On January 29th, 2018, Maci finally latched after 3 months of tears, pain, pumping, cracked nipples and me on the verge of a depression. As she began breastfeeding for the first time and I could hear her gulps, I sobbed. This was finally the moment I had been dreaming of for 3 whole months. After I pulled it together, I grabbed my phone and snapped a photo (shown above). This was going to be just for me, but I started thinking about how many other women out there who were in my same shoes and struggling about to give up. I decided to post it and prove that its possible even 3 months later. My photo ended up getting shared on The Bump’s Instagram and my DM’s were exploding with questions from other mamas asking how I survived 3 months of trying and just how I did it. After answering DM after DM, I decided to put together the list that ended up working for me. Be sure to read my “Pumping Is Breastfeeding” post to find out more about my struggle during these 3 months.
Around the 2nd month, I started eating oatmeal for breakfast basically every morning. My milk supply was getting lower and lower, so I wanted to see if this would help at all and it totally did for me. I noticed the change a few days after I did this consistently. Since us moms have zero time to make breakfast, here is how I quickly make it in the microwave in only 1 1/2 minutes (and it’s totally healthy!). Thanks to my awesome sister who sent this one over to me!
–In a glass bowl, mix 3/4 cup dry Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal and 3 to 5 Truvia packets (or 3 tsps raw sugar).
–Add a touch of ground cinnamon as well if you would like (this is seriously the best).
–Add cold water to bowl (or milk if you prefer), enough to cover a little above your oatmeal.
–Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds and let sit in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes after its done cooking.
–Add 1 to 2 tbs salted butter, or any amount of Parkay Spray Butter.
Okay, this is going to sound super weird, but this is something that I think really worked for me. I started noticing that when I would put the nipple cream on sometimes it would cause a very slight letdown. After this happened a few times, I thought I would try and stimulate them on my own and just see if it had anything to do with it. Sure enough, after I started doing this a couple of times, it started causing more let downs. The more I was having, the fuller I was getting between pump sessions.
3. FREQUENCY & TIMING OF ATTEMPTS
At the beginning, I was attempting to breastfeed Maci every single day getting the same result every time. I would try and put her on for a few seconds and she would just lose it. Eventually I started skipping a day or two here and there, but it still seemed like she would just see my nipple and start to freak out. So then I skipped an entire week at a time so she wouldn’t recognize what we were about to attempt. Taking a break from it is totally okay and what ended up really helping me (and her) just regroup.
Also, I noticed that switching up WHEN I would attempt to breastfeed helped quite a bit too. For instance, I would attempt during her afternoon feeding that was the closest to her previous feeding (about 3 hours prior) rather than her morning feeding where she had just gone almost all night without eating. I would just make sure she wasn’t showing those crazy signs of hunger and was fairly calm. And with each attempt, I would only try for a couple of seconds and tried to avoid getting her crazy upset. When she first latched, it was during a simple few seconds of trying. It literally happened out of the blue after a week break.
4. PUMPING INTENSITY & FREQUENCY
I was pumping everyday at least 3x a day for over an hour each time (at the highest intensity that I could possibly handle) in order to supply just enough milk to keep up with Maci. This was putting so much stress on me and even felt like it was causing a decrease in my supply. Once I had an ugly cry breakdown (for the 10th time), I knew I had to make the decision to supplement with formula. Once I did this, I started pumping only 2x a day for only 20 minutes at a low intensity. Then was able to decrease it to 1x a day. I was worried at first that this would just make my supply decrease even more, but it had the opposite affect since I was stimulating my nipples as well as eating oatmeal consistently. It’s hard to give in to formula, feeling like you’re giving up and it won’t work out, but this is part of the process. And that’s okay.
This is probably a pretty common piece of advice, but it’s SO true! I have gotten this weird obsession with apple juice ever since I got pregnant and it stuck around after I had Maci. But since it’s not good to drink that much juice, I just fill a large jug with a small amount of apple juice and the rest water. It gives me the craving satisfaction while also chugging lots of water. You could also flavor your water with drops, packets, or fruit infused water if you happen to be like me and have a hard time drinking that much plain water.
6. TOMMEE TIPPEE BOTTLES
We started using Medela bottles since I have a Medela pump. I realized that the Medela nipples just didn’t quite match my nipples, so I thought it might be making things worse and started researching bottle nipples. I found that Tommee Tippee bottles seemed to be the closest thing to a real breast and decided to fully switch over. I got the adapters for my pump so that I could still pump straight into those bottles. She struggled a little at first since the nipple was so flexible, but figured it out pretty quick. The adapters also work with all major pump brands. The freezer bags are also amazing since they have a lid that screws on.
This is a big one! I could tell that Maci was feeling my anxiety and stress. I would have tears and a lump in my throat and she would look up at me and just feed off that negative energy. It took me some serious self talk, but I started focusing on all things positive while I attempted to breastfeed. Even if I had to take a couple of deep breaths before we started. The more calm and relaxed I was, the more she was. The energy you exude is a major factor, and I found out about this one very late in my journey.
I have now been breastfeeding Maci for about 2 weeks. What I mean by that is I nurse her all but 1 or 2 of her feedings in a 24 hour period with those 1 or 2 times using formula. I haven’t pumped in the last week or so unless I need to empty and make a bottle because my mom or Bobby is going to watch/feed her while I’m gone working out. My body is slowly starting to adjust to the amount of milk she needs.
These tips worked for me and may not have the same results for everyone, but will hopefully give at least one mama out there an idea of different things to try and above all else, to STAY POSITIVE even when it gets hard.