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Thoughts on breastfeeding.

by Christa on January 3, 2014

in Baby Gins,Daily Digest

Gentlemen readers, avert your eyes! Heh.

Ok so breastfeeding. DUDE. I was all, what’s so hard? Stick boob in mouth, right? Right?! No. This is probably the hardest part right now. I’ve found myself Googling things like “newborn wants to nurse all the time,” “bottom of breast is hard,” etc. and learning all about clusterfeeding, plugged ducts, mastitis, and the like.

Those have probably been my two biggest problems. During Rachel’s two and three week growth spurts, she wanted to nurse all. the. time. and quite frankly, it was so overwhelming. She was constantly screaming for more. And the way to get your supply to keep up with the baby’s demands is to oblige. She nursed nonstop, I cried nonstop. Fair trade. Even now since she nurses every 2-3 hours (from the time she starts nursing) and it takes her ~40 minutes to eat, I only get an hour or so between feedings. So difficult. And since I’m keeping up with her appetite and just a little more, I’ve barely been able to pump. There is usually a 3oz. bottle in the fridge and we have just a couple of emergency stores in the freezer. I had grandiose plans of super-pumping and stocking the freezer before going back to work. I never imagined that my body wouldn’t cooperate. Or that it would be so painful. Plugged ducts are NO FREAKING JOKE. They hurt, man. And I’ve had them 6 times now. I’m terrified of mastitis, and my doc already wrote me a prescription for antibiotics. But antibiotics can cause thrush – it’s always something.

And I was mentioning to friends that it’s super frustrating not having control over any of it. That since the birth didn’t go my way, I’d be damned if breastfeeding was going to get the better of me. My goal is to make it to 6 months – 1.5 down, 4.5 to go! If things straighten out and I can go for longer, great! Ideally I would like to stock up enough to have her weaned before Ironman. It’d be great to not deal with pumping in transition, but I know it can be done, thanks to NYC Running Mama! She wrote all about breastfeeding and endurance sports.  That’s going to be a battle in and of itself.  It is hard for me to leave for an hour, how am I going to go on a 3 or 4-hour bike ride?

I always knew about “mommy wars,” but holy shit those mommy martyrs can sure make a girl feel inadequate. I am in two breastfeeding support groups on Facebook, and on New Year’s Eve someone posted about drinking and breastfeeding. The general rule of thumb is if you’re ok to drive, you’re ok to breastfeed – your body is already filtering out the alcohol as you drink it, and the amount that gets in the milk is extremely minimal, if any – depending on how much you drink. I gleefully partook in some wine on NYE and felt fine feeding her. But jeez, the comments on that article from some of the women basically said that drinking and nursing is tantamount to child abuse. AND on some of the posts, where the women are going crazy about nursing and reaching the breaking point – NOBODY suggests formula. Like seriously, if it comes down to breastfeeding vs. sanity, sanity is going to win out. Just my opinion. I loved this article about precisely that – My Formula for Relief: Why I Stopped Breastfeeding. I told Shane it is so hard being the only source of food. It’s true. Between breastfeeding and trying to pump, my boobs are constantly out. I feel like a dairy cow. I’m not anti-formula – not at all. I just want this to work – control freak. Obviously at 6 months, unless things get drastically easier, we will have to work in formula. I hope we won’t have to supplement before then, but if we do, we do. I was exclusively formula-fed and I turned out fine. Big whoop.  You do what you can, and you don’t judge each other for it, ladies.

The most helpful site has been kellymom.com – SO much resourceful info. I read it all the time. It is my go-to.

So right now I am working on upping my supply so I can stock up before going back to work. This is a full-time job in itself.

Any advice is welcome!

Happy baby.  Always need a bib for the Spit Up Queen of Texas.

bib

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A quick milk update!
January 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie January 3, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Sounds like you are being too hard on the both of you. You had a difficult birth = hormones = crying, tiredness, feeling overwhelmed, etc. Rachel has to double her birth weight in one month = constant feeding on all that yummy milk that you are providing. Give yourself some time to settle in and you will find that you will express easier. I had a similar experience because Cory was two weeks early. I had to supplement after 3 months, just couldn’t keep up with the demand but that’s life – go with the flow (pun intended). There are no perfect ways to do this, only the way that works for you and your family.
Just a couple of other suggestions: could she be crying because she’s cold, or uncomfortable? Have you tried doing some of the things you need to do with her in her wrap, strapped to you? The best advice I was given about pumping was to do it while I was looking at the baby as your emotions bring on the action (although we each have our own triggers).
Whatever you do, relax. You and she will get into your groove (Cory didn’t sleep through the night until he started walking! Talk about drive me nuts) – it all works out in the end, you’ll see!
Much love,
Marie

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Christa January 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Before I would have said yes, she could be crying for other reasons. But I found out today I need to supplement. And yes we have been baby wearing!! Thanks for the tips.

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Leah January 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

So much to say! but I’m on my cell so 1) you’re doing great! Breastfeeding is great; and formula is too – you’re feeding your baby with your body and it’s okay to get some help! 2) I had a lactation consultant recommend supplementing with formula. Good, non-judgy, supportive lactation consultants exist, even in breast feed-or-be-judged SF, so there’s likely at least one near you. And 3) any chance you’re wearing underwire bras? They can lead to clogged ducts, so if you are maybe try switching out for non-wire bras? Don’t worry about sagging, you know your boobs could stand on their own when you’re nursing.

But mostly #1 – YOU’RE DOING GREAT!

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Christa January 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Thanks so much, Leah. Shane keeps saying “you’re doing a great job,” haha. My LCs today recommended supplementing too. No to the underwire bras, but I think I was using the wrong size shield on the pump!

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Crystal January 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm

As I am breastfeeding in an effort to get to dinner…..

It is hard. But it gets easier. I know blind faith is hard for people, but trust me, it gets better! Don’t give up. You’ve already made it farther than like 70% of Americans. Tons of people give up around 6 weeks. Watch a ton of tv!! Need some new shows? I can suggest a few!

And drinking….don’t get me started. Some of those ladies are bitches and others are just misinformed and/or dumb. From a friend in med school who just had a rotation with an ob/gyn, you can have multiple drinks, just don’t be doing shots. They don’t tell moms this because fear of lawsuits, but even 3 beers poses no problem. If you need to relax do it! Drink up!

Whenever you want to cry, just cry, then laugh and remember in the grand scheme, it’s a small time period of hell….and a small price to pay!

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Christa January 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Haha, don’t worry – not doing shots. Actually Rach’s pedi today told me to drink a beer or wine at night because it will help with stress and thusly production.
Thanks!

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Whitney January 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Okay, I know nothing about breastfeeding and to be honest, it kind of scares the shit out of me. BUT I had to comment on this post to tell you that you have the prettiest little girl I’ve ever seen. Like, she looks like a PERSON not a generic baby. Does that make sense? I know I’m weird.

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Christa January 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Hahah thank you Whitney! I think she is adorable too!!! Agree, she ain’t no blob baby.
Breastfeeding is pretty scary….

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Marci January 3, 2014 at 6:29 pm

I introduced one bottle of formula at 2 months. The rest of the day was breast milk. You can do a combo, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. And soon breast feeding and formula will be a distant memory and it won’t matter. Just being honest! You do what you can but don’t make yourself nuts.

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Christa January 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Thanks for the tip Marci. I’m sure you’re right; it doesn’t really matter as long as she’s getting food, right?!

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Ki January 3, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I don’t have sage advice, but I feel you on the constant feeding- 4 months in and Taylor is a slow eater who likes to eat every 2.5-3 hrs. And her appetite is growing, and I’m not keeping up. I’m staying afloat with fenugreek, but I think I may start supplementing within the month- it’s a day by day thing lately. I’m so in agreement with you and that article- keeping my sanity and keeping her fed are what matter. If I can’t do it the exact way I want- well, it’s not ideal, but we’ll all be ok.

And also, I’m going to break my personal rule of not cursing in public written forums. Fuck that mommy war judgy competition shit. Those holier than thou women are judgy bitches who lack empathy and the ability to see beyond their own judgmental asses. And ditto on the drinking a glass of wine occasionally- it’s medically shown to be ok to occasionally partake within reason, so SHUT UP, judgypants. Ugh. That stuff makes me SO furious. You are a great mom, come formula or Franzia. Don’t forget that. :)

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Christa January 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Fuck the haters! Haha. Thanks Ki. And you always have the best phrases – come formula or Franzia, love it. I am trying to look past the judgy bitches and Facebook image crafting at its finest.

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Holly January 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Ok, here is my two cents….do what is best for you and your family. If it’s formula, it’s formula. We finally got to a point where I had had mastitis and two plugged ducts. Finally, as mark is helping me kneed my breast while I pump (no lie) we decided this just wasn’t working for my family. So we moved to formula when they were 4 months. My kids didn’t get their first sickness until they were over a year and have stayed pretty healthy since then. They’ve grown like they should and have been fantastic eaters. You do what is best for you and your family…bottom line. Don’t get caught up in what anyone else says…you do what your mommy gut says. Ok…off my soap box. :)

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Christa January 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm

We did the spousal kneading too. That was a low point. I am going to start supplementing. She’s gotten and continues to get the benefits of breast milk, but I need her to have a full tummy! Breast isn’t best if there ain’t enough.

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Tiffany January 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Keep up the good work! There is no shame in doing what needs to be done for your family. Things seem to level out in the boob/milk department around three months for me and my babies. In the beginning, I would fill up my big hospital cup each time I went to nurse and drank the majority of it before I sat down and made myself finish it by the time I got up. I never had clogged ducts until baby number two, and owwwwww, so painful. Hot baths and showers with massaging were my friends. And someone told me about pumping with the breast facing the floor so that gravity helps unclog? Not sure if that actually works, but mine are tending to face the ground now anyway, so thre ya go! ;) There’s so much advice and opinions online, it can get overwhelming. The last thing we need as moms is to feel more guilt than we already put on ourselves. I spoke with a lactation consultant once a few months in with Dylan and it was helpful to get “hands on” help since the boob changes each month it seems while nursing!! Breastfeeding is an amazing gift, but it’s not a requirement of being an amazing mom! You got this. Hang in there.

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Christa January 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Good to know about the 3 months. I keep thinking that surely my supply won’t go up at this point. The hot bath definitely helps the plugged ducts!! You’re right – breastfeeding does not a good mom make. I have to keep that in mind. Thank you!

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Michele @ NYC Running Mama January 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Christa,
Thanks so much for mentioning me here.
I know all too well what you are going through. My biggest piece of advice is definitely easier said then done – Try not to stress. A lot of studies have shown that stress can lower milk supply. There was a period of a few months where I felt like I was going to snap at any given moment b/c of how stressed I was with making enough milk for my youngest. The stress is definitely something that I don’t think is covered enough in books and by those who have bf already.
With that said, there is ZERO shame in supplementing with formula – or just weaning when you are ready. You are so right about the mommy martyrs – I couldn’t even go on those websites w/o feeling like I was doing a million things wrong. Do what works best for you and your family. And what helps you not lose your mind =)
Hope things are going well! If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate! And best of luck with IM training =)

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