breastfeeding 2.0

[part one]

breastfeeding did NOT come naturally to me when i had everett. we struggled from the beginning. i had never breastfed before. i don’t know that i prepared myself for it very well. i didn’t even really know what information i needed to know. i put SO much pressure on myself! and of course babies are naturals – which he was – but i just wasn’t. i couldn’t bring myself to let nature do her thing. i thought i had to control every aspect. i did take a class and thought ‘it’ll be fine – i’ll figure it out’, but things happened and it didn’t go like i expected it to. truthfully, i felt like a failure. i looked around and saw so many of my friends nursing their new babies and pumping a ton of milk (and storing a ton too)…and then there was me. pumping three times a day to barely get two ounces of milk. it was a hard pill to swallow.

what did i learn from it? i learned that (a) i needed to educate myself if i was going to ever try breastfeeding again, (b) motherhood is unpredictable so let it be, and (c) IT’S FINE. everett is perfect. in the end, it didn’t really matter how he got his meals. and i know that i was harder on myself than i needed to be. i just wanted to succeed so badly.

now, i’m on the other side of baby #2. i’ve breastfed successfully for 14 months now. it’s been the best experience i’ve ever had, but guess what? it isn’t for everyone. and that’s okay! NO mom-shaming here. i just wanted to throw out everything i’ve learned this time around in hopes that it can help another momma. because, listen, you ARE DOING AN AMAZING JOB. don’t forget it!

because this is a rather lengthy post, i thought i’d break it up. this first segment will be about our initial process from hospital to home. the second segment will be more about our experience as eleanor grew to now. if you’re interested in reading about my past bf story, you can find that here.

that little hand – ugh!

p r e p
so before i had eleanor, i was determined to educate myself on all things breastfeeding – but i wanted to approach it from a natural perspective. i had taken the hospital breastfeeding class with everett and, while extremely informative, i felt like i didn’t apply what i learned. so i took that knowledge with me and wanted to build on it with a new angle. i found a local breastfeeding class and signed up! [if you’re in the st. louis area you should check out milk + carry. jen is an IBCLC, is the nicest person you’ll ever meet, and truly cares about your needs.] the class was amazing and i learned a ton. but i wasn’t done. i asked other moms questions to get a feel for their routines and what to expect from my baby. i also read so many articles and books (great resource found here). bottom line, educate yourself. you don’t have to be an expert, but you should know enough that you feel comfortable with what and what not to expect.

another area that i was adamant about before birth was my water intake. i might have been excessive, but i wanted to get myself into a routine so that when eleanor arrived, i already had a ‘norm’ going throughout my day. i tried to drink about a gallon of water per day. when you’re breastfeeding, you HAVE to stay hydrated. if you are dehydrated, then how will your body make good milk? it’s all a cycle. besides, water has so many health benefits in and of itself – it’s good practice pregnant/nursing or not! 😉

b i r t h
i had some specific requests at the hospital this time around.
1. no bath at the hospital. did you know that the vernix a baby is born with is full of vitamins and nutrients? not only is it amazing for your baby’s skin and overall adjustment to the outside environment, but it is also extremely beneficial for mommas. your body will sense the natural chemicals that are found in your placenta (amniotic fluid) and help your brain produce oxytocin. oxytocin will trigger your lactation reflex.
2. no hats. the constant skin to skin with mom and dad help the baby to naturally adjust his/her body temperature. plus that new baby smell triggers the happy hormones (prolactin + oxytocin) to help with lactation.
3. room in. many hospitals are doing away with taking babies to the nursery. my hospital is one of them – which is awesome! but when i had everett, it was an option. so i made sure that they knew i wanted to keep eleanor in the room at all times.
4. time to nurse. i asked that when the baby was born, to have her laid directly on my chest. i didn’t want them to take her away. the nurses can actually do the APGAR scoring right on your chest. they only take the baby for a brief moment to weigh and measure, but it isn’t right away.

it’s important to communicate these things with your nurses and doctor. don’t be afraid to make your ‘demands’. the nurses and your doctor are understanding and they want to do any + everything possible to help make sure the experience is as perfect as can be! something i learned along the way – don’t be upset if it isn’t as planned. one thing you will come to understand about motherhood is FLEXIBILITY. just go with the flow. trust me.

after waiting for what felt like forever, eleanor was here! and it went just as i envisioned. she was laid on my chest; andrew and i got to love on her. we rubbed the vernix all into her skin and hair (which she had a ton of!). she was perfection. the nurses and doctor finished up what they needed to and left us to snuggle and feed. if you haven’t heard of the breast crawl, you need to watch this video. it’s incredible that babies are just born with that natural instinct! what’s even more amazing is that your breasts are actually giving off a pheromone that attracts your baby (and that helps them find their way to nurse). the pheromone is something that is unique to you and your baby and it is the familiarity your baby has with that pheromone that lets him/her know you are their mom. oh the bonding!

s t r u g g l e
eleanor made her way to nurse and did it all on her own. it was so cool to see and be a part of! after her first few feedings, we came to the conclusion that she wasn’t getting quite enough of what she needed from me. when i had everett, the nursery immediately threw a bottle in his mouth. but I came prepared with information this time! i asked for a hand pump and expressed my colostrum out to feed to elea. it worked beautifully!

here’s how that went:
[(typically, newborns are around 1.5 to 2 hours in between feedings.) because we had already concluded that she needed to be getting more from me, i had expressed colostrum after the previous feeding so that i’d have some ready to go. breastfeeding is very much a cycle…and you’ll get that as we go!]
she’d cue us up that it was about time to eat. i would let her latch and nurse for as long as she wanted, always offering both sides. when she was finished with me, we would give her the expressed colostrum from a syringe to ensure that she was getting enough of that liquid gold to fill her up. she was full and my colostrum was being emptied. win-win! the trick here is to ALWAYS OFFER THE BREAST! if you immediately offer an easier way of getting food, the baby will prefer that way. babies are smart and very efficient. there is nothing wrong with expressing on your own if your baby is just taking a little longer to learn the latch/suck part. they’ll learn soon enough!
this is how we operated at the hospital for our stay. it worked for us, she didn’t lose any weight, and we left happy campers!

h o m e
[the first eight weeks]
i was very fortunate to have 12 weeks at home for maternity leave. i knew that going in, so i had a little bit of an idea as far as pumping/building a supply went. i knew that it was very important to try to exclusively nurse eleanor – it would help empty my colostrum + help my supply get established. i knew that i wanted to try to pump after going back to work so i could continue to give eleanor my milk. and i also knew that it would take about 12 or more weeks for my milk to plateau and even out to provide exactly what i needed for elea. with that, i decided that i’d exclusively nurse her, on demand, whenever and wherever she wanted – for the first 8 to 9 weeks. and then i’d start building a supply to go back to work after that.

she was pretty good at letting me know when she was ready to eat. it was about every two hours for the first couple of weeks and then it started spacing out a bit. i will say that i did wake her for the first couple of weeks at night. i always heard ‘never wake a sleeping baby’, but babies are still learning about hunger and what it feels like. they are also growing rapidly and weight gain is super important. so i wanted to make sure she was getting enough to eat and i also wanted to make sure i was establishing good nursing habits and milk supply right away. i know it’s exhausting, but it is the best bonding experience! we did a lot of side nursing at night – which was relaxing for both of us.

once she was about three to four weeks old, i started to let the feedings space out some. so we were about every 2.5 to 3 hours. and that’s where she stayed for quite some time! her night feedings did change and she started sleeping more – about 3 to 4 hour stretches at night. not unbearable! and this is how we rolled until about 8 to 9 weeks.

pumping. i had had enough of that pump life with rett. so i was determined NOT to hook myself up too soon, but i did want to make sure i had a nice stash before heading back to the work grind. i made it super easy on myself. by that 8 to 9 week marker, you will more than likely be on a routine with your feedings, not to mention you are probably a lot more at ease with breastfeeding in general – you’re more confident and comfortable. this was true for us. by 8 weeks, i knew that eleanor would eat around 4-5am and then again around 8am – then sleep. i squeezed my pumping in after her 8am feed. i know it might not make sense to pump right after a feed, but i promise there will be milk! you will always have a larger supply in the mornings! whatever you pump, FREEZE. this is the start of your ‘back-to-work’ stash. i did this just about every day for around four weeks. i didn’t have hundreds of ounces in the freezer, but i had enough to get started back at work and also eliminate that worry + stress about ‘oh my goodness, do i have enough? i’m not getting enough milk!’. (all the thoughts i had running through my mind with everett).

a couple of things to end on for this post…
*i did not have a hat on eleanor at all in the hospital.
*i kept her in her diaper and a little hospital shirt, but usually just a diaper when i was nursing her. skin to skin is important for momma + baby.
*i didn’t let her go for more than 2 hours without nursing in the hospital. most of the time we were there, she was ready every HOUR.
*hospitals typically supply a free manual pump that you can take home with you. it is GREAT to have as a back-up pump or to throw in your bag in case you have to pump and don’t have an outlet. i used this one extremely frequently.

f r i d a y.

i actually woke up everyday this week thinking it was friday…so there’s that.

i thought i’d end the work week with a round-up of some favorites. and a photo of my babes, because…why not?

my little man is off to school next week. it’s so bittersweet! he’s pumped to learn all sorts of new things and make new friends – while i’m in a puddle of tears. haha! can’t help it. he was so cute opening up his new backpack and lunchbox! we are going to be using the bentgo lunch tray for lunchtime. he is so picky as is, so i’m hoping by giving him a fun box with some little surprises he’ll actually eat lunch instead of roar at people like a t-rex… i found some cool ideas for keeping the lunch thing interesting here!

have you gotten into the bralettes? i have most recently and i love them! they are so comfy and cute! i have gotten a few from american eagle AND they are on sale right now: buy one get one free! my favorites are here, here, + here.

since we are moving, project decorate the rental house is underway. i just got this super cute bar cart and gold mirror (also on sale)! i have some plans for these two beauties. oh! and i also couldn’t resist this fun pillow! tassels + fringe get me every time.

moving out of our little house has been sad, but we are definitely looking forward to building our dream/forever home! i’m pinning all the ideas for interior! and this is the exterior i love…i just have to convince andrew. 😉 i’m hoping we can use this concept and work with a designer. fingers crossed! and don’t worry – i’ll be taking you along for that whole journey. i know – you can’t hardly contain your excitement!

i hope you had an amazing week! happy weekending to you and your tribe! xx

 

it’s five o’clock somewhere

photo via

summer is slowly winding down and school is about to start. our weather has been gorgeous here lately. we have those perfect evenings to sit on the patio and enjoy.

in between having everett and eleanor, i tried to spice up our mid-week slump with a wednesday happy hour. basically, every wednesday i created a new cocktail for andrew and i to try after rett was down for the night. i kept it going after eleanor was born, although with the move i have been a total slacker lately.

so, in spirit of a new wednesday, i thought i’d share five of our favorites!

the classic margarita
one you canNOT go wrong with. a little sweet, a little sour, and oh so salty. we LOVE a good marg!

1.5 ounces of tequila (we like blue agave tequila)
1 ounce of orange liqueur (i may go a smidge more than that… you know how i feel about orange!)
3/4 ounce of lime juice (we sometimes just buy the juice, but freshly squeezed lime is always so good)
salt or sugar for glass rim

use a lime wedge to wet the rim of your glass, dip into salt or sugar, mix all of the ingredients together in a shaker, pour over ice, + ENJOY.

orange moscow mule
moscow mules come in soooo many variations. while i love to change it up here and there with seasonal recipes, the good ol’ classic still my all time favorite. this one, though, is right up there!

2 ounces of vodka
2 ounces of orange juice
4 ounces of ginger beer
1/2 lime (juice)
orange slices + fresh basil for garnish

mix all ingredients in a copper mug (my favorite part of moscow mules), add ice, add an orange slice and basil. yum.

grapefruit + gin
the perfect combination of tangy and spicy.

1 ounce of gin
4 ounces of grapefruit juice
grapefruit wedge
sprig of rosemary for garnish

mix ingredients in a shaker, pour over ice, garnish with rosemary. such a pretty drink!

 rosé  slush
rosé  all day, people. my summer motto!

raspberry sorbet, your favorite  rosé  wine

add one to two scoops of sorbet into your mason jar + fill with rosé. perfect for lounging by the pool.

blueberry basil smash
we grow our own basil…well, mostly me. 😉 but i LOVE the smell and i love to add it to so many things! i may have gotten a little carried away this summer, so i have a lot of extra. using it for happy hour seemed like the logical thing to do!

4 to 6 basil leaves
handful of blueberries
1/2 ounce of lemon juice
1/4 ounce of simple syrup
3 ounces of gin
crushed ice

muddle basil, blueberries, lemon juice, + simple syrup. add in about an inch of crushed ice + stir. add gin, then fill with more crushed ice. zest your lemon on top of the ice + garnish with blueberries and basil leaves. super unexpected combo, but delicious!

CHEERS! and happy wednesday friends!