When I found out I was having Luna. I began doing so much research into breastfeeding.
LATCH IS KEY
One of the major things I learned was making sure that the baby's mouth was fully over my entire areola rather than just the nipple. After further reading, I found that having a mouthful rather than the just the tip of the nipple in the baby's mouth produced less irritation and a fuller feed.
BREASTFEEDING IN A LEARNING PROCESS
I thought that breastfeeding would be so easy and natural. I had read places that breastfeeding was difficult, but in my mind, I just assumed that my bond with Luna would make breastfeeding easy. And honestly, I do think that I had it very easy with Luna after she was born. She latched on very quickly and latched on well. She didn't have any issues like tongue tie. She wasn't really colicky. And my biggest hurdle was trusting in myself, trusting in my body's capability to feed my daughter and not constantly question the way that I was doing things.
VISIT A LACTATION CONSULTANT
I had an amazing lactation consultant. She was absolutely fantastic. And I think any woman who can have a lactation consultant is extremely lucky and I highly suggest it. If you're having any sort of difficulty when it comes to breastfeeding. I even went to a breastfeeding class which I believe was UC Davis. For me, that was really helpful because after I had Luna. I had visited my lactation consultant, but it was probably a month or so in and I had more questions and my insurance no longer really covered visits with my lactation consultant anymore. And so going to that and having another opinion and some more tips and tricks really, really helped me.
REMOVE YOUR DESIRE FOR PERFECTION
One of the things that I really had to get past was my desire for perfection. I do strive for perfection and most of what I do, but I'm getting so much better. Doing is better than waiting for perfection. When breastfeeding Luna, I really wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted her mouth to be wide open. I wanted her to latch on the correct way. And the reality was, is that in having those expectations and wanting her to feed certain ways, wanting to be perfect put so much pressure on me that it began to affect my milk supply. I was stressing so much about making sure she was feeding for a certain amount of time and worried that because Luna fed for five minutes, five to 10 minutes and she was done. I was reading online that most babies take like 30 minutes to a half-hour.
I was fearful that she wasn't eating enough. She was having enough wet and dirty diapers and she was gaining weight. So obviously, she was fine. But in my mind, I couldn't get past this barrier that she wasn't getting enough. That fear continued to eat away at me, so much so that I was getting anxious and just I was overwhelmed and nervous and so fearful. All of those emotions really began to affect my milk supply. And for a time, I was not producing enough.
I was looking for all of the things to help my milk supply. I was taking supplements from legendary milk, which I highly suggest they are a fantastic brand. And it helped. But I was still anxious and fearful.
MAKE SURE YOUR PUMP ACCESSORIES ARE CORRECT
I began looking into my pump and pumping accessories. I didn't understand that based on the size of your nipple may need a different flange size for your pump. No one ever told me this. No one ever even mentioned it. It makes complete sense. Not all women's nipples are exactly the same. And when you buy your pump, you're given a specific flange size that's the average for most women. I needed to get a smaller size. The expression of milk via my pump got a little better. Before the adjustments, I was getting maybe an ounce. And that's because I wasn't able to get a letdown. And then after changing the flange size, I was getting at least two ounces, sometimes three. But then for some reason, every time I went to pump, I got nothing. I don't understand why that is still happening. The only time I will get a letdown is if I am pumping on one side and Luna is feeding on the other side.
I'm just going with the flow. I'm not allowing myself to stress over my milk production anymore. I eventually had to get to the point where I said, you know what? If Luna needs to go on formula, she will go on formula, and that's okay. I know so many wonderful mothers whose children started off at formula from practically the moment that they were born, and they're completely fine babies. For years and years and years, babies been fed on formula and they're fine. And it doesn't mean I'm a terrible mother. It doesn't mean I failed Luna in any way. It just I'm doing what's best for her to help her grow. The key thing when you're feeding your child is making sure their needs are taken care of whatever that looks like. If that means formula. Formula. If that means breastmilk. Breastmilk. Listening to and understanding your body is key. Once I let go of the fear and the shame of having to use formula, my milk supply returned. I'm so lucky in the fact that happened.
I know for many women that doesn't happen, but it came back. I continued to persist. I would feed her as often as she wanted. Sometimes it felt like I was feeding her all day, especially when she was having growth spurts. Just letting go and taking that weight off my shoulders of the expectation of what kind of mother I needed to be, and simply just allowing myself to do what's best for Luna and for myself really just allowed my body the peace that I think was needed in order to allow my milk to flow.
Now we're nine months down the line and she is continuing to breastfeed, but she also is eating solids and purees. My milk supply is starting to diminish now that she is started to sleep through the night. She now sleeps around an average of ten hours a night. But what I've been doing is I will pump while I feed her first thing in the morning because my boobs are really full and they are ready to have her feed. I get five ounces and I store that which I saving that for later.
I still question if she was getting enough, but I kind of just feed off of her queues in general. If she's constantly fussy and agitated and crawling over me, I usually know she's still hungry. And I'll either supplement with a little bit of formula or maybe it's just time for a snack or if it's been a couple of hours, I'll feed her again.
TAKE OFF THE PRESSURE
I think my biggest piece of advice to all the new moms out there is taking the pressure off yourself. Yes. Do your best and pursue if you want to do only breastmilk for your child, that's amazing and that is awesome. But don't guilt and shame yourself if it's not working out the way that you think it should or the way that you want it to simply do what's best for your child and for you. And sometimes that looks like switching to formula. Sometimes that looks like you do a little bit of breast milk, maybe you do a little bit of formula. As long as your child is healthy and happy and you're healthy and happy, then go with that, because we as moms put so many expectations and pressure on ourselves, I think to be perfect. Things will never be perfect, especially in motherhood. It's gonna be a roller coaster ride.
Be kind to yourself and embrace the journey. They grow up so, so quickly. It's absolutely crazy to think that tomorrow Luna is nine months old. I can't believe that she has been here that long and it feels like she just showed up like a week ago. But it's been nine whole months and she has grown and changed so much. Her little personality is starting to just blossom. And it's a beautiful thing to watch, embrace and cherish all of the moments that you have as a mother because they go by so, so quick.
I highly recommend that you go check out legendairy milk. They have some amazing supplements. Also just wonderful information for the breastfeeding and the pumping mother. Lots of things that I had no knowledge about. Once visiting their Instagram page and their web site, I was shocked at the things I didn't know. So if you're a new mama out there or even if you are a seasoned mama and you have multiple children, but you're still struggling with breastfeeding or pumping, I highly recommend going to check them out.