As mommas, we all have breastfeeding stories- stories of success, stories of failure and stories somewhere in between. I know I’ve had my fair share of breastfeeding tears and smiles as it’s been a huge part of my life while raising four little ones. I’ve tried to estimate the length of time I’ve been nursing over the last decade, and it’s around five and half years. Holy smokes! That’s a lot of baby boob time. While I may not be a lactation consultant or breastfeeding expert, I do think being a mom counts for something so I want to share some things I’ve learned over the years about nursing babies.
- Have faith in your body. Breastfeeding was really hard for me at first because of my need to know. I wanted to know exactly how many ounces my baby was eating. I needed visible proof that my body was making enough milk. I was a nervous wreck (as I think most first time moms are.) How do I know I’m not starving my baby?! I didn’t know what to do so I called the pediatrician who suggested I supplement with formula if I was so nervous about it. So I did. It’s something I regret now, but at the time, it gave me peace of mind. I wish someone had simply asked if my baby was having wet and dirty diapers (she was) and if she was gaining weight (she was.) I would’ve learned to trust my body that first time, and avoided years of regret. Which brings me to the next thing…
- Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and you don’t have to feel bad about it! You don’t need to feel guilty, less than, or have heartache because you didn’t, can’t or don’t want to nurse. I understand the whole “Breast is Best” and “Human Milk for Human Babies” campaigns, but honestly, as long as you are loving and feeding your baby, you are doing your job! Period.
- It hurts and that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. I’ve read a ton of stuff on breastfeeding over the years (I’m kind of a compulsive Googler), and on nearly everything I have read, they say breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. Bull. It hurts. My nipples bled those first couple weeks with all four of my kids. This last time with Evan, I thought something was seriously wrong with my baby as he was spitting up blood. Bright, red blood. But he was fine. My nipples on the other hand were not. I even spent $250 (insurance doesn’t cover lactation consultants which is a whole ‘nother issue) to have someone come to my house to help me. But nothing was wrong. If you’re baby is latching on fine and gaining weight, it probably just takes time for your nipples to get used to someone suckling 24/7. Hello?! How could it not hurt?
- It’s hard work at first, but it gets easier. See above. It hurts. It’s awkward. And there’s a learning curve for you and your baby. But you get used to it. You figure it out. And as someone who has breastfed and formula fed, breastfeeding is a whole lot easier in the long run. You don’t have to pack bottles and formula every time you leave the house. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on formula every month. And most importantly, it’s so much easier rolling over in bed and nursing than having to get up a make a bottle. I’m just too lazy. Kudos to all you bottle feeding mommas who are rockin’ those middle of the night feedings!
- Most people are supportive. We’ve all seen and heard the horror stories of mothers getting kicked out of restaurants for nursing their babies. Or having a stranger yell at them for exposing their breasts in public to feed their child. But I’ve never personally experienced it. If anything, I’ve found that most are really supportive. Maybe I’m just lucky but I hope it’s because more and more people are realizing that boobs are made for babies and nursing in public is no big deal!
Happy World Breastfeeding Week! What’s the biggest thing you have learned from breastfeeding?