How I became a cow
As Black Breastfeeding Week begins, and especially after learning that so many of my Mommination sisters are with child, I wanted to share how I did the Kat-Cow.
No, not the exercise, but how I went from Kat as in Katian, to cow status, producing all the milk my baby girl needs.
Breastfeeding Can Be Hard!
Now if you’re the mom that breastfeeding did not work for, I am sorry. No judgement here.
Everything isn’t for everyone, so whether you chose not to, or you simply couldn’t continue for whatever reason, know that it’s OK. The best babies are those who are FED. You’re awesome no matter what your journey was/is.
Let’s get to it:
Breastfeeding can be HARD! Whewwww ok now that I got that off my chest, I’ll say this-it’s always worth it. I enjoy almost every part of this journey- making the food the nourishes my beautiful little one.
No one told me though, how difficult this journey can be and with my first, I was simply unprepared.
I shed so many tears because of our failed attempt. I was told that my nipples were inverted/flat, and my son simply would not latch on. We tried it all from nipple shields to pumping first to extend the nipple. Little man would become super frustrated, so pretty soon I resorted to pumping whatever I could get and supplementing with formula.
During that time was the first time I ever heard terms and phrases like ‘tongue-tie’, ‘good latch’, and even ‘breastfeeding/lactation consultants. I had no idea that there were people in specific roles to help with breastfeeding journey.
Like why would we need those, don’t we simply place the nipple in the baby’s mouth and that’s that? That was my impression prior to having my first, and boy oh boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
Long story short, my first got breastmilk, sure he did, one to two bottles of pumped milk a day, and I held on for as long as I could. However, my milk which initially wasn’t plenty, eventually dried up long before my baby could stand.
Knowledge is power
Fast forward to baby number 2, I find myself looking back at all the things I do now which I could have done then.
Knowledge is power in so many ways and that’s why I write, to share with you what worked for me this time around.
I had my expectations; I really wanted my breastfeeding journey to be successful, but I prepared for all scenarios, including another failed attempt.
My daughter latched on pretty well from jump. She did not come to play. I left my four days stay at the hospital, after having my baby, with great hopes.
The morning of my discharge from the hospital I had me a small celebration from the lactation folks because I had successfully exclusively breastfed my newborn. We even had our photos taken for a spread on their breastfeeding wall of fame.
How I became a cow
Although I could feel my breast fill up and would squeeze to make sure baby was actually getting something, I remained a bit anxious, and pumping was the very first thing I did once I got home. I simply needed to SEE how much she was getting.
At this point, my breast has not yet produced milk, baby is getting something called colostrum those first few days after birth. Colostrum, a yellowish liquid, is rich in antibodies and it’s the pre-milk secretion from the
I pumped about an ounce from each breast and was satisfied. That’s all baby needs at this point, their tummies are extremely tiny, (part of the reason they feed so often- that thing don’t hold much) so that eased my worry and so our journey began.
From the first time I pumped and for the next 3-4 weeks I pumped every 2 hours. Baby girl was also feeding every two hours at this time so I would pump following every feeding session. I know, super tedious, but I was on a mission to become a cow.
I offered her a bottle very early because I was soon overproducing, and pumping way more than she would be on the breast.
This little girl slept a lot, so feeding every 2 hours would not be possible some parts of the day. Pretty soon, the stash that I had heard so many moms speak off, was forming and growing. Pumping was extracting way more milk than she was drinking.
My stash looked good early, and I was pleased. Emptying my breast by pumping and doing so frequently caused my production to increase.
See, the way this process works is that an empty breast signals the body to make more milk, as if to say- come on machine, this baby cannot starve, she already finished what we supplied so let’s make more.
That’s literally how it works, it’s why pumping was so important for me. Learning baby’s hunger cues and feeding on demand is paramount, then, for me at least, comes pumping.
Breastmilk is about 80-90% water (nutrients and antibodies make up the rest) so staying hydrated is important. I became way more conscious of my water intake, and I aim for at least 100 ounces daily.
I can usually tell if I didn’t drink enough for the day because a dehydrated body may very well be a dry booby.
Food serves as fuel for the body. It is beyond essential, as the body cannot successfully carry out many of its functions without food.
Producing breastmilk is one of these body functions therefore I make sure to supply my body with what it needs so that it can give me what I want.
Nourishing my body with healthy meals helps nourish my baby. Eat enough and eat well, is my moto.
While these are the 3 main areas, I concentrate on to help keep up my milk supply up and ultimately remain a COW, there are other tips I’d like to share.
1.Bonding with baby goes far beyond that feel good feeling. Skin-to-skin contact creates a scientific reaction, yup; the action stimulates the body to make more prolactin and oxytocin, the hormones that help produce breastmilk.
Our bodies are remarkable, are you not amazed?
2. Removing baby’s shirt while breastfeeding, or a topless chest nap goes a long way.
3. Massaging the breast before and after feeding, and during pumping also helps me to get that milk flowing.
Additionally, massaging my breast also help prevent and relieve milk-duct clogs.
I’ve found that a good latch opened up the way for this, so far, successful journey while adequate rest also serves as a plus.
4. Rest and newborn in the same sentence sure sounds like an oxymoron, however, rest (when possible) is of vital importance.
Lack of sleep and stress produces a hormone in the body called cortisol, and that can cause a drastic decrease in milk supply.
Sometimes this is unavoidable as it seems that baby’s sole purpose is to keep you up. Couple that with the fact that we spend those first few months literally trying to keep them alive- now that’s stressful.
Controlling the things, we can control is the priority.
I believe if one can do their best with the aforementioned tips, especially the ones we can control, that provides a little leeway with the things we have less power over.
I am filled with gratitude this time around, grateful for knowledge and patience that has paid
off thus far. Every one of us is different, no two situations are the same but being equipped
with awareness cannot hurt.
Take what you like from my experience and journey to becoming a cow or take nothing at all.
I wish you the best wherever you are on your journey as a breastfeeding mother, or a mother period.
You are awesome and you are everything your baby needs; never forget that.
Best wishes and countless blessings to you if you’re an expecting mother.
So, I read somewhere that beer can help boost milk supply. Now don’t go saying I said to drink while you’re breastfeeding, but I did a little research and found that beer contains an ingredient called ‘brewer’s yeast’ – a source of vitamin B and proteins that serves as the aid.
You can literally purchase Brewer’s yeast as a supplement (I recently did) but what I have actually been doing since I am not a beer drinker; I make this drink some West Indians make with Guinness.
Whenever I notice a dip in my supply, I make me one and soon after I’m mooing again.
1 large Guinness
half can condensed milk (more if you like sweet)
1 teas grated nutmeg
1 tea cinnamon powder
Blend with some ice or add ice before drinking.
Mommi KAT I mean COW
Read more blogs from Katian here.