Breastfeeding is a realm of mystery all new mothers wonder about. The experience is completely different for all moms; there is no right or wrong when it comes to how we feed our babies.
BUB Society Co-founders Lara Jaeger and Rose Ayers-Etherington discuss two very different breastfeeding experiences and the products that helped get them through those loooong nights of nursing marathons accompanied by Facebook and Scandal reruns!
What was your nursing experience like?
Rose: Well, I’m still breastfeeding my 13 month old boy. I thought I’d have him weaned by now, but he clearly has different ideas. 🙂 Looking back, I laugh at my pre-birth understanding of breastfeeding. I had it in my head that women with larger breasts produced more milk for their babies. I am tall (almost 6 feet) and slender and am definitely not large in the bosom department. So needless to say, I was surprised when I went from a B cup to a DD literally overnight. It was as if the flood gates had been opened! Milk literally rushed from my breasts into my poor baby’s mouth, often times frustrating and overwhelming him. He just couldn’t keep up with the flow. I had no problems with nursing. My baby latched on the first try, I started producing milk immediately and was able to express 6 ounces per breast at any given time of day. Pumping threw me for a loop. The more I pumped, the more milk I produced, to the point where I had to pump several times a day just to ease the pain and pressure that would build up in my turbo boobs.
I realize I’m lucky, and am grateful to have been able to nurse my baby this long. But being a high supply milk producer is not easy. You really can’t go anywhere overnight without your pump. And the moment you start pumping is the moment your internal milk creator kicks into full swing. It’s frustrating when you get your body into a groove where it’s producing just enough milk to fit your baby’s needs. Upon pumping you have to start over and retrain.
Lara: I basically had the opposite experience of Rose. I started at a 34D cup and then moved to a 36D with a bra extender. I nursed her around the clock right from the start. We got home on a Friday, and I took her to the doctor on Monday. She had lost just a tiny bit more weight than she should have. I was shocked since I was nursing her constantly, and I thought my milk was doing well. They told me they weren’t too worried and to bring her back in two days. I continued to nurse her around the clock, and I called a lactation consultant. The lactation consultant fussed at me and told me to pump every two hours.
I would sit and pump for 45 minutes to an hour, and I would get a total of 0.75 ounces from both breasts. It was more than frustrating. I would then give her what I had pumped and then nurse her after that. It was extremely challenging to pump on schedule since I wasn’t getting hardly anything when I pumped, and then I would need to nurse her as well.
I went to the doctor thinking that she would be fine on weight, but she had lost more. I decided to give her formula while still working on my supply. The first bottle I gave her, she drank 6 ounces. She also stopped crying constantly. I can’t tell you how guilty I felt/still feel about this.
I pumped (making an infuriating 0.75 ounces every time); I took Brewer’s Yeast; I ate oatmeal; I drank water; I rubbed and massaged; I nursed on demand… etc. etc. etc. But I never got my supply up to where I could be only nursing. I got fairly close, but I usually had to nurse and then finish with formula. I began to look at breast milk as a source of antibodies as opposed to a food source. I became okay with that, and I nursed her for 14 months, when she weaned herself.
What Nursing Pillow Did You Use?
Rose: The best was definitely My My Brest Friend Original Pillow. I love the back support it provides, especially during those first three months when you go on bouts of marathon nursing. You can walk around the house and even use the restroom (which you will do several times…I promise) while nursing. If your baby has acid reflux and you need to nurse at an incline, you can fit a pad or blanket under one side to get the right tilt angle. It also has a cool little holder for your water. You’ll be amazed by how thirsty you get. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much water in my life. You’d think I had just run a marathon!
Lara: I used the Boppy Nursing Pillow, which I loved. It provided just the right angle for us on the couch. (Talk about an invention I wish I had come up with!) I also loved it for just hanging out because it provides that support while you hold the baby, alleviating any discomfort. Now that I hear about Rose’s experience, I think I’d like to try the Brest Friend Pillow next time. With a toddler running around, it would be helpful to be able to walk around with the baby and have the water bottle holder. I still have my Boppy from last time, and I am sure I’ll be using that as well. Also, I agree about the water! I was so thirsty the moment she would latch, and I drank a ton!
Nursing covers: Lara and Rose in unison, “They suck!” When you get the baby latched, and then cover up, they pop off. Then you fix it again, and put the cover back, and they pop off again. Then you finally get situated, and the baby rips the cover off or kicks it or cries hysterically. We both had this experience, so neither of us used a cover.
Did Your Baby Have Acid Reflux?
Rose: Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, just a mom who sought out ways of coping with my son’s acid reflux. Acid reflux can cause incredible pain in your baby. If you suspect that your baby is suffering from Acid Reflux, please get them into their pediatrition as soon as possible.
We had some serious Acid Reflux issues. Honestly, I thought my life was over there for a while. My poor little guy would scream for hours, which combined with me not getting any sleep, made for an unnerving experience I had to live through day after day. It’s so challenging at first because all you can do is guess what they’re upset about. You can try new things and do your best to eliminate potential problems. If your baby burps up frequently, is fussy a good majority of the time, cries for long periods of time and is still crying after you have done everything you can to comfort them, chances are you have a baby who’s suffering from acid reflux. Here are the items that literally saved me during this time:
Gerber Soothe Colic Drops, 0.17 Ounce
Seriously, these probiotic drops worked miracles for me! It took about a week before I really noticed a difference, but they definitely provided my son with the soothing and healing he needed. The instructions tell you to give your baby 5 drops a day. I recommend spacing those drops out. I along with several of my mom friends noticed that when you give your baby all 5 drops at once, you may be dealing with some diarrhea.
To learn more on how probiotics can help with your baby’s acid reflux, check out this article: http://bit.ly/1hNiAsk
Black Mountain Products Anti Burst Exercise Stability Ball with Pump
My husband and I spent many a sleepless night bouncing on this ball. The up and down movement definitly helped move things through for our little guy. Typically after 10 minutes of bouncing, he would be fast asleep. Bouncing up and down on an exercise ball has a similar affect that burping has. It just gets the gas that might be trapped in your baby’s chest moving through. And trust me, with all of the bouncing you’ll be glad this ball comes with a pump. And when the time comes, this ball will be your best friend on your journey to getting your abs back!
I recommend this item, not because it’s a remedy for acid reflux (or colic) but because after spending a day with a fussy, unhappy baby, you will be in great need of rest. This miracle blanket worked wonders for my baby. Before using it, I’d be lucky to get 3 hours of sleep out of him. But once I swaddled him up in this wrap, he’d sleep for 9+ hours. I believe this is because he was accustomed to being wiggly, and was constantly flailing his arms around (which until babies learn how to control their limbs is what they do). Swaddling recreates that sense of security babies feel in the womb. The Miracle blanket has special straps that help keep your baby’s arms in a comfortable, secure position. Not all babies like being swaddled, but definitely give it a try. It just might be the life saver you need!
What Breast Pump Did You Use?
Pumping felt super weird for me at first. I felt like a milk cow, literally. Especially with the rythmic sucking noise the pump makes. It took about a week for me to produce enough to fill up the 5oz bottles. But once the flow started, I had no problem filing those bad boys up every morning. The Medela Pump In Style is fast and efficient. It’s comfortable, easy to clean and easy to transport (light weight and easy to camouflage in the cute black carrying case it comes with). I like that it gives you the option to adjust the speed and intensity of the pumping. I’d usually start out slow and easy and as the milk started to flow, I’d turn up the intensity. It took me about 15 minutes to fill up the 5oz bottle. Having the option to pump both breasts at once was great for saving time.
The manual hand pump is great for overnight trips when you’re away from your baby. Recently, I ran a relay race that required I be away for two nights. Sidenote: It’s crazy how connected we are with our babies. It’s as if my body knew my son was freaking out over me being gone. I produced triple the amount of milk I usually do. Probably because my body sensed distress and was reacting in the only way it knew to bring comfort – produce milk! The Medela Harmony Manual Breast is great for just taking the edge off, meaning you can use it to extract enough milk to make you more comfortable. I wouldn’t attempt to extract an entire 5oz bottle with it. your hand will grow tired after only half an ounce! But it’s great for keeping yourself comfortable. It’s also easy to pack, clean and it’s super quiet.
Lara: I got lucky because my friend let me borrow her breast pump. A nurse told her that it was the Cadillac of breast pumps, and it was. I used the Medela Pump in Style Backpack. I know my body didn’t respond to pumping, but that wasn’t the pump’s fault. I would use this next time as well. (Hoping that it goes better next time, of course.) There were many accessories and settings, so you could adjust the speed of pumping. I usually started off slower and then moved up to the higher speed once I was used to it.
What was the Best Bottle You Used?
I love the Tommee Tippee bottles! They’re the perfect size, easy to clean and transport, and they are designed to mimic the shape and feel of your breast. The nipple mimics natural feel, flex and movement of breastfeeding. These anti-colic bottles are accompanied by slow flow non-vented nipples designed just for this bottle to prevent air and vacuum build up. They are also BPA and phthalate free which is a huge and responsible plus.
Lara: I got a Similac bottle in the mail as a free sample. When I got home from the doctor having gotten the terrible news that she hadn’t gained weight, I had a free sample from Similac with a bottle included. Thanks, Similac. 🙂 Since she reacted well to all of these things, I just stuck with what was working. We were really lucky on the reflux and colic front since we didn’t have to deal with that.
What Nipple Cream Did You Use?
I am a big believer in using coconut oil for many different things. Coconut oil brings relief and natural healing to cracked nipples. This is because coconut oil contains saturated fat, which when applied to your skin locks moisture in. Coconut oil also contains Capric, Caprylic and Lauric fatty acids, which have strong disinfectant and antimicrobial properties. As a result, when applied on the skin, coconut oil protects from microbial infections that can get into open wounds or even enter the body through the pores. Finally coconut oil contains vitamin E which is essential for healthy skin growth, repair of wear & tear on the skin, keeping skin smooth and protecting against cracking.
Important: Look for extra virgin oil that has not been hydrogenated, bleached, or refined in any way or has any fragrance or dyes added to it.
To learn about all the amazing ways coconut oil can benefit your skin, check out this awesome infographic on 10 Genius Ways To Use Coconut Oil For Healthy Skin.
To learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil, check out this article.
I loved this cream. I used to fantasize about having little tiny buckets to fill with the cream, and then squish on my nipples. Am I the only one who felt this way? lol I always felt instant soothing and relief as soon as I’d lather it on, and then I just hoped that she would stay off long enough for it to soak in.
When Did You Wean?
Rose: I haven’t yet. Don’t see it happening anytime soon. This little guy is a nurser! Thirteen months and going strong.
Lara: I had decided to nurse as long as she wanted to. When she was a year, I started giving her milk instead of formula. She didn’t like cow’s milk, and she wouldn’t drink it. So I gave her almond milk, which she loved. I would nurse, and then finish with almond milk. Slowly she started nursing less and less. Then she got to where she would pop on and pop off, pop on and pop off, and I just knew she was done. I tried offering a few more times, but she wouldn’t stay latched. So I stopped nursing at that point. I have to be honest; I was relieved. I felt guilty for being relieved, but I was relieved nonetheless.
How did you handle a bite?
Rose: He bit me once. I jumped and I screamed as loud as I could. It really scared him, which I felt bad about. But he has not bit me since!
Lara: I am not the person to ask about this! My child was a biter!! She was a biter in general – not just with breast feeding. And I have to admit that she gets this from me. I never bit my mom, but I was a biter too. I used to bite on my play pen and give myself hickeys. She would bite down on my nipple and slide her teeth backwards. It was excruciating. I thumped her on the mouth, mostly out of panic, and then I took her off. But then… it happened again. A midwife told me to yell really loudly the next time she does it and remove her. So I did that. It seemed to work, but then she just bit me again. I yelled, thumped, and removed each time, but it didn’t have a lasting effect. (That’s my kid! I’m terrified of teenage years!)
Any Lactation Tips to Offer?
Rose: As I mentioned before, drink lots of water! Not too much, however. Just enough to replace the water being taken to produce breast milk. If you’re not drinking enough water, you risk being dehydrated and geting sick. This article explains further the importance of water consumption while breastfeeding.
Also, keep taking your multivitamin. Again, your body is taking nutrients for the breast milk. It’s normal to feel depleted at times. Your body will take whatever it needs to produce that milk, even if it means not leaving much nutrition for you. So you have to take your nutritional health into your own hands! I’m a weeny when it comes to big pills, which is why I love these Vitafusion Women’s Gummy Vitamins. They have all the recommended daily allowence of vitamins you need and they taste like a treat!
Lara: I don’t think I’m the person to ask about this either! Honestly… just do your best. If you have a production problem, hang in there. The good part about nursing as long as I did was that she was never really sick. I’m proud of myself for continuing to do it even though it was a struggle the whole time. You have to do what works for you and your family and have compassion for yourself. And always have water nearby.
Did You Ever Have to Deal with Thrush?
Rose: Yes I did, but only once. It hurt but it wasn’t unbearable. Honestly, I just let it play it’s course and eventually it went away. But I know that some of my friends have battled it throughout their breastfeeding experience. This article goes into about the symptoms and treatment of thrush caused by breastfeeding.
Lara: No thrush or mastitis for me. Again, we got lucky. 🙂
What Nursing/bottle accessories Do You Recommend?
Rose: Several of my mom friends warned me about “sympathy leaking.” This happens when you’re out and about, just doing your thing when all of a sudden, you hear a baby cry. And you start leaking breast milk in response. It’s weird and psychologically confounding, but it happens to the best of us. If you’re not wearing breast pads, you’ll at high risk for an ill-placed and embarrassing shirt stain. The Lanisnoh Disposables work great for these types of situations. Trust me, in the first 6 months after having your baby, you’l want to keep these on hand. They are soft, they mold nicely to your breast and they are very absorbant.
Lara: I loved these because they laid flat on my body better than other ones I tried. They were super soft and washable.
What Nursing bras/tanks Do You Recommend?
Rose: There are so many great nursing bras out there. You’ll want to invest in getting a few. I still live in mine. Here are a few of my favorites:
Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra by bravado is my favorite. It’s comfortable, offers just enough support without being constraining and is easy to unhook when it comes time to nurse. When you become engorged it can be incredible uncomfortable – even painful – which is why you want a bra that is soft and flexible.
Medela Sleep Maternity & Nursing Bra. I love this bra because it’s so comfortable and easy to sleep in. You literally just move the bra to the side and expose your breast to your hungry baby. It’s light weight, soft and adjustable to all breast sizes.
Bravado Designs Essential Nursing Bra Tank. This nursing tank is worth the investment. When you’re out and about shopping or having lunch with friends, you want to be able to quickly and easily nurse your baby without jumping through any wardrobe hoops. As I mentioned earlier in this article I’m not a fan of nursing covers. I think they take to much work and waste time. With this tank you simply unsnap the side you want to use, allow your baby to latch and cover with a baby blanket. I found that these tanks became an everyday part of my wardrobe because they were functional and fashionable at the same time.
Lara: I never had any nursing tanks. This was a rough time financially, so I wasn’t able to get any tanks, but boy I wanted them! Next time! I ended up getting bras on sale with a coupon. They were 2 for $13, which was perfect. I can’t find the exact kind that I have, but these two are the closest. I wasn’t able to have the wire because it hurt my ribs too much, and I needed some light padding. Super comfortable while still providing support and easy access.
What surprised you the most about nursing?
Rose: Oh gosh, several things! I was afraid of breast feeding. I thought for sure I’d be annoyed with the feeling of someone sucking on me day in and day out. But I was not annoyed at all (well…maybe after 24 hours of marathon nursing I felt a tad bit irritated)! In fact, the more I nursed the more connected I felt with m son. I’d sit and stare for hours at his perfect little toes and fingers.
I was also surprised that breastfeeding came so easily to me. My son and I had an immediate bond. I was worried about not feeling attached to him. But he had my heart the moment I laid eyes on him.
Another thing that caught me off guard was that it took me longer to loose all of my pre-pregnancy weight than I anticipated. I read all of these articles that talked about how breast feeding helps you loose the baby weight. It’s so different for everyone, but for me my body held on to that last 10 pounds until my baby was 10 months old. Then it just fell off. I have learned to trust my body in this whole being pregnant and becoming a mom thing. My body was made for making and supporting a baby and knows exactly what to do. My trying to get in the way and manipulate things only creates more frusteration for me. So if I can give you one peice of advice, it’s to trust yourself and show your body grace!
Lara: I was really surprised that it was so difficult for me. My mother had told me my whole life how easy it had been for her, so that is what I was expecting. But then she never went into labor, and I did right on my due date, so you just never know. A midwife told me, “You do whatever you have to do to keep them alive.” She was right, and that’s exactly what I did.
For more information on breastfeeding, check out some of our favorite blogs:
Momzelle – Valuable breastfeeding resources and advice. Also, Super cute nursing clothes! Their bras look incredible. Definitely trying them out with my next baby!
Paa.la – This gal doesn’t just focus on breastfeeding, but she coversother natural parenting topics as well.
Chronicals of a Nursing Mom – We love this blog! The author, who is writing from the Philippines, discusses her own personal breastfeeding journey. She also offers valuable tips any mom can use!
…And of course, KellyMom.com – A Great resource for all of your breastfeeding questions.
What was your breast feeding experience like? We’d love to hear from you!
Disclosure: At BUB, we review items we believe are the best for a new mom and her baby. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, we will recieve compensation. We test each product personally and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.