Last year I wrote a post about my breastfeeding journey with Essley, from struggles in the beginning stages to the joys of the experience to dealing with judgment as we continued to breastfeed into the older months (we stopped when she was around 18 months old). While I do share some bits and pieces of my family's and my life here on the blog, I choose to keep the majority of it private - so I thought long and hard about sharing something (details of how I fed my baby) that is ultimately so personal. In the end, I received so many emails, comments, Tweets, etc. about that post, from other nursing moms as well as parents who fed their babies formula and everyone in between, and that reassured me it was a great topic to address and an incredible way for some of us partaking in the infant feeding journey to discuss and bond. While Emmett is only five months old (this Thursday!) and we likely still have a while to go, our journey with nursing has been a little different this time around. Today I'm teaming up once again with one of my favorite brands, Ergobaby, to share my experience thus far with breastfeeding baby #2, and to talk about what has and hasn't worked this time around.
While pregnant with Emmett, I was much more confident about the prospect of breastfeeding than while I was pregnant with Essley, because of the obvious (I'd done it before) - but when he was born, we faced a different set of challenges. I did have some issues with Essley in the beginning that my breastfeeding class and research just could't prepare me for (like awkward attempts at positioning her that resulted in latching struggles and my own overall anxiety about the uncertainties of nursing), but eventually, everything fell into place and we had a long, fruitful breastfeeding relationship. I assumed that because the challenges I faced with Essley were mainly due to lack of experience that things would flow (get it? get it?) smoothly with Emmett. He did latch immediately after birth, but it was painful. And because I'd done it before, I knew something felt off. At first I thought it was just a result of my nipples no longer being used to a tiny human feverishly sucking at them, but it didn't go away after the colostrum changed to milk. He also had excessive gas that resulted in him crying incessantly pretty much all day long. Essley actually had this issue too - with both kids I had oversupply and forceful let down from them gulping air as the milk basically shot out at them - but Emmett's was much worse. He was gaining weight, so I knew he was getting enough sustenance, but something wasn't right.
One day while Emmett was crying I noticed that the tissue under his tongue seemed short, and suddenly everything made sense. After a visit to the pediatrician we were told my suspicions were correct and Emmett was tongue-tied. No one wants to hear something is "wrong" with their child, but we were assured that it was a very common and easily correctable issue. A couple of visits to a specialist and a quick procedure later (I'm talking a clip that took three seconds and healed almost immediately with breastmilk), and (at least in comparison) nursing felt like a breeze. (Side note: I know some parents of children with tongue or lip ties choose not to "fix" them and everything turns out just fine - this is a personal decision and while it was the right one for us, that doesn't mean it is for everyone else.)
From this point on, just like with Essley and me, Emmett and I got into our groove and have both genuinely enjoyed breastfeeding. There is something I can't put into words about the ritual of nourishing a baby (whether by breast, pumped milk, or formula) while you're holding him or her in your arms, eyes locked, skin against skin. It's so precious, and so intense, and just extraordinary. Even when there are challenges (like the horrific cough Emmett contracted in March that made it more difficult to nurse during the time he needed it most; I think I may actually still be tired from that week), there is something so blissful about the act itself that, especially this time around (because I know how fast it goes), I deeply cherish. Emmett is also a better sleeper than Essley was (in fact, he's pretty much a better sleeper than she remains to be at 2.5, but that's a whole different post), so I'm not dealing with a baby attached to my boob all night long human pacifier style like I was with Essley. He usually wakes up once or twice to nurse at night and is good to go, which makes nursing as a whole much easier because I'm not constantly exhausted.
Of course, because of my experience with baby #1, I know things aren't going to be all unicorns and cupcakes throughout the rest of our breastfeeding journey. As ridiculous as it is, since women develop breasts specifically to feed babies if they choose and/or are able to do so, many people still be offended by seeing a mom feeding her baby in public. While I feel infinitely more comfortable doing this the second time around, it still makes me feel bad when someone shoots me a dirty look if I'm nursing in a public place. It also makes me feel sad in general that in this day and age society would frown upon something so healthy and natural. And speaking of judgment, there is also the fact that just like every other aspect of parenting, there are people who have their opinions about when you should stop breastfeeding your baby - and if you quit early or go beyond that point (as some felt I did with Essley), you may have to deal with those opinions, which isn't much fun. And of course there are the more obvious challenges, like not being able to be separate from your child for long periods of time. Even if you're pumping and bottle feeding, which I do in addition to breastfeeding, supply can diminish if you're away for a while and don't pump frequently. Emmett also makes it very clear that he strongly prefers breast to bottle (Essley didn't care either way as long as she was getting her milk, man), which makes it hard to get away.
Thankfully, through both the hard parts and wonderful ones, I'm lucky to have an incredible support system on my breastfeeding journey. I can't stress how important this is. Whether you're having struggles getting breastfeeding to work for you and baby, facing other challenges like some of those I've discussed in this post, or just appreciate having partners in your experience, having supportive family and friends is key in reaching your breastfeeding goal. My mom nursed both my sister and me, and has been invaluable in terms of advice and suggestions along the way. My husband has also been absolutely wonderful in terms of providing encouragement and also getting involved - from getting out of bed in the middle of the night to bring Emmett to me from his crib on the other side of our room for a nursing session, to feeding him bottles of breastmilk so they can bond as well. And my friends who have breastfed or are breastfeeding alongside me are heaven sent, as we can share stories, advice, and suggestions for our favorite breastfeeding products.
One of the products that was suggested to me this time around that I now recommend to all of my nursing friends is the Ergobaby Natural Curve™ Nursing Pillow. I'm not sure I can even put into words what a piece of pure magic this pillow is you guys. The pillow is made from a nice lightweight solid foam (so basically you don't feel any extra weight) with a unique contour that helps properly position baby tummy-to-tummy at the perfect height, in a way where baby's head is above his/her belly to help with digestion. So not only is Emmett comfortable, I'm comfortable too because I'm able to relax and I don't have to slouch. (The nursing back pain struggle is real.) The pillow also wraps around my waist which provides a built in arm rest, and has made it easy to try out different nursing positions as he's grown. I should also mention that the interior lining offers extra protection against spills, and the plush pillow cover (which is super soft) is removable and machine washable - which is a bonus not only because Emmett loves to spit up, but also because I have a two year old with life goal to spill every type of food and drink known to man on absolutely everything we own. I use the Ergobaby Natural Curve™ Nursing Pillow in bed, in the living room, in my office, and when I travel. It's probably the best thing I own in terms of breastfeeding aids (and works wonderfully for bottle feeding too; my husband is a huge fan), and the feeding product I suggest most often to pregnant friends and friends with infants.
Thank you so much for letting me get personal once again about my breastfeeding journey and allowing me to share everything from the triumphs and challenges to gushes about my support system and favorite nursing product. If you are pregnant or new to nursing and have questions, I'd be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities! And if you have stories, tips, or tricks from your own breastfeeding journey, I would absolutely love to hear them.
One more thing before I go (this was a long post I know, so high fives for those of you who are still here!). I'll be participating in the official Ergobaby Twitter Party this Wednesday, June 8th (that's the day after tomorrow) from 11 AM to 12 PM central time (9-10 AM PST /12-1 PM EST) and hope you will join me! My twitter user name is @motm_ecofashion (I know, I know, it's about time I change it to @bubbyandbean, huh?), and Ergobaby's is @ergobaby. You can follow along with the party using (and searching under) the hashtag #MamasGotThis. Bring questions or stories or tips or just come to hang out and be a part of this fun and engaging conversation on babies and parenting. See you there!
This post is in partnership with Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.
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