In honor of National Breastfeeding Month I definitely had to use this opportunity to write about something very close to my heart. With that being said I have to take a moment to pat myself and the other breastfeeding moms on the back because it is not easy!!!
I felt that I was well prepared for breastfeeding (pumps, storage bags, and lanolin thanks to very generous people) but I wasn’t completely aware of everything that comes with breastfeeding.
1. Breast Engorgement was one of the hardest things I had to deal with; I cannot describe how severe it was for me. I dealt this for the first 2 months because I made the mistake of over pumping in the beginning, which tricked my body into producing way more milk than needed. I was getting 5oz or more in each breast, every 2-3 hours. I could not sleep, and I couldn’t go anywhere without a pump. Poor baby girl was getting sprayed in the face all the time, and keeping a towel on me at all times was mandatory. I thought it was okay and put up with it for so long because I had this fear of not making enough milk. During pregnancy that seems to be something everyone warns you about, “Make sure you’re pumping so you have enough milk”, but that was not a problem for me. My fridge was full, and my freezer is stocked with more than enough emergency milk. Baby girl is exclusively breastfed for the most part so I wasn’t doing very much with all this pumped milk. That’s when I realized I was making too much milk and that I need to trust my body. IT KNOWS AND WILL ADJUST TO BABY’S FEEDING HABITS!!! Then came the really hard part, reducing my milk supply. I had to allow my breast to get so full to release a whey protein called FIL (Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation). Ice packs, ice packs, ice packs are the key words here. It took about 7 days to get my supply to where I needed it to be. I really wanted to give in and just pump but I am so happy with my supply now. I wish I would’ve discovered this before all the stretch marks popped up. Lol.
2. How do I know if my baby is eating enough?- Unlike bottle feeding, there is no way to measure or know how much milk your little one is drinking and in the beginning this can be very nerve-racking. So to that I say, TRUST YOUR BABY! What I learned pretty quickly is that when baby girl is hungry she’s going to eat, and when she’s not hungry, she will not eat. Plain and simple. Newborns have very tiny tummies and I think we tend to forget that, but that’s why we have to trust them. Of course, there are situations when babies may not be getting enough, but if you are attentive you will know. Make sure they are having enough wet diapers and watch for their hunger cues. Although baby girl is exclusively breastfed, every now and then we give her a bottle. That’s when I realized she doesn’t need to be drinking 150,000 ounces each feeding, more like 2 or 3. Lol. Trust your baby.
3. Save your pockets- I’m sure everyone will tell you how much newborns cost, but I have to say I don’t completely agree. With my situation I realized that being a parent is expensive not because I’m spending a ton of money on my little one, but because I can no longer work. I spend all my time on my baby and as we know, time is money. That being said, I am truly grateful that we don’t have to worry about buying formula. Not only is breast milk the healthiest choice, it’s the cheapest- it’s free! When you are already stressed about income, it’s a relief to know that your little one doesn’t have to worry about meals. That means not having to worry about spending an additional $2,000 a year.
4. It’s the best choice for you and you baby- I tell women all the time if you can breastfeed, then you should. Remember formula is just an imitation of breast milk, but why not just use the real thing. I hear a lot of things like, “Doesn’t I hurt?”, or, “Don’t you get tired of having a baby on your boob all the time?” The answer is yes, but it only hurts for the first week because it is new and your nipples have to get use to it. As far as having a baby on me all the time, yes it’s uncomfortable but I rather sacrifice my own comfort if it means baby girls is getting the best. On top of that, the bond that baby and mom share through breastfeeding is irreplaceable. When baby latches on there is a peace and drunkenness on their face that only you can give them. It is the utmost comfort for them. For mom, the feeling is soooooo empowering and makes you feel so loved! In that moment you know that no one can make your little one feel that way but you. In addition to the exclusive bond, breastfeeding helps moms bounce back thanks to the oxytocin that’s released; you burn 500 calories a day EASY. What more do I need to say? Lol.
All in all, I will always advocate for breastfeeding. However the most important thing is that your baby gets fed. So, if it’s not for you or prevents you from getting baby fed, then so be it. I won’t turn my nose up because it’s whatever works best for you and baby. However, I urge everyone to really give it a chance and be patient before giving up on it.