Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Breastfeeding: the Saga Continues

I figured it's been a while since I posted on this topic, and since I made it past my initial goal of 6 months, I'd better give a rundown. Y'know, for future generations and all. Or, so I remember what the hell it was REALLY like next time around.
So: dear future self, it only sucks for 4 to 6 weeks. Then, you don't need to wear pads all the time starting around 5 months or so. And also, your boobs may change size again around 4 months in, so don't go buying fancy-schmancy bras that cost an arm and a boob.

Things You Will Need:
Breast pads - disposable, washable, thin, thick, you name it, I've bought it.
Lansinoh nip cream
Medela soothing gel pads
Medela nip shells
Nursing wear

A note on the nursing wear. I bought bras 3 times: right before - for use in the hospital and the first few days at home; right after - when my milk came in and I started getting real high school chesticles: and 4 to 5 months later, when the girls decided to suddenly spike in size, giving me spectacular cleavage, but also veins and stretch marks, back fat and strap marks, and the lovely deflated pancake look after a really good nursing session. Sorry for that burst of reality there future self.

Breast pads:
At first, I didn't need these. Around 2 weeks, I started thinking burrito had wet himself right where the boob he wasn't nursing from was perched; alas, it was my letdown advising him that the milk he ordered was in stock. So, they became a necessity. At first, I'd wear them all the time, because we weren't in a routine yet and I'd have letdown occur at the most random times. About the time I was lamenting to bff "can I EVER stop wearing these things?!?!," I realized that burrito and my body had worked out some sort of deal, and there were times I could now go without the pads. I believe (don't set your clocks by my recollection of anything baby-related, folks) this was around 4 months old. I was able to go to work pad-free, but then would put them in when I went to sleep, because I never knew when he was going to wake up and want to eat, and there were times when I was too tired to pump right before bed and would wake up at 5am a but engorged with some slight leakage.
Now, I only wear the pads when 1) I don't pump before bed, or 2) when I feed him in bed in the morning - I keep them by my bedside and stuff one in there when I'm nursing so that my letdown doesn't soak me.
 - - - I have used the Lansinoh ones, which are tip-top-wonderful. I have used some Gerber ones as well, and some brand beginning with the letter A which was very colorful. Those ones were smaller. But all worked pretty well. Currently, I use some washable cotton ones - these weren't the best at first because of my engorgement in the am; I'd totally soak through a whole one of those babies and have to retire that night's sleep bra. Now, however, they're good to go. And less wasteful, and less money of course.

Nip Accessories:
Boob Cream/Gel Pads - best thing evah to sooth my sore ladies in the beginning. It took a few weeks for them to get used to their new position at work, and in the meantime they were red, sore, and occasionally bled. Yah, gross. Creams are able to be put on at any time, so the baby can nurse regardless.
The Gel Pads aided for those times when they were sore and red and just needed a little cooling off. Bonus, they acted like a shield for letdown, so I didn't leak hugely.
Nip Shells - during those first months; no, that's too scary weeks, these were a nipsaver. At times I could barely stand anything touching my nips, and these were the answer to that problem. I shoved one into my nursing bra as soon as I was finished nursing (after coating the nip with either the cream or a little bit of extra milk), and it got to breathe. No smushing, no drying against the bra and causing agony after I ripped it off band-aid-style not thinking that I was ripping the bra off band-aid-style.

Nursing Wear:
This is one thing that has changed throughout my nursing career. I had figured during my pregnancy when I was making my tens of thousands of spreadsheets that I'd go get a couple bras before and after. It was recommended to wait until as close to delivery as possible so that I could better gauge the girls' new size. So, over to tar-jay I went, and got 2 nursing bras (38B, because the only thing that had change was added back fat, TYVM burrito) and 2 nursing tanks. After he was born, my size didn't change much, so I got two sleep bras and started looking for sites to get the best deals on nursing bras.
My local thrifty outlet mall didn't have anything - oh wait, my mistake, they did have nursing bras, but for superplustripleboobed women. 40D???? Really??? That's the smallest size you have?
So, onto Gap - I wasn't impressed, because at the time I was looking for something without underwire. I ordered another tank from Glamourmom, which was highly disappointing, but only because I was actually an XL at that site and I ordered a M or L, can't remember which.
And then, when I had just decided to add more to my arsenal, they got...bigger. As in, I thought this was what should have happened before I gave birth bigger. So I am currently a 38C. As such, I went back to tar-jay, hoping against hope that they'd have some new stock in. Sacrebleu, they did! (they also had bangin maternity wear which made me instantly jealous...but not enough to have another baby.)

The timeline of this was:
Pre-preg: 36B
Pre-birth: 38B
4/5 months pp: 38C

And then...I discovered Undercover Mama, who makes nursing tanks that hook onto your bra, so you can NIP (nurse in public) without showing off your muffin(s). I heart them. They make pumping when it's a bit chilly in the little room in the basement at work bearable. And double as undershirts for my favorite new thing, cardigans.

So, my current stash:
3 nursing bras from tar-jay, wireless (white, black, and blue with white dots)
2 nursing "sleep" bras from tar-jay (white, black)
2 nursing tanks from tar-jay (blue with white lacy trim, black)
2 nursing bras from tar-jay, underwire (white, blue)
1 nursing bra from gap, underwire but not with padding on the cup (tan)
2 undercovermama nursing tanks (white, ivory)
2 sleep bras (nude) - these have totally fallen apart in the wash. they are super comfy, but apparently get stuck on everything and the elastic and threads come out.
1 nursing tank from glamourmom (tan w/ pink trim) - bought the wrong size, apparently.

I'm not sure if there have really been any big huge challenges other than the first couple (months, sorry), but some issues I've had to deal with:

 - fearing my supply is low, and eating oatmeal every morning, drinking tons of water, mother's milk tea
 - identifying when a growth spurt is occurring and realizing it's not my supply getting low
 - as the warmer weather comes, determining when the boppy is needed and when a pillow or end of the couch will suffice as we both get sweaty
 - distractions! he whips his head around (sometimes with the nipple, sometimes without) to see who is talking
 - keeping up the pumping at work, especially when people give me looks like "oh, you're still doing that?"
 - handling nights now that he wants to eat at 630 and again at 730, right before bedtime
 - trying to still stock a freezer stash when the only time to pump for extra is 10pm and I want to GO TO BED
 - attempting to get up early and run/walk/exercise with a child whose sleeping schedule has him waking up at 4-6am depending on the day to NURSE NOW NOW NOW

But that's about it, so I consider myself very lucky that I've been able to do it for this long.
So, future self, don't worry. (Rob Schneider voice) You can do it!

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