There are countless things I wish I knew about pregnancy and postpartum life. So I’ve decided to start a series where I talk about these things. I am basing these posts around my personal experiences and I am not a medical professional. This particular post is Things I wish someone told me: Breastfeeding
Well this post is timely, as it is International Breastfeeding Week! I thought I knew everything there was to know about breastfeeding. I took a 3-hour long course when I was pregnant about breastfeeding. I dragged my husband along and everything. I knew I’d need more food and water. I knew it could take some time before my nipples adjusted. I even had early success with breastfeeding and I’m very lucky that my breastfeeding journey has gone smoothly. But of course, you know where this is going; there are a few things I wish I’d known before I began being the sole provider of food for my infant.
If you’d like to take a peep at any of my previous mom-power moments, you can read the other posts here:
- First Trimester
- Second Trimester
- Third Trimester
- Labor and Delivery
- C-section Recovery
Don’t be afraid to ask the nurse for help
Trust me, if I could always avoid asking for help, I would. I just get oddly shy about reaching out to people and I don’t want to be a bother. Before I had Little Love, however, I knew I was going to ring in the lactation consultant as fast as I possibly could. Before she paid me a visit I went ahead and asked the on duty nurse what to do. I had absolutely no clue and while she wasn’t an LC, she was far more in the know than I was. The class was definitely helpful, but having someone physically show me what to do helped me get Little Love latched on speedy quick.
Have nipple pads and nipple cream on hand
Think of it as the first time you handwrite an essay after Summer break. Your hand is so sore and it takes some time to build back the calluses in your fingers and get used to the motions again. I luckily only had to use the cream for the first few days. I used it for a few weeks afterward just to prevent cracking, but I didn’t really need it. I don’t even use it anymore. I went to the hospital without any nipple pads but my SIL brought me some and I was so thankful. I use them everyday and every night and change them out frequently. If you want to prevent leakage on all your clothes, these are a massive help.
I thought I had an infection the first time my mature milk came in
I remember it clear as day, I was laying in our guest room to rest and fell asleep. It was just after midnight and I woke up to this intense feeling in my chest. I threw the covers back and saw my breasts looking the biggest I’ve ever seen them. I started crying. I’d heard all the horror stories of mastitis and other infections. I was convinced I hadn’t fed Little Love enough and now I was paying the price. I immediately ran and woke up my son and husband to desperately try to get my baby to eat. Unfortunately all it did was wake everyone up. I was a sobbing mess and by the time I got him to eat and get back to sleep I collapsed in my bed. The next morning I told my mom the story and she explained it was my mature milk coming in. I knew this process would happen, but I didn’t know it would feel so intense.
Don’t feel obligated to schedule your child’s feeds
When I was still recovering in the hospital, a nurse would come in every 2 ½ to 3 hours to make sure the baby had eaten. I remember one nurse guilt-tripped me so much because it had already been 3 and half hours. Never mind he was currently sleeping and I thought it was better to give him a bit more of a rest. Once we got home I tried to stick to that schedule as much as possible but after the first week I started feeding on demand. I’ve read that it’s actually good to do this so your child gets properly fed and the correct amount of nutrition. If scheduling works for you and your family, by all means, continue to feed that way. I just found that my son was growing like a weed feeding him on demand, so I stuck to it.
It’s okay to feel conflicted about breastfeeding
I have been so fortunate to exclusively breastfeed. My son is hit or miss with the bottle. Sometimes I feel so empowered and strong by being able to provide Little Love with all the nourishment he needs and other days I wish he’d take the bottle and I wouldn’t have to be milk on tap. I think it’s perfectly normal to feel like you need some independence from time to time. Also, if you supplement with formula, that’s okay too. There is no right or wrong way of doing this (other than not feeding your child at all). Fed is best.
We’ve come to the point where we’re about to start Little Love on solids. I know he’ll still need the boob, but a part of me is sad that he’s going to slowly start picking up on more and more solids. Whether he stops at 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, I’m just so happy to have been able to feed him up to this point.
Happy days and see y’all soon!