Thursday, October 18, 2012

The boob: de-tabooed

Shocking blog title, right?  Let’s face it a lot of people are scared to discuss one of the most natural
processes a mom goes through, nursing!
    I had a friend, who is expecting her first child, ask me to send her my advice on nursing. She was having trouble finding helpful information and knew I was currently going through it.  Having so many friends expecting or having a new baby at home, I had honestly thought about blogging this for awhile.  I would always end up changing my mind because I thought it might offend people. Well,I changed my mind back. Frankly it is not anything to be ashamed of. I think all moms should be proud that they nursed or even tried to (it doesn’twork for everyone). It is the best thing for your baby! So if it is one week, 2months or a year, be proud you nursed at all.
   After 8 months of nursing Sawyer, here are my tips, tricks and advice that worked for me. Once again, it is different for every mom so please don’t take what I say as law. This is not a “how to breastfeed” blog it is a “what worked for us” blog
   And if you are someone who finds this stuff creepy, weird orgross…you don’t have to read it!

   Before I start I want to emphasis one thing I truly believe.Try to give nursing a shot for at least 2 months before decided to give it up.There are a lot of hurdles in the beginning and your tired new mom brain might make a decision you regret later. Remember, once you stop nursing, there is no going back.
   Also set a goal up front of how long you would like to nurse so you can hold yourself accountable if you have a "I want to give up" moment.

The Beginning
I know you have probably heard these things… “Nursing iseasy” , “Nursing comes naturally” , “Nursing doesn’t hurt.” Well guess what? I think those are all lies. My experience is that nursing is a “learned” skill just like changing a diaper. It takes practice and time to find what works for your baby. Your milk might not come in fast enough or your baby might not be able to latch properly. Sawyer’s tongue didn’t extend enough so we had to have his lingual frenum (connector under the tongue) snipped. For 2 weeks I solely pumped and we syringe & cup feed him. We were trying to do everything in our power to stick with breast-feeding instead of formula. It was a lot of work but it was worth it (time & money). After his tongue was clipped he learned how to latch again. Pumping every 3-4 hours in the first few weeks is not uncommon, I did it and although it was not favorable it helped me keep my supply up and freeze a lot for when I went back to work. You can do it!!!

My Advice: Start pumping from Day 1, you may only get an ounce or less but the more you pump the more you produce. What I did was feed him on one side and pump out the other side,every time he ate. I know that sounds like a lot but as their feeding get less the less you’ll have to pump, plus you will get a great supply of milk to freeze. We would freeze 1 bag of 5-6 oz and leave the rest in the refrigerator for bottle feedings when I couldn’t nurse

A few weeks in
I strongly believe all moms, who have the desire to nurse,should give breastfeeding at least 2 months before they give up. With so much is going on at the beginning (you are tired, confused, emotional and probably still healing) that it is so easy to just say “the hell with it, give him formula”. Do everything you can to not give up because you will want to, I promise. Think about it, it is so much easier to get up and nurse in the middle of the night because it is ready on demand. Preparing a bottle at 3:00am involves finding a clean bottle, mixing, warming...all in the dark while a baby is crying. Yes, this might be your only option but if you have the option to nurse, doesn't it just seem easier?
Some things you will go through in these first few weeks are:
  1. Sore Nipples: Even if they are latching properly sometimes they can get carried away and pull or bite at you (my son was a crazy man) so I recommend getting some Gel Pads. (I use Lansinoh brand from Target). I never liked the paper pads they weren’t very comfortable. In the beginning I also used Lanolin whenever I was really sore and it seemed to help.
  2. Engorgement: Once your milk comes in you will have times that you feel like you are going to explode, you can go ahead and pump before your baby needs to eat it is not going to hurt anything and will help to not overwhelm your baby with milk. This will also slow down the longer you nurse. You will turn into a supply and demand machine and your body will start to learn how much your baby needs.
  3. Leaking: I was lucky and didn’t leak but if you do just keep some extra pads on you so you can quickly switch them out. I wore my Gel Pads at all times for the first 5-6 months, maybe that is why I didn’t leak. The past couple months I stopped wearing them and have had no issues.
My Advice: Give nursing 2 months before giving up, buy some gel pads and wear them all the time! Pump, pump, pump it up as much as you can! Start freezing 1 bag a day or more if you have it (in either store bought bags or Ziploc freezer bags) at around a month or 2 months. Set a goal for how long you plan to nurse and try to stick to it, this will help when you reach hurdles so you don’t just give up.

A few months in/going back to work
After a few months, you will develop a routine and it will seem so much easier. After Month 2, my routine was every 3-4 hours nurse &pump, this changed of course when I went back to work. I promised myself Iwouldn’t beat myself up if pumping at work didn’t pan out. This removed a lot of unnecessary pressure! I did start prepping for going back to work about a week or two before with practicing pumping with out feeding him.
My schedule at work went like this:
6:00 – 6:30 am: Nurse Sawyer before work
10:00: Pump at work (10 mins.)
12:00 pm: Nurse Sawyer on lunch (not everyone can do this,so if you can’t add another pump session)
2:00: Pump at work (10 mins.)
5:20: Nurse Sawyer at home
8:00-8:30: Nurse Sawyer before bed, pump
I continued this schedule for about month 4 when we introduced solids.

My Advice: Think of an “at-work” pumping plan so you can transition before you head back to work. Don’t beat yourself up can’t pump at work, you made it this far. Try to pump when you think they are eating so your body keeps on their schedule. Keep freezing a bag a day to build your home milk supply.

Month 4-6
You should start to feel like you understand what your doing and your baby will already be a pro. This is about the time we introduced solids to Sawyer’s diet and he was nursing less often. This means less pumping (yeehaw!!!). So our schedule changed to a pretty traditional breakfast, snack,lunch, snack, dinner, and bedtime snack - routine.
I started only pumping the 2 times at work also and stopped pumping after he ate. Since I had been freezing 1 bag a day since about 1 month I had about 80 bags of frozen milk, which seemed enough to slow down on storing.  One hurdle for us during this time was Sawyer got teeth and he wanted to use them. While he did bite me a couple times, I quickly learned if I said in a stern voice “No Sawyer!”, he didn’t like it and would stop.

My Advice: You can cut out a couple pump times and milk storage if you have a good supply. If you supply seems to start slowing down, pick back up on the pumping and it should fix it’s self. It your child gets teeth don’t automatically give up, try to stop biting right away by talking to them in a stern voice. They don’t want to stop nursing so if they know it hurts you, theywon’t do it.

Month 7 – One Year
Now nursing is completely different than it was at the beginning, I pump once a day and he nurses at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The only reason I pump is to keep a little milk in the refrigerator in case he needs it but we still have a good supply of frozen milk left. My goal is a year and even though sometimes my supply feels really low, I’ll just pump a few times after he eats for a few days straight and it picks up. He definitely needs me less now that he eats fruits, veggies, meat and grains.  His favorite time to nurse is before bed because it relaxes him. That will be a hard thing to give up.

My Advice: Pump if you want to keep milk in your refrigerator or to keep you supply up.

Other HELPFUL Tips…..

Storage Duration of Breast milk :
Reference Center for Disease Control &Prevention
Breast milk at room temperature (66-72 degrees): Can be out for 10 hours (no need to refrigerator your pumped milk at work, just take it home and refrigerate as long as it is less than 10 hours)
Breast milk in the refrigerator (32-39 degrees): 5 days
Breast milk in a freezer (0- -18 degrees): 3-6 months
Thawed breast milk: 24hours from when it is completely thawed

Best way to thaw breast milk: Do not use a microwave!! The night before we would just put the bag in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. If it is still frozen, swirl in a container of warm water.

Items I recommend and how to buy them
- Medela Pump In Style Advance Double Pump w/messenger bag: If you can borrow or buy a double pump it will be so helpful, I borrowed mine: buy here
- Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads: buy here
- Medela Tender Care Lanolin: buy here
- Boppy: I still use it to support Sawyer when he eats: buy here
- Medela Quick Clean Wipes : perfect for work cleaning : buy here
- Medela Quick Clean Micro-steam bags: great for traveling to disinfect at hotels: buy here
- Lansinoh Freezer Bags: cheaper than Medela: buy here
- Nursing Cover: If you want to venture out in public or around visitors, I found mine at Target for really cheap: buy here

The Infamous Pumping & Dumping Debunked
Not that you want to go get wasted face now that you have a little one but if you do decide to partake in some adult beverages you might consider “Pumping & Dumping.” Before you do, read this article:
It makes so much more sense to me now! Honestly before I read that, I literally thought the milk just sat there holding alcohol until it was dumped. Nope it just passes through your blood stream like anything else you consume - that is what Oprah calls an Ah Ha moment!

Cost Savings for my Frugal Friends
If you read my blog, you know I like to save money so I thought I’d try to put a dollar savings amount to how much breastfeeding can save versus formula feeding. This is all approximate but it will give you a good idea.

The way I figure it is like this…

What Sawyer ate:
1-2 months: ate 4 oz bottles every 3 hours or 32 ounces per day,224 oz per week, 896 oz. per month = 1792 oz. for 2 months
3-5 months: ate 6 oz bottles every 4 hours or 36 ounces per day,252 oz. per week, 1008 oz. per month = 3024 oz. for 3 months
6-8 months: eats 8 oz bottles every 5 hours or 38 ounces per day,266 oz. per week, 1064 oz. per month = 3192 oz. for 3 month
Total for 8 months = 8008 oz.

If we purchased the Premium Enfamil Infant Milk-based formula in the 23.4 oz container is would cost about $22. It says it makes approximately 167 fl. Oz.
So 8,008 divided by 167 = 48 container or  $1,054.95

So feel free to tell people your breast milk is worth thousands, because it is!


  1. I don't know if you did this, but another BIG piece of advice I got- too late, and will do next time is at least try to feed within 30 minutes of delivery. It helps the baby, you won't even have milk yet but it helps their mind connect to the latching. Alos, another thing I didn't realize until my milk was too low to recover, once the little one starts sleeping through the night (for mine it was early, 7 weeks 8-12 hrs while I was still nursing solely) I thought woo-hoo I can sleep 8 straight hours, nope, Mommy still needs to get up every 4 hrs and pump if you don't want to break this awesome early sleeping through the night, or I have a girlfriend who really enjoyed that nighttime feeding since it was just her and baby-since Dad was sleeping, so she would wake up her little one and still nurse. Either works, just make sure you keep up the 3-4 hr routine with your milk or it will decrease. Just a few issues I had that maybe you didn't Kari, I wish someone would have told me things before (along with everything else in this blog!) I am determined to make it a year next baby. Made it 3 months with the 1st. I will have to try the gel pads, I Hated the paper ones they would literally rip my skin off, I had pink milk a few times. Really glad you did this post, I hope more women than just your friends find it, because most of the literature out there is from male doctors saying "don't worry, you produce enough, just stick with it, but know ever lets you in on all the tricks, tips, once you hear them they may seem like common sense but as a new mom, you don't have a clue to some of this simple ideas. Oh, to your product list, Modela makes an Amazing $20 hands free bra too, I loved that when I was nursing on one side and pumping on the other. I never made it to pumping at work-I luckily had a 3 month maternity leave, but my girlfriend who is still nursing her 11 month old loved the hands free for work so she could read while pumping. P.S. Another reason to keep with it new moms, during your pregnancy you burn 300 extra calories to grow your peanut, while nursing you burn 500 extra-but you need H2O, so stay hydrated. I think Kari is living proof of why to nurse, I think you are skinnier now than before Sawyer, good job Momma!!!

    1. Those are all great points, thanks for sharing!! We also were told to nurse as soon as we could when he arrived, we were able to have skin-to-skin about 30 minutes after. I also forgot to mention about pumping in the middle of the night, there were nights he slept longer than usual and I had to get up and pump...I was miserable. And yes, Nursing is the BEST diet I have ever found. It is the only thing I did to lose the baby weight.

  2. Excellent blog Kari! And weaning is easier if you do it a little at a time - easier on both mommy and baby - not all at once. I eliminated one feeding a day (over several days at a time) until we just had the bedtime one. That was the hardest to give up! Such a special time...

  3. Such great tips. I love how open you are about all of this. I know we are open with each other and talk about anything but not all ladies out there have girlfriends that are so open and honest. You rock for putting all of this out there!