It’s World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7th) and I’m celebrating by giving you some of my truths from my experiences in the past SIX years.
**Disclaimer: I’m no expert and I support all forms of safely feeding your baby.
It’s hard. HARD! But, it gets easier, then hard, then easy. It’s a bipolar experience, similar to just about anything in life.
The breastfeeding experience may last 2 years, 2 months, or 2 minutes. Everyone’s experience is different.
The first couple days you’ll be trying to figure out the baby’s latch and what positions they like versus dislike. This will have you holding your baby like a football and your boob like a hamburger. Breastfeeding gives words all new meanings in life. (Your baby’s first word may even be “boob”.)
Your nipples will go from normal, to raw, to bleeding, to scabs, then eventually back to normal…well, a new normal. During that process you’ll having shooting pain when the baby latches wrong and have to bite down on a pillow for a minute to get through it.
For the first couple of months of breastfeeding, your entire day will be spent nursing your baby. I’m talking like 12 hours out of the 24 hours we get!
You will be stuck on the couch for what feels like days. You might even develop a form of bed sores, then realize it’s dried up food stuck to your thigh.
You will create your own “nursing headquarters” somewhere in your house where everything is within your arm’s reach. But still, you’ll be yelling for someone to hand you the remote because you can’t possibly strain your muscles anymore trying to reach an extra 6 inches away for you. This may create moments where you think if you stare at something long enough it’ll move
You’ll wonder what that awful smell is, check your baby’s diaper, then realize it’s your stank shirt smelling like sour old milk.
You’ll have to change multiple times a day due to leaky boobs because you forgot to put in those annoying breast pads that itch.
You give up all decently in your own home. Your husband comes home from work, takes one glance at you and says, “Honey, your boob is out.” You stop mid-stride, look down, reply, “…and?” and keep walking.
You nipples will resemble fingers during pumping sessions.
You will have a hundred anxiety attacks about having enough milk for the baby, then proceed to eat your weight in oatmeal lactation cookies and drink gallons of “Mother’s Milk” tea.
Side TIP: I think the best way to get an increase in your production is to nurse around the clock for those first couple months. If my baby was awake, it was a good chance she/he was on the boob.
The more you nurse, the more milk you should produce. Silly schedules mess with your supply. My babes lived on my boob the first 3 months of their life and I got a lot of “didn’t they just eat?” Yes Sharon, do you know how much milk is coming out of my boobs? No? Then shut yo mouth.
You’ll feel like a dairy cow. Not only because you’re nursing, but because you just gave birth and you’re living on the couch. You’ll literally feel like a cow, then tell your husband to tell you how beautiful you look.
You develop a love/hate relationship with pumping. You hate being attached to the pump, but you love that it allows you to go out for a night out! Well, if your baby takes a bottle!
You may get judgmental looks in public when people see you breastfeeding. You’ll actually get these looks no matter how you’re safely feeding you baby. **When I was breastfeeding my first child at an Outback restaurant, a lady sitting across from me was starring at me. That stare was so deep I could feel them looking at me. I finally made eye contact with her and she said “Oh Sorry, I hope you don’t mind, I’m just going to stare at you for a minute.” I was covered up too!
You may never feel comfortable breastfeeding in public or you may feel 100% comfortable. Personally, I don’t breastfeed in public without a cover, because when I breastfeed my boob is 100% out. I always take my boob out above the shirt, while others may take theirs out below the shirt and not expose so much.
If you can get one boob out of the shirt, it’s considered a nursing shirt. Your closet will become divided into “breastfeeding clothes” and “after breastfeeding clothes”.
You’ll feel used and abused by a 3 month old. Your baby will pinch, scratch, hit, and play with whatever mole they can find on your skin while they nurse.
It’s not rocket science and the more you stress about it, the less likely you’ll enjoy and be successful at it. <– Doesn’t this apply to a lot of things?! Look, when your baby comes out of your womb and you lay them on your bare chest, the baby will almost immediately start rooting around looking for your boob. It’s insane how natural it is!
Then, after all that, you’ll start the weaning process. Jesus, take the wheel.
I know breastfeeding can be intimidating to new moms and you have a thousand things running through your mind before you even have the chance to attempt breastfeeding. “Will I be able to breastfeed?” “Will my baby latch correctly?” “What will I do if I can’t?!” “What if I just don’t want to?”
Instead of that, just relax, and trust that you’ll figure it out. If you don’t end up breastfeeding, you’ll figure out what’s best for YOUR baby. Fed IS best!
World Breastfeeding Week
Positions & Tips
La Leche League
Nursning & Supplementing
Supporting nursing moms at work
When you can’t breastfeed or choose not to
30 Ways to Bond with Baby