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For feeding our baby breastfeeding exclusively was the plan all along but that is something which can´t be planned upfront cause you never know if you will get enough milk supply for your ever hungry baby and also if it will stay the way it is and increase at its best or if it will drop you and don´t have a chance to get it up again.
My story starts as many others in the hospital. After Emilia was born the nurses put her onto my breast so she could latch and she did. Two very short times but at least it felt like she knew instinctively what she was doing.
Later that day let´s say early evening (she was born at around eight in the morning) the lactasion nurse was coming into my room and we tried for her to eat again. After some difficulties at the beginning she latched again at both breast and may I say it was a strong latch. She really tried to get some milk out of there and that is where my misery began. I did not know if I was producing any at that time and if it was enough. She only needed a few drops to be full but if there is none chances to be feed and happy are really low. Everytime she became fussy and that increased a lot as it got later I put her onto my breast, she latched but didn´t seem to be happy after so I talked to the nurse and she said that the only safe way for us to know if she really got some milk was to feed her a bottle but the possibility existed that after she had drunk from a bottle she would not want to drink from my breast again. After a few hours later and many cries on both of our sides I gave in and ordered a bottle for her cause I was terrified she would dehydrate and be hungry. The nurse brought us 30 ml which I gave to Emilia. She drank the whole bottle and fell aspleep right after.
To say that I was relived would be an understatement. My milk started to come in around noon the next but it was so little I supplemented with formula each night I was in there. Only where two but that was enough stress for me in terms of breastfeeding.
I thought that everything would be fine when we got released and could heal and used to each other at home but my misery didn´t end. I was absolutely terrified that she didn´t get enough food to eat and that I couldn´t track her intake didn´t help either. She was hungry about every two hours and often fell aspleep during her feed so I was breastfeeding around the clock. She gained weight and I could see that milk was coming so my conscience was definitely relived but then my nipples got really sore. So sore they started bleeding and I could not stand the feel of her drinking. I was in so much pain so I decided to start pumping to give her a few meals by bottle as it hasn´t been a problem earlier.
The early beginnings of me pumping were another huge stress factor as I saw what really came out and that this wouldn´t be enough. I barely had enough milk from feed to feed so I started pumping every two hours, drank about a 4 litres of water a day and supplemented with lactation cookies and brewers yeast. I was so stressed out on many days I can´t even tell were to beginn. I was discouraged and thought that my breastfeeding journey would come to an end rather sooner than later but I didn´t give up and maybe that was it what brought me to where I am today.
I supplemented with one bottle of formula for the first 4 to 6 weeks and accepted the case that if it wouldn´t work the way I had planned it, it would be fine. At least she was fed and happy and growing. Maybe it was the moment as I stopped worrying but after my mind was at ease I produced a whole lot more milk than before.
I am now pumping every 3 hours throughout the day and only breastfeed her the one time she is hungry at night. This works best for us and she isn´t confused at going back and forth from breast to bottle. I got so much milk leftover that one compartment in the freezer is already full. On a good day I pump one litre and she drinks about 600 to 800 ml now at three months a day.
To he totally honest I didn´t think this would be the hardest thing after giving birth but it is not to be neglected. You are practially the only source of food for your baby and of course if that doesn´t work out you start to worry and from there it is a downwards spiral. It is so different for everybody. Some moms will have it easier and some maybe even harder so please don´t judge if people are exclusively bottle feeding, you never know the background.
I have listed all of the items I have used below and also am sharing if I benefited of them or not.
Soothing / Cooling
As my nipples where so sore I decided to get the Medela Contact Nipple Shield (be sure to measure your nipple before ordering) but she could not latch at all while I was wearing these so this didn´t work for me.
To take care of my sore nipples I ordered the Lansinoh Lanolin Breast Creme and this product has helped so much. I have the normal sized version and travel size everywhere in my house. Probably couldn´t have survived without this product. It is safe for baby to swallow as there may always be residues on your boob.
Another product from the Lansinoh brand I got are the Therapearl heat or cooling pads for sore boobs. I only used them once as they did nothing for me and in fact the middle part hurt my nipple a little but maybe because it was so sore.
Breast Pump / Bottles / Attachments
When it was time to decide for a breast pump I went back and forth between the Medela and the Philips and ended up getting the Philips Avent Comfort Double Electric Breastpump as I read good and bad reviews about both products. I have not regretted it to this day and I use it about five times a day, so far so good. It has three settings to pump and I have only ever used the second setting.
In terms of bottles it has been a huge learning curve for us. I had bottles from Mom, NUK and Philips Avent and we ended up using the Philips Avent, not because we got the pump from their brand but because they have the only bottle caps she can actually drink from. NUK has been a huge disaster for us as she could not get a single drop out of their bottles which made her really angry. Same with the Mom bottles but in my opinion they are also horrible to work with. They are made of a ton of different pieces to put together and to be honest the bottom has leaked so often I ended up throwing them away and not give them any further chance. At the moment we are using bottle cap size two and transitioning to three.
For warming up the milk I got the WMF Lono bottle warmer. It is unisex sized and supposed to fit every kind of bottle plus it thaws frozen breast milk as well. The bottle warmer has five different settings and I love it. We mostly use the express function but you can also let it warm up slowly, warm up small or large bottles, thaw breastmilk or keep the milk warm. It automatically shuts down after one hour. Another plus is the sleek design as it look aesthecially pleasing in every kitchen.
Cleaning / Sterilize / Dry
To clean the bottles I am using the Philips Avent bottle brush as it came in the set but it is as good as any bottle cleaning brush you get from the baby store. After washing them up with the NUK bottle soap I put them into our sterilizer. We got the Philips Avent Steam Sterilizer. It steams one batch in about ten minutes which is very convenient if you quickly need a fresh bottle.
A simple drying rack from Boon LAWN stand right beside the sterilizer were I put the bottles right after until they dried up. The rack holds up pretty good and can be put in the dish washer too. I just saw that it is available in gray too but we got the green version.
My breast milk is stored in our freezer and since there isn´t too much space available I ended up using the Medela Breast Milk Storage bags. Why Medela ?, because Philips Avent only offers little plastic cans to freeze your milk. The Medela bags hold up to 200 ml and close up easily and spill proof.
One last item I am using in terms of breastfeeding are NUK Ultra Dry Comfort bra pads. My boobs leak sometimes, especially after pumping or when she has been crying for a certain amount of time so these disposable cotton pads prevent my shirt from getting wet.
Wow, that was definitely a ton of information. If you are still with me congratulations, you read a ton today but there is just so much to write about this topic. If you still have any questions feel free to reach out to me via e-mail.