Out of every book, article, or friend’s account I read about breastfeeding, the most undeniable thing I gathered from it was that nursing your newborn baby is HARD WORK!  And boy were they right.

I thought I mentally prepared myself for the fact that it wouldn’t be as easy as it seemed, but like many other new and naive moms, I so did not.  In fact, I bought four different books on breastfeeding and only managed to get through half of one before thinking to myself, “okay, I got this.”  Well silly me.  Now in my defense, I do feel I could have read every book in the world and it still wouldn’t have prepared me or my baby for the task ahead of us.  It wasn’t until Grayson and I spent hours and hours practicing and failing many times before we both got the hang of it.

I first want to say I’m no expert on breastfeeding and even though after a month I feel more confident, we still have many days and feedings that aren’t so great.  I still get upset about it but then I remember, we are both doing the very best we can and that is all you can really ask of yourself.

Now, I want to share a few ways that I was able to increase my supply.  When I first started, I really thought we would have more trouble with the latching but to my surprise, Grayson was a pro at latching on.  What we struggled with was extracting.  G would latch on great and do really well at extracting the milk for the first five minutes, but then he would get tired or disengaged and just start to pacify.

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Since he wasn’t getting the most out of each feeding, he would fall asleep and wake up 10-15 minutes later still hungry.  And since he wasn’t emptying my breasts, I wasn’t producing anymore.  I then started to nurse him and pump immediately after to make sure they were emptied and give him the excess milk from a bottle.

This wasn’t my ideal way of nursing but I was happy to give him the most breast milk I could.  When G wasn’t gaining enough weight in the beginning, his pediatrician recommended adding a little formula to the excess milk we were feeding him.

I wasn’t crazy about this idea, but I also wanted to make sure he was getting properly nourished, so that is what we did.  In the midst of this, we made a few appointments with the lactation consultant so that we could both learn how we can make the most out of our feedings.

I honestly can not say enough good things about my LC’s.  Not only do they provide such useful information, they are a HUGE support when you need it the most.  Having that added support is so important.  They also gave me a lot of tips and methods to try to increase my supply so that Grayson would become a pro eater and would eventually ween himself off the need for any formula.

Here are a few things I have done or am doing currently in order to get my milk supply where it needs to be:

Pump with a Quality Pump

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Breastfeeding is a full time job and when you add in pumping after nursing, it becomes a never-ending cycle, BUT it’s worth it!  I was using the Ameda pump but my LC’s recommended that I rent a hospital grade pump for a month in order to get my milk supply up.  While most pumps are good for doing what they are meat to do, the hospital pump will extract the best.  It wasn’t cheap ($70 to rent for the month) but I’m happy I did it.  So I am nursing Grayson and pumping after.  Breastfeeding is a supply and demand so as long as I am continually emptying my breasts, they will keep producing more.

The SNS Tube

The Supplemental Nursing System is a tiny tube that goes into G’s mouth while he is on my breast.  I fill the small container with excess breast milk and feed the tube through the corner of his mouth when we nurse, that way when he starts to get sleepy and pacify, I give him an added boost of milk. He begins to easily get the milk from the tube, which causes him to suck and swallow again.  So essentially, he is getting double the amount from my breast and from the tube.  This wasn’t the easiest thing at first and was actually kind of an annoyance, but after a few tries, we’ve mastered it and he is MUCH better at feedings.

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Stay Hydrated

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This is probably one of the most important things when it comes to breastfeeding. If you think about it, fluids in equals fluids out so making sure you are properly hydrated at all times is key.  I always have my water bottle next to me and filled and try to get about 160 oz of water in a day (a little more than a gallon).  That’s not including any other liquids I consume such as coffee or tea. Obviously, I’m not pumping 160 oz of milk a day (I wish!) but it does make a significant difference.

Oatmeal

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I’m not really sure why, but I’ve heard from many different sources that oatmeal is a surefire food to include in your daily diet to increase milk supply.  Lucky for me, I’m digging oats again so it hasn’t been an issue.  If I don’t eat oatmeal for breakfast, I try to have a small bowl as a snack throughout the day.

Cholesterol

This was something my LC told me at our last appointment.  Apparently, cholesterol and fatty acids is said to help increase a woman’s supply.  Eggs also try to make a daily appearance in my diet, and since I have no trouble with the fatty acids, that hasn’t been a problem.

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Fenugreek and Brewers Yeast

These are two supplements that I had never heard of prior to breastfeeding but if you ask any nursing mom, they have probably heard of them.  Fenugreek is an herb contains phytoestrogens, which are plant chemicals similar to the female sex hormone estrogen. A key compound, diosgenin, has been shown experimentally to increase milk flow.  Brewers yeast is highly nutritious and contains iron, protein, and B vitamins, as well as chromium, selenium and other trace minerals. It is also believed to be a galactagogue, used by nursing mothers to help make more breast milk.  I bought the Fenugreek in pill form and the yeast in the form of a powder.  At first, I was unsure of how to consume it but after a few searches on the Web, I found some recipes that incorporate it including these Mama’s Milk Making Cookies.

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I love these!  They are quite tasty and a perfect snack for those late night feedings.

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Relax

The last thing, but definitely not least, is to relax and try very hard not to stress out over everything.  That is much easier said than done because back to my original point, breastfeeding is hard work!  I’ve spent many moments in tears thinking I was failing my child, but I do try and give myself credit for doing the very best that I can.  It also helps to surround yourself with people that support you.  John has been an amazing support throughout it all and encourages me every single day that I am working so hard and doing so well.  My other mom friends also lend a ton of incredible encouragement and share their own tips and struggles.

In the end, I’ve learned that nursing is a learning experience and something that we are getting better at every day.  You have to do what is right for you and your baby and you absolutely cannot compare yourself to other lactating women.  Every boob and baby is different and your focus should always be on what is working for you and your baby and not what others are doing or saying.  There have been many times that I just wanted to give up, but then I come to my senses and realize that would be silly.  So it takes a ton of time, effort and even more lack of sleep.  All I have to do is take one look at my little angel’s face and it suddenly becomes easy.

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{ 5 comments }

Highs and Lows from the Weekend

by Lauren on October 20, 2014

Hello and happy Monday!

I had every intention of posting this last night but I’m currently blogging from my old Mac (and it’s as slow as molasses), which brings me right to my first low from the weekend.

Low

I did a terrible thing on Saturday.  In the midst of trying to pump and attend to a crying baby, I somehow knocked over my entire water bottle right onto the keyboard of my Mac.  I had the baby in one hand and saw it coming but there was nothing I could do to stop it.  Needless to say it won’t turn on and I have no idea how much damage I’ve done.  We dried it out over the weekend and I’m taking it to a repair store today but I am still so incredibly upset about it.  Please tell me this has happened to you before.  Actually, please tell me this has happened to you and your computer survived it.  Oy!

High

The weather was absolutely beautiful on Friday and Saturday and we got out quite a bit for much needed walks.

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John was off on Friday and joined us on our walk.  We attempted to take our first family selfie, although G didn’t quite make it into the picture.

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Low

I’ve developed De Quervain’s condition or better known as “mommy wrist” or “mommy thumb.”  Basically, it’s a condition in which the tendons from the thumb to the wrist become inflamed and rub against the “tunnel” that encloses them, causing sensations from mild discomfort to severe pain on the thumb side of the wrist.  Many new moms have developed this and I can understand why.  From picking up G to the way I’ve been holding him during nursing (to ensure the best latch) to the millions of breast compressions I do, it was bound to happen.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do to fix it other than not using my hands (which is basically impossible with a newborn), so I’ve been wearing a brace at night.  It really only bothers me in the early morning when I wake up and my hands have me almost in tears they hurt so bad.  The pain goes away in a few minutes and then doesn’t seem to bother me the rest of the day, but I literally dread going to sleep every night knowing what is coming.

High

John’s dad, step mom and half brother came to visit this weekend.

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G loved all of the attention of course!

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Low/High

Grayson is growing up so fast!  I’m not sure if I should classify this as a low or a high because I am happy he is getting big and strong, but the mommy part of me is sad to see him outgrow all of his teeny clothes.  He was in premie clothes for the first few weeks and has bypassed those and into newborn within a matter of days.  Now, he is even starting to outgrow the newborn clothes.  He is also rolling over, lifting and turning his head during tummy time. Geesh, you guys weren’t kidding when you said they literally grow before your eyes.  I want to squeal with joy one moment and cry my eyes out the next.

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High

I finally found a Halloween costume that fits G!  I’ve been looking online for weeks but it seems that all baby Halloween costumes start a 6 months.  I decided to go easy and got this adorable hand-knit pumpkin hat off Etsy and found a long-sleeved orange onesie.  Instant adorable baby pumpkin…check!

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He’s not too sure about it yet, but he’ll grow to love it! :)

Well, that is all I have or all I really have the patience for this morning.  I’ll be so happy when my old laptop is back, if I haven’t completed destroyed it.  Ugh, please cross your fingers for me.

Have a marvelous Monday!

{ 4 comments }

What We’ve Been Up To

October 17, 2014

Hey guys! I’m not sharing my usual Friday Confessions or What I’m Loving posts today because I really didn’t prepare for either of these.  Instead, I just thought I would share a few random things that we’ve been up to in the past few days…. Lately, breakfasts have been oatmeal but if I’m tiring of [...]

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These are a few of my favorite (baby) things….

October 15, 2014

When I first found out I was going to be a mom, I thought, “okay this can’t be that hard, I mean SO many women do this.”  Well, as I got closer and closer to giving birth, I became more terrified at how very little I did know.  The questions that consumed my mind were [...]

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Another Day in the Life with a Newborn

October 13, 2014

So this whole motherhood thing is definitely exhausting, but G and I are really starting to get into a nice groove and (somewhat) routine.  It’s getting easier every day. My day began with a 6am wakeup call from my little alarm clock.   I heard him stirring around 5:30 am so I knew we’d be [...]

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Weekend Highs and Lows

October 12, 2014

Apparently this was a big weekend in New England.  I know it’s a Holiday weekend for some, but we kept hearing on the news how bad the traffic was and would be all weekend for one of the busiest of the year. I still don’t really know why, other than the fact that it is [...]

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Loving Lately {10.9.14}

October 10, 2014

I swear these weeks are flying by now!  Monday felt like it was just yesterday, but now it’s Friday and I don’t really remember what else happened in-between there. There are just a few things I want to share with you as far ad what I’ve been loving this week. Disclaimer: I’m currently typing this [...]

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2 Weeks In

October 9, 2014

My baby is 2 weeks old today!   2 whole weeks!  I honestly am having a hard time with how fast these days are going.  I love the newborn stage even though it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  But every moment with this little guy is entirely worth it! I’m [...]

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Ameda Breast Pump Giveaway Winner

October 8, 2014

As I was lying in bed last night, it suddenly dawned on me that I had completely forgotten to post the winner of my Ameda Breast Pump Giveaway from last week. Uhh, let’s just blame this on new mom brain, okay? Anyways, without further ado, the winner is….   Caitlin I am so excited for [...]

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Monday Adventures

October 6, 2014

Well this Monday flew by.  Grayson and I had a few fun adventures that made the day move along quite nicely. We were up at 5:30 am ready to eat! (Well one of us at least)   For some reason, Grayson hasn’t been sleeping after his morning feeding like he normally does.  Thankfully he hasn’t [...]

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