Breastfeeding your child can be a beautiful and rewarding experience. However, it can also be frustrating for parents if your newborn is being fussy and having trouble latching. Founder of baby deedee, Dominique de Bourgknecht, has raised three children and has found strategies that have helped her succeed in breastfeeding. She shares her insights below in hopes of helping other mothers struggling to find the best way to breastfeed.
Q: What made you choose breastfeeding over formula?
A: I actually formula-fed my first son and felt like I had missed out, so I decided to breastfeed my second child. Seeing my friends breastfeed their children made me want to try. For me it was about the contact with my baby and the convenience, in addition to the health benefits. Much easier than washing all those bottles! I also found that it was SO much easier to get up in the middle of the night while I was breastfeeding than with my first child. There must be something the body produces to help with those awakenings in the middle of the night.
Q: Did you feel pressure to breastfeed?
A: At the hospital, when my first child was born, there was tremendous pressure to breastfeed. However, I had undergone a C-section and it was just too overwhelming for me, particularly since my milk came in 5 days after the birth.
When my daughter was born, I had another very pushy nurse who would not give me any formula. I had no milk, as she was a planned C-section baby. She was alert and starving, which resulted in the worst first night out of all my children because she was miserable. As I was not producing milk, she was not getting enough food, and I ended up in a lot of pain as my daughter wanted to be on the breast constantly. Finally, I fed her formula until my milk came in a few days later.
Q: How did you know if your children were getting enough milk?
A: Both my kids gained weight while I was breastfeeding so I fortunately did not have to worry about it.
Q: How often would you breastfeed throughout the day?
A: I breastfed on demand. At times, before a growth spurt, it could be every hour or every 3 to 4 hours the rest of the time. It is definitely a big commitment but it also forces you to sit down and take that time for yourself and your baby.
Q: What were your strategies for encouraging a fussy baby?
A: My second child had acid reflux, so not much made him happy for a while. I spent most of the day with him in the baby carrier. It was hard because since he was in pain after eating, there wasn’t the positive association with feeding that there should have been.
Q: How did you encourage your baby if they were having trouble/refusing to latch on?
A: A lactation nurse showed me how to do it and that was so helpful. I also had this fantastic book called The Nursing Mother’s Companion and referred to it a lot.
Q: What was the most challenging part of breastfeeding for you? How did you overcome it?
A: The most challenging part for me were those first few days with my daughter and being in pain. Later, she never took a bottle. I could not leave her with family member or a babysitter for long as her milk needed to be spoon fed to her and she would eat very little. Finally, when she turned 1, she agreed to take a sippy cup but never had a baby bottle or a pacifier.
Q: What were your strategies for breastfeeding in public places?
A: I loved those breastfeeding tops that pull upwards. I found them to be the most private, combined with a cardigan on top. The nursing covers were too complicated for me, and my baby would get frustrated underneath while I was trying to adjust it.
Q: How long did you breastfeed your children for? How/why did you decide this was the best time?
A: My second completely lost interest after 4 months and preferred the bottle, I breastfed my third for one year. I think it was also a way to make sure I had time with her amidst the chaos of two older brothers.
Q: How did you ween your children off breastfeeding?
A: I gradually reduced the number of feedings and my supply dwindled. With my daughter, it was replaced by solids since she was one year old when I stopped breastfeeding. I later realized that I probably could have continued with my son and that a drop in supply around 4 months is pretty common, but I did not know that at the time – good breastfeeding advice for other mothers!
Q: Do you have any other advice for breastfeeding mothers?
A: My biggest piece of advice is to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone and, in my opinion, it is better to have a well-nourished, happy bottle-fed baby than make yourself miserable and your baby hungry when breastfeeding is not working out.
I would also recommend a lactation consultant as they can really help. Lastly, for C-section moms, you may need to mix with formula at first as the milk seems to take longer to come in. This is just speaking from personal experience but I wish someone had told me this before as it would have saved me a lot of soreness and frustration!