I remember a while ago reading a blog post where someone said breastfeeding was “the hardest thing they ever did”. I remember thinking, wow – that sounds dramatic! Little did I know I’d be echoing the exact same words not even one week into my own breastfeeding journey.
My breastfeeding journey
Breastfeeding should be natural, right? You have a baby, you have breasts. It’s up to your hormones to do the rest. Right? Wrong. Sure, maybe for some ladies it is incredibly simple. But judging from the vast amount of DM’s I’ve received on Instagram, a lot more moms struggle than we realize. I really want to normalize this and make people realize they are not alone.
Rio was a big baby (4.16kg) and fed relatively well in hospital. Although I wish I just put him to my breast more often- I was super unsure and think I fed him every three hours. Nothing wrong with that but I do think I should have just offered him more and not been as fearful or nervous as I was. It’s one of those things that the more you practice, the more confident you become. I kept doubting myself in hospital that I was doing it ‘wrong’ and had very little confidence that I was breastfeeding ‘correctly’.
Challenges every new mom faces
For every new mom there are challenges such as the excruciating nipple pain in the beginning (hello cracked nipples! 🙈). I never knew what a milk bleb was until I googled it based on what I saw on my nipples! However my challenges extended beyond the first few days. My milk only came in on day 5, plus we discovered Rio had a tongue and lip tie which caused him to not suck efficiently- hence not emptying the breast properly- which is one of the cornerstones of building a good milk supply – supply and demand!
Babies are supposed to have gained their birth weight back by two weeks old. But Rio only started gaining (and very minimally!) by day 10. I was crushed! I was also starting to get some pressure from medical professionals to start topping him up with formula to help with his weight. A strange tenacity kicked in – I made the decision then and there that I was not ready to give up, that this was not the end of my breastfeeding journey and I would do whatever it takes.
This is just a little side note- I mentioned on my Instagram that one thing I learnt in this tough journey is that fed really is best! I changed my viewpoint completely and realized that as a mom you need to do what is best for you and your baby. It sounds dramatic but the pressure of breastfeeding actually took a huge toll on my mental health. I was an absolute nervous wreck 😭 I realised how valuable formula can be – At one point, by topping him up with formula for a time period instead of having to express 24/7 after each feed (which I was doing and absolutely destroying myself by basically not sleeping!). By doing this I was able to give myself a few extra minutes per day to enjoy Rio, to sleep, to go for a walk- and that actually saved my breastfeeding journey.
I think what’s most important about breastfeeding is that you should start and ultimately stop breastfeeding because it was YOUR decision, not something you felt pushed to do or pushed to give up. Or not to give up in the heat of the moment because it is just so damn difficult! Because man it really can be. When I found out I was pregnant I always promised you guys I’d be as real with you as possible – because I’m not your typical ‘arts and crafts, picture perfect’ mommy type. I’m a beauty blogger for goodness sake 🤣
How I built up my milk supply
Anyway so if you’re like me, and still on this breastfeeding journey, I want to share with you what I did to build and establish my milk supply. I want to share with you the things I did to help empower you along the way!
- Mrs Milk Lactation Bars
- Carmien Mamma Tea
- Legendary Milk Herbal Supplements
- Rest and Mental Health
To avoid this blog post being four million words long, I’m going to split these up into different posts. In today’s post I’m just going to touch on the Mrs Milk Lactation Bars and the Carmien Nursing tea.
Mrs Milk Lactation Bars
I was so touched to read Natalie’s, the founder of Mrs Milks, story of how she started the brand. Who better to create a product like this than a mom who has experienced her own challenges with breastfeeding. I instantly felt encouraged!
The Mrs Milk lactation bars are specially formulated bars using galactagogues (foods known to help induced lactation) as well as traditional herbs to help moms on their breastfeeding journey.
What are in the Mrs Milk Lactation bars?
- Rolled oats (Iron-rich oats represent the first line of defense in staving off maternal anaemia – a leading cause of insufficient milk yield)
- Flax Seed (a source of Omega 3 and fibre)
- Brewers Yeast (brewer’s yeast is not only a known galactagogue, but it is packed with valuable B vitamins and protein. B vitamins are essential for a healthy immune system and glowing skin, hair and nails)
- Fenugreek (the revered ingredient amongst breastfeeding moms for its inherent super-milk-making powers)
- Chia & sesame seeds
It doesn’t hurt that these bars are topped in dark chocolate! ❤️ honestly I’ve tried a few different lactation bars and the Mrs Milk ones are the tastiest by far. Many lactation products have an overwhelming fenugreek or even aniseed taste, whereas the Mrs Milk bars are actually yum!
The Mrs Milk bars come in two flavours – Classic Oat Dark Chocolate (my personal favorite!) as well as Moringa and Green Apple. I’ll be honest with you- I was a little unsure about this flavour but it pleasantly surprised me! It is tangy and refreshing.
How I used the Mrs Milk bars:
Mrs Milk recommends taking two per day at first and then going down to one per day once your supply is more established, which is exactly what I did! Early on in my breastfeeding the doctor advised me to express and then top up Rio with a syringe after each feed ( it was exhausting!) but I made sure to pour a big glass of water at each pumping session, and then at two of the sessions per day I’d eat a Mrs Milk bar. For moms who expressed – there are few things as satisfying as seeing the amount you can express slowly increase!
Mrs Milk have a code where you can get R25 off your first order by using this link:
Carmien Mamma Tea
The Carmien mamma tea is especially formulated to stimulate and increase lactation – it also contains galactagogue ingredients such as fenugreek, fennel and aniseed that work together to increase milk production. When breastfeeding one does have to watch their caffeine intake, so having this an option for when I am craving a warm drink is lovely. I actually even enjoy it cold as well and often have a jug of it in the fridge!
So this concludes part one of my breastfeeding journey so far – let’s hold thumbs that I’ll have time to type out part two in the not so distant future!