5 truths and a Lie for Successful Breastfeeding
Let me start by saying. EVERY baby is different, even from one child to the next. As well as every mom bod is different. These suggestions are not guaranteeing you to have the perfect breastfeeding journey or even that it will work for you 100 percent. These are just some things that have helped me successfully nurse 3 babies for varying lengths of time.
1. It may be magical but it’s going to hurt like hell.
Don’t let this scare you or detour you from starting, but I just want to be brutally honest. Those first two weeks are going to be rough. It will hurt and you will wonder why you chose this torture. BUT if you can stick it out, it will pass and you will see how magical it really can be. I say this because I think some rookie moms don’t mentally prepare for this fact and when it does get really hard, they just assume that breastfeeding isn’t for them and that it’s just not worth it. Trust me mama, it will pass. Those first 2 weeks are hard for everyone. Even with our third, my breasts were not prepared for the battle they had to walk though. But like I said if you can get through those exhausting first two weeks you will make it!
Personal Experience: For me I love, love loooove the newborn stage. Like it’s ma-jam. So it is truly magical for me [trust me though, I know plenty of mama friends that think the newborn stage is for the birds.] but I distinctly remember with my first baby sitting up at 2 a.m. alone in our bed with my week-old baby, attempting to nurse her and my nipples just hurting so incredibly bad that I just cried. I sat there and sobbed + sobbed because I thought “I can’t do this. I just can’t. It’s going to be like this forever”. Then literally like a week later everything just clicked between babe + myself and nursing was actually awesome. There really is something about that 2 week grace period that makes a difference!
2. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone but that doesn’t mean it it’s not right for you.
I’m going to possibly get some heat for this, but every momma should be able to nurse. That is literally what our breasts are for. They are giant milk bags provided to nourish and sustain the life that we just created. Yes, there are circumstances, situations, life changes, health issues, etc that can inhibit that natural process, I get that. What I am saying is that, the sole purpose of those boobies is to feed our babies. So just because it doesn’t come naturally to you or it doesn’t quite appeal to you or it kind of weirds you out, does not mean that it isn’t right for you. It just means, you may have to do a little more research on understanding the process, so you aren’t wigged out by it, or have to amp up your mental game on how you will get through it. And all of that is okay.
Personal Experience: I do love breastfeeding, so this wasn’t a personal struggle BUT a similar line of thinking…
I am not naturally a morning person, therefore, I have to give an extra conscious effort not to bite someone’s head off before having my coffee in the morning. It doesn’t come naturally to me, so I have to put forth a little more effort to make that necessity work.
3. Losing weight isn’t always the result
I tend to eat MORE when I am nursing. I would say that it’s half not eating as much as I should throughout the day due to time, and then stuffing my face late at night because I am starving and half eating to just stay awake in those late night or early morning feedings.
I share this truth because with my second babe I gained quite a bit while nursing and after being complimented so much on losing my baby weight with my first and attributing it to nursing [whiiich..can we PLEASE stop complimenting women on losing their baby weight. Like back off Brenda – I just made a human with my body. It’s none of your business if I lost THE weight or keep it for 18 years.], that when I GAINED with my second I got really, really discouraged at first. So know this mama, it’s totally normal to not “lose all that weight because of nursing” and instead possible gain a couple L.B.s. and that is okay!
Personal experience: With our second + especially no.3 I was bigger than I have ever been in my life [yes, still small, yet bigger than my personal average] I did have a brief moment of being completely down on my body and disappointed at my chubby cottage cheese thighs, thick back fat and flabby arms and then something switched inside and I made an agreement to my body that I would just honor it and give gratitude to the fact that it made a whole living person AND is still providing said person with the nutrients it needs to survive. Once I did that, I felt more confident and even sexy with those extra 10-15 pounds than I ever have in my whole life!
4. A support system will carry you further than you know.
I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have someone telling me to just keep going, or someone to call and frantically saying “the baby won’t wake up to eat!” or “my boob is really, really hard and I feel like I’m going to throw up”, “is it normal for them to stand upside down + nurse??”, “HELP! HE ISN’T NURSING ANYMORE!”, “He is so gassy no matter what I do, maybe I’m allergic to something”, “he won’t poop!”, “sexy time got really awkward last night.. .when will that stop?…IS THAT EVEN NORMAL??”
I needed these other women supporting other women, to ask those questions in a non-judgemental space. To ask those who had the knowledge or experience to tell me it’s all normal, it’s all okay or even I don’t know about that but here is a great resource to look that up.
I needed to know that this was just a part of the breastfeeding journey and I wasn’t doing it wrong and that keep really me going.
So go get that support system mama and USE them. No question is silly or too simple to just ask. If anything, you will help another momma who may be too afraid to ask the same question!
Facebook has a lot of great mom groups for this, as well as a local lactation consultant can point you to some great La Leche Leagues in your area!
Also, don’t be afraid to ask those non-mom friends or those who didn’t nurse for help. Even just having some companionship throughout this season of life can be a huge help!
Personal experience: When I had mastitis for the like umpteenth time, and the third round of antibiotics weren’t working and I could barely lift my arm and it was a school night for our oldest + my husband was out of town, I had a friend who stayed with her and a friend who came with me to the hospital so she could help with the babe- because you know… he had to nurse.
I don’t know what I would have done without having someone to call and be there with me like that! Sometimes a good nursing support system is made up of good friends who will drop what they are doing just to help you out!
5. Don’t give up
There will be moments, sometimes alotttt of them where you think “That’s it. I’m DONE. This is just silliness.” but don’t give up mama. You’ve got this!
Now, if you have tried nursing and it just isn’t working for you or your baby and you have no more desire to give it a go… then hey mama, that’s okay! You did what you could and what works for you and baby is what works for you and baby.
BUT if you are struggling and YOU WANT TO continue your journey then do.not.give.up!
Reach out, ask for help, get mad + move on. Know that there are many mama’s who felt the way you did and got through it.
Also know that sometimes the reason it isn’t working, or you may be struggling is that there may be something going on that is completely out of your control . Sometimes there are physical things that can cause the baby to not latch or other reasons why things aren’t going as smoothly.
Same as before, if you reach out and become persistent that you want to keep nursing no matter what, you will be able to find a solution and keep on going!
Personal Experience: With our third baby I knew something wasn’t right. He was making these clicking sounds, was super gassy no matter what I tried and it just seemed to not be flowing the way it should. I said multiple times, if I hadn’t nursed two babies before and knew how much easier it should be, I probably would have just given up.
Yet, I knew that something wasn’t right and I had that mindset that I wanted to nurse my baby.
No matter what.
So come to find out he had a lip-tie. Which required a quick visit to the pediatric dentist to fix! I know for sure if I didn’t have that commitment in my mind to continue to nurse the babe, I probably would have just stopped. As we approach a his first birthday I am so glad I didn’t give up, despite wanting to really bad!
It is cheaper to breastfeed.
Due to # 3 the cost of the amount of junk food I buy and the gallons upon gallons of water I drink, it ends up costing more in feeding myself than if I were to just buy formula!!
I am obviously joking. But for reals, the amount money put into buying food while nursing is pretty astronomical. Also, if you calculate time as money then I’m not sure it is any less expensive to nurse than to formula feed.
To be honest, it’s probably the same cost!
Therefore, I definitely can’t claim this as a truth!
If you take anything away form this, let it be that
you can do it mama.
We, as women, were given many gifts + and talents to provide for our tiny humans. If you have the desire to nurse your baby, then make it happen.
Make yourself a small goal, whether it is to nurse until 3 months, 6 months, 12 months or even 3 years old and make a point to smash that goal!
YOU’VE GOT THIS!
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Mastitis was worse than birth!! I remember being in tears just thinking it was almost time to nurse. So glad to be passed tha stage.
I seriously couldn’t agree with you more Ann! Mastitis is seriously the WORST!
My story was a little different. I didn’t want to breast feed and my baby wouldn’t take a bottle. That can be just as challenging and mentally frustrating as the other way around. And on top of that my milk wasn’t fatty enough for her and she wasn’t thriving. Took 4 months of her eating around the clock and gaining zero ounces to finally take formula and a bottle. One thing you could always share with people are ways to fatten up there milk. Not that it will work or be a solution but there are so many components to breast feeding that women need help with.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience Jena, this is a great point to bring light to ! I will definitely look into some ways to increase the fatty content of milk !
This is a great article! I love that you mention that it may not come naturally or go super smoothly, but that it’s important to not give up! My second had a lot of difficulty breastfeeding and was so different from my first. It took a lot of support and determination, but he’s a year now and I’m so glad I didn’t give up!
I loved breastfeeding my daughter once we got the hang of it but no one warned me about engorgement and mastitis. Great post.
I like number 5 the best. I really struggled the first time and ended up giving up, but with our second I had a much better perspective and I am feeding her at 7 months as we speak 😉
Yayy!! That is so awesome ! Nice job mama!