To Wean or Not To Wean?

My daughter is almost 10 months old, and about a month ago she decided to stop breastfeeding. I figured it was due to teething, which might have been the case at first, but now I think she just prefers the bottle over me. This has caused me to exclusively breast pump, which SUCKS! It’s so much easier to just breastfeed my baby and not have to worry about pumping, warming up milk, or cleaning pump parts and bottles.

My husband and I strive to do things as naturally as we can with our daughter.

With that being said, I’m trying desperately to get her back to breastfeeding.

So, I started doing research, and one major thing I learned is that babies don’t usually wean off the breast before they hit a year old. If they do, it’s usually because they are teething and their gums are sore, or they’re starting to prefer a bottle instead. With my daughter, it’s probably a mixture of both, but there are ways to get her back to breastfeeding.

Another thing I learned is that babies don’t really need more and 1oz – 1.25oz per hour, no matter how old they are or how big they’ve grown because their stomach (the actual organ, not the “belly”) is only but so big. So, if she’s eating about every 3 hours, then she shouldn’t really be drinking more than 4oz at a time.

This whole time I’ve been worried that I haven’t been expressing enough milk when I pump. In actuality, I’m really getting the amount she needs, which is also the amount she would be getting if she breastfed.

What a major relief!

As she has gotten older, we’ve been filling her bottles with 5-7oz of breastmilk because we thought she needed more. I also got a bigger size nipples that allow faster milk flow because it seemed like she was getting frustrated with the slower flow nipples. But as a friend told me, “your milk flow doesn’t change, so neither should the bottle nipple.”

Essentially, we’ve been overfeeding her. She typically doesn’t take that much all in one sitting, which is good, but sometimes she does. And we let her feed herself since she can hold a bottle on her own, so she definitely hasn’t been pace fed via bottle since she was much smaller.

Things I’m now doing differently to try to get her back to the breast:

-I’ve switched the bottle nipples from the size 2 that she’s been currently using, which makes the milk come out faster and she gulps it down too fast; back to either a preemie nipple or size 1 nipple, which both have a slower flow and more closely mimic my natural milk flow.

-When I’m with her, I’ll keep offering myself to try to get her back on track.

-I’ve asked her other caretakers to still hold her while she feeds and hold the bottle horizontally in order to pace her.

I think that since she got used to the faster flow and increased amount, she didn’t want to wait for my let down and slower flow, which is why she refuses me. Hopefully with these changes, she’ll be more willing to breastfeed again.

All of this has revealed to me the huge knowledge gap that moms have when it comes to breastfeeding their babies. Even as a NICU nurse, I didn’t know all the breastfeeding do’s and don’ts. We need more education BEFORE the baby comes, not just a quick course the day baby is born after hours or days of labor.

We are then sent to fend for ourselves thereafter.

It’s not right!

And it does a disservice to both mother and baby.

I know many moms who’ve gotten frustrated with breastfeeding or burnt out so they stop way before their baby is a year old.

To each her own, but I think if moms were fully educated and fully supported, babies would be getting breastfed much longer and wouldn’t go on strike at 9 months old.

Who’s with me?!

Somewhere between newborn and toddler

It’s been about 2 months since my last blogpost.
Such is #momlife

My little one is so busy these days! She’s 8 months old, crawling and following me everywhere: to the toilet, to the kitchen, to the laundry room, to the shower…we share each other’s space all day every day. She’s like my little shadow.

I find it fascinating what objects keep her occupied. Her most recent favorite object is an empty water bottle. She loves the sound it makes when she squeezes it. She also loves anything with a button, zipper, cord, string…yeah, pretty much whatever she can get her hands on.
Its so fun observing her exploration. She’s learning so many new things every day!

I make sure to keep an eye on her while also giving her her space to learn and grow. As a mom, it’s important to have that balance. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, hovering over her every move, but I also don’t want to be a negligent parent letting her do off-the-wall things.

These days she has to keep me (or other caretaker at the moment) in her view, or she gets upset. So, that keeps me busy, alert, and on my toes.

The good thing about me being her constant entertainment and always moving around? Continual weight loss. I have more energy and am getting closer to my pre-pregnancy weight each month. I honestly don’t understand how women snap back within a month or so!
But, I’m enjoying my body’s changes and embracing its new look: the stretch marks, the flabby areas, etc. I’ll spare you specific details.

I tell myself that once I’m done breastfeeding, I’ll start a workout regimen again. For now, sporadic neighborhood walks and constant movement at work will do. My body has been through a lot the past year and a half, it deserves a break. Plus, I’m still burning tons of calories every day from breastfeeding so it’s a win-win situation.

I will try to keep momentum going with this blog.
If you have any suggestions or things you want me to write about, feel free to tell me!

Love,
Meg

It Takes a Village

Can we talk about the importance of a village for a sec?

It really does take a village to raise a child! Especially during the first year of life when they’re helpless and extremely dependent.

Infants need 24 hour supervision, and that’s a lot for parents to handle by themselves, especially once they return to work and have additional responsibilities.

I am very thankful for my village! They’ve helped my husband and I countless times these past 5 months and they continue to support us selflessly with no hidden agenda, no quid pro quo.

Whether it’s watching her for a few hours in the morning (or a whole day) after I’ve come off a nightshift, or babysitting while we go out, or coming over just to spend time with her and show her love, we truly appreciate our village.

I can only imagine what single parents go through who truly don’t have any outside help. Or parents who move to a foreign place and have to sometimes rely on strangers for help.

We have been very fortunate to have family members and close family friends to help us babysit when we need it.

If you know a friend or family member who recently had a baby, I encourage you to reach out to those new parents and offer help (only if you mean it.)

If you don’t feel comfortable watching a newborn/infant, then simply making them a meal in the first few months would help tremendously because they’ll be too tired to cook for themselves.

Or come fold some laundry.

Only half-kidding about that one.

How do we go through so many clothes in one week?!

But I digress…

Moms and Dads, don’t ever feel bad about asking for help or leaning on your village for help. You don’t have to do this parenting thing alone! It’s better to rely on the kindness of others than to struggle alone and have your baby suffer the consequences. It does not make you weak in any way, shape, or form.

Love,

Meg

Breastmilk vs. Formula. What should I feed my baby?

Warning: there will be lots of talk about breasts in this post, so if you’re reading this and you’re uncomfortable with the words boob, breast, nipple, areola…you get the point, then I suggest you skip this one. 🙂

Okay,

So…

You’ve completed pregnancy.

You’ve conquered labor and delivery.

And now it’s time to feed your baby…

Do you feed breastmilk? Formula?

Only you can answer that question.

I’ve personally chosen to exclusively feed my baby breastmilk for her first year of life, and possibly a bit beyond that.

The choice to me was simple because of all the benefits of breastmilk.

To name a few:

-it is literal medicine for your baby- containing antibodies and other components to help your baby fight infection, causing fewer doctor/hospital visits

-it’s free

-only you can make the perfect breastmilk tailored for your baby

-it’s FREE

-you have it ready in a split second anywhere you go, at any time

-you don’t need any bottles

-did I mention it’s free?

Yes, my choice might have been easy, but breastfeeding itself wasn’t such an easy ride for me in the beginning.

My daughter had a short latch starting out. She literally chomped on my nipples during her entire feed. And honestly, even as a nurse I didn’t know that something was seriously wrong until a doula told me so. I knew that it could feel uncomfortable each time until the let down happened, so I just figured that this was that pain.

For those unfamiliar, “let down” is the process of your milk ducts releasing your breastmilk for your baby. (It goes deeper but I’ll leave it there for the sake of this post.)

Anyway, I was in excruciating pain every time I nursed; to the point where I dreaded having to breastfeed her each time because I knew I’d want to cry. Every time I saw her open her mouth, I would wince in anticipation of the pain.

I didn’t wanna seem like a wimp, so I held my tongue and said nothing to the hospital staff. And they figured since I was a NICU nurse, I was fine, I knew what I was doing.

I tried to hold my baby in different positions, but that didn’t help.

A few days after I’d been home from the hospital, a doula witnessed my painful experience and told me to try a nipple shield -a flexible silicone shield that covers the nipple and makes latching easier- and that helped some; but at that point my baby was nursing every 1-2 hours and there was so much nerve damage done to my nipples that I didn’t even want them to be touched.

So after about a week, I stopped putting her to my breasts. Instead, I pumped and fed her my milk from a bottle.

I felt defeated because I had always wanted to breastfeed. But, at the same time, I had to remind myself that I was lucky to still be able to feed my daughter my own milk, because not every mom is able to produce any milk for her baby at all.

When you pump, you should do it as frequently as your baby is eating, or even more frequently if you have a low supply, in order to produce more milk. I was fortunate to have a great supply, but I still had to pump every 3 hours to keep up with her needs. This meant pumping every 3 hours around the clock.

Yes, even at night.

So for the first 3+ months of her life, I was getting no more than 3 hours of sleep at a time.

I LOVE sleep.

Sleep is my best friend.

We go way back.

I used to sleep 12 hours easily after working a nightshift, so this sleep deprivation was a HUGE shock to my body. I was exhausted ALL THE TIME.

(I’m still exhausted, but it has gotten a little better.)

After about 3.5 months of bottle feeding, I decided to give breastfeeding another try.

To my surprise, my daughter did much better! I didn’t even need a nipple shield anymore.

I now breastfeed around the clock when I’m at home, and she gets bottles of my breastmilk when I’m at work or when she’s at a babysitter. The kicker is, sometimes I still have to pump in addition to her nursing because she doesn’t empty my breasts all the way yet. (She will as she gets older and drinks more milk at a time.)

Luckily for me, she’s starting to sleep through the night now. So, I follow her lead and sleep when she sleeps, allowing me to get a good 6 or so hours at a time. Yay!

I say all that to say, breastfeeding/breastmilk feeding is a lot of work.

A LOT!

Which is why some women choose to just formula feed their baby instead.

While breastmilk has a ton of amazing benefits for a baby, formula feeding is an option and it is perfectly okay!

A mom has been through a great deal of physical and emotional stress from pregnancy to delivery, so if she wants to take it easy and use formula, she has every right to.

Should you choose formula over breastmilk, don’t let anyone force you to do otherwise! However, I do suggest that you listen to all of the pros and cons from a healthcare professional before making an informed decision. Don’t just go off of what your momma, neighbor, sister, auntie, etc told you.

Whatever you decide to do, you made the right choice for you. It is your body, your baby, your choice.

Always remember: “a fed baby is a happy baby!”

Love,

Meg

Baby’s First Quirks

Having your first baby is a magical experience!

You just birthed a beautiful bundle of joy that you get to love and care for for the rest of your life.

In the first few weeks to months, some unfamiliar things might happen to your baby and you might feel the need to panic, especially if it’s your first baby.

Here are a few quick things that you might not be prepared for or aware of:

Baby acne: exactly what it sounds like.

It comes and goes pretty quickly, but it could feel like a century. Some babies get acne in a few small spots. Some babies get it all over their entire face. Baby acne is very bothersome to Mom because there’s nothing to do about it.

Don’t fret! It’ll pass.

And some babies never get it at all.

But just be aware that it can happen and it’s completely normal. You haven’t done anything wrong.

I put some breastmilk on my baby’s face where the acne developed and it resolved pretty quickly.

Other face rashes

My baby also got a random red rash on her cheeks pretty frequently. It would come and go.

Maybe it was the laundry detergent perfumes in my bedsheets?

Maybe it was from excessive cheek-kissing?

Who knows?

My solution: I put breastmilk on it each time and it went away.

Cradle cap: patches of raised dry, white or yellow/brown flakes on baby’s scalp. Sometimes gathered in the front of baby’s scalp by the hair line, or all over the scalp.

You might think your baby has developed a mysterious disease overnight, but that’s not the case. It’s just that too much oil is being produced by the hair follicles and this is the result.

It will go away on its own within a few weeks or months. You can wash your baby’s hair daily to loosen the scales if the cradle cap is bothering you too much.

Again, it’s completely normal and you haven’t done anything wrong.

Sensing a trend here?

I put breastmilk all over my baby’s scalp and massaged it in and I personally think it helped resolve her cradle cap. Breastmilk is a miracle worker.

Watery eye(s)

Your newborn might get watery eyes when he or she isn’t crying. This happens because either one or both of your baby’s tear ducts is blocked.

My baby’s pediatrician said to massage the inner section of her eye with a clean, dry or gloved finger, or a warm washcloth to unclog the tear duct. However, my baby hated when we did this, so we pretty much just let it resolve on it’s own.

Dry eyes

Fun fact: baby’s don’t have tears right away! They take time to develop, usually a month or few.

So, if you see your baby crying but not a single tear falls, don’t worry. It’s normal and there’s nothing to be done about it.

(You might even be too exhausted to realize that your baby is crying without tears.)

Miscellaneous issues:

Your baby may experience other similar or not-so-similar quirks during the newborn stage.

Whatever it is, it’s probably normal, you haven’t done anything wrong, and it’ll go away on it’s own.

BUT always check with your baby’s Pediatrician just to be sure!

My First Mother’s Day

How fitting that I launch my Mom blog on Mother’s Day?

This holiday has made me reflect on the journey of becoming a Mother, and the past 3 months with my daughter.

Motherhood started the moment that I found out I was pregnant, and it will never end. It’s a beautiful lifelong journey, bound to have many ups and downs, twists and turns, because life isn’t perfect 100% of the time.

Pregnancy brought on a 10-month-long series of physical and emotional changes. Because, c’mon, 40 weeks is equivalent to 10 months, not 9. I don’t care what anyone says, you feel those changes in the first 4 weeks. THEY MATTER!
(More to come on that.)

Labor and delivery was the most empowering experience I’ve ever had in my life! If I could bypass pregnancy and go straight to birthing, I’d probably have a tribe lol.
(More to come on that, also.)

The newborn phase is without a doubt the most exhausting phase thus far. It takes a toll on your body, mind, and general state of being. I feel like a highly-functioning zombie most of the time. I do strange things like put the almond milk away in the pantry. (Luckily, I usually recognize mistakes like that before they get too out of hand.)

I know each stage of life from here on will have its own challenges, and I may complain throughout them. But, I wouldn’t trade my beautiful baby for the world. She is perfect and I’m blessed to have her for the rest of my life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mommas out there, rookies and veterans alike!

You are strong. You are honored. You are loved.

Intro to Motherhood

The first month of motherhood taught me:

•Patience

-with my body: the first two weeks I was still very sore, tired (wait, that hasn’t changed), and my body was slowly recovering…losing excess fluid, organs shifting back into place, etc.
I was happy to have my body back to myself, but I had to learn to take things slowly since it was nowhere near back to pre-pregnancy status.
-with my baby: she’s new here this time. She’s learning me, and I’m learning her. Figuring out what she needs with each different cry is a constant guessing game, but I’m getting better at it.
-with my emotions: because the rollercoaster starts when I least expect it. Postpartum hormones are strong and unpredictable. I cried on the way home from the hospital because Lena was crying in the car seat and I couldn’t take her out to console her. That’s so unlike me. I’m a NICU nurse, I’m used to babies crying. In fact, truthfully I’m kinda numb to it…but something about hearing your own baby cry breaks your heart (especially 2 days postpartum). So I lost it for a minute…or 10, but laughed about it later that day. I still have my moments when I cry with her because she’s screaming from gas pains.
Then there’s the emotional cry “OMG I just love her so much!”
On the other hand, there’s the laugh attacks; sometimes at random things, but most of the time, at her. She makes the most entertaining faces I’ve ever seen, and I lose it lol.
She’s been giggling in her sleep since day 3, and it warms my heart every time. She’s extremely smiley, too. She lives up to her middle name meaning “Happy One”
•Love

– for my daughter: obviously, but such an understatement. The amount of love I feel for Lena is unmatched. She is perfect to me. She’s the cutest, sweetest little person I have ever encountered.
-for my husband: watching him take care of her, play with her, and love her, makes me love him even more.
-for my mother: because motherhood, although abundantly beautiful, is the toughest hood there is; and I finally have a glimpse of how much she loves me, how much energy this takes, and how much she cares to do it all so selflessly. She’s been extremely helpful and is always there for us.
-for my father: I admire his love for his granddaughter and how hyper excited he is that she’s here.
-for my sister: her love for her niece was immediate and so full.
She helps me out and deals with my sometimes bossy requests, without saying a word-and I know she often wants to; ditto my husband.
•Gratitude

– that I was able to carry her for 39weeks

-that she is 100% healthy

-that I am 100% healthy and able to care for her

-that I am able to provide breastmilk for her
-for all the family and friends who love her already
I’m overall grateful for my life, and the people in it!

 

 

(written 3/11/18)