I knew early on that once I became a mother breastfeeding would be the route I took. I was well aware of the benefits and the hurdles that could arise. I read a book a few years back on how to breastfeed properly and how the whole process works. I can’t remember the title of the book or where I got it from, but it got me thinking early on about my journey and how I wanted to breastfeed my kids for at least 6 months. I cannot believe that as I write this I am ten months postpartum and still going strong with breastfeeding exclusively. When I say “exclusively” I mean that my daughter has only had breastmilk with no formula supplementation. She’s almost 11 months now and has moved into “eating” (more like throwing on the floor) solid foods three times daily, but breastmilk is still her main source of nutrients.
Breastfeeding is hard.
It is mentally and emotionally taxing and is not for the faint of heart. The first couple of weeks sucked. I’m just going to be honest. It was not glamorous and I didn’t feel badass. My nipples hurt and became so cracked that I was put on antibiotics. I visited a lactation consultant to figure out why I was in so much pain, but mainly because I had no idea what the hell I was doing. During my appointment, the consultant weighed Yemaya before I nursed her and after nursing her. She determined that my milk was good, a little too much milk (oversupply), but I had a good flow, and the baby was eating well. I just needed to figure out the best nursing position to obtain the best latch. A poor latch was causing the cracked nipples.
It is easier to just go buy the formula sis, but don’t do it.
I am 100% advocating for breastfeeding. I am a “breast is best” person and I am not ashamed. Now, this is not a post about bashing formula and all of that because I have had my, “I’ll just put her on formula because I’m tired of this shit” days, absolutely! I’d be lying if I said otherwise, but as I said above, breastfeeding is hard! You have to be mentally prepared for a little person to be glued to your body, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Especially if you are nursing on demand. This means you don’t really create a feeding schedule as many formula-feeding families have. Feeding on demand worked for me because I was working from home (due to covid) and had the opportunity to drop what I was doing or feed her around what I was doing at the time. Nursing on demand also helped me prevent mastitis and engorgement. This is not a surefire way to prevent mastitis, but I did not develop this common issue.
Breastfeeding also means I had to understand that my libido would become nonexistent. Mentally it is tough for me to turn the mommy switch to a sexy wife switch. We’ve had our ups and downs in this department, mostly downs, but we’re getting it together. This is one aspect of parenthood no one really talks about. They’ll joke about it, but never tell you how real it is in the early days. Sometimes sex just doesn’t happen for a while and you and your partner have to come up with a plan together.
Boob size has nothing to do with how much milk you have.
I recently experienced a decrease in my milk supply when I started back at work. By this time, Yemaya was eating solids on a regular basis. I was not pumping at work like I should have to keep my supply up, and thought pumping after work was enough to keep us on track to meet our 12-month goal. This was not the case. I started noticing during my afternoon pumping sessions I was only getting about 2-3 oz of milk. This is normal for someone who nurses around the clock, but I needed to build a stash to ensure Yemaya was being fed while I was at work. I needed to do a few things to get my milk back and keep it up.
This was a hard one for me. Not because I wasn’t drinking water at all, but I wasn’t drinking enough. I was used to having 30 oz of water per day and feeling fine, but while I am breastfeeding I need way more water than that. I should be consuming at least 96 oz per day. I am struggling, but eating fresh fruits and vegetables daily helps some, but obviously, I need to increase my water intake.
Moringa powder is an herbal supplement I took before, during, and after my pregnancy. I used it as a replacement for my prenatal vitamins during pregnancy as they made me constipated and the moringa did not. I notice when I take at least 1 tablespoon of moringa daily, my milk supply the next day seems to be increased. Moringa is considered an herbal supplement so be sure to discuss it with your doctor before consuming it.
Pump, Pump It Up
Everyone says it and it’s true. You have to pump sis. When the baby is nursing on the right, you should pump on the left. Supply and demand. Now, if you have an oversupply, you probably won’t need to do this unless you are building a big stash of milk. For me, I needed to increase my pumping sessions. I was advised by a coworker to pump 10 minutes after Yemaya was done feeding to stimulate the milk ducts in creating more milk. I would come home from work and immediately pump, nurse, and then 10 minutes later pump again. Nothing would come out, but I was signaling to the milk ducts that we needed more milk. She’s getting bigger and can kill a 4 oz bottle in 5 seconds. That doesn’t sound like a lot of milk, especially when comparing formula-fed babies who may be drinking 8 oz bottles at 10 months, but apparently, breast babies drink around 4-6 oz at a time (amount may vary from child to child).
The goal now is to make it to 12 months exclusively breastfeeding Yemaya. As stressful as this journey has been it has been very rewarding. I have created an unbreakable bond between her and me. So much so, I don’t know if I could love another child as much as I love her. I am very thankful to be on this journey with her and I am happy to see where it goes. Just know we will NOT her here after 18 months.