All photos from Heather Paradis
1. When pregnant, what was your plan for feeding your child? How did you think you would do in the hospital? How easy did you think it would be?
When pregnant, it was always the plan to exclusively breastfeed. I was unsure of what to expect in the hospital, but was a little concerned with the size of my breasts. 2. How did you prepare for feeding your child while pregnant? Did you read any good books, check out Web sites, take classes, take free items from your doctor's office, talk to other moms, etc.? How prepared did you feel going into the hospital for feeding your child?
To prepare while pregnant, I read What to expect, which has small details about BF. As a result, my husband and I took a class at the hospital specifically targeted to BF. We read all sorts of pamphlets from the DRs Office, and I received a lot of tips and advice from family and friends who had previous experiences with BF. Going to the hospital I felt fully prepared to BF.
3. How did the first week of feeding go for your child? What did you try? What helped, what did not help? What challenges did you experience that first week feeding your child? How did you FEEL with feeding your child that first week?
Once at the hospital, I realized that I had forgotten my nursing pillow. Since I ended up with an unplanned C-section, there were some challenges with how to position my son, so as not to have him resting on the incision.
My son was delivered at 2:42am, and I was first able to see him closer to 4:30, due to surgery and recovery. We attempted BF right away, but he was not interested. At 5:00am, my son BF for the first time, and it was so much more than I could ever imagine. Our first week of nursing happened at the hospital.
The first two days were perfect, on day three, my milk started to come in, and I was unprepared for what came next. I was dealing with engorgement, which caused some difficulty with him nursing on one side, and we needed to use a nipple shield. This was short lived, and we stopped within a few days. The other issues we encountered on day three was cluster feeding. This was new to us, as it was never discussed in any of the paperwork of BF class. The nurses at the hospital were great with helping us with it.
4. What surprised you about how hard/easy it was to feed your child at first?
I thought BF would be natural, but it was so difficult the first few months. I felt like I was drowning, and I felt like a cow, who had lost any resemblance of myself. 5. What do you wish people had told you about how hard/easy it would be to feed your child in the beginning?
I wish people told me how challenging it would be, that it would some days be the hardest thing I had ever done, that he would be attached at the breast for what felt like constantly, with no breaks.
That overactive letdown can be fixed, and there are ways to deal with it. How hard it would be to breast feed with very large breasts.
6. After that first week, what was your experience feeding your child? What was your routine?
I feel the difficulty of it peeked at around 2 months. I reached a point where I was ready to give up. He was struggling with my letdown, and my hormonal changes were making things seem way worse than they really were. I was frustrated with him always needing to nurse, and causing me to not get sleep consistently. It was so much on me emotionally.
7. What tips do you have for either breastfeeding or formula feeding, or exclusively pumping or some combo in between? What specific things helped you to feed your child the first few months? (Drink more water, bring baby to you when nursing, try 2 oz of formula at first, try different bottles, etc.)
Have patience, breathe and try to relax. If you are feeling frustrated, take a few minutes to reset yourself. And keep positive thoughts. Remember that this phase passes quickly, even though it feels like it’s going to be that way forever.
Remember to take in the enjoyable moments of breastfeeding. Stare into your little ones eyes, and relish in the beauty of this wonderfully small being that you helped to create, and that you are providing all the nourishment your little one needs.
For me, having my husband help with middle of the night feedings was the best. He would go and get my son from the other room and bring him to me to nurse. He would sit with me in those difficult feedings to ensure my mind was at ease, and that I was emotionally in loving space. When we needed to bring him to daycare, introducing the bottle was the most difficult thing for us. It took months to get him adjusted, and many bottle types. In the end, Tommee Tippee bottles worked best for our son.
8. What is your advice to moms who are experiencing pressure, expectations, judgment, or otherwise unwanted comments about how they are feeding their child?
Remember why you chose to BF. To provide your child with the nutrients, and the best start at life they could possibly have.
Also remember that it does not mean you have failed if you need to supplement or need help. As long as you are feeding them, that is all that matters. Ignore the naysayers, block out the negatives, and NEVER be afraid to feed your child. Do NOT hide in a room away from the world to BF, be proud of what you are doing. Get out, daily, even it just for a quick trip to the mall.
9. If you felt Mama Guilt over how you fed or did not feed your child, what was that like for you? What's your advice to other moms who experience that guilt?
The only guilt that I felt was when I wanted to quit. Once I got out of the ‘funk’ I was able to get passed the guilt.
10. What are you most PROUD of about how you've fed your child?
I am most proud that I have stuck with it so long. Initial plan was to BF for 12 months. Once we reached that milestone, it was clear that my son was not ready to stop. So far we are at 18.5 months. The next plan is to go to 2yrs.
11. If you have more than one child, was your experience feeding your children the same or different? In which ways? What's your advice to a mom who did not get the experience she wanted with one kid, could it be different with feeding another one?
Only one child.
12. What have you learned about yourself as a mother through the process of feeding your child?
That I can overcome just about anything, I just need to keep the end goal in mind, and remember that my son depends on me to make life the best it can be for him.
13. Anything else you'd like to add?
It’s the most amazing experience ever. Always store your BM with the bag lying flat.
14 - What supplies, equipment, brands, accessories, etc. were your favorite as far as feeding your baby? (bottles, formula brand, nursing or pumping equipment, etc.)
I loved my Boppy pillow. It was a life saver. I also found a glider chair great for MOTN nursing when he was small, as it helped me to keep awake and secure my son. I had nursing covers, however, my son did NOT like to be covered while nursing, and felt they were a waste of my money after the first few months.
I love my medela double electric pump, with my simple wished hands free pumping bra. The target Up & up brand storage bags are better than the Lansinoh bags. And I hated the medela storage bags, they are smaller and leak.
Bamboobies reusable nursing pads are AMAZING!!They work great, you can’t feel them or see them. And you save money as they are washable – and even better, they don’t leak and don’t stick to your nipples.
Coconut oil works great for cracked/dry/sore nipples, and completely safe for baby! Undercover Mama nursing shirts are great, they keep your abdomen covered while nursing, making it easier to nurse in public.