Breast wasn't ‘best’ for me

Bottle feeding my baby made me a happier mom.

Breast wasn't ‘best’ for me

I think a majority of us parents had no clue what we were doing when we first started having kids. I was lucky enough to have helped my mom with my little brother when I was younger, so I had done things like bottle feeding and changing diapers, but beyond that, I was no expert.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I knew nothing about breastfeeding before researching. It seemed like something no one ever talked about. I was formula fed, and so were my siblings. For the longest time, I thought that's just the way it was. Who knew our boobs made milk? And that it was enough to keep a baby alive and healthy? I was so impressed and fascinated. From that point, I knew it was what I wanted to do with my baby. It sounded like it could be a terrific bonding experience, and that it was the best possible thing I could do for my child, and myself.

I definitely was not open to change when my first son was born. I know now how naive I was to think that everything would go exactly the way I wanted and that I'd 100% carry out my birth plan without a hiccup. Of course, when it came to breastfeeding, I had the same mindset. If other mothers could do it, why couldn't I? It's supposed to be this beautiful and natural thing.

After delivering my baby, I learned how hard it can be.

From the beginning, breastfeeding was such hard work. Imagine just pushing out a human, and having that not be the most difficult process. Like I said, I didn't really know a lot of information, so I had to find out as I went.

The biggest struggle was understanding why my milk hadn't come in yet. It took almost a full day before even colostrum started coming out. Also, who knew that existed? Yellow, sticky stuff that leaks out before actual milk does? I felt like I didn't know what I was doing. How on earth could I bring a living, breathing human home and take care of them?

We ended up using nipple shields, because my son couldn't get the hang of latching on his own. I would be lying if I said they were fun. I found them insanely uncomfortable, but I was willing to try anything because he needed to eat.

From my point of view, I believed it was going pretty well. His weight, however, proved that it wasn't. Between birth and his first week home, he lost 1.5 lbs. I was terrified. Back at the hospital, he was given a little formula to supplement until the milk came in. After his first weigh-in at the pediatrician's office, we started supplementing again, and I started pumping.

I would only produce about 0.5 oz per side after 30-40 minutes of pumping. I was exhausted, I felt defeated. But beyond any other feeling, I felt like a failure. I didn't understand why I was having such a hard time. On top of that, I was fighting the baby blues and the overwhelming anxiety of going back to work at six weeks postpartum. So I thought to myself, "maybe I'm better off at work, it's not like he needs me to eat anyway."

We continued to incorporate formula and any breast milk I could squeeze out. Once that kid got more than one bottle, he wanted nothing to do with the breast, and that's when I started exclusively pumping and giving him formula. Pumping at work was my worst nightmare. I could barely make any time, I consistently became engorged and contracted mastitis—basically an infection because of clogged milk ducts in my breasts.

This was an ongoing cycle for a few weeks. I was back working full time, taking care of a newborn on my own when I was home and I was tired and almost always in pain. Even though I knew the right thing for my body was to quit and switch to exclusively formula, I had a hard time letting go.

Looking back at it now, I made the best possible decision for myself and my son. At about 12 weeks postpartum, I stopped pumping and made the complete switch to formula. I was happier and felt more connected with him. Plus, my husband loved being able to take part in giving bottles. I have zero regrets.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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