Hi friends! I am blown away at the support + love I received from my last blog post “5 Things I Did NOT Expect To Happen Post Partum” that I wanted to share even more of what has been on my mind lately, in hopes that it will help at least one person! As of January 1st, I finished my breastfeeding journey with Jack. It was a bittersweet finale, but we got to 7 months together! My milk supply started to drop at 6 months once my period returned + when he started eating solids. Jack lost some weight and became fussier. After lots of back and forth, mom guilt + questioning my own judgement, we introduced HiPP formula (a European brand that I purchase locally) and it was the BEST decision for us! He is thriving and I am so happy I put my pride aside and did what was best for all of us. From 7 to 7.5 months I was still feeding him once a day but again, my supply dropped and I would still have to top him up with formula. Once again, I did what was best for all of us and decided that New Year's Eve of 2019 would be our last feed, so we could start of 2020 with a new chapter.
I have done a lot of reflecting in the past month about breastfeeding, pumping, bottle feeding, etc. so I wanted to share it! A lot of the feedback that I received from my last blog post was from people in similar situations who felt some relief too when sharing the not so glamorous or obvious sides to motherhood. Let's be clear here, I am not an expert, I am just a new mom sharing her experiences! I personally find it so beneficial talking to like-minded people about their experiences and using the community around me for support! So here it is...
10 Things That I Did NOT Know About Breastfeeding + Pumping
- The number on the inside of the nipple of a baby bottle indicates what age it is for. Most nipples will have a clear number on it between 1-3. That signifies the flow speed. 1= 0-3 months, 2= 3-6 months and 3= 6+ months
- A lot of people believe you can introduce a bottle/soother too soon, but you can also introduce too late. Whether you want to introduce either of these to your babies or not is your decision! I learned through family and friends that some babies refuse both options if you wait too long (all babies are different but this thought had never crossed my mind)! Trial and error people! But apparently the sweet spot is between 6-10 weeks once breastfeeding has been established and before they get too set in their ways! Babies should really come with instruction manuals!
- Size matters... flange size that is! LOL wtf is a flange you may be asking?! For my pumping ladies out there, it’s essentially where you put your nipple in the pump. So flange size is essentially nipple size... and it makes a big difference! I’m about to over share with you, so family members, etc. you can stop reading now! My freestyle Medela pump comes with 2 flange sizes, 24mm and 27mm which is the measurement diameter of the nipple. What I didn’t know is that these could be too big or too small!! Most people just use whatever it comes with but I found when I found the right fit, my pumping output improved significantly! I had to try multiple different sizes before finding the perfect one. I ended up with a 17mm (yes 3 sizes down from what they give you LOL) which I purchased from May Moms (because Medela only makes to a size 21mm- which I tried). I also purchased 19mm inserts from Amazon that were too big. You'd think after spending $500-600 on a pump you would have all sizes, nope! You might be wondering how you know what is the perfect fit and what size you are?! There are online rulers you can download, but this is a good guide from Medela
- Clogged milk ducts hurt! Just when you think you + baby have mastered it, your boobs start throbbing and hurting and get lumpy. Soooo cute... I was very prone to them on my left side (no clue why) so I used Sunflower Lechithin from Legendairy Milk. It helps break down fats within your breast tissue and made a difference! I also used these warm compresses too!
- When pumping, if your flow slows down after a few minute, go back to "stimulation mode" and it’ll tell your body to make more.
- Power Pumping is the new Cluster Feeding. It basically lets your body know to make more, it’s like cluster feeding but with a pump. Here is how to do it: for 3-4 days straight at the same time each day, pump for 20 mins, take 10 mins off + then 10 on + 10 off. By day 3 you should notice more output! I did this a lot, especially nearing the end of my BF journey when it was slowing down
- There are symptoms to Breastfeed Weaning! I just thought my milk would stop and I would carry on my merry way.... nope! Night sweats (I don’t think I’d ever really had these before but they were intense!), nausea, lethargic, dizzy at times. Apparently a lot of weaning symptoms mimic early pregnancy symptoms which I have realized!
- Breastfeeding supplements helped me a ton! I used Legendairy Milk's supplements and noticed a huge difference, especially at the beginning. I played around with them to see which worked best, but like I mentioned earlier, I used Sunflower Lechithin (to prevent and help clogs), Pump Princess (I noticed this helped produce more milk) + Lechita (when Jack was having digestive issues in the beginning). Their instagram account is also BOMB and so full of useful tips, go give them a follow! They also have a private Facebook group as well that I joined when I had questions!
There are so many milk storage and sterilizing rules! Maybe most people know this one, but I had to figure them out. From 0-6 months, sterilize all bottles + breast pump parts after each use (with a sterilizer, I used Baby Brezza or with boiling water), after that 6 month mark, you can just clean well by hand with hot water and soap. As for storage guidelines for breastmilk, Medela has another good resource:
- Finally, feeding a child is hard effing working! No matter if it’s formula, breastfeeding, pumping, solids. You name it! It takes time, care, commitments, research, constant work! So however you’re feeding your child, kudos to you! You are a superstar and are growing a human- no matter how!