Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Doing Breastfeeding Better the Second Time Around

There are several things I have done differently with breastfeeding Thea than I did with Mira. I did breastfeed Mira until she was 2 years old, so that's not to say I wasn't successful the first time around. But there were two notable supply drops that caused me a lot of stress and work to get it back up. First one at 7 weeks, second one at 4 months. I tanked through my frozen milk supply the first time and had to supplement with formula for a few weeks, about a bottle per day, the second time.

I think it's rare, once a mother supplements with formula, to then go back to exclusively breastfeeding, but I managed to.

Even with support from friends who had babies around the same time, "veteran moms" who knew the breastfeeding ropes, and online breastfeeding forums, there were still things I managed to get wrong with breastfeeding Mira. I'll list them below and how I changed it with Thea this time around.

I think it's pretty cool how breastmilk changes over time to meet your baby's needs

1. Not pumping enough. Like most mothers, I had an oversupply at the beginning. I pumped here and there to get some relief, maybe once a day, if that (like in the morning when I woke up with rock hard boobs and couldn't take it any longer). I don't remember how many ounces I had, but I'm guessing between 50-100 ounces by the time Mira was 6 weeks.

This time, with Thea, I purchased the Haakaa silicone pump. From about day 5 I used it to pump all my excess milk. I didn't even really need to wear nursing pads because I would nurse her on one side and have the Haakaa catching all the letdown (and more) on the other side. I didn't use this every time I nursed, simply because I didn't always have it near me. Anyway, this led me to have over 300 ounces of milk stored by the time Thea was 6 weeks old. My body just kept telling me to keep making that much milk and continued to have an oversupply as Thea got older. I haven't counted recently but I know I'm over 400 ounces.

2. Not eating enough calories. With Mira I was consistently losing weight. I got back to my pre-baby weight pretty early and even continued to lose even more. Eventually I was swimming in my pre-pregnancy jeans and actually felt "too" skinny. Yes, that's a thing, and no it isn't all it's cracked up to be. I was still considered a healthy BMI (albeit on the way low end) but I felt like I was withering away. I wasn't paying attention, but I was burning more than I was eating. Those extra 500 calories needed for breastfeeding were not being eaten.

This time, I have been going HAM on food. I even have been tracking my daily calorie/macro intake to ensure I'm not going over or under. At 12 weeks, I'm still 20 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight and I'm okay with that. I take in about 2100 calories per day and am JUST starting to go into a small deficit at 3 months postpartum.

3. Not drinking enough water. I can't speak for how well I did last time, but I know that I wasn't consciously drinking a lot.

This time, I have a tumblr that's always being filled. I pack it with ice and am just constantly making sure I'm drinking it. Water is one of the key things for producing breastmilk. 

4. Working out too hard. Last time, when I was clear to hit the gym at 6 weeks I started going right away. I was running intervals and doing most of the normal stuff I did pre-pregnancy. I only got to the gym once or twice week at first, but I burned a lot of calories. I wore THREE tight sports bras because wearing two was not enough with those big nursing boobs, and I couldn't have them bouncing everywhere when running on the treadmill. Well those bras squeezed the crap out of my boobs. I can't say for certain, but that could've been affecting my supply.

This time, I started working out but just doing face paced walking. I wear ONE supportive sports bra but it isn't too tight around my boobs. I lift weights and still try to be as healthy as I can without bouncing all over the place.

5. Going on hormonal birth control. Last time at around 6 weeks my doctor put me on the "mini pill" - progesterone only. It's supposedly not supposed to affect your supply, but coincidentally this is around the time my supply dropped by over half.

This time, I told my provider right away that I won't be doing hormonal birth control this time and she actually agreed that it seemed to be a common complaint with the mini pill.

6. Putting baby on a nursing schedule. With Mira, it seemed that she was eating every 3 hours right away. I became married to the idea that it would and should be consistent. If she got fussy and I knew I had just fed her an hour before, I was just giving her her pacifier and rocking her, trying to soothe her. Yes, that got her to calm down, but it still could've been that she was hungry. I don't know who told me that babies eat on schedule. I even had an iphone app that told me when I fed her last, which side it was on, etc. Instead of using that as a guide I used it as a bible.

This time, I didn't download the fancy app. I let Thea tell me when she was hungry. She was eating every 2 hours at the beginning, but would often cluster feed in the evenings. She started sleeping through the night at 2 weeks, too. 2018 me is looking back at 2013 me with a smug look on my face, because Mira hardly ever slept through the night.

Some other little tweaks I have made: 
-Getting a better nursing pillow. I used the Boppy last time and still use it sometimes, but My Brest Friend is a game changer; it's a lot thicker and sturdier.
-Making lactation cookies. They seem to work? But I don't even CARE if these don't work, they are yummy as hell.
-Taking blessed thistle capsules. Again, I can't be certain that it works, but SEEMS to. I take between 2 and 4 capsules per day.
-Lastly, not being afraid to nurse in public. I didn't get comfortable with NiP until Mira was around 9 months, but with Thea I have done it from the beginning. No cover, no hiding in a bathroom, just doing the damn thing. This has allowed me to be flexible with my own schedule and I can go anywhere anytime. No more trying to time my errands and worry about "what if she gets hungry?"

I'm just glad I learned things along the way. Breastfeeding has always required a lot of work from me, so it's definitely consumed a large part of being a mom. It's all worth it. <3
Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top