Emma Grace is my 3rd child and while I had nursed with my other two, I was never as dedicated or determined as I am with her. Somehow I turned into “that mom”, wanting to breastfeed; make all my own baby food, cloth diapers, the whole nine yards LOL. Emma Grace and I are now at 6 months exclusively breastfeeding and I’m finally at a point where I am completely comfortable with my supply and routine.
Breastfeeding was rocky in the beginning, as I had to use a shield to help her latch. Whenever I would nurse without my nipples would hurt so bad I’d cry. We went three months using the shield daily until I decided to take another appointment with my lactation consultant Gina. If you’ve never seen a lactation consultant, and you’re struggling, I definitely recommend finding one before deciding to formula feed or supplement. I can now happily say that we’ve been without the shield for three months and haven’t looked back.
Another issue I dealt with this go around is maintaining my milk supply. Since returning to work and starting a pumping routine, I noticed I was only producing 3 oz. a session (both breasts combined). I took that hard and was very emotional daily; stressing myself out about making enough milk for the next day’s bottles. I’d come to work and cry, stressing about whether or not I would have to end up giving Emma Grace formula. My husband has been a great support and every time I called him crying, he’d be there to reassure me I was doing the best I could and she would be fine. He was always good about comforting her and holding her off until I got home so I could nurse her before bed. I don’t know how successful I would be without all his support.
I have also learned a few tricks that have helped to bring my supply up to around 5-6 Oz per pumping session where I’m more comfortable and not stressing myself out over it. It’s not a huge abundance but it is enough to feed my growing baby and I won’t complain. I haven’t had to supplement yet and never want to. I’ve used almost every product out there: mother milk tea, milk water tea & fenugreek bars from mrsmilk.com (Love it!) , lactation cookies (found recipes on Pinterest) , fenugreek pills, lactation plus pills, power pumping when my supply dips, pumping after nursing sessions, increased water intake & calories…. I could go on. There is not one special answer for anyone and I’m still not sure which of these has helped me most but I do know all of these options worked for me combined. I still drink my mother’s tea 3x daily with my lactation pills at meals, pump after nursing and 3 x while at work.
I have loved every minute of this breastfeeding journey with my baby and I think knowing she is my last child makes the bonding time even more special. The way she looks at me after a nursing session, the smile I get when looking at her play and knowing I have been able to give her every nutrient she’s needed to thrive is very satisfying.
I’m hoping to keep nursing until at least the 1 year mark so hopefully I’m able to keep up with my routine and supply once we add in my homemade pureed baby food. When I look back, I wish I would have tried other resources to continue with nursing my older two, however I was younger, less educated and to be honest formula feeding was easier. Breastfeeding is hard, I’ll be the first to admit that, but it’s about sacrificing my time, pumping on my lunch and late at night, about being ready to feed Emma whenever she demands. Mothering is about choosing what’s best for your children over what’s convenient for you. I have noticed a dramatic difference in her immune system vs my older two. My hope is that more mothers are educated about breastfeeding and the good it can do for our children and future generations.