All images from Kaleigh Pimble
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?
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. My mother is a postpartum care doula and lactation counselor, so I knew breastfeeding wasn’t always super easy, but I was pretty determined that the right mindset would help us to be successful.
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?
I talked to my mom, sister, and friends who are moms ahead of time. Other than what I read in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I didn’t read too much about breastfeeding. I felt like anything I read wouldn’t really sink in until my baby was in my arms and I was actually feeding her.
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?
We struggled immensely during the first week. My daughter was diagnosed IUGR, which meant that she was an uber peanut (4 lbs. 15 oz.), and it was difficult for her to latch. The nurses brought me a pump immediately. I pumped and fed K with a syringe. The nurse showed me to put my finger in her mouth so she could practice suckling. We did not have a successful latch our entire stay in the hospital. Once home, I continued to pump and feed my daughter with a syringe. I was incredibly lucky that my mother had so much experience with helping nursing moms. We continued to try to get my daughter to latch, unsuccessfully. After a few days we decided to try a shield. We had immediate success! I was overjoyed at being able to feed her in the way I had always imagined.
4. What surprised you about how hard/easy it was to feed your child at first?
I wasn’t surprised that it was difficult; however, it was nerve-wracking that she might not be getting enough to eat, especially since she was so little to begin with.
5. What do you wish people had told you about how hard/easy it would be to feed your child in the beginning?
I felt that I was prepared to face challenges, knowing it had the possibility of being difficult. I felt determined that no matter what obstacles we faced, we would make it work.
6. After that first week, what was your experience feeding your child? What was your routine?
I nursed K on demand for over a year, and we still nurse once at bedtime now that she’s 17 months. We nursed with the shield for 9 months, and out of the blue, she decided she didn’t want it anymore. She kept taking it off, and was able to latch without it. It was incredibly liberating.
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.)
The best advice that I ever received about breastfeeding was that it’s mind over matter. So much of what our bodies are able to do when it comes to breastfeeding is because our minds tell us we can.
I drank lots of water, and ate what I wanted. Once I went back to work, I made sure I pumped in the morning, once or twice at work, and fed my daughter as soon as we got home.
8. What is your advice to moms who are experiencing pressure, expectations, judgment, or otherwise unwanted comments about how they are feeding their child?
A mother’s instinct is the strongest, most accurate instinct in the world. We all feed our babies with love, as much bonding can happen with a bottle as with a breast, and YOU know what is best for you and your child.
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?
I truly feel we always do what is best for our children, and as long as you love your child, and do your best, there is no need to feel guilty! I was always told that there will be plenty to feel guilty about as our kids grow up, so don’t feel guilty about nourishing and feeding your child in the way which works best for you.
10. What are you most PROUD of about how you've fed your child?
I am proud that I have been able to nurse my daughter for as long as I have. It is really a special time for us, and we both immensely enjoy our time together.
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?
12. What have you learned about yourself as a mother through the process of feeding your child?
I have learned that I am more determined than I realized, that my instincts are trustworthy, and that I can be a mother.
13. Anything else you'd like to add?
Nursing is the best choice that I made; it has been an incredible experience for my daughter and me. I never considered that I would breastfeed as long as I have, but it is such a relaxing, wonderful experience for both of us.
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 Dr. Browns bottles, and I wouldn’t have been able to pump at work without my Medela Pump In Style. When pumping at work, I’d bring the Medela breast milk cleansing wipes, which were great for a quick clean in between pumping sessions.