Breastfeeding Journey

Let me start with saying that just because someone has multiple kids, one never really becomes a pro at being a mother/parent. Every kid is different, with their unique personality and to apply a blanket approach to parenting would be unfair to the child. While some things get easier over time, like what to do when they are sick, or what to expect at developmental milestones, with the advancement of technology and through technology, I have learned new ways in how I can improve my parenting skills, and breastfeeding is not exempt from one of those improvements. With my eldest, I didn’t breastfeed. Honestly, there wasn’t much of a push to breastfeed by my OB or by the hospital staff. There also wasn’t a wealth of information circulating that highlighted the benefits of breast-milk. I also didn’t have support in the hospital with getting her to latch. I was 19 when I had her, so combine all those things together I found myself lacking the confidence, education, and support to successfully breastfeed her. With my son, I wanted to breastfeed. I had learned of the benefits and I was ready to go, but he wouldn’t latch and I didn’t have a lot of hands on support while in the hospital to help me in getting the latching part down. So I expressed my milk for the first few months. Any than, one day, while in the doctors office while waiting, he got fussy and hungry, the bottle of formula milk was cold, and so hubby suggested I offer the breast. And miraculously, he latched! I eventually weaned him off at 9 months after he bit me during a feeding! With my third, I did a combo of breastfeeding, expressing milk, and formula. Now with Zakiyah, I would say my breastfeeding journey has been the most successful. And I would have to say it’s a result of various factors. I struggled with getting her to latch while in the hospital, but my nurses were amazing in helping me in get the hang of breastfeeding again. I mean, it had been 8 years since I breastfeed a baby! They would come in every few hours during the first 24 hours to make sure she feeding and help me with making sure she was latching. When we were discharged, because Zakiyah was borderline jaundice we had to go back everyday to have her blood levels checked. As a result, while in the newborn clinic, I had the additional support of the lactation consultants to help me transition from hospital to home. I also had the power of the internet when it came to other things, like finding ways to increase my milk supply. Up until Zakiyah, I had never known that there were supplements you could take to increase your breast-milk! The fact that my insurance provided a hospital grade breast-pump for the first 60 days for free was awesome. I also got a free one to keep, which I currently use, since I express milk while at work and school. Thankfully, at work, I can shut my door to express my milk, but if you don’t have your own office, just know you have the right to have a space provided to you to be able to pump. With grad school classes in the evenings, I reached out to my university school counselor and let him know I needed a place to pump (closed mouths don’t get fed!) I was able to get a designated empty classroom on the nights I have class. Having a supportive environment and advocating for my needs has been crucial in making sure that when I am away from Zakiyah for hours at a time that my milk supply isn’t impacted.

If there’s any advice I can share, it’s seek help and advocate for your needs! Breastfeeding can be difficult and frustrating in the beginning. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get baby to latch right away! It can take time, be patient with yourself and lend yourself some grace 🙂

Below are some products I came across during my breastfeeding journey that I found extremely helpful and thought I’d share.

I freeze all the milk I express. I started to finally get a nice little stash and needed better organization in my freezer. I found this milk storage organizer helpful.

When it comes to breast-milk storage bags, they are not all created equal. I really Dr. Brown milk-storage bags & Lansinoh (so far). Targets brand is a cheaper alternative.

I prefer Dr. Brown and Lansinoh because the bags are pre-sterilized (individually sealed) and the bags feel much more durable in comparison to other brands like NUK milk storage bags and can hold up well in the freezer. Even Target’s brand measures up pretty well; they are individually sealed, and a cheaper alternative to name brand milk storage bags.

Because I pump at work, and don’t have a sterilizer, and I’m somewhat of a germaphobic, I picked up the Medela steam bags. After I pump, I wash my pumping gear and place in the steam bags for a minute a half. Super easy and convenient, and gives me piece of mind that my stuff is clean.

If you don’t have access to a microwave, Medela makes wipes as an alternative to cleaning your pump accessories. I used them before switching over to the steam bags.