October 26, 2016... Baby A's half birthday! We made it 6 months and met our first goal of exclusively breastfeeding for six months... It was definitely NOT a walk in the park. This was probably the most challenging part of the first half of his life. There were days when I felt like there was no way we were going to make it...when I cried over spilled milk (literally)...when my nipples were super super sore... but it was and still is definitely worth it.
We started our breastfeeding journey shortly after he was born and the midwife laid him on my chest. Our golden hour was one of the best hours of my life. He latched almost immediately with a little help from my birth team because I had no idea what I was doing really. It didn't hurt...initially. He fed every 1-2 hours like clockwork. He even fell asleep on the nipple (and still does at almost 8 months old). The first day or two was great!
Nipple soreness did not set in until a few days in and after my supply really came in. I was not prepared for that... at all. I would definitely recommend having nipple cream from day one. I had to send Tae to get some and nipple pads. Now I make sure every new mommy I know has some if they plan on breast feeding. Read about more of my breastfeeding must-haves here.
I didn't really pump much at first. I actually didn't start pumping even once a week until Baby A was about a month old. I pumped so that his dad can have a bottle to feed him once in awhile and so that I can get away for a couple of hours if I had to.
I was lucky enough to be able to be off of work and be at home with Baby A for 4 months. However, I wish I would have spent some of those 4 months getting my milk supply together. That would have saved me a lot of stress that I experienced once I returned to work.
I got comfortable with my breast pump prior to returning to work. I had the Medela Pump In Style. At first I wasn't getting much milk at all. I began reading blogs to get tips from other BFMs. I came across a Youtube video that really helped me. I don't personally know her, but shoutout to Erika! I can also shoutout my lactation consultant, Tiara from Mommatoto Village for always being a text away whenever I had any questions or concerns. It's important to have a support system. Tae, Tiara, and my breastfeeding friends Trish and Trice were and are still very supportive resources of mine.
It's also important to have a supportive pediatrician! Do your research!...seriously! The first pediatrician that we saw upon moving back to Michigan really rubbed me the wrong way. My son weighed 8 lbs and 3 oz at birth. At his 1 month appointment he weighed 11 lbs and some oz that I can't recall in the moment. The pediatrician really had the nerve to tell me that I needed to feed my son less because he was gaining weight too quickly. That, on top of another reason, was the reason why we found another pediatrician. Our current pediatrician is EVERYTHING and supported us 100% when we told her that Baby A will be exclusively breastfed for 6 months.
I mentioned above that I was a stay at home mom for about the first 3-4 months of Asar's life. I started working mid August at a school in my hometown. On my first day I asked about the lactation suite...or if they had one. I was directed to a bathroom. Yes, you read that right...a bathroom. The first day I spilled half a bag of breastmilk on the floor of the bathroom. I literally cried over spilled milk. I felt horrible! I felt so defeated... How were we going to make it to 6 months if I couldn't even pour milk from a bottle to a bag without spilling it. I sat there and cried and texted Tae. I was sad for the rest of the day.
Non breastfeeders may not understand why I cried over spilled milk, but my BFMs feel me! The feeling sucks. It was the last time I spilled that much milk. I eventually got use to using this bathroom for pumping although my time there was short lived. A few weeks later I got a position at a different school in a neighboring city. The lactation suite was the same, a bathroom, but it was just a bit better. My principal made me feel welcomed and supported my breastfeeding journey. There was also another teacher who was a BFM so for me that helped.
We struggled every so often making sure that Baby A had enough milk of the week if I decided to hang during the weekend. However, the milk continued to come out of my breast and he never went without or had to skip a meal. It's rewarding, refreshing, and even economical to be able to breastfeed my son.