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  • Writer's pictureMai Le

Breastfeeding Survival guide

I just finished reading this amazing book and it's a great read for any moms who are going back to work soon and stressing about pumping and keeping up milk supply.

Some highlights in the book:

1 Always be consistent with pumping, try pumping at the same time everyday.

2. Make sure you find a comfy spot if you'll be pumping at work (somewhere you won't be disturbed and preferably somewhere you can lock the door)

3. Before going back to work, talk to your boss that you'll need somewhere to pump and know your policies/rights at work round pumping at work. Another suggestion is to draw out your day and see how many you'd need to pump while at work and let your boss know about it and how you can work around your schedule to do and also fulfill your work responsibilities.

4. Make sure to have a checklist of things you'll need for pumping (have it hanging by the fridge so you'll know what to bring)

5. Be aware if there is a mini fridge/freezer available at work or do you need to bring your own cooler. Also keep in mind if there is a sink to be able to clean the pumping parts, if not it would be a great idea to bring several parts if you'll be pumping several times during your work day.

6. Have a good idea of areas that you'd be able to pump like a conference room, a private office, a storage closet, your car (if you don't have tinted windows- remember to bring a nursing cover to cover up while your pumping), or the bathroom.

7. Make sure the breast pump is high quality and has a strong motor especially for exclusively pumping mamas.

Now on my journey with breastfeeding it was tough. The first time around my daughter was 6 weeks early and was so tiny, her lips were tiny and I'm going to be graphic here, my boobs were swollen and especially my nipples were enlarge and my little girl just couldn't get a good latch and it's probably due to my swollen large nipples. But I was adamant that I wanted my little girl to get breast milk so my journey to a 16 months of pumping began. Who knew it would take so much to feed a little human (LOL). I didn't do much research as well and bought the "First Years electric double breast pump" and good thing I'd purchased a warranty on it at babies r us because the pump died on me 4 months into pumping and I had to get a new one. Through the 16 months I ended up replacing this pump 3 times, so thank goodness to the warranty. I honestly had no idea about all the breast pumps that were available and thought they were all the same, boy was I wrong, not only did this pump die on so many times, the suction on this pump wasn't that great which is probably why I had to supplement with formula. Throughout this whole process I took fenugreek, ate all sorts of things to get my milk supply up but after 16 months my milk just dried out. I tried so hard to go longer and did what most breastfeeding/pumping sites suggest to restart your milk supply by doing marathon sessions, but honestly those sessions did nothing except gave me sore nipples that were so raw, cracked and painful that I just accepted defeat and gave up.

Now when I had my second baby, I did so much research this time. Reading up on reviews and talked to lactation nurses and came up with a good idea of what I wanted to buy. But this baby boy had other plans and he too came 6 weeks early. With recovery from a c-section and he did cluster feeds the whole time at the hospital, sorry going to be graphic again my nipples got so sore and painful it actually started to bleed because little man wanted to feed so much. I tried for two weeks to breastfeed, which only left me and little man frustrated, I turned to pumping instead. Another tip, the second time around I knew to buy fenugreek (baby milk flow is also great) right before baby came and started taking them about a week after little man came to help get my milk going. This second time around I bought the Ameda double breast pump and it seriously did wonders. I was making so much milk form the fenugreek and the powerful ameda that I actually had a huge freezer stash and I ended up donating some milk as well. Also through research I found that eating more throughout the day to keep my energy up and especially drinking lots of water really helped with successfully pumping for almost 20 months and had a huge freezer stash that lasted way past baby boy's second birthday.

I also wanted to mention that the most important thing about breastfeeding/pumping is to relax. Don't be ashamed that breastfeeding isn't going right, try going to lactation nurse and then try pumping if all else fails or just feed baby formula, as long as baby is healthy and thriving don't beat yourself up if you can't breastfeed. I really beat myself up the first time around, I was so stressed that I had to supplement and was freaking out if I was only able to get two ounces from pumping. Whereas the second time around I really went with the flow and didn't stress about it. I was okay if my milk supply wasn't coming in that formula would be fine and turned out I had more than enough milk to feed baby.

Lastly, what to take away is to not stress about it, so what if your milk supple has dried out, formula has been around forever and babies are thriving on that just the same. Just make sure to take care of yourself, to remember to eat, take multi vitamins/fenugreek, eat whole fat foods, drink lots of water and try to eat lots of foods that promote milk supply (such as oatmeal, walnuts, almonds/almond milk, soy milk really helps) and talk to your partner if your feel overwhelmed with breastfeeding/pumping because chances are they might have ideas on how to help because they're there with you through this process as well.

Here's a picture of my sweet boy all milk drunk. He was two months old here and was up every two hours on the dot to eat. Side note, I forgot to mention take advantage of being in the hospital as you recover from labor, talk to the nurses and see if they have great suggestions of how to get baby to latch on or if they have great tricks to keep up with breastfeeding. I also took advantage and in my hospital, one of my amazing nurses suggested if I wanted to use the hospital grade breast pump to help get my milk in faster and that definitely helped. So don't hesitate to talk to the post-partum care nurses for help if your feeling unsure about breastfeeding.

Some fun facts about breastfeeding or exclusively pumping mamas:

> Nursing burns 300-500 calories a day

> Breastmilk is a living substance (contains antibodies, white cells and digestive enzymes help develop and strengthen baby's immune system and digestive systems)

> Breastfeeding lowers health risks for moms (such as ovarion, uterine and brest cancer, as well as heart disease)

> Nursing can provide up to 98% contraception

> Breastfed babies are less likely to be picky eaters

> You can up to $3000 a year by breastfeeding instead of bottle feeding (but I am in no way knocking bottle fed babies because as you know I had to supplement my little girl with formula as well)

> Breastfeeding has over 300 ingredients than formula

> Nursing gives mamas a natural high (it releases oxytocin--> the love hormone which helps you bond with baby)

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