Brutal Truths About Breastfeeding

For some reason every time I went to publish a post on breastfeeding – it never made it past my drafts. I am not an expert, lactation consultant, postpartum nurse,  pediatrician, or anything worthy of giving medical advice – but I am a mom who has personally nursed multiple times and for YEARS… some of the people you’re quick to trust have never physically nursed themselves – so let me be your big sister and spill the tea of breastfeeding. As always, feel free to shop my affiliate links, but your baby only needs your love! Everything else is extra. This post will be exclusively about pregnancy – newborns and answer a few questions that came from my Instagram stories! I plan to write again about infancy- toddler hood and answer any questions that we’re asked in this post.

P R E G G O :

Unfortunately, I’ve had the horrid experience of having more pregnancies then live births. I have had three pregnancies; the second was our miscarriage. With all pregnancies, I never experienced leaking before birth. With the later two pregnancies, my milk changed with my hormones (assuming:;my first weened off both of the first trimesters). I also experienced a OB telling me to not try an conceive while nursing my first because it could cause another miscarriage (spoiler alert,  my miscarriage was unhealthy from the beginning and we successfully conceived again while nursing – she is eating a mum mum right now in her bumbo.)

G O A L S :

With my first, my goal before birth was to nurse for two weeks. Get those good ol’ early liquid golds in and roll OUT. I didn’t have any women in my life what were comfortable talking to me about nursing. Bloggers, youtubers, and social media experts were my only north stars for nursing – and if it wasn’t for those women who shared their testimonies (even though it is not their area of expertise), I would have never even tried. Breastfeeding is not the benchmark of great motherhood to me; raising kind humans is my only real goal.

With my second, my goal before birth was to roll out as soon as it impacted my mental health or relationship with my toddler. Both are still in harmony with sharing my last two brain cells – so all is well.

B I R T H :

If you’re new here, I am going to sound really dramatic when I tell you my first was born into a category 4 hurricane evacuation and my second was born during the beginning of COVID19.  Bringing our babies into the world without visitors is all we know!

My first was born in Florida while stationed at MacDill Air Force Base. I am going to try and be as blunt as possible, while reiterating that I LOVED this hospital stay and all of my postpartum care. It was really hammered into my soul that formula was second best, and that if I didn’t give nursing my all I was low-key a bad mom. Straight up, that is what was communicated to me on a manipulative level. They gave me a feeding chart and really chewed me out about feeding him right at every 2-3 hours. They made me strip him down to make him cold enough to want to nurse. A lactation consultant visit and I learned nothing from them that wasn’t in something I found for free on the internet. I remember my nipples started to crack and bleed – something that wasn’t talked about online. I asked a nurse about it and she said, “did you bring nipple cream?” and I said “No, because there’s a hurricane happening and I went into labor – why would I have nipple cream on me?” She brought me back a smaller then travel sized tube of cream while I tried not to cry.

My second was born in Washington right after we PCS’d to Fairchild Air Force Base and I brought two full sized nipple creams. Again, I LOVED my hospital stay and postpartum care. They were so relaxed about her nursing and always asked what my goals and plans were – seeing that I had a healthy toddler on my hands too. They gave a feeding chart as well, but when I voiced my concern about how sleepy she was, someone said “she had a very traumatic day coming into the world. I would want to be napping too!” It made my heart break that I didn’t give my first the same kind of rest.

The only thing a part from nipple cream that helped with nursing was a luxe boppy pillow. My boobs didn’t leak or hurt until after being home, so nursing pads, ice/heat packs, and clothing just would take up space.

N E W B O R N S :

Our newborn days as far as nursing goes were filled with very full boobs. I’m sure that is infuriating to read if you’ve experienced a low supply of breast milk, but on the opposite end of the spectrum is having to live in fear of infections and time spent pumping. There are blessings to being able to produce. You can develop a bond over those cuddles. You do not have to clean as many dishes. You don’t have to prepare to leave the house as much. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, families spend between $1,200 and $1,500 during a baby’s first year – so you can invest that money elsewhere. So many upsides to nursing – but the cost isn’t necessarily finances.

With both, even during cluster feeding, I had to use a pump to relieve the pain of too over producing. With our first I used a medela pump provided by our Tricare Prime insurance. Since we have a toddler with our second, i switched to a Haakaa suction pump. It gives me the freedom to be more hands on with both kids, and is more discrete since it is silent. I’ve even been able to wear it while baby wearing – so i can clean, hold the baby, and pump all at the same time. I really got to enjoy those quiet moments with my first, but also wish I had a haaka to not be attached to the wall outlet. 

It helped bring relief to massage my chest in a hot shower, nurse on the slacker boob and pump the good boob at the same time, then ice both before going to bed. If you’ve nursed longer than a month, you know the fury that comes with full boobs in the middle of the night while baby is sound asleep. This little routine helped get an extra stretch of sleep!

Other tools used to heal cracking nipples or just allow my tatas a break was to use a nipple shield and a pacifier. Both of our babies have effortlessly taken a boob, nipple shield, bottle, or pacifier. Some experts online and in your hospital will warn about “nipple confusion” but we did not experience that. By introducing all of them early on at home, it allowed more freedom in leaving the house, letting others bond with baby over a bottle, heal my skin, and MENTAL HEALTH. Your baby of course will have a preference, as do i with my coffee.

I hope that this was helpful in letting you know it is totally worth it, but it can totally suck and you are not alone! Just because it is beautiful and healthy, does not mean it comes without pain or needing help (just look at childbirth itself!) You are an incredible parent just for taking the time to hear someone’s experience and taking it in consideration to the decisions you make in the future. It really takes a tribe, and I am so thankful for ours here at Anchors and Planes.

Q + A :

Does it hurt? The first time, no. I was so excited to be holding my baby – it didn’t hurt – but I’m sure my body’s high was just to recover from down there. It is super uncomfortable to get them to latch correctly those first few weeks when your body is no longer trying to convince your brain that it’s not that bad. Nipple shields and pacifiers gave me just enough grace to learn and adapt.

Tips for sore nipples? Ice! I used these little pads.

Do they bite? I have yet to have a biter- but when they are teething, you can tell they are uncomfortable and find comfort in just hanging on a little longer – or it hurts them so bad, they would prefer an easy bottle.

How often do you nurse now? The toddler stopped right before 2 years old. The baby is nearly six months old. She takes 3 naps a day, nurses 4-5x during the day and 2-3x during the night. We are currently in-between houses right now, so once we move and settle into our own home – she will up the day feeds and only nurse 1-2x at night.

Did you have any help from lactation consultants at the hospital? Or even during pregnancy? It was offered more during this last pregnancy at our new base, but both times they visit in hospital before we were discharged.

Any advice for someone who couldn’t nurse previously and will try again? I understand trying again, I would too! But please make your mental health the first priority. Sweating over something that wasn’t meant to be is time lost that could be spent creating another kind of bond with your precious baby.

S H O P M Y F A V S:

haakaa pump | nipple shield | nipple balm | ice packs | boppy nursing pillow

freezer storage bags | bottles + storage set | storage bins to organize bags | quick clean sanitizer | bottle warmer

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