I can’t call this anything except “pandemic breastfeeding”. I never expected to EBF (exclusively breastfeed). Had life after baby remained normal, he would have spent time in our church nursery, spent the night with grandparents, and would have experienced a night away from mom with a baby sitter. With baby #2, it’s been anything but. If you are expecting a baby during this pandemic, and aren’t sure what to do about nursing or pumping, or both, I’ll try to steer you through a few of the potholes.
Rules for breastfeeding through a pandemic:
When you’re with the baby, nurse the baby. It’s a good rule for if you have time away from the baby. With baby #1, I worked full time. I pumped at work to make sure he had enough milk for the next day. These days, there isn’t much time spent away from baby #2. We’ve had a few opportunities for bottles to be given, and even a little weekend away for mom and dad after “lockdown” lifted. I’m still trying to find ways to create a little distance when mama needs a break. However, since I am truly breastfeeding on-demand, I feel his growth spurts and when his needs change, unlike I did with baby #1. I know when I need to eat more calories or even sleep more in order to properly provide for his nutrition.
Build a milk stash. If you hope to sneak away for an extra hour or two, it would be beneficial to build up a small milk stash. You don’t need to store gallons and gallons of breast milk, but a few extra bags will give you what you need for your mama-break. Pump in the morning after your baby’s first nursing session for a few extra minutes to build your milk stash. At the end of April, life didn’t seem to be changing much, and after a series of unfortunate events, I gave up my morning pump session. The few times we’ve needed a bottle, we have lived off the stash I produced January-April.
If you have a problem, call a lactation consultant. They can seriously help with any issues you’re having. This round of breastfeeding, I feel like I’ve dealt with it all: mastitis (3 times), clogged ducts (weekly), overproduction, refusing a bottle, and currently, I’m managing through a nursing-strike on the left side. When I haven’t been able to figure it on my own, I’ve called my doula for help, and she always offers valuable advice. Your lactation consultant will schedule a virtual or a socially-distanced appointment to help you with the issues you are facing with your little one. There are even a few Latch Clinics taking place to answer questions and provide support!
Breastfeeding is no easy task, and whether you make it 1 month, 6 months, 18 months, or more, you are working hard to provide for your baby!