breastfeeding | what i wish i knew the first time

[look at me blogging a few times in the last week or so! woot woot!!]

i'll be the first to admit, with my first baby i had NO CLUE what i was doing .. especially when it came to breastfeeding. 
unfortunately we didn't have the extra money to take a class & the hospital i delivered at didn't offer lactation specialists .. so i was pretty much thrown out there to figure it all out on my own. luckily i had a handful of friends who had breastfed that offered me some advice .. but unfortunately for my milk supply it almost came a little too late. i feel like i spent so much time stressing & taking supplements to help boost my supply. it was so stressful to me. 
i'm happy to say that this time has been much easier & relaxed .. #yayforlactationspecialists

with capri i still was nervous to nurse because i didn't know how she would handle it, how i would handle it, if my milk would even come in, etc. i was SO happy that we delivered at a hospital that had a lactation specialist who came in to check on me frequently. she helped me make sure capri was latching properly - which is HUGE & also to offer me advice on getting my milk supply to be what it needed to. 

i've been asked by a few friends how i have been able to feed capri & save a LOT of milk [we're talking i have a freezer FULL of milk]. i understand that every woman's body is different & that some just can't produce milk no matter what they try. these are just things that worked for me that i found valuable, especially if you are a working momma trying to save up enough breastmilk to feed baby while you're away. 

so let's jump into it! 

1. PUMP. pump, pump, p u m p!! milk is a supply & demand thing - if your body is stimulated to make more milk, it will! if you pump an equal amount of time on each side [i did 10 minutes] after nursing, your milk will come in faster. 
when my milk came in, i was making about 2 oz per side .. but i wanted enough to save so i would feed capri off of one side until she was done. if she acted hungry still & my breast was empty, i would switch to the other side. after she was done i would start pumping on the side she didn't eat off of or the side she last ate off of if she ate out of both sides, then i'd pump on the side she started on or ate off of exclusively until i was empty. 
** make sure you ask your insurance about pumps! i hear they are free with insurance these days

2. MILK SAVERS. let's just say every drop counts, right?! i put in my milk savers [there are lots of different kinds, i use these] before i feed/pump to catch any milk that leaks. after i'm done pumping i pour the extra milk into the bag to save. sometimes i would catch up to 2 oz in the shields! crazy!! 

3. LANOLIN CREAM. it's is your friend. use it!! those first few weeks are BRUTAL .. trust me i had my fair share of ugly crying when capri would latch. hang in there!! don't give up! i PROMISE it gets better!! you can also use gel pads to help soothe them. AND the shields i talked about above, yeah those are amazing to use as well because they prevent anything from touching your nipples. saved my life. 

5. HYDRATION. staying hydrated is key! BUT the trick is not to over-drink either. too much or too little water can impact your milk. they say up to 2 liters of water a day should be sufficient. obviously drink when you're thirsty, but don't go crazy about it. 

4. BUILDING UP A SUPPLY. my routine these days is feed capri off of one side until she's finished. offer her the other side if the tank empties on the first side, pump off of the second or non-touched side, then finish pumping the breast she started with. 

5. HOW TO KEEP YOUR MILK WHILE WORKING. while i'm at work i try to schedule out times to pump. since i work at night, i try to pump as often as capri eats. she'll usually eat around 2200 and then again around 0300 or 0400. so i pump before i go to work, pump again around 2200 & then again in the early morning. i also pump when i get home because after the early morning feeding, she's usually up every 2-3 hours to eat again. obviously there are times where my job just won't permit me to pump at those times. i just try to stay ahead of the game & do my best to play things by ear. also, i communicate with my coworkers A LOT. they are more than willing to watch my patients for me while i take a few minutes to pump. once capri starts sleeping through the night 100%, i'll probably only pump once, maybe. just to keep the same habits my body has at home when i'm not at work. like i said before - it's a demand & supply thing. 

6. DON'T STRESS. i know .. easier said than done. but try not to stress yourself out about it. stress does effect your milk supply. 

7. SKIN TO SKIN. i did skin to skin as much as possible with capri in the hospital prior to my milk coming in as well as after. & i even do it occasionally now. for whatever reasons, it is so helpful to you & baby. 

8. THE LATCH . like i said previously, making sure your baby is latching properly is KEY! i honestly think gavin never truly latched properly until he was older. the latch is one thing i made sure the lactation specialist saw so she could help me with other positions, etc. if needed to ensure we were getting the best connection possible.

i hope these tips help!! let me know if you have any questions!!