My Breastfeeding Journey Has Come To An End...
My least favorite topic to talk about, especially on social media because I know first hand how hard it can be to make the decision to formula feed vs. breastfeed, especially when you have people all over social media shouting "Breastfed is the best!"
Let's be honest, FED is the best for your baby. It doesn't matter if they're drinking breast milk or formula, what matters is that your child is being fed.
With my first baby, I was a brand new mom, and I was only 21 years old. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. And when I say I had NO IDEA, I mean it. Like, I believed my baby had to have the best of the best no matter what. No one talked to me about breastfeeding and how hard it would be. No one told me about the haaka (AKA, the best breastfeeding device ever), I'll get to this later. No one told me that I should be nursing ever 2 hours, and pumping after nursing, and getting up even if the baby isn't, etc... All these things that make breastfeeding SO. HARD.
So, I was able to breastfeed my first baby for 4 months before I made the decision to quit. I wasn't producing enough milk to feed him, and I didn't have a good enough supply to justify pumping and stressing myself out. I always said, if I am going to breastfeed I want to be able to nurse, not just be attached to a pump. After 4 months and only pumping about 1-2 ounces (if I was lucky) ever pump session, I decided that was enough. It wasn't worth it for me to stress about it, and it wasn't worth it for my baby to not being get full feedings. We made the switch to formula, we bought the first one we saw -- Similac, the blue can. I can't even remember what it was, but he loved it and that's what we fed him for the next 8 months! He is a perfect now toddler, he is happy, he's right on track.
Looking back on that decision, I wouldn't trade it for anything. If I could change anything, I would've made the switch earlier than I did, but as a new mom I was literally just trying my best.
Flash forward to baby #2, I knew what I was doing. I was prepared and ready to tackle this breastfeeding journey this time around. I told myself "I will make it to a year breastfeeding!" I felt like social media played a huge role in what I had learned about breastfeeding (in a good way!) I feel like social media can pull you both ways, it can influential, or it can be extremely stressful. When I was pregnant with my second babe, I wanted to do my research and learn as much about breastfeeding as possible so I could make sure I was doing all the things (especially in the beginning) to establish a good milk supply.
I had always heard that the second (or third, fourth, etc) time around you always produce more milk, so I had that in the back of my mind the whole time too. So, it came time to welcome our second little baby into the world (three weeks early) and I knew I wanted to bring my pump to the hospital because if I've learned one thing, it's that the hospital is the most stressful place to try and nurse your baby. You've got nurses looking over your shoulders constantly, you've got medication going into your left and right, and not to mention that stupid IV you're attached to that's making you pee every 10 minutes. Some people may have different opinions, and that's okay. This is my journey, and this might just be something that works for someone else!
Of course, I nursed my baby in the hospital, but when you want the baby to gain some weight so you can get out of the hospital, and you want your milk to come in you pump. I swear by it, I was able to pump all of my colostrum out in the hospital and bottle feed it to baby and by the time we left the hospital, my milk had come in! I also believe bottle feeding in the hospital helps your baby to learn to drink out of a bottle, because I know sooo many babies struggle to take a bottle when they're strictly nursed, I believe this is the reason both of our babes would take a bottle so well!
So, we come home from the hospital, and I am the type of person who has to live by a schedule. I had this idea in my head of exactly how our days were going to do, but I also knew that it was important to nurse on demand as well. I knew babe should be eating every 2-3 hours, and that I should be pumping after each feeding to make sure I was "empty." Because, breastfeeding is all supply and demand, you want to make sure you get empty so you body knows to create more milk for baby. But, I found out about the haaka and soon found out that pumping after feeding wasn't necessary because I was using the haaka to catch my let down and then get whatever else was left after feeding baby.
If you don't know about the haaka, you can shop it at the link below, but it's hands down the best nursing hack ever! It's like $20 (the best $20 you'll ever spend) and it'a a silicone cup that will suction to the opposite boob than you are nursing on to catch the let down. I typically got anywhere from 2-4 ounces of milk from each side doing this! After baby was done nursing on one side, I would put it on the other side and let it catch the rest of the milk on that side and that's how I built my freezer stash.
Nursing every 2-3 hours on demand, and during the nighttime hours I would bottle feed baby. This is another one of those things I SWEAR by. It ensures baby is getting a full feeding, helps them to understand bottle feeding, and it's so much quicker in the middle of the night when you (mom) is tired, and so is baby. We can spend 45-60 minutes nursing, and baby can drink a 2-4 ounces bottle in less than 20 minutes. You'll thank me later that you did this, and will find baby will start sleeping longer stretches for you. While bottle feeding baby in the middle of the night, I would pump. For the first 8-10 weeks, I was pumping 10-12 ounces per pump at night (this was amazing!). I would pump 10pm, 2am, 6am. That combined with my haaka got me to almost 700 ounces of frozen breast milk, and I was still just nursing on demand on all day, no supplementing.
I continued this same schedule for almost 6 months, minus the middle of the night feedings and pump sessions. Because, as mentioned before breastfeeding is all supply and demand so I didn't want to wake up and pump if baby wasn't eating, because my body would think baby needed to eat then. I had two pumps a day for 6 months, one in the morning and one before bed, and baby got a bottle for each of those feedings (full tummy before bed and right away in the morning!). His bedtime bottle is actually an oatmeal bottle, we did it with our first and we swear thats why we have such great sleepers.
Second baby is now 6 months old, and within the last couple weeks I toyed back and fourth with making the switch as my supply was dropping. I was noticing that baby wasn't getting full after nursing, and that when I would pump I was only pumping 1-2 ounces out of each side, so I just woke up one and morning and decided "Okay I'm done!"
For some, it might come easy, for other's it might not. I'll be honest, I've never been that mom that had that emotional connection to breastfeeding. When it's time to be done, it's just time. I don't have room for things in my life that make me feel stressed. Knowing that we are going into our busy time of the year where we like to get outside and do things, and be on the go a lot -- I made the decision that it wasn't worth it to fight the battle. If I am not producing enough to feed my baby, it's better for baby and I to make the switch.
So, I went to the store this time and actually looked at formula's and compared pricing -- crazy how much can change from one babe to another. With our first, I wanted to have the best of the best of the best. This time around I took that Similac and compared it to other brands, and found that the Parent's Choice Gentle was so much cheaper, and looked to be closer to breast milk. So, I decided $20 vs. $33 and more ounces in the biggest can? Sounds good to me! So, I bought it and came home and baby LOVED IT. What did I learn from baby #1 vs. #2? You don't need to have top shelf, best of the best products. Haha.
Long story short, don't cut yourself short here. And, most definitely don't stress yourself out because it is not worth it. I promise, when you make the decision to switch (if it's necessary) it'll be the best decision of your life. We do still have a good stash in the freezer so we give baby one breast milk bottle a day (before bed!)
And of course, always remember this is MY journey and yours might look different, and yours might not work out the exact same way as mine. But, when motherhood is pulling you in many different directions, it's definitely worth it to try everything. I hope this helps someone, and as always, you can reach out to me with questions, or to just leave a message.
Link To Haaka: https://amzn.to/3eyjadS