There are so many things I wished I would’ve known about breastfeeding. I know that I would have been much more successful in my first go around had I known these tips. I know now that I will be pass along these tips to my daughters if they choose to breastfeed. To be honest, I hope they do. I will support them in whatever decision they choose but for me, our bodies were created to do amazing things and one of those is to feed a child. Don’t get excited…I’m not going to ram the breastfeeding option down anyone’s throat in this piece. I’m just going to discuss five things I’ll tell my daughters about breastfeeding.
1. I have heard people say that breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world. I did not initially have this experience. For me, it was hard. I fumbled around and had no idea what I was doing. I had read books on the subject and sat by lactation consultants for several years at a previous job. I figured I knew something on the subject while I was pregnant but ended up knowing nothing in regards to my particular situation when I actually began nursing. So please understand that although our bodies were designed to nurse a child it may not feel like the most natural thing in the world and that is okay. You will learn what works best for you and it may take time. If something doesn’t seem right then ask for help, from more than one person.
2. The first two weeks of breastfeeding my first child were painful. And when I say painful I mean it felt like every time I went to nurse, someone had my nipple in a vice grip. I would cry every time my daughter cried to be fed because I could feel the pain of her latching on before it even happened. I would actually bite down on something on some occasions just to help me get through the pain of the initial latch-on. Know that this may not happen to you but if it does, it is likely to only last two weeks and your nips will toughen up. Until then, invest in a good piece of leather to bite on.
3. My boobs leaked. Constantly. I would get up in the morning and take off my nursing bra to have streams of milk shoot out across the room. I wore nursing pads and showered daily yet I still felt sticky and gross much of the time. Between my own boobs and all the junk that comes out of a baby I just never felt consistently clean. My chest had also gotten quite large so instead of my boobs feeling like a natural part of my body, I felt like I had two extra appendages I had to lug around all day. While I was in the throes of breastfeeding, it affected my overall mood and feelings about myself as a new mom. This will pass and you won’t feel sticky and dirty and big forever. And guess what else? You don’t look sticky or smell dirty so it will be okay. My boobs did look big though. Not much I could do there.
4. I was not comfortable with breastfeeding in public so I pumped. A lot. This was nice in that it allowed me to feed my kids from a bottle whenever I felt like it but it takes a lot of EXTRA work. Nursing a child is less time consuming than hooking yourself to a machine. Your boobs go where you go but you have to lug a machine around if you plan to pump. I hope you will feel more comfortable with nursing at anytime and anywhere. This will make your life much less complicated. Plus, many places still do not have a clean room to pump so it is not uncommon that a woman needs to pump in a bathroom stall somewhere. That’s a whole lot of fun.
5. Listen closely because this is probably the most important thing that I learned after I had you two girls and was nursing your brother. It is so important to surround yourself with pro-breastfeeders if you are going to nurse. Make sure you have a supportive troop of friends that were successful at this endeavor. They will encourage you to keep going when you feel like quitting instead of saying that whatever you have done is good enough. This is important because the first three months of feeding a baby can be very overwhelming. Your friends know that it gets better if you can just stick it out. I did not have this troop during my first or second pregnancy so I set my bar low. You want to set yourself up for success in this endeavor. And get your partner on board with you as well. This person may think they are being supportive when they say, “Just quit” but they can be just as supportive by saying, “You can do this!” or “What can I do to help you get through THIS feeding?”
I hope that when you are at the age to have children (if you want them) that society has gotten over their stupid hang-up that nursing a baby should not happen in public. If they haven’t, I hope that you are confident enough to nurse wherever you damn well please because it is your right to do so regardless of their unnatural thoughts on the subject. Like I said, in the end, whether you choose to nurse or not is your choice. I will support you no matter what. I just hope these five things set you up for success if you decide to breastfeed.