This post may contain affiliate links. I only post what I have, use and love! More details in my about section.
Breastfeeding is hard. Period. No matter how many kids you have or how many times you’ve done it, there’s always a level of difficulty for every mom. It’s time consuming. It’s demanding. It takes over your entire life at times. But it is SO worth it!
So many mom’s I have talked to have struggled to breast feed. “How do you do it?” They ask, “You are feeding TWO?!” I even get surprised looks from doctors and lactation consultants who are shocked that I am STILL exclusively breastfeeding my twins at almost 6 months old. It’s not always easy ( well actually, it’s never easy), and there are times that I consider giving up and switching to formula so I don’t have to do it anymore. But I keep at it because I know it is the best thing for my babies. It IS possible. You CAN do it. Here’s how I’ve managed to keep my babies fed AND save over 150 bags of pumped milk for my little ones.
I pump each and every morning as soon as I wake up. I always try to time it 1-2 hours after the boys have eaten and won’t be hungry again for an hour or so. The morning is the best time to pump because I always have milk left over that the boys didn’t drink because they fell asleep. This tricks my body into thinking that I have to produce more milk because it thinks I am feeding the boys. Lucky for me my body doesn’t know it’s just a pump, not a baby! I usually get around 3-4 ounces every morning. It’s not a huge amount, but it really adds up. I usually put it in the fridge for a few days and then combine what I have pumped into 3 ounce portions before freezing it. You can always freeze yours in larger portions, but I found that my first kid didn’t always drink the larger amounts from the bottle so a lot went to waste and I do NOT like dumping all of my hard work down the drain. I find that 3 ounces is perfect for bottles as well as mixing with meals. If I need more, I just heat up another pouch. This wastes much less milk. Check out How Long Does Breastmilk Last to learn how to properly store your milk and how long it is good whether your place it in the fridge, freezer, or deep freezer. I always put mine in the deep freezer because it lasts the longest in there. I use the Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Twist Starter Kit and just order the extra bags whenever I need them. I like this particular brand because they have twist off lids that don’t leak!!! I always had a problem with leaking bags until I found these gems. Highly recommend for anyone needing to travel with pumped milk!
This one is something I was religious about with my singleton. Making sure she started on the opposite side each time she ate kept both sides producing the same amount of milk (and kept me from being lopsided). With my twins, however, it’s not as big of a deal since both sides will be drained regardless. I still try to remember who ate on which side and switch it up as much as I can. Each twin eats a little differently, with different sucking motions and vastly different pressure. One twin is much more forceful than the other so if I always had him on the same side, that side would be producing much more milk than the other side.
If you have a singleton, though, it is super important that you ALWAYS switch the starting side AND have the baby eat from BOTH sides every feeding. Remember the “time consuming” part? Yeah, this is where that comes in. It takes much more time and effort to make sure your baby eats from both sides. Many times, it means waking baby up and putting him on the other side even if he is already full. The point is getting him to latch on to the opposite side so your body recognizes that you need to produce more milk on that side as well.
Supplements such as Fenugreek have mixed reviews. In my personal experience, it helped me so much! I started taking it when my boys were a few months old and noticed a HUGE change in the amount of milk I was producing within just a few days. I also stopped taking it for a week or two when I ran out of it one time and my milk production slowed significantly. That made me a believer. Since then, I’ve taken it each and every day. I take the capsule form of it, but there are also teas you can drink if that’s what you prefer. I always order mine from HERE because who has time to go to the store…plus, since I have Prime, I get free shipping and it only takes 2 days. Score.
Foods to avoid
There are certain foods that are no no’s when it comes to breastfeeding. These foods may decrease your supply and make your job that much harder. Avoid them if you can.
And, of course, be sure to check very carefully if your medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. Many can be transferred to your baby through your milk.
I can’t stress this enough. The second I start to get dehydrated, my milk nearly STOPS altogether. Think about how much milk you are making every day. All of that liquid gold pulls the water from your body. I carry around a Rubbermaid 64 ounce drink pitcher with me wherever I go. You can get yours HERE! I drink 3 full ones in a 24 hour period. It really helps me to have a drink readily available that I don’t have to keep refilling. I usually sprinkle 1/2 a packet of crystal light in it to give it flavor. You can always keep it in the fridge too, if it bothers you to drink it warm. I don’t mind a room temperature drink and having to walk to the fridge would be too much work for me.
Don’t give up
There are days that I think I’m losing my supply. Actually, probably 3/7 days a week I’m stressing over my supply. My boys go through growth spurts where they are always hungry and it seems like no matter how many times I nurse them, they still aren’t getting enough. This is where many moms switch to formula because they are worried their babies aren’t getting enough to eat and having to constantly feed them all day and night is exhausting. Don’t panic. Your body takes 2-3 days to catch up to how much they are eating. So, yes, you are going to have to endure several days of hungry, cranky babies that are nearly always latched on to you. It’s not going to be fun. Or easy. But, after those few days, your body will register that it needs to make more food. My boys always seem to like to get my supply really flowing and then take a few days to not each as much which reduces my supply again thus repeating the cycle of waiting several days until I am producing enough milk for them. I usually just pump as often as I can during these slow days so I keep making milk. Whatever you do, though, if you’re committed to breastfeeding your baby, don’t give up just because it gets difficult. It’ going to be hard. Stick with it and you’ll be giving your baby the best possible start to life.
These people are great. If you are struggling with breastfeeding they really do know everything and can help you out. Most times, you’ll have one come visit you in the hospital. They should give you their contact information and are always willing to accept your call and help you out. If this doesn’t happen for you, finding one online is really easy and they are almost always willing to answer any of your questions over the phone.
You’re going to want people around you who support your decision to breastfeed. My friends who have babies the same age as mine are my lifeline when the going gets tough and I want to give up. I can always send them a text griping about having to feed my kids for the thousandth time today and they always have a witty reply and can empathize with my situation. Being around those who chose not to breastfeed and are avid formula feeders is difficult for me when they start bashing my choices. I’ve sat through a very uncomfortable conversation about how breastfeeding is “weird” and how people just can’t imagine having to feed their baby that way and they had no desire to do so when they had kids. Being a huge advocate for breastfeeding, I was saddened by this but, of course, in the end, every mother has the right to make the choice for herself. Had these been the only people I talked to about breastfeeding, I might have chosen differently. Having my support group of people around that are proud of me for what I am doing makes such a different and really keeps me going.
I hope this can help you to make the right decision for your family, whichever decision that may be and I want all you mommas with “skin babies” to know you aren’t alone. What you’re doing is a huge sacrifice and I’m proud of you for sticking with it!