Must-Haves For A Successful Breastfeeding Experience

My breastfeeding journey started 7 years ago. My first try only lasted for 4.5 months, so I considered it a fail. My goal was 6 months to a year. I had fallen short. At that time I didn’t commend myself for going as long as I did because my focus was solely on the fact that I hadn’t reached my goal. I couldn’t help but think of all the things I could have done differently. So I vowed to do as much research as I could so that I would be prepared for my next child. When that time came, I took a breastfeeding and newborn basics class. I learned SO much and was very prepared for my next experience.

If you’re a new mom, or a repeat mom, you may encounter mothers who say “uggh I would never breastfeed, it hurts too bad.” You may have family who says “That baby isn’t eating enough by just drinking your breast milk.” Then you may join a mom group in person or on social media that makes the breastfeeding journey seem like it is the easiest and most satisfying thing. The truth is, breastfeeding has both negative and positive experiences. Breastfeeding hurts you mentally, physically and emotionally at times, but it  is also the best thing in the world seeing your baby grow, thrive and reach milestones off of your body alone! Everyone has their own way of making breastfeeding work for them and their baby, but here is a list of things that has helped me on my journey.

  • RESEARCH– Many women make the mistake of waiting until they have their baby to learn how to breastfeed. While there are lactation consultants in the hospital, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into before delivery. Most of the times, the hospital’s LC is making rounds to all the moms and you never know how long it may be before she gets to you. You need to understand how breastfeeding works and what your purpose is before beginning this journey. When you do your research, you are able to identify when things are going right and wrong. You’re able to work through the tough times a little easier when you understand what is going on. You are also able to recognize when it’s time to seek help when you’ve run into an issue that you have no idea to how to fix. Take classes, watch videos, etc.
  • LACTATION CONSULTANT– Find a lactation specialist/consultant in your area and visit them prior to having your baby. They are there to answer any questions you may have ahead of time, teach you nursing positions, teach you about the proper diet, warning signs, good signs and more. It’s great to build a relationship with them so that you are comfortable to reach out during your breastfeeding journey if you should ever run into an issue.
  • COCONUT OIL– Many women love lanolin or other nipple creams, but I love coconut oil. It’s natural with no added ingredients. It also works as an anti-fungal cream and can help prevent thrush on baby’s tongue or your nipple. HOWEVER, you can also save money by using your milk! Just express a little and rub it on your nipples to help with cracks, dryness, sensitivity and pain. Using your breastmilk also helps your baby to smell and latch when putting them to the breast.
  • SUPPORT SYSTEM– Please make sure you have a core individual or group around you that supports you, breastfeeding and your journey. Make sure they are attending as many classes they can with you. Take them research and talk about it with them so that they are knowledgeable. Make sure they view breastfeeding as something positive and are willing to motivate and support you when things are getting rough. Make sure they are supportive enough to advocate for you if there was ever an issue with your pediatrician or a stranger who has something smart to say out of their mouth when you’re nursing in public. If you didn’t have a doula during birth or don’t have a support person or team, hire a postpartum doula. I talk about the benefits of one in my post 10 Reasons to Hire a Doula.
  • NETFLIX/HULU- Mam! Cluster feeding during your breastfeeding journey is very real and you need to be prepared! They happen during growth spurts, but you can also experience it during teething or when baby is feeling ill. Find you a nice show or Netflix series to watch and binge! Some of my faves are Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black, Grace & Frankie, New Girl, Jane the Virgin, Somewhere In Between, Revenge, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder and 7 Seconds. You can never go wrong with Law & Order: SVU either. Hulu has great shows as well. I love watching Food Network, movies and the show Black-ish on there.
  • HEALTHY MEALS/SNACKS– I don’t know about you, but breastfeeding makes me HUNGRY! It’s because feeding your hungry baby is burning calories. No matter how much you want to crush a bag of chips or some cookies, try to fill yourself up on healthy foods and snacks. Fruits, veggies, nuts, salads (spinach based) and oatmeal are some of my favorites! Smoothies are also a great choice. I’ll be honest and say that I definitely choose some unhealthy pleasurable snacks and foods at times lol.
  • WATER- Water should have been your bestfriend during pregnancy, and it’ll need to be attached to your hip during breastfeeding. You may wake up in the middle of the night like you haven’t had anything to drink in over a week. Staying hydrated is important in our every day lives, but it is also vital to a successful breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding is more of a supply and demand process (the more you nurse baby, the more your breasts will produce milk), but if you do not have the proper water intake you risk depleting your milk supply.
  • CONFIDENCE/DRIVE– Confidence is key. You have to be confident that you are doing a great job. That your baby is growing. That your nipples will be ok. That you are the best mother to your child. When breastfeeding gets hard, you begin to feel weak and question if you should continue. You wonder why you did it in the first place. You have to be confident in your purpose and have the drive to push forward and through the hard times. You’ve got this mama!
  • KNOWLEDGE ABOUT PUMPING AND PACIFIERS- Breastfeeding is extremely demanding and causes sleep deprivation, lack of self-care, or the ability to have down time. Having dad or your support system to feed baby breastmilk from the bottle may seem like your saving grace, but hold on. You may want to give the baby a pacifier because you need something else to sooth him/her, but please wait. Please do not introduce another nipple to your baby until after 4 weeks if you want to continue to breastfeed. Introducing a nipple too early can cause nipple confusion. Of course pacifiers work for some babies, but you don’t want to take that risk of ending your breastfeeding journey early. If you want someone else to feed the baby, hand express into a little medicine cup or use a spoon to feed the baby. Also, pumping before 4 weeks increases your chance of getting mastitis. In the first month, your baby will continue to nurse every 2 hours, or as little as 30 minutes when cluster feeding. Through this, your baby is regulating how much milk should be produced. Pumping tells your breast that the baby needs more milk, so you’ll produce more milk. This will cause an oversupply and painful engorgement resulting in mastitis. You’ll have a painful knot in your breast(s) and experience flu-like symptoms. I hear it’s extremely painful. Outside of whatever the doctor prescribes you, you will still need to nurse baby so that they can get your boobies back in order. Try your hardest to wait until your baby is a month old before introducing a pacifier or bottle.

I find this list pretty neutral and usable for all moms, but it’s a different experience for every mother. I realize that some mothers go back to work and need to pump. I don’t have experience tandem feeding a newborn and toddler, or with twins. I also have no experience with nursing after a c-section. Those mothers must-haves may be different. My must-haves have helped me to go 14 months strong (and counting) thus far. I wish you the best of luck on your journey and hope you send that same energy my way as I search for a must-haves list on how to ween a baby from breastfeeding lol.

Notebooking Pages- A Homeschooling Parent’s BFF

Being a stay-at-home mother for many means they do not add to their household financially, while other’s are entrepreneurs or work from home. No matter which category you fall into, you’re most likely the one viewing the bills, budgeting and making all the payments due on a daily or monthly basis. Regardless of how much your spouse makes, bills still have to be paid, diapers need to be bought, the refrigerator needs to be full and more.  Add being a homeschooling mother to that list, you find yourself trying to find and take advantage of every free and affordable curriculum, class, adventure, activity and more. Of course you want great quality out of that entire list.

As I stated in How To Get Started With Homeschooling, I chose to create my own curriculum by choosing what I wanted my daughter to study in each required subject. That was a huge step to take as a first time homeschooler, but it has been working out amazing thus far. There are many online resources that I use to provide a fun learning experience for my child, but there are also worksheets and pages that I absolutely LOVE that provide a little more structure and guidance. I discovered NotebookingPages.com a little while back and find it SO helpful with our homeschooling day. It actually saves me time from scouring the web to find helpful worksheets or inspiration for certain subjects.

Guess what… IT’S FREE!

That is a major win for my family and I since I am extremely frugal and strict on our budget. If you want a more detailed and bigger experience, you are also given the opportunity to purchase a lifetime membership which is very affordable . At this time, I love having the free membership with the option of purchasing lessons that go along with our homeschooling set up.

One of my favorite notebooking pages is the Character Study Notebooking Pages. If you follow me on Instagram (@_queen.tiana) or Facebook (Queendom Wife and Mother), you’ll see videos of my daughter reciting her daily affirmations and explaining why she believes those things to be true about herself. We also practice scripture memorization through verbal and written application. I don’t believe in just saying the scripture, so we practice understanding what the scripture means. We then discuss how the scripture applies to our lives.

The Character Study pages provide you with several special-themed pages that your child(ren) will use to document what they have learned about specific character traits. The first few pages are typically used to write about the major points and ideas about the character trait or seed (as the creator calls it) that is being studied for the week. They are perfect for recording a definition of the trait, and then allows for your child to “determine which habits and attitudes need to be “uprooted” or “weeded out” in order to give room for the character “seed” to grow.” Afterwards your child comes up with a list of new habits that should replace those that were tossed.

The pages are so organized and easy to navigate. The creator actually provides headings on each of the pages. When you continue to make your way through them, you’ll find  a page where your child(ren) are given a space to write what God’s Word says about the character trait for that week, and an additional space that gives them the opportunity to write about all they have learned. While I make writing a major part of our day, I choose to talk about what my daughter has learned so that we can make it a healthy conversation, and discuss any questions or comments she may have.

What’s amazing is that you can use the sheets how you please. Not all believe in the same God, so if you choose to omit that portion it’s up to you. You have complete control over your child’s experience with this notebooking resource. An entire lesson for only $3. That amount of money is music to a homeschooling parent’s ears. You can also expect to get several helpful tips and tutorials on how to properly execute the lessons with every notebooking set.

I could easily say that NotebookingPages.com was created by a mom for moms, but that wouldn’t be true. This resource is for everyone. It was created with homeschooling parents in mind, but parents with children in school can add this to their weekend, holiday break(s) and Summer studies.  There are so many options to choose from ranging from nature study, science, geography and more.

If you’re looking for free or affordable worksheets/notebooking pages, check it out for yourself. It has allowed me to remove useless busy work from both my daughter and I’s days. And if you’re anything like me and need to watch or read a step-by-step plan on how to teach certain lessons, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. Use the following link, NotebookingPages.com if you’d like to get a feel of the entire site and search other subjects. If you’d like to be more specific and try the Character Study package for only $3, then use the following link Character Study Notebooking Set.

What Inspired Me to Teach My Children ASL

Whenever it was my time to experience motherhood, I knew that I would teach my children American Sign Language. At one point it was viewed as odd because it wasn’t your typical second language. Spanish, French and others were more popular. I of course wanted my children to learn other languages as well, but sign language was near and dear to my heart.

The reason you ask? My father was hard of hearing. He could hear well with his hearing aids (as much as the quality back then would allow), but without them the world would go silent. I remember the panic he would go in when his hearing aids would lose function, or when he needed a new battery. All of the TV’s needed to be at the maximum volume in order for him to not feel he had gone completely deaf. If one were to turn a TV down or off, he would throw a tantrum until he could hear again. But with his hearing aids, you couldn’t tell him nothing! His confidence level was through the roof, and if there was a volume struggle he would adjust the hearing aids and read lips. He used this to his advantage whenever I would try to whisper secrets about James (who was my boyfriend back then) to my mother. While talking to her, we would hear him turning the volume up on his hearing aids and quickly change the conversation. I laugh every time I think of that now. I thought it was so annoying back then, but now as a parent I would do the same thing!

My father would experience the highs and lows of being hard of hearing the entire 17 years of my life that he lived. By the time I hit high school, I wondered why we hadn’t learned sign language as a family in order to make communication with my father much easier. My mother told me she believed that my father refused to learn sign language because it would really signify he was deaf. She said that it took him an extremely long time to even get hearing aids. She never asked him why he refused to learn, she just accepted his wants. That’s love.

I believe my father was slightly ashamed of his disability and didn’t want to be treated differently. I think he saw it as a weakness instead of it being something that showcased his fighter mentality. My mother’s response sparked a desire in me to understand deafness and hearing much further. I wanted my family to understand my father’s needs. I get frustrated when my husband or daughter doesn’t talk clearly, and I have to  strain to hear them. I can’t imagine that being a struggle every moment of the day. No matter our struggles, I loved my father with every fiber of me and wanted to make things better for him.

I would mention taking classes as a family, but it never happened. I went away to college, and my father died two months later. I needed a way to feel closer to him. I needed something that would make me feel like his memory was still very much alive. Early in my junior year of college, I switched my minor from Spanish to Deafness and Hearing Studies. I honestly wish I switched my entire major to that department (Speech Pathology/Audiology) because I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and everything I learned. Nevertheless, there was still a void because I didn’t have enough time to take the ASL courses. I learned about the history and foundation of the language and more, but no phrases or words.

As I stated in my earlier posts the “My First Go at Pregnancy” series, I graduated college 7 months pregnant. I made up my mind then that I would teach myself sign language, take courses whenever I could, and teach my daughter. I wasn’t able to have the experience with my given family, but I knew that I could establish it in my new family. It was one of the ways I would be able to honor my father, teach my child about my father, and also prepare her to be able to communicate and understand those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

That was my motivation in the beginning! When I actually saw the benefits of communicating with an infant through sign language, I was adamant to continue. I began to teach my mother and sister as well because I wanted them to understand her needs when she used ASL. Again, I was getting what I wanted. My family was learning! I fell off with teaching Taniya for two years, but picked it back up once we began homeschooling. I knew that I would be teaching Jayla as well so I wanted to reestablish what we’d learned years prior.

Taniya continues to grasp new terms each day, and Jayla is watching, learning, and eventually using the signs as well. She walks to the beat of her own drum, and I’ve learned to accept it. Although James is over-the-road most days, like every other subject we keep him involved. As I learn, everyone else learns. My children will understand there are many types of people in this world, and they include deaf and hard of hearing people. I can’t wait for the moment they encounter a deaf child at the playground and are able to communicate with them. I know my father is proud…. because I sure am.