I’m a mom and breastfeeding is a huge part of my life. I love it! I am a total advocate for it and I want to use this post to talk about that. If this doesn’t apply to you, feel free to move on. I want to discuss this though because it’s important and I don’t think enough people understand it. Let me start this post by saying I believe a fed baby is the most important thing. (ie: I am not formula shaming.) Got it? Great! Here we go.
When I was pregnant, I did a TON of reading. Hell, even before I was pregnant, I was thinking about having a baby in the healthiest way possible. I wanted to prep my body and my mind. I wanted to have ALL the knowledge. (This is kind of impossible, but I sure did try!)
I read so many books, I quit eating and drinking certain things, I gave up allergy and other medications… It was extreme maybe, but it was what I wanted to do and I enjoyed the process!
I had always known I would breastfeed, but during my pregnancy, I became even more excited and knowledgeable about that decision. I began talking to friends and family members who had breastfed and they really helped me identify support systems and resources to help me on my journey. I read this book put out by the La Leche League: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and this was probably the MOST helpful and informative item. I seriously cannot recommend this book enough. It walks you through your breastfeeding journey, what to expect when you start, things to know about troubleshooting and interesting facts as well as a history of breastfeeding.
I also attended a La Leche League meeting while pregnant. The La Leche League (LLL) is an organization dedicated to supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed. In the meeting I attended, I was able to ask questions, here from new moms and just get encouragement about the journey I was to embark on. My meeting was especially informative because there were two moms who had just had babies not 6 weeks earlier. They were able to offer advice and things they learned from day 1. In this meeting, the leaders were also really honest about what to expect in the beginning. They told us that new moms really need to spend the first 2 to 3 weeks laying in bed, nursing their baby and relaxing. They explained how important it was to feed your baby on demand to help establish your supply. They encouraged you to sleep when baby slept and to let your partner also know what to expect. I am SOOO glad they shared this because I was able to use this to help me and my husband get ready. Both of us totally expected the first few weeks to be very low maintenance and he helped a ton with house stuff, getting me food and water and letting me sleep when baby did.
I left the meeting excited to keep reading my book and armed with a wealth of knowledge as my due date approached. I also joined my town’s Facebook LLL page where moms were able to post questions. I have seriously learned so much through this page. I often just go there to read about issues and see all the responses. Most of the questions are things that the book has addressed or things that I’ve also struggled with, so it’s cool to see so many women commenting and helping out. It’s also great because moms with older babies will post questions and it gives me a little mental note about what may be coming for me in the future. Through that page, I also found Kelly Mom – which is another GO TO website for all things breastfeeding. She has posts on EVERY topic. They are well researched and crazy informative. It’s the BEST!
Let’s get into my journey though… Before I gave birth, I was already super committed to my choice to breastfeed. I worried about it because so many women made it sound difficult. There seemed to be so many rules and things to look out for – you won’t have enough milk, it’s so painful, you have to pump and dump when you drink, on and on and on… Reading the book calmed a lot of those fears, but when so many people are saying this stuff, it starts to wear on you. Also, while I was pregnant, I dreamed about breastfeeding a bunch of times and each time in my dream, it just came so naturally. I remember my best friend Katherine asking if I was worried about breastfeeding and I told her, “No. I’ve dreamed about it a few times and I could feel the milk flow, so I think it’ll be good.” Hahaha. My commitment was even in my dreams!
When my little guy was born, he didn’t latch immediately. He was having trouble and when my placenta didn’t detach, I had to hand him over and let my midwife focus on me. So I was a little worried because I just didn’t get that instant breastfeeding relationship that I really wanted. However, later that night, he latched really well and it’s been pretty great ever since.
I do count myself lucky though because my journey has been fairly easy (so far). My guy has always nursed quickly. Most sessions are done in under 5 minutes, which is super fast and not particularly common. However, that has its own issues:
- When he was little, his stomach couldn’t handle how fast he ate. So he was fussy, gassy and pretty uncomfortable after meals.
- He eats every 1.5 to 2 hours. He only ever goes 3 or 4 hours at night. (He’s had a few nursing strikes during bouts of illness or growth spurts, but that’s uncommon. He loves milk!)
- Sometimes he wants to comfort nurse, but he doesn’t want to eat more, so he gets upset. (This was more of an issue when he was under 6 months.)
I’ve also had no issues with plugged ducts, mastitis or bad latch AND breastfeeding was NEVER painful for me. I think because he eats so fast, I never got raw because he wasn’t on there long enough to get to that point.
I have had issues with my son biting – I was able to nip that in the bud by taking away the boob for 20 minutes and then offering again. He hated having it taken away and he learned after 3 or 4 times what the consequences of biting would mean. (Occasionally he will still bite, especially when teething, but he immediately stops when he realizes it’s me.)
I’ve also had to deal with the bottle refusal issue. When my son was about 6 or 7 weeks old, we introduced the bottle and he took it no problem. However, we didn’t give him enough practice with it, so later on he refused it. Even now, the bottle is not his favorite, but if he’s hungry enough he will take it. If I’m being honest, I really don’t mind most of the time because I’m not a huge fan of pumping and washing all those parts. Not to mention washing the bottles as well. That is seriously a ton of work and it’s so tedious!
My choice to breastfeed on demand and not pump often has resulted in a so many good things and some hard stuff too. My son is well fed (to say the least!), he has a great attachment to me, he’s been sleeping well since 5 or 6 weeks (as in we co-sleep and he is able to eat while he sleeps, so I don’t have to fully wake up at night – it’s the best!), he has never taken a pacifier and he’s a pretty happy kid. I’ve also not had a lot of issues and I attribute that to both luck and listening to my body to help myself develop a supply and curb things before they turned into issues. YAY! I also don’t have to worry about buying formula, prepping bottles or really prepping anything when I leave the house with him. I’ve always got fresh milk on me. However, it’s not always easy either. My son wants to comfort nurse often and when I’m not around that is hard for both him and whoever is watching him. Nursing the way I do has also meant I don’t get out and have as much free time. I either need to pump bottles to be away or I need to plan short trips around his feeding schedule. I don’t really mind this most of the time, but there have been times when it is hard – especially when he’s super fussy and I need a break. Another random thing I learned is that breastfeeding can affect your libido. This one is hard because it is… my husband and I have always had a healthy sexual relationship. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for us. Luckily, it does start to bounce back and I’m glad we’re in THAT stage of things. Hahaha…
Now that my son is almost a year old, I am proud of this journey and I’m looking forward to continuing it. I have every intention of continuing that journey into his second year. I don’t know if I’ll continue past that right now. I used to feel kind of weird about it, but I really don’t anymore. I am just going to do what’s best for me and my son and what feels best at the time.
This blog could seriously go on and on because I have so much to say, so many experiences to share and I would love for EVERY woman to be able to successfully breastfeed their babies. I know it is absolutely the best thing for babies and it feels rewarding to be able to satisfy such a basic need. I know that it can be hard, frustrating and painful initially – but just like having a child, there are seasons to the different stages. I believe with the right support and encouragement most moms can get through those challenges to breastfeed – even if it’s just for a short time.
In the future, I will definitely write some follow up posts about this topic. If you have any ideas for stuff you’d love to hear about or questions you have, please comment and let me know. I’d love to discuss and I am definitely an open book when it comes to breastfeeding.
Thanks for reading!
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