Our newest baby girl turned 22 days old today. She’s perfect and I couldn’t thank God enough for my family or feel more blessed than I do right now. One thing I love about labor and delivery: The adrenaline-fueled, euphoric feeling that comes along with all of it. I arrived at the hospital around 6 a.m., and Sadie Steele Carter was born at 5:29 p.m. I had an easy labor (again, thank you Jesus), and as soon as the nurse told me it was time to push I immediately started uncontrollably shaking. It wasn’t the scary kind of shaky, though. It was a good shaky. Where everything just kindof goes numb and you have laser focus. Like an out-of-body experience shaky. In those moments, nothing else mattered.
And for me, this surreal feeling lasts the first few weeks afterward, too.
With my son, Hunter, I never really could get him to latch on to my breast. I only breastfed for the first four months because I had to pump the entire time. And then, most of the time, it still wasn’t enough and I had to supplement with formula anyway.
My two-year-old daughter, Elli Blu, was a friggin’ champ when it came to breastfeeding. She latched on from the gate and maintained a schedule right away. And never once did she have a drop of formula. I always say that breastfeeding was so easy because SHE was so good at it. I was so nervous after the experience with Hunter and she made everything run smoothly. I ended up breastfeeding her for 11 months.
My sweet Sadie has also caught on quickly. Maybe not quite as quick as Elli, but it’s still been pretty easy…for the most part. Either way, there is one thing that was universal when it came to nursing all three of my children: The first two weeks were the hardest. Here is a list of a few things every new breastfeeding mother should know.
- This may hurt a little.
Have you ever heard of engorgement? If you haven’t, you should look it up. What you won’t typically find in these articles (or at least I didn’t), is the part that says this is apparently “somewhat” normal. Especially when your milk is first coming in. These articles will explain what the how’s and why’s are for engorgement. What I will tell you is my experience. It feels like a couple of Peterbilt’s had parked themselves on my chest. My boobs felt like lumpy-but-stiff hacky sacks, and they looked like orangutan titties. I know that sounds a bit vulgar but I’m trying to be honest. Not to mention, if you even looked at them a certain way, they either hurt…or they leaked. Don’t let this scare you off because there is good news. When your baby nurses you get that oh-so-sweet relief. It’s almost like it “hurts so good”. And this is only during the first few weeks. It gets easier everyday. Like I said, we are 22 days out and I now only get the engorged feeling when my milk “drops” and it’s time to feed her.
2. Your Own Personal Sprinkler System
The best thing about actual sprinkler systems? You can set a timer so they go off whenever it’s convenient for you. Your boobs are going to be like a sprinkler system…only you don’t really get to run the timer for the first few weeks. They go off whenever they want. Like when your baby makes a squeak. Or when you’re sitting in the doctors office waiting room and someone else’s baby squeaks. Or when you walk outside and it’s hot. Or when you walk outside and it’s cold. Ya know…the most inconvenient times. (Word of advice: stock up on nursing pads. You can find the ones I use here.) Again, there is good news. Once you get on a set schedule, you do get to have influence over when these bad boys decide to go off. Which brings me to our next point…
3. A Set Schedule Makes A Difference
I can’t emphasize enough how much getting on a schedule has helped us. It has helped with milk production, engorgement, sleep (we still have some rough nights but it’s getting better), the unpredictable “sprinkler system”, and adjusting back into some form of routine. I’ve tried to keep her eating every three hours and, like clockwork, we are now to the point that (most of the time), my milk drops and the baby gets hungry right at the three hour mark. I can plan my days accordingly around her feedings and there are less surprises from the milk factory.
4. Pump It Up
With my son, it was like I couldn’t seem to pump enough. With my girls, it was the exact opposite. Neither of them ate very much in the first two weeks, so I was pumping every two hours just to empty my tanks. Like I said, engorgement is no fun and pumping gave me a release when my girls didn’t eat very much. It seems like my poor boobs were getting pulled at or sucked on every hour and a half or so. That can make for some really sore nipples. Having to pump this often can get old. But by the end of the first two weeks, the need for pumping is cut significantly (it was for me anyway), and I have a huge supply of frozen breast milk. I actually haven’t used my pump in about a week. Another tip: get yourself a good pump. I used a double pump and it made everything quicker and easier. Check out the one I used here.
5. Sleepy Head
Okay, I thought this part was just because I was exhausted from labor and delivery. But, no. The nurse told me that this, too, is quite normal. Prepare to be oh-so-sleepy. Apparently, (according to the nurse), our brains release Oxytocin when we breastfeed and this is what makes us relaxed enough to almost nod off . Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t consider this a downfall to breastfeeding at all. Actually, quite the opposite. When I’m nursing Sadie, especially in the middle of the night, yes I’m exhausted. But it’s some of the most peaceful moments I’ve ever had in my life. The nurse also explained that “the more relaxed you are, the better the flow”. I have found this to be 100% true. So get comfortable and grab yourself something to drink and maybe a snack. Settle in, relax, and enjoy this special time with your baby. Again, the sleepiness isn’t so bad after the first few weeks. Sidenote: I got a boppy pillow and it was a great investment. You can check out the one I use on Amazon by clicking here.
6. A Few More Things…
Get yourself some comfortable nursing pajamas and bras and, if you want, a nursing cover. These things will make life a whole lot easier. Nobody wants to take off (pretty much) all of their clothes every few hours. Especially when you’re out and about. Being able to just unclick a single hook will be so much quicker and more convenient. I got the nursing gown I’m wearing below at Walmart for a great price. You can still find it on their website.
Overall, breastfeeding is one of the coolest feelings in the world. I actually missed it for the first year after I quit nursing Elli and it was one of the things I was most excited about when I found out we were expecting Sadie. The bond I have with my two-year-old is unexplainable. I can’t say, for sure, that it’s all because I nursed her. But I will say I do give some of the credit to that. Those intimate moments with my children are memories that I will forever hold near and dear and I’m so glad I decided to put forth all the effort it takes to have a successful breastfeeding relationship with my daughters. If you’re considering nursing, or you’re in the first few weeks of learning, keep going Mama. It’s one of the most special experiences I have with my children. To find nursing gear on Amazon, see the links below.
(Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission for any purchases made through one of my provided links. This comes at no extra cost to you. Happy Mothering!)
For Nursing Gowns, click here
For Breast Milk Freezer Storage, click here
For Boppy Covers, click here
For Nursing Covers, click here