I’ve been meaning to write a post about my experience with breastfeeding for a while now but just never got around to it. So when Lindsay Itzkowitz recently asked me a couple of questions through email (she’s currently nursing her little William…adorable!) and she suggested I write a post to possibly help other mamas out, I knew I needed to sit down and write!
Every woman’s experience with breastfeeding is different and every CHILD is different, some are good nursers, others have trouble. I’ve been blessed with three GREAT eaters but I haven’t always been the best at nursing. In fact, up until Henry was 3 months old, I asked Travis every.single.day if we could put the child on formula. I wanted to be able to leave that crying, colicky baby and just GET AWAY (truth). Travis simply said, “One more day. Give him one more day of your milk.” Out of love and respect for my husband, I kept at it. We nursed until Henry was 2 years old and I absolutely fell in LOVE with the art of breastfeeding my children.
I know that if I had not had the help of my husband and other mamas, our nursing story would have been MUCH shorter. So today, I’m hoping that there is someone out there who benefits at least a tiny bit from this Q & A. Some questions are from Lindsay, some from comments and others from emails I’ve received. All questions in this post are directed towards the newborn/infant stage – I plan to write a post months from now addressing “older babies.”
Breastfeeding Q & A
Q: At night, where do you nurse Porter? (in your bed? his nursery?)
A: At night, I nurse in the bed. It hasn’t always been this way – in those early months with Henry, I would get up and go into another room to try and not wake Travis.
Once I learned how to “side nurse” while laying in bed, I found it to be MUCH easier. When Porter cries out, I elbow Travis and he goes and swipes the babe out of his bassinet and brings him to me in the bed (I haven’t opened my eyes yet). I’ll think back and remember which breast I finished with last (that’s the one I’ll START with this time) and flip over to put that breast closest to the bed. After he latches, I doze in and out of sleep. If I think he’s particularly hungry or if I’m uncomfortably “full”, I’ll offer the second breast. Unlatching him with a wet finger, I simply turn that upper shoulder downward and give him the second breast. (I don’t flip us over in bed or really move that much). After he’s done, I burp him and put him back into his bassinet.
This whole nursing session takes about 20-25 minutes.
Q: What do you do about middle of the night diaper changes?
A: Since we typically nurse at 10pm (a dream feed), I change his diaper then. If he’s pooped at the 1AM feeding, I’ll change him and if not, we change the diaper again at the 4AM feeding. I guess it just depends on how much your child pees during the night. When I do change him, he wakes up and cries so I always do it BEFORE we nurse.
Q: At night, do you keep him swaddled when you nurse or do you unswaddle him?
A: Swaddled! Since we “side nurse” in bed, I do as little as possible to wake him up at night. He LOVES being swaddled and can easily wake himself up with those wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-tubeman arms. We use this swaddle and it will be great for these hotter months coming up!
Q: If you could hop in a time machine and go back, what tips would you give to younger Lindsay?
A: Oh goodness. So much (but I’ll keep this focused on breastfeeding)…
- Nursing is hard. It might take days, weeks or even months to figure it out.
- Your nipples will be SORE and possibly bleed.
- You might have a letdown when you orgasm. (sorry but someone out there needed the heads up)
- You probably won’t be able to leave your child for the first year for any extended period of time (pumping excluded). And that’s ok.
- You release oxytocin when you nurse…it bonds you to baby. I just love that.
Q: I know you nurse him in public. Any tips or advice on using a nursing cover?
A: Get one with a) some boning in the top – this way you can see the latch and if the baby is having trouble and b) one that provides good coverage of your belly and back – this isn’t a time when you’ll want to worry if your panties are showing! Here’s a good one that has a great boning structure and full coverage. My mother has also made me several of these covers – if you’re handy with a sewing machine (I’m not) then it shouldn’t be too hard to make something on the cheap.
Katy nursing at a restaurant
Q: I know all babies are different and it depends on your supply, but how long does he nurse for?
A: You need to know that your body will continue to have letdowns of milk for as long as your child nurses – it’s very similar to a faucet. As long as you’re not malnourished and/or have other medical issues, the supply should meet the demand. I say this because some women talk about “draining the breast” and this concept simply isn’t true. Your breasts can’t be “drained.”
Porter nurses for 20 minutes total. He’s satiated after that long.
Q: Does he nurse on both sides? If so, how did/do you know when to do that?
A: He does nurse on both sides (and I always make sure to start the next session with the opposite breast). Sometimes he’ll pull off the nipple when he’s done or I’ll notice that he’s not really taking gulps anymore and switch him to the other side. To break the latch in a painless way, I wet my finger and slide it into the corner of his mouth.
Q: Can you feel a letdown? What does it feel like?
A: YES! I feel my letdowns. But some women never feel them and that doesn’t mean they aren’t providing incredible amounts of milk.
In my own case, a letdown of milk feels like a lot of pressure racing from my upper chest down through my nipples. It’s not painful or even uncomfortable…but I wouldn’t say it feels good. I’ll have a letdown about 15 seconds after the babe latches, another about halfway through the nursing session and then one about 30 minutes BEFORE the time when the baby should nurse next.
Q: Are you pumping?
A: Porter is 5 weeks old and I’ve yet to pump. The reason – I haven’t had to leave him yet and I tend to have an oversupply of milk (pumping extra milk that the baby isn’t drinking would just further the oversupply problem). I bought a new Medela Pump in Style with Clara and I LOVE it. We’ll take it out to Park City for Blend where I’ll probably pump some so that Travis can have options if he’s got a hungry baby but I’m in the middle of something.
Q: Do certain foods make Porter gassy?
A: I haven’t noticed anything so far!! I thought for the longest time that Henry was allergic to dairy or beans or something and I’d take them out of my diet. Turns out he was just a super grumpy guy. I kinda think moms jump straight to an elimination diet and fear food allergies when in reality, real allergies are pretty rare.
Q: Does Porter fall asleep when he nurses? If so, do you try to keep him awake and HOW?
A: He definitely has his sleepy moments! If he falls asleep, I’ll (gently) move my arm that’s cradling his head and that wakes him up. Some sessions I feel like I’m constantly doing this.
I also recommend using the COMPRESSION technique to keep a baby awake. Simply take your hand and squeeze the nursing breast from top to bottom – yes, kind of like you’re milking a cow. The surge of milk should keep the baby from falling asleep. I also use compressions when I want to make sure he takes a full feeding.
Q: What do you do when he is nursing? Sometimes we listen to music, sometimes I talk to him, sometimes we sing, sometimes I read and other times… I play on my phone – just curious what other moms do or what I “should” be doing during that time.
A: Lindsay asked me this. As a third time mom, I couldn’t help but chuckle (over my selfishness – not at her). Nursing time is a little break for me to sit down in my day. Porter eats and I do whatever it is that I need to do online or around the house (I just walk around with him latched on – yesterday I cracked an egg into a bowl ONE HANDED!). I wouldn’t consider it “interaction time” between the two of us by any means. But maybe I should start singing.
Instead I just take a lot of selfies…
Q: What type of nursing bra do you recommend?
A: After 6 years, I think I’ve finally found a favorite! The Motherhood Maternity Seamless Clip Down Bra! It has great support and coverage, but my favorite feature are the removable pads (similar to a Handful bra) that make it a great T-shirt bra! I’ve bought two already and need another.
Gosh! That was a lot to take in all at once!
If you have any follow-up questions, leave them below or email me – I’d be happy to do another one of these!