It blows my mind how many different ways there are for a mom to feed her newborn in 2019. Exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, exclusive formula feeding, exclusive breastfeeding with introduction of the bottle down the road, but that’s in that bottle could be pumped milk or formula.
There are dozens of electric pumps to choose from, and many of those pumps have a dozen settings to choose from. There are “let down” catchers and fancy, handy bottle preparers that resemble coffee makers! There are many different bottle nipple styles and sizes, and the aisle of formula brands and variations is enough to make one’s head explode.
There are breastfeeding and general feed-tracking apps and many suggested schedules to follow. Figuring out cluster feeding versus feeding on a schedule and how to not become a pacifier for your baby but also offer a feeding as a way to soothe and comfort.
It’s good to have options, but these options are often what make this topic as divisive as it is. It’s difficult these days to find two moms who are feeding their babies the exact same way because the options are plentiful.
One thing I did wrong (in my opinion) with Hadley and Sadie was birthing them with very firm ideas of how they would be fed for the entire first year and not giving much thought to the idea that things might not go as planned. Both girls would be exclusively breastfeed. Had I done any research that led to this decision? Nope, not a bit. I would breastfeed Hadley because that’s simply what I thought everybody did, and I would breastfeed Sadie as a form of redemption after failing to breastfeed Hadley.
One thing I did right with Jillian was talking up a storm throughout my pregnancy with every mom I knew about what worked for them, and then birthing her with a very flexible idea of how I would feed her.
I had a plan to breastfeed from the get-go but introduce a bottle of pumped milk fairly quickly. I hoped to do a combination of breastfeeding and pumping as necessary and then introduce formula when I wanted to, either as supplementation to breastfeeding or as an exclusive formula feeder.
With Hadley, I was shocked at how difficult it was to tackle her latch issues, and was equally shocked by how much easier exclusive pumping was in the beginning. I did this for 3.5 months until it became too much and we transitioned to formula exclusively.
With Sadie, I was determined to sort through our initial breastfeeding issues and make it work. We did, but then she refused to take a bottle when I tried to occasionally offer her one. We also never pushed the paci, so Sadie and I were basically tied to each other’s side for 10.5 months straight, until she quit nursing cold turkey.
Here’s how things have looked with Jillian.
She nursed from the beginning and did well. I was in a groove with it from the beginning after nursing Sadie well.
The pain was intense though via severe chapping and engorgement. I knew those issues would subside with time, but the first three weeks was mega painful.
I pumped a bottle each night right before I went to bed so that Jamie could do her first nighttime feeding. We started this at five days old and continued to give her one bottle of pumped milk per day.
As I got back in my groove with “life”, I began to desire to go out and do things with Jillian in the care of Jamie or a grandparent. This required me to pump, but pumping enough ounces became a challenge.
Long story short, I finally bought a tub of formula and allowed my mother-in-law to give her her first formula bottle at eight weeks old. I just mentally and physically couldn’t keep up with pumping enough while also having enough left in my breasts to feed Jillian.
Now we keep formula on hand and give her at least one bottle every other day for various reasons: if we’re out to eat, if we have company over, if I go out and leave Jillian at home, etc. To say it’s been freeing is one my life’s biggest understatements.
So why am I breastfeeding at all? It’s free, it’s easy, it’s routine, and it’s something sweet we both still enjoy.
My wordiness has hopefully gotten the concept across that I am very pro ALL ways to feed your baby. 🙂 Looking back, I spent a lot of emotional energy on how to feed my babies, but in hindsight it’s very easy to see that that emotional energy stole some joy from me from the newborn phase with Hadley and Sadie. With Jillian, I feel confident that as long as she’s fed and her needs are met, than she is golden. And that my health matters just as much as hers.
So my unsolicited advice is to read, talk, and figure out your options and then feed your baby in a way that is sustainable, healthy, and enjoyable for both of you and your lifestyle. Circling back to the beginning of this post, your options are vast, so find a route that works for you, be confident in your decisions, and enjoy the heck out of that sweet, sweet baby!
I asked on Instagram for your questions surrounding this topic. I pulled out six to answer publicly.
If you formula fed your first baby, did you try breastfeeding with your second?
Yes, because I had this attitude that “if everybody else can push past breastfeeding issues and make it work, than I can too.” I DID push past those issues, but it was hard work! I am glad I made it work because I wanted to experience exclusive breastfeeding, but it created the issues aforementioned earlier in the post (i.e. not taking a bottle).
What’s been different/better/worse this time?
The chapping and soreness situation in the beginning was so beyond painful. I kid you not that I got to the point where I had to bite my finger as she latched on because the pain sent me through the roof. It got better every day though. Otherwise this has been the best experience I’ve had with feeding my babies because I was intentional about making breastfeeding work while also introducing a bottle early and consistently.
How do you start pumping to build a stash when you’re already several months in?
My best friend used to nurse her baby on one side throughout the night and then immediately pump the other side once she put her baby back to sleep. She did this for months, which helped her build an excellent stash!
How did you manage to exclusively pump?
It was difficult! I only had one baby though, so I would pump any time she would let me put her down. Trying to regularly pump AND breastfeed though proved almost impossible for me because I would pump out milk and then not have enough created to then feed Jillian an hour or two later via breastfeeding.
What pump do you use?
The Spectra S1 Plus Electric, and I much prefer it to my Medela.
Any tips for increasing supply quickly?
Drink at least a gallon of water a day and try adding in a pumping session at the same time every day. By day four or five, you will likely have a bigger supply during that pump session.
What has been your best feeding experience with your children?
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to two little girls (ages 5 and 2) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo