As an expecting mother one of the most common questions I’d get asked was “Are you going to breastfeed?” My answer was always “yes, of course” because I knew that was the right answer for me. But truth be told, I worried about breastfeeding exclusively. I’m very shy so I wondered how weird it would be to nurse in public, even if I was covered.
Needless to say as soon as I gave birth, all those thoughts disappeared right away. When I was in the recovery room, the first thing the nurse did was bring my baby to me to feed. Isah had no trouble latching and I fed him my colostrum. The nurse was pleasantly surprised and said ‘wow you have a lot of colostrum, good job!’ I felt like a proud mama. And just like that, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. All I wanted to do was feed my baby and keep him healthy. I wanted to be his source of nourishment and provide him with all the benefits of breastmilk. It also felt really nice whenever I fed him because I knew my husband was proud of me too. He constantly praised and encouraged me and that was a nice feeling. Also I guess it’s worth saying that once you are in the thick of it and trying to breastfeed, all shyness goes away- I had to take my boob out for all the nurses and there were many times the nurses and even my mom and sister would grab and maneuver it to help Isah feed.
Here’s the shocker though- I never once thought breastfeeding would hurt or be this hard! Like oh my gosh, from latching to sore nipples and engorged boobs, it is freaking hard. I can’t believe no one had ever told me this. Many of my friends had breastfed before, but none of them warned me. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced any issues with milk production, but that’s just one more thing new moms have to worry about.
Here’s what happened to me. I was hospitalized for 3 days after my C-Section and the nurses would come check in to ensure baby was latching well and they said he was. This made me feel really good because I knew a lot of mothers have trouble with this so I was like okay this is easy. Little did I know he wasn’t actually latching properly- it was just a shallow latch, meaning that he was only sucking on the tip of my nipple and not my areola which meant after a while, my nipples were so sore and cracked and it hurt so much every time he fed. There were times I just dreaded when he would be hungry next because it was so painful. Anyways after the 3rd day I went home with some nipple ointment and everything was going well (I was still in pain, but I could see the cracks healing). Then around the 6th day my milk came in and that’s when I freaked out. Again, I wondered why no one ever warned me about this. My mom friends, the nurses, no one. So let me tell you, when the milk comes in your breasts fill up and become hard and it’s quite painful. This lasts a few days before your body figures out how much milk to produce and regulate the supply. But during that time, my breasts were so engorged they were literally the size of watermelons and they felt like they were on fire. It became really hard for Isah to latch so we went to a lactation clinic and had the lactation nurse come in to help. They suggested I use a nipple shield to help him latch and I did. I started using it all the time and loved how easy and painless it was- because of that my nipples were also healed and going back to normal. Bad thing is I became dependent on the nipple shields and Isah did too. He was forgetting how to latch directly onto the nipple. Long story short, after a month I was told that the nipple shields were a temporary measure and I shouldn’t use it all the time. Because of the nipple shield, baby Isah wasn’t too used to latching onto the nipple now so I started pumping and I quickly realized how much I loved it!
At first I was not excited to pump. I hated the thought of being hooked up to a machine. But within a few days I fell in love with it and before I knew it I was exclusively pumping. I think as a new mom it’s really helped my journey because of the flexibility it’s provided. It’s actually very convenient. Some people find pumping a chore because of the bottles and washing involved, but I personally think as a new mom, it’s in your best interest to do both because of the flexibility it provides. I have so much more time to myself and my husband is much more involved because he can feed baby Isah too. I can actually go out and leave the baby with someone and not have to worry about coming back in time to nurse. It’s especially great that when we are on the go. I don’t have to worry about finding a place to nurse. There’s also something so lovely about seeing how much milk I am pumping out and how much baby is drinking. I love seeing all his milk bottles lined up in the fridge. I feel accomplished and in control. Early on I found that when the baby was nursing, he would fall asleep or not feed for a long time, so he would never be full and would keep snacking. With the bottle it’s very different.
If you are thinking about pumping, my number 1 tip would be to invest in a good pump. I had friends who gave birth around the same time as me who had terrible experiences with pumping and it was all because of the pump they were using. I started off with the Spectra 2. I really liked the fact that it was silent and also had a little night light in it. It’s a good pump but the downside was that it’s a bit bulky and only available in the States, so finding replacement parts is hard. But then one sweet day I received the Medela Freestyle Flex Pump and it was a game changer.
This pump is lightweight, portable, and silent. It’s just so convenient and came with everything I needed. Bottles, extra flanges, pouches and a breast pump bag. One of my favorite things about it is that it is very discreet. I can pop it into my purse and just go. I have pumped in the movie theatres, restaurant washrooms, the car, you name it. Even when I am not on the go, I use it around the house because I don’t have to be next to an outlet. Sometimes I even pump and cook at the same time! Hey, as a new mom time is very limited. You do what you gotta do!
Here are a few things that have helped me during my exclusive pumping journey
- Invest in a good pump! I highly recommend the Medela Freestyle Pump (You can also sync it to an app and track your pumps!)
- Get the breast pump bra so you can completely be handsfree
- Pump both breasts at the same time to save time, it’s so effective
- Establish a pumping routine. Get comfortable. Maybe even watch a show while pumping- I used to watch Working Moms while pumping and it made me actually start looking forward to pumping because it meant relaxing tv time for me lol
- Drink water before and during pumping
- Establish a pumping schedule
- Once done pumping, divide the milk up into small servings