I’ve never met a mother to be that doesn’t say she would like to breastfeed. It is “free”, it “helps” you lose weight, it is “best” for the baby and it creates a “bonding” experience. All of these things are “true” and yet not. Let me elaborate.
Breastfeeding is free-ish. I am currently exclusively breastfeeding our daughter, so we are saving money on formula. Great. Good deals. What we aren’t saving money on is all of the food I’m eating. I cannot get full. I’m starving right now as I write this, I also just ate. I will eat again soon and within thirty minutes I will be hungry again. This is my life; I think this will always be my life.
Breastfeeding helps you lose weight-See paragraph above. Yes, I do attribute breastfeeding for me being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes so quickly. But of course I lost weight, I AM STARVING. My metabolism is at a breakneck speed and I will never be full again.
Breastfeeding is best. I get the science, but what’s best is your baby will not go hungry. Like so many other mothers I had trouble in the beginning and this point expressed by a friend really helped put everything back into perspective. Continuing to exclusively breastfeed is what’s best for me and my child, but if it wasn’t that would be okay. My baby won’t go hungry and that is best.
Breastfeeding creates a bond. In my experience it does, but that is not to say that it’s not tiresome and hard at times. Jude eats every three hours, my day is set to a schedule of pumping or nursing every three hours. Nothing can be beautiful or magical every three hours. Just a few nights ago at 4am we had a terrible time nursing. We were both tired and hungry-see second paragraph– and she wouldn’t stop flailing because she wanted to eat faster than she could swallow or I could produce and she was furious. And I was as well. But then she calmed and she has the most perfect little round head and I was so happy to be what she needed.
Now I want to share the things that helped me. I’m on the other side of the hardest part; if I can give support through to the other side then I’m going to.
Water! Never stop drinking water!
Lactation cookies, if you have someone in your life that can keep you in a constant supply of these bad boys then ask them to. They are perfect midnight snacks, after breakfast snacks, because I didn’t have time to eat lunch snacks, after dinner snacks, before bed snacks, because I woke up to use the restroom and I’m always starving snacks. To help with the nutrition factor we have added chia seeds to the recipe, this also means you need to add milk or more oil to help with the moisture. If you have any questions on the exact recipe, please comment and I’ll get the recipe from my aunt.
Fenugreek: I take tablets and drink Nursing Mother’s tea. The tea is an herbal that helps with the water consumption as well.
Milkies Milk Saver: I love this contraption. Something I didn’t know before breastfeeding was that when you nurse on one side, you express from the other. So, this lovely piece of plastic inserts into your bra and collects while you nurse. I collect about an ounce a day, that might not seem like a lot, but its seven ounces in a week and that’s more than one feeding for her currently. Another wonderful feature is that I’m not some swampy mess after nursing. Breastmilk is sticky-ish, if it’s just leaking all over me then I feel humid; like I’ve been sweating down the front of me. It’s not awesome.
Kellymom.com: this has been my favorite website for three months now. I honestly haven’t found a question that they haven’t answered.
Other parents: Those people who have gone through this before you, ask them questions, talk to them about their experience. Accept whatever they have to say as coming from a place of love. Being a parent can make you feel inadequate and that can make it difficult to take advice, but try and train your brain to open to suggestions. There is nothing like a comrade in arms.
It gets easier. A cousin of mine told me this when I was pregnant and it really does, those first 4-6 weeks are by far the hardest. Lean on any support system you have. Without my husband and mom bringing me food or water I don’t know if I could have made it through.
Study breastfeeding before having your baby. If you’re anything like me, it’s already too late for this advice to be relevant. I was of the mind that as long as my body didn’t have a problem with production then it would all come naturally. That’s really not the case. There are so many variables. Jude just wouldn’t latch… I don’t know why. She had a great coordination of sucking, but she wouldn’t latch, which meant that when she was a day or two old, I was trying desperately not to sob in the hospital room as she screamed for food and I had what she needed but she wouldn’t just take it from me. I remember our night nurse popping in as I was giving up and going to the pump, my husband was trying to calm Jude down and I told the nurse that I thought she was associating my breasts to stress. It was a terrible feeling. I cried a lot those first couple weeks. I don’t know if more research would have helped, but doing my research later certainly did.
When you find something that works, be mindful of any suggestions against it, but if it works stick with it. I have been using a nipple shield for almost every nursing session for the past two and a half months. I try occasionally to feed without it, but Jude is still not interested. “They” suggest against using nipple shields because it lowers your supply. This has not been my experience. My experience is that she is getting all the food she needs. I have a cousin who exclusively pumped; I’ve heard that this can lead to breast milk drying up. This cousin was a mass producer. If it’s working for you, then do it.
Don’t let anyone shame you. Whether you breastfeed or use formula don’t let anyone make you feel bad for the decisions you make. “Breast is best,” chimes the masses. “Do you really think that’s appropriate to do here, maybe you should do that in the bathroom,” heckles a cynic when you breastfeed in public. Screw ’em, don’t let anyone shame you.
Remember your baby will not go hungry. Really, sometimes things do not work out as planned, you may decide that formula is best for your family. Keep in perspective what is important, don’t let anyone shame you. Your baby will not go hungry.
I hope there is information here that helps. If you have any questions, please ask. I would love to share and help in any way possible.
All the love,
P.S. The title is from The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan series.
P.P.S. Milk-Saver photo from http://www.mymilkies.com/milksaver