When I was pregnant with our first baby last year, I wasn’t schooled on the mystery of breastfeeding. But I thought, since it’s the natural way of doing things, surely it must be pretty simple, right? Wrong.
I thought you just give the baby your boob and they know exactly what to do. Nope. My baby was just like me, in a sense, trying to figure it out. I’m looking at him. He’s looking at me. It was a beautiful learning experience. Thank God for my knowledgeable awesome Doula.
In honor of breastfeeding week, I deliberately sat down to write about breastfeeding. Here are my tips from my own personal experience:
#1 Breastfeeding Is Amazing
As a new mom, I had no idea that breastfeeding would be so beautiful. The moments that my baby and I spend looking at each other while he’s nursing are priceless. And the older he gets the funnier he gets. Now he’s driving his toy cars and motorcycles across my breast while nursing. One day he’ll be weaned and these cute moments will be over. If you’re reading this blog it’s probably because you’re breastfeeding or you’ve already decided to breastfeed when baby arrives, but just in case you’re not convinced, here’s a list of 101 reasons you should totally love, support, applaud and approve of breastfeeding. The list amazed even me.
#2 It’s Not Easy, But Don’t Give Up
Breastfeeding is hard at first, but it’s not the impossible. Many MANY moms give up breastfeeding within the first week or month because it’s painful (at first) and it can be tough to get baby to nurse without any problems. For many of us new to breastfeeding, we can’t tell if baby is latched correctly or not. This can cause sore nipples, painful nursing and even raw bleeding nipples. I remember the pain in my breasts (engorgement) the same day I gave birth, because my breasts were soooo swollen and full of milk, I felt like they were going to burst. They hurt so badly I wanted to throw in the towel. I heard that if you use fresh cabbage leaves on your breasts it will help reduce the pain and swelling. I never tried it, but I know moms who can testify that it works. I remember going through that for about a week – sore cracked nipples, swollen breasts, and being a rookie to everything – it was a huge challenge. But I didn’t give up on breastfeeding and neither should you. Here’s an article about proper latching techniques so you can identify any problems you might be experiencing.
#3 Babies Nurse For More Than Just Hunger
You are going to hear people tell you all the time, “You know the baby’s just using you as a pacifier.” Yes I absolutely know it, but what people must understand is that babies are totally going to go for their mommies breasts because it’s not just a source of food for them. Nursing babies want to nurse for physical contact with mommy, for comfort, to relieve pain, because they might feel scared, because they can’t talk and that’s how they communicate with you that they love you and so much more. There are so many reasons that babies nurse other than to eat. My son nurses when he’s in teething pain and even sometimes when he’s thirsty. While he’s nursing I’m thinking – he can just drink water – but then I remember, this is only for a short season and then he’ll be weaned, drinking from big boy cups – forever. Cherish these moments mommy.
#4 Your Breastmilk Really IS Liquid Gold
I had heard this before and laughed about it, but then after much research I learned that it’s so true! Our breastmilk is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antibodies made especially for this little person in our lives. It’s literally your baby’s first natural immunization or vaccination (without the harmful side effects). There’s been a recent scientific discovery of the cancer fighting properties in breast milk. Check out this video about it.
#5 Breastmilk Is Easy Digested
Contrary to popular belief, mommy’s breast milk is easier to digest than man-made infant formula and far easier than solid foods. Introducing solids too early can actually be harmful to baby. It can pose a risk of sucking food into baby’s airway, can cause baby to get too much or not enough calories or nutrients, can increase baby’s risk of obesity, and cause upset stomach. So before you dismiss the importance of breast milk, remember your baby has a very delicate digestive system and it is not ready to handle anything except breast milk in the first 6 months of life. You, mom, have the perfect solution produced on demand, right there inside you.
# 6 Leaking Everywhere All The Time Is Normal
I wish I had known that leakage was going to happen all the time, as I would’ve purchased some of those nursing pads – lots of them. Thankfully there were a few packs of disposable ones in my baby shower gift bag or I would’ve had zero. When I first saw it, I didn’t know exactly what it was for. Then when I leaked everywhere like a faucet I was like, ohhhhh that’s why they gave me that. If you’re expecting a baby soon, then expect to leak breastmilk too. (Oh, and here’s a link to purchase organic nursing pads from an Etsy shop, in case you don’t know where to look).
#7 Your Breast Won’t Dry Up Overnight
If you decide not to breastfeed or if you stop breastfeeding your breast will dry up eventually, but it will not be overnight. I honestly don’t know how long it takes, because every mother is different, but I’ve heard different moms say it took months and I’ve heard some say it took a year. Usually you would need to help it to stop faster by drinking an herbal tea or taking a supplement. Your body knows you just had a baby and it’s going to produce milk for that baby. It’s not going to stop just because you want it to.
#8 Factors That Can Reduce Your Milk Supply
There’s a long list of things can reduce your milk supply. The main ones to consider are stress, too much caffeine, medications, hypothyroidism, certain herbs, pregnancy and birth control. To read an in-depth list of factors that can cause your milk supply to plummet, check out this awesome blog What Decreases Milk Supply by Very Well Family.
#9 Breastfeeding Will Sustain Your Supply Better Than Pumping
I’ve heard several women say they aren’t producing enough milk with just pumping, and the answer is simple. Your baby naturally keeps your milk production going. The breast pump works, but not nearly as actually breastfeeding. If you have to pump, please remember to breastfeed as well, or you will likely see a reduction in your supply. Meaning, pumping should not take the place of breastfeeding your baby.
#10 Lying Down Breastfeeding (Co-sleeping) Will Change Your Life
Not only is it your baby’s favorite way to sleep, this will totally help YOU get more sleep. I am a living witness. Seriously. This position can encourage longer sleep habits for baby and much better quality sleep for you. For one, you don’t have to hop up to breastfeed baby and two, your baby will be next to you the entire night so they won’t be looking for you. Often babies are fussy because they want to be next to mommy. Here’s an article with helpful tips for lying down while breastfeeding.
#11 Breastfeed On Both Breasts… Or Else
You’re probably thinking duhhhh, but hey just in case you’re a rookie like I was, I’ve got to inform you. If your baby enjoys nursing on one breast more than the other and starts to reject nursing from that one, then you will end up with lopsided breasts. Yes, you’ll soon have one breast bigger than the other and weird fitting shirts. But hey, if this doesn’t bother you one bit, nurse away mommy. 🙂
#12 Your Milk IS Enough
Doctors and pediatricians love to tell moms that their milk is just not enough for baby, but this is not true. Your milk is exactly what your baby needs from birth until toddler hood. And your milk does not lose it’s nutritional value just because your baby is older. Your milk is just as healthy and packed full of nutrients when your baby is a toddler, as it was when your baby was a newborn. Next time your baby’s Doc recommends that you supplement your breast milk with formula, you can kindly let them know that your milk is enough. My son is currently 18 months old and still breastfeeding regularly. He also eats solid foods like blueberries, sweet potatoes, apple sauce, cabbage, bananas and pretty much everything that we (mommy and daddy) eat. He’s not underweight or overweight, and he’s rarely sick. In the last 18 months he’s had 2 common colds and a fever. So, yes mommies, your milk is enough!
Anymore tips for breastfeeding rookies? Please share with me, so I can share with the rookie mommies! 🙂
See ya soon!