When my daughter was born, I thought I was ready to breastfeed from the get-go. I knew it was natural, cost-effective, and full of healthy antibodies my baby needed to build a strong immune system! Little did I know how difficult the breastfeeding process would be. I learned that in the first few days my breasts would produce colostrum, a pre-milk antibody rich fluid that would nourish my child. The nurses showed me how to position Isabella in order to secure a proper latch. We spent two nights in the hospital, and she cried through the night on both nights. “Is she hungry?” I wondered. The third night at home was slightly better. She only woke up every two hours. Yes, you read that correctly. Get ready to put your sleep schedule on hold for a while!
My child wanted to eat every two hours. And when she was breastfeeding, each session would last approximately thirty to forty-five minutes. At almost every breastfeeding session, she would fall asleep on me. It felt like I was breastfeeding 24/7. I had become a milk factory. After the ten day mark, we returned to the hospital for a lactation consultation (props to Kaiser for all the support they provide breastfeeding mommies!). By this time, my nipples had cracked and scabbed. I shared my concern with the consultant, who did a quick examination of my breasts. She suggested I try pumping to allow my nipples to heal. They sent me home with a breast pump and instructions on how to pump.
When we returned home, both my mother and mother-in-law came over for a visit. Isabella was hungry, and I was eager to try out my pump. I had her on my left breast while my husband attached the pump to my right breast. My mother (who grew up in the Middle East and had never seen a breast pump) looked at us wide-eyed. Then she shouted at my mother-in-law in my kitchen, “Hurry, you have to come see this! Your son is milking my daughter!” It was quite a sight to see. My laughter turned into a stream of tears down my face. I had truly become a milk machine. I loved the fact that I had just fed my daughter and also had an secured an extra bottle of milk all at the same time! Now the question was, would she drink from a bottle? Luckily for me, she took the bottle right away. From that day forward, I combined breastfeeding and pumping. It completely changed my life. A big plus of pumping was that I was now able to stay asleep throughout the night since my husband was able to feed the baby without my assistance. It was truly a lifesaver!
I gradually began pumping more, and breastfeeding less. It may not work for every mom, but it fortunately worked for me. I now had the freedom to allow someone else to take care of my baby while I took care of myself. I was able to go get my haircut, get a well-deserved massage, and take a long shower! All these self-care moments seemed impossible initially, since my baby needed to be fed every two hours. I now had a great supply of milk, which I was very thankful for.
For those of you considering pumping, here are my must have products for breastfeeding and pumping.
My Must Have Products for Breastfeeding and Pumping
Medela Pump in Style – My insurance company provided me a free breast pump. It worked fine, but I had read so many reviews and heard so many great things about this Medela pump so I decided to try it out. I’m so glad I did because this pump was awesome! I used it several times a day while I was on maternity leave, and then took it with me when I returned to work.
Medela Spare Pump Parts – If you decide to get the Medela Pump, I also recommend investing in at least one set of spare parts. You will be washing these parts often, so it is nice to have a few extra ones on hand! You will be thanking yourself later for doing so.
Medela Pump & Save Milk Bags – These bags attach directly to the pump so you don’t have to transfer. Milk goes straight from the pump into the bag! Just make sure to purchase the ones that include the adapters.
Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra – This thing is a game changer. The first month or so of pumping I was holding the pumps. Who knew that there was a bra out there that would do all the work for me?! One of my friends recommended this bra and I am so very grateful because it completely changed the way I pumped! Now, I could be hands free while pumping! Freedom!
Motherlove Nipple Cream – The first few weeks of breastfeeding my nipples were in terrible shape. This nipple cream is a life saver! I also love the fact that all of the ingredients are certified organic, and you do not have to worry about washing it off before breastfeeding.