I always knew I would breastfeed, no question about it. I didn't really think about it much, it was just something that I knew was the biological norm and I assumed I would be able to do it and I didn't think about the fact that sometimes it is hard, or that there are challenges I might face.
Although she always knew that formula was an option - her sister had used a combination method. But in the back of her mind she knew she wanted to exclusively breastfeed, no matter how hard it was.
Then the Issues Surfaced
At first, Holliday had tongue problems which made her gag every time she tried to suck. The hospital lactation support gave us some pretty poor advice and ended up using both a nipple shield and an intense triple feeding regimen.
A big part of my issue was it took nine days for my milk to fully come in. During our hospital stay we were given donor milk to help get through this time. However, upon leaving the hospital we only had 8 ounces left and were not given any information on how to get more.
My goal of exclusively breastfeeding was shot – Holliday needed donor milk for three more days in additional to formula before my milk finally came in. But I knew it was not the end of the world.
The Triple Feeding Nightmare
One of the biggest setbacks when it comes to triple feeding (other than the complete lack of sleep) is weaning off of the triple feeding schedule.
It was total luck that I found an amazing IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who was both patient and incredibly knowledgeable.
The IBCLC I worked with (Faith McGinn) gave me a ton of ideas and resources to stop triple feeding and eliminate the nipple shield. After we made sure Holliday was a good weight, gaining well and eliminated the possibility of lip or tongue tie, Faith encouraged me to remain patient and just keep trying.
She told me to gradually pump less and work as much as possible with my baby to feed directly from the breast (with shield). After a couple weeks of trying, Holliday got the hang of latching on to the shield and we were finally done with triple feeding.
Once we were good at feeding with the shield, Faith encouraged me to try to eliminate the shield during a couple feeding sessions per day. I would get her latched and then once she was sucking/swallowing well, I would try to slip the nipple shield away. At first, she would immediately cry and fuss. But after about a week, she would re-latch about half the time. Small successes!
After about another week, she would latch each time I took the shield away. So then, again based on Faith's recommendations, we spent a couple days with no nipple shield, doing skin to skin simply working on our latch. I’m not going to lie, it stung and was painful and I ended up very sore. Holliday's latch wasn't great, but she was nursing with no shield.
Then Faith helped us correct her latch and we were completely shield free and done with triple feeding! It was such a good feeling.
For the Love of Breastfeeding
Not to sound like a huge breastfeeding nerd; but I love all of breastfeeding.
The fact that I'm doing what's best for my health and Holliday's (breast cancer runs in my family and it's an added bonus that my risk of cancer is lessened).
The built in snuggle time that we get when she needs/wants to nurse is great, too.
The fact that we both get better sleep (we bed share and nurse on demand at night) is also delightful.
The fact that I can feed her any time without any equipment makes it a no-brainer in my mind.
And honestly, I've met a number of great people during my search for support, answers and solutions (including you Samantha!).
I'm a pretty big proponent of the "normalize breastfeeding" movement
I NIP on a regular basis - usually without a cover. I am a lot more comfortable NIP around people I don't know than I am around people I do know. If I'm in a situation where I do know people (that I have known since before being pregnant) I am much more modest/shy.
I don't know why...
Part of it may be because my brother in law said something to my 4yo niece recently after Holliday was born and I was at their house (probably right after we got her to begin latching on the shield - so things were still difficult and I felt like their house was a safe place to not have to worry about being covered). I know he said something, because the next time I went to their house and was nursing, my niece asked my sister, "mom, does auntie have to put her boob away?" My sister acted a little embarrassed and said, "of course not, why would you think that?" and my niece said, "because of daddy." But then there was something that changed the conversation and we never revisited the subject.
Around him, I have been a little more discrete, and now that Holliday is a pro at latching, I don't really need to worry much, but knowing that someone so close to me had issues with me breastfeeding around him and he even mentioned it to my niece has made me wary of NIP around people that I know but don't clearly understand their stance on breastfeeding.
No one has any idea what's going on and we're all just trying to do what we think is best for our babies. You will screw up, at some point and you will also be an amazing mom the majority of the time.
Find your momma-tribe so that you know who to turn to when you need commiseration or advice.
Advice to a pregnant mom about nursing: visit a lactation group before you have the baby. It seems silly and like you don't have time for it and won't want to, but you should do it anyway.
See that it's hard.
See that there are struggles and educate yourself regarding the challenges you may face.
Be sure to communicate with your medical team regarding your desire to breastfeed and know that there are many options outside of the breast or a bottle to get your baby fed if you are having trouble.
Trust yourself, your body and your baby
Feel free to comment below with complications or successes you have had. If you would like to share your story with images and a blog (you can write it or I can) please contact me here. I can’t wait to meet you and your littles.