What I Learned While Breastfeeding

I learned a few things during my breastfeeding journey so far. 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All

1. It’s not a science. You cannot watch a video and replicate exactly what they are doing and get it perfect. Breastfeeding is more like a dance. You do your steps, your baby does their steps and together you make something beautiful happen.

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
2. Whatever hold works for you is the right one. Cross-cradle, cradle, football, side lying, upside-down, whatever! Hold your baby in a way that is comfortable for both of you. 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
3. If you want to use a Boppy, a My Breast Friend, or any other pillow then try it but don’t be dependent on it. I thought I needed a pillow. I bought several pillows for nursing and the only one that is being used is the boppy I sleep on at night… I found pillows annoying and useless. By not being reliant on a pillow, I found breastfeeding on the go much easier. Use the pillow if you want it but learn to feed without it for convenience! 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
4. Breastfeeding in public is scary and wonderful. I’ve never had an issue with people while I breastfeed in public, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to at some point. It is terrifying every time I need to feed R wondering if someone is going to have a cow. But there’s another side to breastfeeding in public. You will get support from people you don’t know, encouraging you to continue your breastfeeding journey. I hope that you only ever encounter these people.

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
5. You are going to have pain but you can combat it. Get a good lanolin, invest in coconut oil, and take stock in the soothies pads. The more preventive care you do for your nipples, the less of a problem you will have. 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
6. Be vigilant. I have yet to have a problem with blocked ducts, mastitis, or thrush, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen to me. I make sure to continually check the latch (yes, even with my 9 month old), I pump or hand express if I’m feeling engorged, and if my breast pads or bra get wet, I make sure to change ASAP to prevent my nipples from sitting in a warm and moist environment. 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
7. Do skin-to-skin. I spent the first three months of R’s life in just a sports bra and pj pants. I was always ready to feed and doing skin-to-skin as much as possible. Does it really make a difference? I don’t know. But if I’m already cuddling with my newborn does it kill me to do skin-to-skin? Nope. 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
8. Take time to care for yourself. You have to eat and drink water and take your vitamins. If you aren’t then your body is going to have trouble making milk. No dieting. No being too busy to eat. You have to make time for it. You should still be eating an increased amount of calories especially in the early days. I was starving and thirsty all the time until R was about 6 months old. I had no shame in eating more than my share! And remember to continue to take your prenatal vitamin. 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
9. Your baby doesn’t have to nurse for comfort. My pediatrician told me I could let R nurse as long as I wanted to as Le Leche League suggests or I can cut her time short. I can be her pacifier or I can give her a plastic one. It doesn’t matter. He told me as long as she’s eating 10-20 minutes every 2-3 hours and is having enough wet diapers she is fine. 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
10. Some babies don’t poop as often. After the meconium passes, some breastfed babies only poop a few times a month while others poop multiple times a day. At one point, R was only pooping once a week. She still had plenty of wet diapers a day (11+) so I knew she was getting enough to stay hydrated and she was gaining weight so I knew she was not going hungry. If you have a concern about your baby’s poop or milk intake, see your pediatrician or lactation consultant. Better to be safe than sorry!

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
11. Find what works for you. In the end, maybe breastfeeding isn’t your thing. Maybe you decide to exclusively pump. Maybe you decide to formula feed. Maybe your body decides for you. Maybe you end up doing some combination of breastfeeding/pumping/formula. The thing that matters most is that your baby is fed and happy. 

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All
In the end, I don’t think I can express enough that you need to do what works for both you and your baby. If your baby only latches in the football hold, then continue to do that! Eventually they will get it another way but don’t give up just because it doesn’t fit your ideal. If you do decide to switch to formula feeding or exclusively pumping, that’s ok! Remember that any breast milk your baby gets is good for them and all food leads to healthy, happy, growing babies!  

What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All

Did you breastfeed? What were your experiences? If you’re planning to breastfeed, what are your fears? Let me know in the comments or by contacting me!
What I Learned While Breastfeeding | The Hart of it All

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My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn

Breastfeeding is really tough and it’s not for everyone. We have all heard “breast is best” but I really think that we should just acknowledge that “fed is best.” If you are having a baby or have had one, you most likely know the benefits of breastfeeding. You don’t need me to preach at you. What you need is support. If you are choosing to breastfeed, great! If you are choosing to formula feed (no matter what your reason), that’s great too! I am so glad that you have chosen to feed your baby in a way that supports their growth and is what works best for your family. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All
I chose to breastfeed for many reasons. Besides the generic “breast is best” list of benefits for a baby, I chose this method of feeding because it’s free and natural. I had decided before being pregnant to switch to more natural products and a greener way of life. What is more natural than feeding my baby what my body produced for her? The top reason though, is definitely money. Formula is expensive. If I was going to be a stay-at-home mom then I wanted to do whatever I could to save us money. If I needed to use formulae, I knew there were ways to save money on formula, but free is the biggest money saver. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All
I went into breastfeeding with loads of knowledge from Pinterest, books, and the hospital’s breastfeeding class. I had no idea if I would be able to breastfeed and I was terrified that I would be unable to do it and would have to breakdown and formula feed. After R was born, I did skin-to-skin. I had read and watched videos of the breast crawl, where the newborn crawls to the breast and suckles. I wanted that experience so bad. I waited and R actually did start to wiggle her way toward my breast. After a few minutes, I felt bad for making her do all this work to get her first meal so I scooted her closer to my breast and then let her finish working her way over. I heard that babies who latch themselves the first time do an excellent job of latching. I don’t know if that’s true or not but she latched and after a few moments of sucking I heard the sweet sound of the soft “ka” as she swallowed her first taste of colostrum. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All
And that’s about where the beauty of breastfeeding ended while I was in the hospital. R hated being in the hospital. She was non-stop screaming her head off and throwing a fit. This often lead to a nurse (or two) coming in to “show me” how to properly feed my baby. The nurse would come in, grab R, pinch my boob and shove it in her face. After a while, a nurse decided I should probably try to pump and feed R that way. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All

Beginning breastfeeding is not fun. Your nipples hurt. I was lucky enough to avoid cracking and bleeding by putting coconut oil on my nipples after every feed. My biggest problem arose when they had me pump at the hospital. The pump flanges were the wrong size (I discovered this after I went home and measured my nipples using the information on the Medela website). The pump was such a terrible latch on my nipple that it actually gave me a blood blister (sometimes referred to as a milk blister). Despite the pain I continued to latch R on for her feeds. I was bound and determined to make this work. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All
When I went home from the hospital, R was less cranky but breastfeeding was still a roller coaster ride of emotions. My poor husband heard the same routine of “I don’t think this is right,” “I’m going to go visit the lactation consultant,” and finally “she’s latched!” There were a lot of tears and a lot of watching and rewatching of latching videos on YouTube. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All
When I went back to the hospital with postpartum preeclampsia, I met the lactation consultant and she helped me heal my nipples during the time I was pumping and dumping. She was amazed that my nipples healed so quickly. She had me use lanolin before each pumping session (it acted as a lubricant while pumping) and I wore Lansinoh’s soothies gel pads in my bra (with no lanolin). She told me I could wear the pads as long as I wanted even though they are “one time use.” I actually ended up using the same pads for the first two months of breastfeeding. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All
The day after my pump and dump marathon, my milk started to change over. I really expected it to be an instant change but it was more like a slow, gradual change. It took about a week for my milk to fully change over. 
While at home I wore only a sports bra, a robe, & pj pants. R and I did skin-to-skin more often than not and the dairy was always open for business. If she was giving hunger cues it was easy for me to give her free access to the milk machines without a top on. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All

When we were out and about, I found it easier to wear tops that pulled down than to juggle holding my top up and latching a baby. I always used a cover, not because I was worried about others but just because I am a fairly modest person and prefer to be covered. I have yet to have anyone make any comments to me about feeding in public and if anyone has given me nasty looks I didn’t notice. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All
My pediatrician told me that while many people advocate for letting a baby nurse as long as they want, it would really only take 15-20 minutes for R to get all she needed from a nursing session. I decided to let R nurse for about 20 minutes and then unlatch her. I loved seeing her milky face which told me she was actually getting milk. I knew she was getting enough thanks to all the wet and dirty diapers I was changing (and washing since I cloth diaper)!

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All

Nursing always made me super hungry in the early days. I was easily putting away 2,000+ calories a day to keep up with my hunger. I kept snacks in the diaper bag, beside my bed, and all over the house. I was also drinking a ton of water. I tried my best to remember that what I was feeding myself, was also going to help feed my baby. 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All

The one thing that helped me through the early days of nursing is counting each day as a victory. At the end of everyday I’d congratulate myself for another day of getting through breastfeeding. Days became weeks and weeks became months. I am so glad that I still am able to breastfeed R. We have been at this for over nine months now and I am hopeful that we will meet my goal of at least twelve months! 

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All

Did you breastfeed? What were your experiences? If you’re planning to breastfeed, what are your fears? Let me know in the comments or by contacting me!

My Experience Breastfeeding a Newborn | The Hart of it All

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All

I hate having the TV on but I need noise in the background for my own sanity. Since there is an abundance of research that shows how good music is for not just infants but everyone, R and I listen to music almost all day long (I always strive for at least 1 hour of music and singing a day but we tend to get 3-4 hours of music total). I’m not going to lie baby CD’s are not in the budget. At this point I’m sure most people are aware of various ways to listen to music for free but here are my favorites for babies:

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All

1. Pandora

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All

We love that Pandora is free and there are so many options. Our favorite stations are:

Heavenly Lullabies (Children’s) Radio – this station plays instrumental music and is perfect for calm times like napping or just cuddling. They play a lot of instrumental hymns but there are other songs too.

Toddler Radio – Classic songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” get mixed with new favorites from groups like the Wiggles. Even some Disney is sprinkled in for good measure. This is your classic kid’s station and you will find you had no idea there were so many versions of the A,B,C’s (including the backwards version that I’m still trying to master).

Jesus Loves The Little Children Radio – I love the idea of teaching R to start out her day praising God. This station is perfect for that. Classic Sunday School Songs like “Jesus Loves Me” mixed with VeggieTales and kids worship songs. It starts my day off right every day!

Disney (Children’s) Radio – A whole station of Disney songs? Sign me up! I’m more than willing to dance with Cinderella, march to battle with Mulan, or visit the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I adore Disney. R has no clue who the princesses are and I don’t plan on her watching a lot of movies just yet but she has a love of Phil Collins’ Tarzan music and she puts up with me “waltzing” her around the living room to Cinderella.

2. K-LOVE

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All

In the car, on the radio, or using the app on my phone, I always have access to a station that promotes positivity and love. I never have to worry that there might be an inappropriate song or commercial. All the content on K-LOVE is Christ centered.

3. YouTube

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All

We love to watch music videos on YouTube. I save these for special times like when teething or shots have R feeling down (although sometimes I just play a playlist of songs and don’t let her watch, especially if there’s a song I have stuck in my head). I’ve made playlists of songs from shows I watched as a kid that remind me of childhood. Hap Palmer’s Baby Songs, WeeSing, Kidsongs, and of course VeggieTales (Silly Songs with Larry have become a favorite during teething).

4. Library CDs

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All

If you didn’t know, your local library has tons of CDs just waiting for you to borrow and love! This is where we get music from Raffi and The Wiggles to sing to in the car and at home. I just love exploring what my local library has to offer!

5. Personal Music

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All

Not all adult music is kid friendly, in my opinion, but I have a fondness for musicals, Disney, 90s music, and Christian artists. I’m not above belting out a little bit of Wicked or bringing Backstreet Back. My husband likes to listen to the local oldies station in the car so R gets a taste of music from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s too. I encourage you to share your favorite music with your little ones.

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All
Music is such an important part of life. I encourage you to make it a part of your baby’s life too. I can’t wait to see how our music tastes evolve as R grows.

Top 5 Places to Find Free Music for Babies | The Hart of it All