Bella turns one this month and still nurses daily. As I tried to go to sleep one night, this post made it’s way into my head. It’s just some simple advice and thoughts that I wish someone had shared with me. It all seems like common sense to me now, but I see so many new moms give up on breastfeeding simply because they don’t understand how it really works.
I always hesitate to write posts like this, because I’m afraid someone will take it the wrong way. I don’t claim to know it all or to be a doctor. I’m not against formula, but I am a breastfeeding advocate. These are just thoughts from my personal experience.
My Nursling Bella
It isn’t easy.
I know, right? It’s like the most natural thing in the world, but it isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time, work, and commitment. And food. Don’t forget the food. You must eat and stay hydrated if you are going to nourish your child with your body.
For the first 4 or 5 months, Bella was attached to me almost 24 hours a day. It was hard. There were days when Justin would come home and I’d be waiting on him at the door with Bella, ready to pass her off on him. I was touched out, worn out, and just plain tired of having a kid attached to me. But my mind was made up and we were going to make this work, come hell or high water.
It might hurt, but if you get baby latched correctly, it won’t hurt for long. I had very little soreness and that was just my breasts getting used to having a baby sucking constantly. Keep some lanolin on hand and you’ll be fine. If the pain persists, you’ll need to find the root of the problem which could be a latch issue.
Your milk doesn’t come in immediately. It can take days and that’s okay. Colostrum is like liquid gold for your baby. I hear it all the time. “I just couldn’t produce enough.” “He was nursing constantly.” Nursing is supply and demand. When your child is feeding, that tells your body to make more milk. You have to give your body time to catch up to your child’s demand. I know it’s hard, but don’t give up. Nurse through it, that’s what I always told myself.
Unless necessary, supplementing is a short term gain and a long term loss. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not anti-formula. Bryson was formula fed after breastfeeding didn’t go as I had planned. With that said, when you supplement with formula, that tells your body to slow down the milk making process. If you supplement regularly, your milk production will take a hit.
Do not try to gauge how much milk you are producing by pumping. Just don’t do that to yourself. Of course, some women do respond well to a breast-pump, but some don’t. I’ve tried pumping several times over the last year and I cannot get more than 2 oz. Does that mean I don’t make enough to nourish Bella? Absolutely not. We’ve nursed for almost a year and I’ve not supplemented. So, please don’t let it discourage you or make you think you aren’t making enough milk if like me, you are unable to pump.
I know this is a horrible photo, but it’s the only one I have of me nursing in public.
We were at Day Out with Thomas the Train in May 2011.
Get over your fear and nurse in public. If you want to have a life outside of your home, you are more than likely going to find yourself out in public with a hungry baby. You do not have to go sit in your vehicle or go in a private room. You can enjoy being out and nurse at the same time.
Practice. This may seem silly, but if you are nervous about nursing in public, sit in front of a mirror, go through the steps, and you’ll find that you can be pretty discreet. I use a cover, not because I feel that I have to, I’m just more comfortable with one. By watching yourself in the mirror, I’m confident that you’ll realize you aren’t showing as much as you probably think.
It gets easier. As difficult as it was, now it’s smooth sailing. We are right at the one year mark and we are like a champion nursing team. I love that I never have to worry about making bottles of mixing up formula. As long as I’m around, Bella has everything she needs. Nursing not only nourishes her, it soothes her when she’s upset, it makes her forget about her boo-boos, and it’s the most amazing bonding experience I’ve had in my life.
If you are even thinking of breastfeeding, I encourage to give it a try. If you have a questions or just want to chat, feel free to e-mail me or contact me on Facebook. If you need support, encouragement, or a pep talk, I’m here!
Breastfeeding really is an amazing bonding experience. I never felt so close to my children than I did when I was feeding them. It gave me such a sense of usefulness to know that I was the sole provider of their food and nourishment.
Good job making it to the 1 year milestone!! That’s amazing!
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Thank you for posting this 🙂 I flagged it in my rss reader for when my Bean is born. Breastfeeding is the one thing I really want to do with my baby.
Thank you for your comment and congratulations on your pregnancy! I hope that you’ll find some useful information in this post when your baby arrives.
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I breastfed my first son for 6 months and it was the best bonding experience of my life. I worked full time and pumped at every break and produced more than enough to feed my son while I was at work. Your post is great and hits the nail on the head. I am now pregnant with my second and plan to breastfeed again and I hope to make it longer this time around.
Such a great post! I am very passionate about breastfeeding and cannot wait for a newborn nursling when baby #3 is born!
I love when you post about breastfeeding!!! I think if more people talked about it, it would become a normally thing again!!! I wish that either one of my children would have latched on but one was a premie and the other is just plain not going to to it even though we still try and she is 6 months old. So I have spent lots of time pumping. My advice just don’t give up either way you do it just do it cause BREASTMILK is the BEST!!!!
EXCELLENT post … And I am so glad you mentioned not being able to pump. I just borrowed my sister’s Medela PIS and have been so frustrated by the fact I can’t pump more than 1.5 – 2 ounces and worried something was wrong.
I was the same way, Rachel. It is frustrating to know that the milk is there, but a pump just doesn’t transfer it like baby does! Thanks for your comment.
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Wonderful post! I could never pump well either and it was so frustrating. I agree that being boobie mauled all day can drain on a person….I made sure to take some personal time where I’d sit in the shower and just be alone whenever I could pass baby off for a while. Congrats on making it to a year – that’s awesome!
Thank you for your post. The only thing I thought was missing was to say that it was ok if it ended up not working out.
I have an almost 16 year old who I bf exclusively for the first 4 months and then since I was back to work full-time, started supplementing. We still nursed in the morning, after dinner and before bed and we continued that until he was 6 months old. It was a wonderful experience and I loved it. It was tough at first and almost impossible when my milk came in. But we nursed through it and it was great.
Fast forward 11 years and my daughter Rachael (who is now 5) was born. Rachael had a soft suck when she was born and no matter what we tried, she wouldn’t latch. I couldn’t wait to bf her because I knew how rewarding the experience was the first time. The hospital gave me shields and had a lactation coach work with me in the hospital. I knew we were in trouble when it was 3am her 2nd night of life and she was screaming because she was hungry and I was crying my eyes out because I couldn’t get her to latch. They ended up giving her a formula bottle to get her through. I felt like a failure. She was a little baby and I was and still am well-endowed. It was a no win situation. They brought me a pump in the hospital and told me to continue to try.
The next day when we were getting ready to go home, my hubby and I were sitting in the room and I was working with the coach and nothing we tried was working. I just started crying and when the nurse came in and saw the scene, she had everyone leave but me. She sat down with me on the bed and soothed me by talking about how not everyone can do it. I knew I could because I had already done it with my son. But she made me feel like it was ok if it didn’t work out. Not everyone can.
I tried nursing almost around the clock when we came home. I used shields and she would fall asleep every time she got started. I was nursing her every 2 hours. The church where I worked at the time bought me a pump. She never latched on properly and I just couldn’t produce enough milk. I stopped trying to get her to latch and I started pumping every 2-3 hours for 30 minutes at a time on each side and the most I could ever get was .5 an ounce on each side. I was feeding her through a bottle whatever I was getting. The pediatrician started to get worried because she had lost so much weight but it wasn’t for lack of trying. After a month of trying this almost around the clock and getting more and more frustrated and depressed, I finally had a discussion with the pediatrician, my hubby and myself and gave it up totally. I felt free and almost instantly a weight was lifted from my shoulders.
I think it’s important to try and to take it seriously. It is just one more gift that we can give our little babies. However, not everyone can do it and I think it’s important to recognize that and remind us that it’s ok if we can’t.
Thanks for listening.
Thank you for sharing your story. You are right- it’s totally okay if you can’t or if it doesn’t work out. I only breastfed my son for about 3 months, but I supplemented the entire before switching to formula. Sometimes I forget that people feel pressured to breastfeed, because I was actually pressured to formula feed.
Thanks so much for posting this. It is important to give others some advice that they may not know. Breastfeeding is definitely hard and takes so much time but it will create a bond you could never imagine with your child and the health benefits are amazing. You are a beautiful mama.
Thank you so much for your sweet comment!
What a great and encouraging post! My breastfeeding days are behind me, but this is the kind of advice & encouragement one friend gives another. Good work!
As I read this I am sitting here nursing lil man, nodding my head in reply to everything you said. Lol. Thanks for sharing this. I think it’ll sway a lot of women into breastfeeding, and at the same time the lil bits you threw in about formula will calm those who cannot nurse.
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