I want to talk a little bit about my breastfeeding experience so far because I know there are some new moms or soon to be new moms that read my blog and it may be comforting to hear from another new mama!
First off, when I was pregnant I had said I would try to breastfeed but I never believed that it would be right for me. I always said that the whole thing never really felt “right” but that I would at least give it a try. I’m glad I did because now it is something I really enjoy.
Let me also start by saying that no matter how you feed your baby is OKAY in my book. I primarily breastfeed Ellie, but in the early days I would give her formula and pump as well. And guess what? Sometimes she still gets a bottle of formula and she is FINE. So to all you soon to be mamas out there, don’t be so hard on yourself when it comes to how you think others will judge you. As long as your baby is being fed, you are doing your job.
Eleanor came a month premature due to the fact that I was diagnosed with
preeclampsia. When she was born, I was pretty lucky that she latched as well as she did. The problem was because she was born premature and left the hospital at a mere 5 pounds, she would fall asleep while breastfeeding within minutes. We tried everything: taking her clothes off when we nursed, rubbing her back gently to keep her awake, etc. Nothing seemed to work. On top of that, by the time I attempted to breastfeed, I became so frustrated that it made the whole process worse because she was getting frustrated too. After I would breastfeed, I would have to pump. By the time I was done pumping, she was hungry again because she wasn’t getting enough to eat. The first few weeks were so tough as is and I put way too much pressure on myself to give her breast milk.
We began going to a lactation consultant a week after she was born. The lady we worked with was an absolute saint and I appreciated her patience with me. She suggested supplementing with formula after attempting breastfeeding and she said that I should always use my judgement: if Ellie seemed to be latching well that day and not falling asleep, keep going. If she falls asleep as soon as you begin to nurse, pump and give her a bottle. I was days away from giving up completely because it seemed so HARD and time consuming. Then, I decided I would give Ellie and I a break. I pretty much solely pumped for 7 days to get my supply up and then attempted again when she’s gained a little more weight and could stay awake longer. Looking back, this was the best decision I made. My supply had increased and Ellie and I were less frustrated.
My aunt gave me advice one time that really stuck with me. She said “when you breastfeed for the first time, you both are learning for the first time and it takes practice. Don’t beat yourself up. It takes time for you both to learn.” She couldn’t have said it better. About a month into our breastfeeding journey, things just started to click for both of us. I knew what positions she liked, and she could stay awake for longer periods of time. I still supplement with a bottle a day because my supply can’t seem to keep up with her demand but I am so glad I stuck with it and kept trying.
Breastfeeding has been such a blessing and an amazing bonding experience with me and my daughter. I’m not saying this to make others feel bad, I’m wanting to express how it has made me feel. So, if you have breastfed or you will try when your baby arrives, here are some points that I have taken away from it:
- You will usually always have one side that is favored more than the other leaving your boobs totally different sizes
- My husband was my “lactation consultant” at home. He listened more at the appointments than I did. I was so tired during those early days that he was great at reminding certain things that the lactation consultant said would help. It ultimately made him my biggest cheerleader and that helped so much!
- You will most likely get clogged ducts and they are no joke! They hurt and need to be take seriously so you do not end up with mastitis (inflammation of the breast)
- You will have good breastfeeding days and not so good ones when you are first starting off and navigating what works and what doesn’t.
- My lactation consultant would ask me early on how quickly my “let down” would happen. I always lied because I couldn’t tell when it happened and I was embarrassed to tell her I didn’t know. Now, with a few months under my belt, I know when it happens (feels like pins and needles for me) and it is insane!
- At least once a day I have this “ah ha” moment when I realize that women are created to FEED their own children. That is so crazy to me, but what a blessing for the people who chose to do it and are able.
- Sometimes even to this day, we give her a bottle so that John can give me a break and he can bond with her. This works for us and we both love it.
- Use support to your advantage. Talk to your doctor or lactation consultant if you have questions.
- Don’t feed into the mommy shamming that there is only ONE way to feed your child. You have enough on your mind as a new mom. You don’t need the negativity.
- As Ellie has gotten bigger, she hits my breast while I nurse her. I read some
- where that it’s her way of trying to get the milk to let down. Isn’t that insane?! Your baby is wired to know how to help your milk let down faster. Mind. Blown.
Anyway, this experience so far has been more than I ever thought it could be. It is time consuming, yes, but for me personally it is worth it. I am a stay at home mom and it works for us. I know that that isn’t the case for everyone and that for some their milk just
never came in. I realize that and as I said earlier, I in no way judge how you feed your baby. It’s really what works for you and your lifestyle! I hope this helps some mamas who will be experiencing some of this for the first time in the coming months. Enjoy it and do what feels best for you and your family!
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