My Breastfeeding Journey

Yep, you read that correctly, folks. This is going to be the post where I talk about my boobs. Well, let me rephrase that. I will be talking about my boobs’ function and my successful breastfeeding journey. I have had some friends who are pregnant or new moms ask me how I’ve made this all work and keep Kennedy exclusively breastfed. I honestly think I got very lucky for the most part, but there are definitely some other things that I did that helped Kennedy and me. This will probably be a long post, but I hope that it helps and encourages those that are about to embark on that journey.

Let me preface this post by saying that just because I breastfeed, it doesn’t mean I look down upon women who don’t or cannot. I know this is a touchy subject among moms, and things like these can get judge-y, but my intention here is not to bash bottle feeding. Yes, I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, but no I will not think any less of any mother who does not.

Moving right along.

I’m going to break this up into what I did at each stage of infancy and other life changes in hopes of simplifying all of this. I think the most important thing to note here is I had really no knowledge or idea of what breastfeeding would be like before I had Kennedy. I was essentially clueless and uninformed. Always researching has helped a ton.

39 weeks pregnant

PRE-BABY
I purchased the book Breastfeeding Made Simple (to which my husband made a joke at how a book so “simple” shouldn’t be over 200 pages…ha). It empowered me and really made me look forward to getting breastfeeding right. Yes, it can be preachy throughout the book, but really understanding every single aspect of breastfeeding made me feel confident to start. Because, like I said, I was clueless. If you were to only purchase one breastfeeding book, I would totally recommend this one (I researched the heck out of which book to buy and this is the only one I ended up buying besides the What to Expect in the First Year, which has a breastfeeding section). Okay, maybe I’m not that knowledgeable because I only read one book. Does the internet count, too? I will say KellyMom is a good resource, as well.

hours after birth

IN THE HOSPITAL
I think our time in the hospital was crucial to my successful breastfeeding experience. I was lucky to not have any severe birth issues and Kennedy did not have to be in the NICU, thank God. When we were sent to recovery after my c-section, we tried to breastfeed her, but she really wasn’t interested in that. The nurses told me not to worry and that I could try again when we are in our postpartum room. So, I practiced her latch over and over. Poor Greg having to help me out of bed or bring her to me every couple of hours (it was impossible after a c-section) was not fun for him but essential for me. I had the lactation consultant come in a few times, and I even called the baby’s nurse at 4 a.m. because I was frustrated about her latch. I wanted to take this very seriously, and the encouragement I received from everyone in the hospital really helped. They told me as long as she was dirtying diapers she was fine. What made me feel better is that I was explained that a newborn’s stomach is the size of a quarter those first few days of life, and so many people want to overfeed newborns. Just because a baby is crying, it doesn’t mean he/she needed to eat immediately. The colostrum was enough for her, even though my milk hadn’t “came in.” We stayed a total of three nights in the hospital without a pacifier and just me, and she seemed fine!

one week old

THE FIRST WEEK OR TWO
When we made it home, we luckily had a lot of help from family members (still recovering from surgery was hard). Like I said, my milk came in the day after we got home. Kennedy actually slept a lot, and even through the night. But since she was jaundiced, I had to feed her every 2-3 hours, even if it meant waking her up. I downloaded a baby feeding log app onto my iPhone to help me keep track of feedings and on which side I started and ended on. Apparently you’re supposed to start with one side, and for the next feeding, you start with the other side (even though the previous side ended with that side). The main focus here was to be consistent with feedings in order to build my supply while also helping with Kennedy’s jaundice. My nipples definitely were cracked and hurt quite a bit these first couple of weeks, but it was important to push through it (and use a lanolin cream).

a little over a month old, swaddled in her bassinet with Dexter’s help

THE FIRST MONTH (OR TWO)
I have to be honest here – it really felt like all I did the first month or two was breastfeed. All the time. At least this gave me time to watch TV and read books. There really wasn’t much that Greg could do because we didn’t introduce a bottle for almost a month. We also didn’t give her pacifiers (she really doesn’t care for them and never really took one anyway). At times, it was stressful because I couldn’t leave Greg with the baby for very long, because she relied on nursing every two to three hours. Sometimes Greg got frustrated because there wasn’t much he could do since I was her main source of comfort, but he still was a great support system and supported breastfeeding. I think it was important to have at least a month or two off for maternity leave so I could really get into a rhythm. Another reason why I love breastfeeding is because I can feed her laying down. So nice during the night for night feedings. Since she was in a bassinet in our room until about four months, I felt much more rested when I was able to pull her into our bed every time she needed to nurse. And sometimes I would fall asleep with her there, in our bed. And that is okay. You gotta do what you gotta do as parents.

At her auntie Katie’s house while mama was at work

BACK TO WORK
A few weeks before I had to go back to work, I started pumping to build up a reserve. It was hard to start pumping because I wouldn’t get very much, but once I started to be consistent with it, I could get some to save up and freeze. We also tried introducing a bottle right before I went back to work, which was a little difficult at first. What ended up working best was the Playtex Drop-ins with the brown latex nipple. Everyone is different, though. While at work, it is particularly difficult to find a time to pump (teaching is like that), but I ended finding a time during the day and stuck with it. I just made sure to bring home what she would need for the next day, and we never needed to supplement during the day. I will say that Katie was definitely a trooper while taking care of her, because she did have trouble adjusting to the bottle that first week, but Katie pushed through it with her and took care of her so well!

Trying blueberries, at around 7 months old

AFTER STARTING SOLIDS
Once Kennedy started solid food, she started nursing less, since the solids were keeping her fuller longer. We started solids after she reached six months old, and I am glad that we waited that long. She really has only been sick once, and it wasn’t that bad. After she started solids, she was nursing probably every 4 hours (which includes her two bottles while I’m at work). We have fed her a mixture of purees and finger foods, and she is capable of both successfully. The reason why I like both for her is that we can get more fruits in veggies into her diet when we give her purees while also incorporate independent eating through finger foods.

Daddy makes dinner time fun!

CURRENTLY
Kennedy is reaching a year old, and we have had a very successful breastfeeding journey. She now eats three full meals (and sometimes snacks) and then drinks her milk or nurses. She doesn’t use a bottle anymore when she is at school – she drinks from a sippy cup. This is awesome so that she doesn’t become attached to a bottle. I plan on switching Kennedy to cow’s milk after she reaches a year and then maybe nurse her once or twice a day until she weans herself. I don’t plan on extending breastfeeding until she’s four, but I don’t want to cut her off cold turkey. I would like it to be a gradual process. I already do not nurse her at bedtime so she doesn’t associate bedtime with nursing and so Greg or anyone else can put her to bed easily.

Almost 11 months old

I know a lot of our success has to do with the fact that I have such an easy going child. I realize that there are a lot of factors with babies or mothers that either help make or break a breastfeeding journey. I realize that I am probably the easiest scenario of them all. Hopefully, in the future, the success I’ve had in the past will help with potential problem children. I think the important thing was just to listen to my instincts, be consistent at the very beginning, not worry about numbers (it’s easy to get caught up in “ounces” and a particular number of how much she drinks), and assuring myself that if she is gaining weight, dirtying diapers, and thriving, she is good. Mother’s instinct is totally a real thing, and intuition is huge when it comes to your child’s needs, especially at the beginning.

If any of you have any stories you would like to share, please do! Or if you have any questions or comments, please leave them and I’ll respond!

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