will be easy!’ It isn’t easy. It hurts – sometimes a lot (they’ll tell you that it won’t hurt if you’re doing it right. That’s a lie). But totally worth it if you can stick it out through the early stages.”
“Even after all this, remember that not being able to meet the baby’s needs doesn’t mean you failed. Supplementing with formula is okay – you’re doing what you have to in order to feed your child. There will come a point when you can’t meet the baby’s demand or she strikes or self-weans. It’s okay.”
“BF gets frustrating at times, especially if things don’t “click” right away. You can’t force a baby to BF – sometimes they have bad days (or weeks) too. … I realized the sooner I relaxed and followed her lead, the more likely she would be to nurse.”
“Trust yourself. Trust your baby. Don’t let anyone discourage you.”
“No, our bodies are different. Our boobs are different. Our babies are different.”
“Get over being modest, at least for the first little while. Let consultants, nurses, and expert mothers help.”
“I would have LOVED to have the knowledge that breastfeeding gets significantly easier after the 8-10 week mark. If I had that time frame in mind during my first attempts, the pain & frustration would have been much more bearable.”
“I wish people would tell you that it is going to be difficult at the beginning, but to stick with it and it does get easier!’
“It wasn’t always easy, but it was always worth it.”
“Stay off Google for every little thing. It’s good to find help/resources/other moms to feel supported when things get rough, but don’t read or believe EVERYTHING out there. There’s so much conflicting information. It just confused and frightened me. Your baby is unique and there’s nothing wrong with her just because she’s doing something a little different.”
“Most important: if you ever supplement, or if you decide breastfeeding isn’t for you, DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT. You’re doing your best to feed your baby, no matter the method.”
“I did tons of research before hand, but I didn’t fully comprehend how HARD breastfeeding really was going to be. And we’ve had relatively few problems. It’s just difficult at first. It hurts. It hurts BAD. But it gets so much easier, and I’m glad I stuck it out. The 2nd week I cried through every feeding. But by 6 weeks it was a piece of cake. I’m still going strong at 10+ months and now I’m so so so glad I didn’t quit when it was tough and I wanted to.”
“Lastly I would just say ignore all of the negative opinions you hear. I have no idea why, but it seemed like EVERYONE was telling me about how I was going to fail and that was hard to hear those early weeks. I almost quit, but thankfully my husband was there to support me and reminded me about how much I wanted to do it and made me feel strong enough. The comments never end, though. First it was that I would never make it two weeks, then that there’s no way I would survive the 6 week growth spurt, then they said I would quit the second he got teeth. Now I just get a lot of ‘you’re STILL breastfeeding?’ comments and side-eyes. But I learned a long time ago to just ignore it.”
“There are a lot of bad days- battery gives out in your pump, infections, leaving out 20oz of milk overnight on the counter, the list goes on. But all the bad things end quick and you just have to keep powering through.”
“Arm yourself with a few important facts (like that the AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months, or the WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 year) so you have something to defend yourself with when your mother, grandmother, in-laws, friends, or whoever start to make snide comments about you breastfeeding. And if no one in your life is making unsupportive comments about breastfeeding, then count yourself very lucky!”
“I felt so violated after my son was born with nurses and lactation consultants grabbing and squeezing my boobs and watching me nurse. It was horrible. I didn’t feel at ease until I got home and even then I thought he wasn’t eating enough or latching correctly. At about 6 weeks I was feeling comfortable with nursing, but it took until 12 weeks to finally feel like a pro.”
Ahh! I love this! Congratulations on nursing your beautiful babies – you have made so many sacrifices and worked very hard but my favorite part about this was to read how much you *love* to nurse now. Feeding babies breastmilk is awesome and important and self-less but… nursing, and bonding and seeing those (six!) eyes looking up at you is what its all about. Attachment, love, trust and of course yummy milk! You rock, Mama!
You rock!! I loved reading this, WTG mama! Go Super Mama with some great tips and points all nicely into one place!
Hi! I wanted to give you a sincere and full hearted THANK YOU for this page. I’ve had this page bookmarked ever since my little guy was 2 weeks old when I struggled so hard with breastfeeding. I found your blog and then this page when I was searching for tips.
I read the encouragement section over and over when I was strapped to a pump and barely anything was coming out with tears in my eyes and in the wee hours of the night when I would zombie walk to the bathroom to pump. It took me over 4 months to finally get the hang of it, and a lot of that I have thanks to your blog.
Awesome! Thanks for all the resources
[…] baby. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be women that successfully breastfeed triplets (Yes! They exist!) or even quads. Our success is the result of a lot of Googling, advice both solicited and […]
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