I am a huge breastfeeding advocate. Not only is it amazing for your baby but it’s free! And all the broke mamas say AMEN! But, I do realize that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone. Some people would prefer to formula feed and that’s okay. A fed baby is a happy baby and a happy baby is the best kind of baby.
When I was pregnant with Carson, after tons of research, I decided that I was going to breastfeed and set a goal of 2 years. Despite our struggles in the beginning, we pushed through and managed nearly a year and a half before my school and work schedule got in the way and he weaned. Fast forward to Callie and I’ve made the same goal as before: 2 years. So far our breastfeeding relationship is beautiful and I’m enjoying every second. And can we talk about how much can change in just 2 years?
I wanted to share my input on breastfeeding for those of you who are planning on nursing your little angel cakes or for those who are just simply curious.
Disclaimer: Though I would love to claim the title, I am no breastfeeding pro. It’s been a learning process and this is what I’ve learned through my own experiences. I will gladly answer any questions you have but it is always best to find a international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) as well to help educate you on exactly what you need to know! (:
1. It’s not easy.
In fact, the first months are the the most difficult months. Those are also the months that so many mamas quit nursing. But I PROMISE YOU, if you stick it out, you’ll find what schedule works best for you and baby, and it can become something you actually cherish. Your husband may not be able to feed the baby but if you need help in the middle of the night, ask him to change a diaper! Those few extra minutes to yourself could be a game changer. I know many of us don’t like waking up our husbands when they have to be at work early the next day (me included) but you can’t take it all on and expect to stay sane.
2. It will be uncomfortable.
When your baby latches on for the first time, it will most likely be weird, awkward and uncomfortable. I mean, this is the first time you’ve had a living being latching on to your boob because it’s life literally depended on it. Your nipples will undoubtedly crack and bleed. Just know that this WILL NOT last! Those boobs were made for this! Other than the discomfort from the initial tugging and cracking, breastfeeding should not hurt at all. My little boy was born with a tongue tie which made it difficult for him to nurse and was extremely painful for me. Once we got it revised, he was like a brand new baby! So if you are having pain, call a lactation consultant near you before throwing in the towel!
3. You will have to turn into a fish.
CHUG CHUG CHUG. Water makes up a huge percentage of breast milk so it is so important to stay well hydrated. Drink when you think about it or set an alarm to help keep you reminded. You will also discover that you become thirsty when the baby nurses so don’t ignore this – when baby drinks, you drink.
4. You will leak. A lot.
When the baby nurses on one boob, your other boob will get confused and it will also try to feed the baby, soaking your shirt in the process. (I don’t know the proper explanation, that just made more sense to me.) When you are away from your baby and think of them – leakage. When you hear a baby cry – leakage. When you look at another baby – leakage. Nursing pads will become your bff (I would suggest cloth washable ones). But to really save money, you’ll just learn to discreetly put pressure on the other nipple while the baby nurses. Yes, that is possible.
5. The pregnant hunger doesn’t go away.
When I had my son, I would eat a MASSIVE breakfast and my husband always told me I ate like a queen. Even though it was more like a whale but I’ll take queen. Though you’re only supposed to consume a few hundred more calories when you breastfeed, you will likely consume more in snacks alone. Especially in the middle of the night when the baby eats and you have nothing better to do, right?
6. Your baby will eat quite often.
Breastfed babies typically eat often. More often than formula fed babies. So yes, this is normal. No, you aren’t starving your baby. No, your milk supply most likely hasn’t dropped. Listen to your baby and feed on demand. Comfort nurse if they need it. And be aware of cluster feedings. (PS – if you’re sick, NURSE. Give that baby some of those antibodies your producing!)
7. Your boobs will be uneven.
At any given point throughout this journey, one of your boobs will be bigger than the other. This usually isn’t too noticeable. Just don’t forget to switch boobs each time you feed. However, if your sweet child starts to refuse one boob (like mine did towards the end) then you will have something like a cantaloupe and an apple. They fix themselves eventually but sports bras may become your boobs’ new besties.
8. You will inevitably learn to multitask.
If your child is anything like mine, as soon as you actually need to do anything, they become hungry…REAL HUNGRY. Therefore, in order not to starve yourself, you’ll have to hold them in one arm to feed them while doing whatever else you have to do with one hand. You’ll become a pro in no time. If you need a more hands-free approach, invest in a baby carrier. They are LIFE SAVERS.
9. Support is everything.
A good support system is SO important in a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Talk with your partner about how important this decision and his support are to you. Join a few breastfeeding Facebook groups and make friends with mamas that share the same passions with nursing as you, find a local IBCLC (very important) and find a La Leche League near you to attend meetings! This all helped me a ton with Carson; with these outlets, I learned so much more and I may have never figured out that he had a tongue tie and would have been forced to take a different route without them. Is it still possible to be successful without any support or outlets? Of course. Women are strong beings and we are capable of anything we set our mind to. But having babies is hard enough…who needs more stress?
10. Every journey is different.
When you decide to take that leap and nurse your sweet baby, there’s no doubt you will scrounge the internet looking for tips, advice and stories. No matter what you find, though, just remember that every journey is different. One thing that will always remain the same: breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. You will form a bond with your child like no other and I can almost guarantee that when it ends, even through all the struggles and pain you may face in this journey, you will want those moments back. So soak it all up because it passes so quickly. Take time to study that sweet face, their features, their hair, their hands and feet. Enjoy every moment.
Do you have advice for breastfeeding? What are your experiences?