Anyone who has had a baby before knows that Colostrum, on Postpartum Day 2, at this volume is unheard of. As a first-time mom, I struggled to feed my NICU baby on day 5 Postpartum. I can remember the doctors whispering to me that I needed to greenlight formula feedings until my milk came in because my baby's Blood Glucose levels were indicating that she wasn’t getting enough to eat. And honestly, how do you know as a new mom? So much emphasis is put on getting your baby to latch that you don't even understand how to tell if the baby is actually feeding.
Well, I sure was no exception. And on day 5, I gave my baby her first bottle of formula because no matter my desire to breastfeed- FED IS BEST!
My milk finally came in! But not before the stress, the back-and-forth walks to the NICU, the C-section followed by anemia, the hospital meals, sugary juices provided by the nursing staff and sleep deprivation taxed my body a good 80% out of 100 before I could ever make it home with my baby. How could anyone’s body handle this? And much to my surprise, not a single conversation regarding milk supply during the 40-minute chat about depression, dangers of tub baths, engaging in intercourse prior to 6 weeks, and a stack of paperwork was provided during discharge. But what about the nutritional void conversation and how it exacerbates almost every single negative event of postpartum? Sigh.
If you are a veteran mom, I probably don’t need to tell you that I continued to struggle to breastfeed my baby. I can remember pumping and freezing everything I let down because it was a prize! I had worked hard for the 2 ounces and my baby would benefit from it all… right after my freezer became filled with enough milk to actually remember to share it with my baby (Mommy brain or ambition?). My husband would ask, “Umm Babe- are you going to ever actually give the milk to the baby that you’re storing away for hard times?” I would always reply, “yes” but with a slight misunderstanding of why he didn’t believe in me and what I was trying to achieve. More Breastmilk- that was always the goal.
EAT. FEED. SLAY (AFTER)
No one ever told me to keep the baby on the breast. I never heard about the importance of a nutrient-dense diet and superfoods. Not a single OBGYN staffer ever told me to balance my hydration and eat plenty. Instead, while I chased more breastmilk, I also subconsciously reminded myself that I only needed to eat a certain number of calories to get my pre-baby body back.
Listen up, Moms- weight loss is not promised (immediately) to lactating mothers. It’s a fallacy that needs correction. You can’t achieve both goals right away while mastering both desires. If it’s breast milk you want, you’ll have to eat, commit the time, and discipline.
What we should be told before leaving the hospital is that you cannot “squeeze blood from a turnip!” If you don’t put nutrient-dense food into your body + hydration, your body will be reluctant, if at all, to produce breastmilk.
As for me: by month 3- I was still pumping and getting my baby to latch. But I was supplementing 70% of feedings with formula, daily. I just was not making enough milk. I ate, but I wasn’t getting what I needed, and my journey came to a complete end by month 4 Postpartum.
DO OVER, PLEASE!
By baby two, I had come to realize that no amount of daily consumed food in the world would get me up to the mark that my body needed to feed this inbound baby the breastmilk I dreamed of making. I also could not afford to stock my home with fresh superfoods only to throw half of it out 2 days later. Side note: have you ever noticed how quickly organic foods expire?
Anyhow, I was prepared this time. I had my postnatal and my water ready. I had alarms preset on my phone reminding me to eat, drink and sleep- even if for 20 minutes. After I delivered my baby, I literally had my recovery nurse unpack my hospital bag and hand me 2 MILK Postnatal and a 32-ounce bottle pre-filled with room temperature water.
On day 2 Postpartum, I pumped 1 ounce of colostrum. I was only expecting speckles to line the bottle that would require a syringe to extract. Imagine my surprise when I saw that yellow-colored outpour coming from both breasts freely and willingly. I was no longer humble about the process. Girl, I had struck gold and I knew it! I went on to exclusively breastfeed my baby (born at 9lbs) for 15 months. She refused every bottle we tried to give her. So, I not only got what I asked for, but I got ALLLL of the work as well. No one could get me off the hook for feeding this chunky little smiling baby.
The moral of the story is this- Entering my postpartum with a plan rather than a dream of breastfeeding was 100% the key to reaching my breastfeeding goals. Formula saved my firstborn’s life because a fed baby is always the goal. Every mom doesn’t want to breastfeed. But for those of you who are looking to set and meet your marks- plan ahead. Give your body the added support it needs to accomplish the work set before it at childbirth.
START WITH DEVELOPING A POSTPARTUM PLAN