When I gave birth to my first born, Emerson, I made several mistakes when it came to trying to breastfeed. I was still young, and very naive, and as a first time mom, I was bound to make mistakes (and let’s face it, I made a TON), but the thing about mistakes is, you have to be willing to learn from them.
With the birth of my twins, Elliot and Evie Mae, on the horizon, I was determined from day one to implement the things I had learned from the first time around, and not make the same mistakes twice.. well, in my case, 3 times!
1 – Not taking pumping seriously
I had done the research. I knew that milk is a supply-and-demand. The advice, in order to keep up your supply is to pump, if you aren’t able to feed. I was naive and, quite frankly lazy.
You see, in the beginning, I had an over-supply. I thought I was a milk-goddess who would never run out! Oh, how wrong I was.. I would drop Emerson off at the church nursery with a bottle, and never think twice about pumping. Black Friday shopping? Emerson hung out with his Papa all day, and I maybe pumped twice while out. Dumb, Dumb, First Time Momma..
Needless to say, after just a month old, I went from milk-goddess, to struggling to keep up with my hungry baby.
Mistake 2 – Not Nursing My Baby When I Was With Him
Much like Mistake 1 of not taking pumping seriously, my second mistake was allowing other people to bottle feed my baby early on, before getting in the groove of breastfeeding. Emerson was our first, and everyone wanted to cuddle and hold and snuggle him. Which, we were fine with! Truly, we did not mind sharing our baby, at all. I know some moms have issues with their first, but I did not. To a fault.
You see, your baby will demand more from you, milk-wise, than a breast pump will. And, again, breastfeeding 101, milk is supply-and-demand. Even exclusively pumping moms will tell you, it’s better for their supply if they feed their baby once or twice from the boob.
With my twins, they have eaten from a bottle less than 5 times in their whole existence. In fact, Evie Mae, has only successfully taken a bottle once, and the only reason she even took the bottle then was because she decided she was hungry (again) after I had just finished pumping.. Of course!
When I take the twins to church, and put them in the nursery, I go check on them at 2 hours to see if they need to eat. If they do, I collect them, take them to the nursing mothers’ room, feed them, and take them back. If we are out and about, and they get hungry, I either feed them in the car, or I take out my cover and feed them in public. I’ve learned to be very diligent about putting them both to the boob.
Mistake 3 – Not drinking enough water
Now I’ve learned a lot about health through the years. I actually weighed more after giving birth to Emerson, than I did when I was 38 weeks pregnant with my TWINS. The best tip for overall health is this: You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water everyday. So as a breastfeeding momma, you not only need to be drinking those ounces, but you need to be drinking extra ounces on top of that, in order to make milk.
With my first born, I might’ve drank one glass of water each day. No wonder my body couldn’t produce! With the twins, drink over 100 ounces of water a day (around 110 to be specific). My hospital gave me a big plastic cup, that is NOT cute, but it holds around 28 ounces, has a lid and a straw and doesn’t sweat. So that cup literally goes everywhere with me. I fill it about 4 times a day (sometimes even more!).
Mistake 4 – Not watching my diet
Everything that a mama eats, her body uses to feed her baby, which is why some mama’s find they need to change up their diets when breastfeeding. Back in the day, we were still poor college students. My husband Chad worked part-time as a youth minister at a little church in Tennessee. I wasn’t great at budgeting the groceries or meal planning yet. We ate a lot of “cheap” meals, which, in turn, means we ate a lot of junk. Junk in, junk out.
Every meal that I eat now, it’s based on feeding my twins. Every meal. Every morning since the twins were born, I have had oatmeal, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. I try to eat at least one salad with dark, leafy greens each days. In fact, you can find some of my breastfeeding friendly recipes here!
Mistake 5 – Not taking decent vitamins and supplements
It’s impossible to get everything YOUR body needs just from food alone. I take supplements to ensure that both my body and their bodies, get everything they need for healthy growth.
With my first pregnancy, I was decent at remembering to take my vitamins in the morning, but I never thought investing in vitamins was important. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I just took generic, chalky vitamins. I never checked labels for what the vitamins contained; I just looked for the word “Prenatal” on the front.
But throughout my twin pregnancy and now with breastfeeding them, I have taken probiotics, a multivitamin with aloe, folate (the natural form of folic acid), and an omega supplement every day.
Mistake 6 – Too Much Caffeine
And by too much, I mean like WAAYY too much caffeine. After I had Emerson, I was a typical exhausted new mom. I would (not kidding) make a large pot of coffee in the morning, and drink the entire thing by myself, all day long. Not only was I not drinking enough water, but I was also dehydrating myself all day, every day with the massive amounts of caffeine I was drinking.
To add to this, all that caffeine was getting into my breastmilk, making one very fussy baby. *Shaking my head*
Mistake 7 – Over Using Lactation Supplements
Overly relying on lactation supplements, is a no-no and here’s why. If you’re still making the above mistakes, AND overusing lactation supplements, your body will still build up an immunity to the supplements. You can take all the Fenugreek in the world, but if you’re not pumping in place of feeding, your milk will still disappear. If your body is dehydrated from lack of water and excessive caffeine, those lactation smoothies and cookies will only get you so far.
I do use Fenugreek for my twins on the days I’m feeling a little low, usually this happens in the early evenings. It helps me get through the times when the twins are about to grow, or are starting to demand a little extra milk. My body will make more milk without the supplement, yes, but by adding in the supplement, it helps them be satisfied faster.
Mistake 8 – Supplementing with formula
You know how people like to share advice when you become a new parent? Well, at some point, Chad and I were given the advice of mixing formula with Emerson’s last bottle of the night, in order to help him start sleeping through the night. Well, we did this (although, I have no idea why because Emerson had no trouble sleeping through the night), and you guessed it, I didn’t pump in place of that night bottle!
Now, some moms just do not produce enough to fully breastfeed. This is not a hit at you for supplementing with formula. I’m a big believer of “Fed is best.” This is a mistake I made because we began supplementing when we didn’t need to. Supply-and-demand. I didn’t tell my body that my baby needed that extra milk, so it stopped making it.
From the time that Emerson was 1 month old until I gave up on breastfeeding him at 4 months, I struggled. Looking back, there were other factors involved in why breastfeeding did not work for our family the first time around, but ultimately, it was the above mistakes that caused my struggle. The twins are going on 3 months old, and still neither Elliot or Evie Mae have had a single ounce of formula.