I’ve heard that breastfeeding is tough. The 1st month can be outright brutal. Why does such a natural process give so many new mothers problems? So, I’m researching and looking into this.
I’ve been thinking lately (I’m 37 weeks, 6 days)… can I get a head start on breastfeeding to induce labor?
- Romper.com, Romper.com: How-to
- Saying “No” to Induction. J Perinat Educ. 2006 Spring; 15(2): 43–45.
- The birth of a breastfeeding baby and mother. J Perinat Educ. 2005 Winter; 14(1): 42–45.
UPDATE: February 26, 2018 post-partum
Breastfeeding is hard. The first week after Arden was born was a really rough one — lack of sleep, whole new routine/schedule, physical pain, soreness, learning new parenting skills, etc. It took a while for my milk to come in… almost a week for me. Once it did, it wasn’t much. So my pediatrician recommended that we start supplementing with formula as Arden had lost 10% of her birth weight. This made me so sad as I was committed and ready to exclusively breast feed. But, my body was not ready. So, I continued breastfeeding her every 3 hours (we set alarms to make sure I was on time) while also supplementing her with 2 oz. of Enfamil Premium Newborn. I started going to a breastfeeding support group which is so wonderful because it connects mothers with other mothers and helps us all troubleshoot our breastfeeding challenges. It’s interesting to hear other moms speak of their troubles because everyone seems to have different questions at various points in their baby’s life. After doing a week of formula supplementation, I went back to the pediatrician and Arden not only met her birth weight but also gained some as well. This made me feel better as a mom because she was getting the nutrition she needed despite my best efforts at breastfeeding. But, I wasn’t giving up on the boob. The more I searched the internet and asked at our breastfeeding support group, the more I learned and started brainstorming to see if I could get my body to produce more breastmilk.
Breastfeeding 10 minutes on each breast every 3 hours (starting from the initial feed, not at the end of the feed). Nipples were extremely sore. Arden had a great latch and would suckle vigorously. I even considered a nipple shield for pain. I used breastmilk and lanolin around the nipple after each feed. This was the most painful week.
I started experimenting with pumping as there was one day where my nipples were too sore to allow Arden to breastfeed. I still went every 3 hours on the breast pump (Medela In-Style Advanced). After 1 day of pumping, I revisited trying to breastfeed her and my nipples felt better. I read somewhere that I should try and pump at the halfway point of my breastfeeding times. So, I would pump 1.5 hours after I started breastfeeding. This helped increase my milk supply. I went from doing 0.5 oz per breast to 1oz per breast. I think this more closely mimics a cluster feed and helps the body adapt to feed a hungry baby. Halfway through week 2, Arden started doing 15 minutes at each breast. I would often see milk in and around her mouth, so I know she was getting some breast milk. The biggest trouble was getting her to stay awake at the breast. Burping her and changing her diaper helped wake her up for the 2nd breast. Towards the end of the week, Arden started only taking one breast at each feed. She would pass out at the breast and even when we tried burping her and changing her diaper, she was satisfied enough that she did not want the second breast. This was a new behavior and I’m not sure what to do. So, I would pump the second breast…and then start her on that pumped breast at the next feed.
- Love and Breastmilk
- Parents: 31 breastfeeding secrets
- KellyMom.com: breastfeeding
- MamaNatural: 10 breastfeeding tips
- PumpStation: Breastfeeding Help
- Stanford breastfeeding info
The start of this week, Arden is feeding every 1.5 hours. Is this a growth spurt? She’s still getting 2oz (sometimes 3 oz) of supplemental formula. This article from KellyMom was a wealth of info for me.
One of the days, Arden fed 12 times in a day. My nipples were incredibly sore from the constant feeding. I called three different local board certified lactation consultants to help — currently scheduling when that will be.
Also, I found out the Medela phone app has a video call to board certified LCs — I’m excited to try this out. It’s for a fee (not hefty), but they’re available 24/7.
Week 4: Dialing it in this week!
- Feed baby
- Establish milk supply
- Double pump
- Never uncomfortable
- High suction
- Fenugreek: 3 capsules, 3x/day = 9 capsules/day
- Milk tea: 2-3x/day
- Lactation cookies
- Breastfeeding going well
For the first time, my letdown has ejected milk from the other boob while Arden is feeding on the opposite boob. I got the NatureBond Manual breast pump to place on the “free” boob while Arden is nursing and it collected 0.8 oz of liquid gold! This is a new thing for me and I’m so stoked to be able to collect every single drop!
Looking back at what I have taken consistently to get to an increase in milk supply:
- USDA Organic Fenugreek Capsules (Vegan) Increase Milk Supply & Herbal Lactation Support – Breastfeeding Supplement For Mothers – NON-GMO – Natural Seed Powder: Better than Oil, Tea. 60 Pills
- UpSpring Milkflow Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle Powder Berry Drink Mix
- Boobie Bar – The Original Lactation Bar – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip – 6 Individually Wrapped Bars
- Solgar – Brewer’s Yeast Powder, 14 Ounce – Supports Heart Health and Digestion
- Lactation Supplement for Breastfeeding Mothers to Support Breast Milk Production – with Fenugreek Extract, Blessed Thistle, Fennel Seed, and DHA – 120 Veggie Pills
- Mother’s Select Organic Goat’s Rue – Herbal Support Aid for Lactation & Nursing – Increase Breast Milk Supply – Safe Gluten Free, Dairy and Soy Free – 120 Vegetarian All Natural Breast Feeding Pills!
- Lactation Supplement Fruit Mix for Breastfeeding Mothers (Blueberry Pomegranate) – Boost Breast Milk Supply with Fenugreek, Goat’s Rue, Blessed Thistle, and Fennel Seed – (21 Servings)
And we’re already thinking of traveling with Arden soon!!
I’m decreasing the pumping after breastfeeding to just 2-3x/day. On days where I pump only and don’t breastfeed, I’m getting roughly 3oz total. How do women create freezer stashes? I don’t get it. I’m poppin’ pills like a druggie, putting Arden to my breast at least 8x/day, pumping after feeds at least 2-3x/day (now I’ve spaced them out instead of pumping directly after a feed…I now pump about an hour after a feed — to resemble a cluster feed). I could do a better job of hydrating. I’m watching my nutrition. I’ve started to workout. Then when I look at the real facts… I had a prolactinoma… that was resected… and it may have affected my milk production from a hormone standpoint. Even if all the working parts are there in my breasts, I have come to the realization that it’s ok if I’m not fully able to give my baby 100% of what she needs from nursing. I’m happy if I’m still able to transfer at least some of my milk and antibodies and goodness to her…. as well as help her develop and gain weight with the addition of formula supplement.
Here’s what we started with:
Earth’s Best Organic Infant Powder Formula with Iron, Omega-3 DHA & Omega-6 ARA 23.2 Ounce (Packaging May Vary)
After what seemed like some gas and more pasty stools… we moved to this one and she’s really loved it and I think it’s helped with her gas.
Baby’s Only Organic LactoRelief with DHA & ARA Toddler Formula
Various things that she has preferred without issue of nipple confusion:
Comotomo – Baby Bottles – Baby Feeding – Green – 4 Pack – Two 5 Ounce Bottles and Two 8 Ounce Bottles
Things are going well. I’ve come to terms that I just don’t have enough milk. My letdown is fine. There’s fullness in the breasts if I go more than 5 hours for a feed. SO, I scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist to follow up on my prolactinoma to see if that’s it. Either way, I’m enjoying breastfeeding with what I can supply and then having my husband or family pitch in to bottle feed. She just went through a growth spurt and was eating and fussing a ton.
Through all of my breastfeeding challenges, here are my thoughts/reviews on what has and hasn’t worked for me:
- Medela Personal In-Style Advanced (PISA) — This is a great pump for me and it was covered by my insurance. When I got out of the hospital after delivery, this is what I used to help boost my milk supply. Granted, I was super sore the first two weeks, but I think that was because I was breastfeeding and then pumping right after. Plus, I don’t think it’s that uncommon to have sore nipples when first learning to breast feed and/or pump.
- Medela Symphony — I would highly recommend using this pump first for the first month bc it has such a gentle cycle of letdown/expression. Rent one from the hospital if they have availability. I think it’s a tad gentler and smoother than the Medela PISA.
- Spectra S1 — I heard a lot about these pumps, but don’t have any experience. I would potentially try and get insurance coverage with this if we have another kiddo. There were so many rave reviews from people.
- Lansinoh Smartpump — I purchased this as a second pump so I could use it in the morning as I’m getting ready for work. I have to get up pretty early for work 5:30a or 6:00a so this allows pumping as well as makeup/getting dressed. I like that it has different suction/expression tempos in addition to the intensities. Plus, there’s a Bluetooth tracker that counts your pump time when you turn on/off the pump (I always forget to hit STOP on my phone to end a pump session). Lansinoh did such a great job with a complete package: 2 sets different size flanges, 4 bottles, 2 nipples, pumping bag samples, carrying bag, instructions, etc. And it’s a super small footprint!
- Nenesupply flanges — I purchased several of these for my Medela PISA bc I wasn’t sure if I would be able to wash my parts between pumps. Turns out, I learned you can just use one set and refrigerate between pumps so you don’t have to wash bt sessions. Wish I knew that before!
- Maymom flanges — same reason I got these flanges. Both manufacturers work nicely and you can’t go wrong. What I don’t like as much about the Medela fitting flanges is the little suction piece with that fragile plastic flap. It’s a pain in the ass to clean and find.
- Philips Avent manual breast pump — I purchased this in the event I was stuck in a long case and couldn’t get relief to go pump. Perhaps I’m not as comfortable with it as my double electric pumps, but I don’t feel that it empties me out as much as the electric pumps. I’m sure hand tiredness attributes to that as I can go 20minutes on an electric pump no problem….but after 10 minutes on one breast, my hand gets tired. But, I do think it’s a very comfortable manual pump to be used in a pinch or bind.
- Willow Pump — I had such high hopes for this pump. I wanted it to work to not be tethered to a pump with cords and such. However, when I tried this pump, it hurt. It was heavy in my bra and I felt like it pulled my breasts down. The suction is HIGH even at the lowest setting — even my more seasoned/withered nipples couldn’t weather the pull of the Willow. I’m going to give it another go as I used the 24mm flange that comes with it… and I ordered the 27mm ones and haven’t tried those yet. For reference, I started with the 24mm flanges on Medela…. then moved to a 27mm which I think is more comfortable.
- Pumping pal flanges — a bunch of reviews raved about these flanges. I wish they worked better for me. No difference that I could tell in output of milk or comfort on the breast.
- Medela breast milk freezer pack bottles– these are great to pump into. Plus, since I don’t have enough of a stash to freeze, it’s great to put these bottles directly into the fridge. I use the standard Dr. Brown nipples or generic nipples on these for a feed.
- Freemie Collection Cups — these cups are the most amazing thing! It’s like the portability of the Willow pump (minus long tubing) with the lightweight profile of the flanges. I love these so much! Plus, I don’t have to mess with the trouble of a hands-free pumping bra (the holes on the bra rub my nipples and makes me wince a bit with pain). If I were to do it all over again, I’d order two sets of these and say “to hell with the flanges.”
- NatureBond Silicone Manual Breast pump — this is a great asset to catch the milk letdown from the opposite breast that you’re nursing. You’ll be amazed at how much collects in this device.
If I were to do it all over again I’d get:
- Medela Symphony rental for the first month or two after leaving the hospital.
- I like both my Medela PISA as well as my Lansinoh. Both are highly portable and perfect for returning to work. KEEP IN MIND that the Freemie collection cups work with the PISA and not the Lansinoh (as of this writing on April 10, 2018). For a second go, I would get the Spectra S1 just to try it bc I hear the suction is so gentle.
- Freemie Collection Cups — I’d get two sets.
- Medela breast milk freezer pack bottles
- NatureBond Silicone Manual Breast pump