How to Increase Your Chances of Breastfeeding

 

1. Stay hydrated: Breast milk is 88% water. If you are not well-hydrated your body can not make breast milk. Your OB is probably already hounding you to drink more water, do it! Try buying a cute motivational water bottle. I found a couple fun ones on Amazon, Turning Water Into Liquid Gold, Hour Marked Water Bottle and You Are Strong Enough, Hour Marked Water Bottle.

2. Eat A LOT of food: There is a reason breastfeeding makes you feel like you’re starving.  You need 500 additional calories a day for eat baby you are feeding. That’s right twin mommas, that’s 1,000 additional calories for you.

3. Eat the right foods: Remember all that talk about water? Eating foods with water, such as fruits and vegetables, will help with water intake as well as nutrition. You will also benefit from lean protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbs.

4. Education and support: Find it anywhere and everywhere you can. Breastfeeding is hard and can even be lonely. The internet can be helpful but also overwhelming. Family and friends who have “been there, done that” can be incredibly helpful when it comes to support. A Lactation consultant or postpartum doula is a resource that is invaluable. Below is a list of resources that I have found helpful.

  • Kelly Mom is a great resource and can really answer any question you have. I researched on there before having my daughter.
  • WIC– if it weren’t for them I don’t know I would have been able to breastfeed my 1st. I walked in there in tears. They took me back right away and helped me latch my daughter. I was able to rent a pump from them and got set up with a peer counselor who I would text and call frequently. See if you qualify! 
  • La Leche League, they have many ways to connect with them over the phone, in person meetings, or Facebook support groups (my favorite)

5. Look up cluster feeding: I thought for sure something was wrong the first time my daughter nursed for 3 straight hours. Nope, just her way of telling my body what she needed! It’s called cluster feeding and I’m going to be honest with you, it sucks! But doesn’t last long so hang in there. Reading up on it helped me cope.

6. Trust your body and trust your baby: I never went crazy over if my babies were getting enough milk or if my milk was fatty enough. I see moms in groups stressing out so much over these two things. My babies gained weight and had good diaper output: a healthy happy baby is the best way to determine if they are getting enough.

7. Avoid the pump and bottle as much as possible in the first 6 weeks: I know its tempting to pump to see what your producing or to allow someone else to bottle feed so you can rest. However, it can be detrimental to your supply.

  • A pump is NOT a good indication of what you are producing.  A pump can not pull milk like a baby and will always get less milk than they would. A lot of woman also choose the wrong size flanges which can affect how much you milk you get. Pump setting are important as well.
  • Your baby nursing is the best way to stimulate milk. Breastfeeding is a supply/demand process. The more baby nurses the more milk your body will make. You can also run into to nipple confusion or a lazy baby. A bottle gives up milk easily while a breast takes some work. If the baby decided they like the ease of the bottle they will fuss at the breast because its too much work.

8. Supplies and holds: Your comfort is just as important to your success as anything else. Below is a list of products that can help.

  • Find your perfect position: The hospital had us doing the football hold. Breastfeeding wasn’t going well until WIC had me switch to the cradle hold. Try to mast different hold to see what works for you and baby
  • A nursing pillow and your set up: I had a small “off brand” pillow for my daughter and it worked. With my twins I use My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow Twin Deluxe  and I am in love with it. I wish I knew this pillow existed with my first, it was a game changer. They do make a My Brest Friend for a Single Baby , I would have probably still done the twin pillow though even for a singleton as I like the size Also pillows behind the back and even at your sides can help with comfort. Have all the things you might need in reach such as; water, snack, book, phone, remote, tissues, etc.
  • A good comfortable nursing bra. I found some cheap ones at Walmart that ended up being my favorite. I tried some lacy fancy ones but they just weren’t comfortable. at night I preferred CAKYE 3PACK Racerback Maternity Nursing Bra for Sleep and during the day I preferred Maternity Wirefree Softcup Nursing Bra with Full Sling
  • A milk catcher such as Milkies Milk Savers or silicone pump such as Haaka Silicone Brest Pump .

9. Finally… RELAX: Stress can hurt your supply. You just went through labor. You are healing and that takes time. Breastfeeding is another long journey your body will go on. Find ways to stay calm and not stress. I know its easier said than done but it will help your breastfeeding journey as well as your overall health. No two experiences are the same. You might a know It all in your life telling you “this is how it should be”. You might have someone you compare yourself to. Or you might think if your journey isn’t textbook its wrong. Everyone is different, every baby is different. Be kind to yourself and listen to your intuition.

10. Learn to Hand ExpressThis always made me feel better. Seeing little drops of milk come to the surface felt reassuring. It is also a way to entice baby to latch. They taste the milk and it’s more motivating for them to want to latch and put the work in. This is helpful if a baby has been bottle fed and got lazy.

My Journey

Now, I am not a lactation consultant or a medical professional. This information is solely based on my own experience and research. There is a lot of information to comb through, so I wanted to make a list that was easy to navigate with the most important information highlighted, I hope I was successful! If you are interested in hearing about my journey, stay tuned!

My daughter, Jasmine, was born 11/28/2015. I had done my research and knew I wanted to breastfeed for many reasons. I wanted to give her and myself the health benefits, but I also felt like I needed to do it because formula is outrageously expensive. I chose a “baby friendly hospital” in hopes that it would benefit our journey. She and I struggled with latching. I had a short visit from the lactation consultant and the nurses attempted to help. We both cried so much and I felt like I was failing. No part of me wanted to supplement but the nurses pushed and I gave in. We went home and were doing okay, but I continued to supplement. One day, I became so frustrated I cried historically. I knew WIC could rent me a pump for when I started working. I packed up the baby and drove there. They saw the shape I was in and took me right back. They listened to me and were very patient in working with us. Like magic, I finally latched her with ease. They set me up with a peer counselor who was incredibly helpful and supportive.

I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there, but it was just the beginning. Her latch was great and I was producing with no problems. My nipples became so chapped that it was literally toe curling. The cluster feeding was exhausting and I was getting to the point where I didn’t feel like it was worth it. I had everyone around me telling me it was okay to stop.

Then, I started work when she was 7 weeks. I was lucky to have good milk supply. I was able to pump here and there to save some milk for that first day. The company I was working for wasn’t great about it. They gave me a dirty TV tray as a table. I had coworkers tell me when Jasmine was 9 months old that “She has had enough of your milk, you can stop now.” A woman even told me “breastfeeding is disgusting”.

Thankfully, I let the negativity fuel me, not stop me. I nursed Jasmine for 2 years and 5 months, our last day April 22, 2018. My twins were 5 months old and I felt like nursing them all was becoming too much. I nursed her through my twin pregnancy and then for 5 moths alongside her brothers. She was at an age where I felt she could understand. For weeks, we talked about how babies need milk to grow big and strong. I told her she was a big girl and no longer needed it. That night when I told her were done she said “Okay” and we laid in bed together. She didn’t know any other way to fall asleep. She began to cry and beg, but I knew I had to stay strong. I could see her wanting to be okay with it. Finally, she fell asleep. Over the next 3 nights, things got better. She is now 3.5 and still jokes about it. She’ll get in line behind her brothers and ask for milk, then bust out laughing. Over the last year, I have missed our breastfeeding relationship. Especially when she is sick, I want to comfort her that way. I am grateful for the 2.5 years we had!

11/16/2017 I gave birth to two beautiful boys, Luke and Dominic. Their birth went very smoothly and we celebrated the fact that there were no complications. Unfortunately, we celebrated a little too soon, I hemorrhaged and began to bleed out. My boys were sent to the nursery before I even had the chance to meet Dominic. Once I was in recovery in the ICU, I was told I wouldn’t get to see my boys until the next day and I knew that meant they were getting formula.

I had already decided I would be okay bottle feeding them because the chances of them taking to the breast were not good. The next evening, I was transferred to a regular room and the babies could come visit but not stay because I was still too weak. I couldn’t believe it, they both latched with no problem! Over the next few weeks, we would do less and less formula until we were strictly breastfeeding.

The boys are 16 months old and total boobie monsters. There is no end in sight and I plan to nurse them as long as I did their sister. They are proof that even if things don’t start out how you expect, even if there are road blocks that seem impossible to overcome, you can do it! Any questions you can comment below and I would be happy to answer.

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