This past week was National Breastfeeding Week! It has made me think a lot about breastfeeding and the love/hate relationship we have together. So I'm going to share my thoughts. Because it's my blog.
I'm not one of those people that's going to try and push my breastfeeding beliefs on anyone. I know how it goes, sometimes it just doesn't work out. But I never thought I would be so into breastfeeding!I think my job has a lot to do with that. I help mom's breastfeed everyday & I have loved and admired all the breastfeeding relationships I've seen. It is seriously a beautiful thing! That base helped me LOADS when I began to breastfeed Macklin. I felt so lucky to have some kind of knowledge base to back me up when days were hard and painful. It also helped that Mack is a champion nurser...but it really felt like second nature for us getting started.
I wanted to type some advice for myself...while the experience is fresh in my mind.
1) The first weeks are HARD. The baby eats ALL THE TIME and FOR A FREAKING LONG TIME. At times he would want to eat every two hours, for an hour long per feeding, aka I would get MAYBE an hour in between feedings to un-cow myself. Ugh. It was hard. I would call my mom in tears and ask her to go get formula, but we never had to actually resort to that!
2) I stressed a lot about having a good milk supply. I did fenugreek, lactation cookies, Gatorade, coconut water (gag)...I tried it all. What worked the best for me I think was feeding on demand, and pumping after my first morning feed when milk production is at it's highest point. It helped me start to get a little freezer store as well! Mack was a little piggy. He gained weight so fast and I think my production had a hard time keeping up at first. Now that he's eating solids and sleeping through the night, I have a bit of an oversupply.....as in over 1,000 ounces in my freezer. It's a good problem to have.
3) You have to figure out what works for you. At first, I was sick of breastfeeding all the time, especially when I wanted to hang out with family and friends. I'm not ( and am still not ) completely comfortable breastfeeding in front of people other than my husband or mom, so if I am around others I use a cover which is not really that fun to breastfeed under, or I isolate myself in another room. Boring. So I tried exclusively pumping for a bit. That was a nice relief because I could see how much I was producing. It was oddly rewarding to see that. But it didn't last long because Mr. Hungry Pants usually was not patient enough for me to pump.
4) It's all about supply & demand. Don't skip feedings and expect your supply to keep up. It's about getting your "magic number" of feedings/pumpings in a day. My magic number right now is 6. It changes with baby's needs. This means that you really don't get breaks. But maybe you'll get lucky and your baby will sleep through the night. It's amazing how your body regulates your milk supply to baby's needs.
5) It hurts so bad if your latch isn't right. Keep those lips flared out! If baby is struggling with the latch, look into it! Maybe he's lip or tongue tied. Even if he is, which I think Mack is, he can still learn to latch correctly with a little help. Or, maybe it hurts if you're 1-3 weeks post partum. I remember getting the chills after a shower one night from the pain. Cool gel pads and lanolin and coconut oil and your own breastmilk help with that. Gotta get them nips trained!
6) Speaking of pain. At first I had a hard time bonding with Macklin because my only interactions with him were painful (aka when he was breastfeeding.) After he was done, someone would take him and love on him, or I would lay him down to nap. Make sure you take the time to cuddle, love, and enjoy your newborn in between the painful, beginning nursing sessions. Don't worry about creating bad habits if you nurse him to sleep and then hold him while he sleeps. You can sleep train later. Babies be babies for such a short amount of time.
7) Suddenly it just gets better. I can't really pinpoint a moment but all of a sudden you look forward to each feeding (hello, time to catch up on your shows!) You see this moment of relief and comfort come over your baby's face when he starts to breastfeed that makes you feel like you're giving him a gift. Which you are. So all those days of tears and frustration suddenly become worth it.
Also, it's awesome when you don't have to wash bottles. Or buy formula!!
PS-- Working full time & continuing to breastfeed has been really difficult. Most days it's a lot of stress & sleep deprivation. But we're doing it! It will probably be one of my greatest life accomplishments.
Ha! but really.
6 months down, the goal is 6 more!