Breastfeeding was not easy for me, but I’m so glad I did it. I struggled with tongue tie, too much lipase, and recurrent mastitis, but still managed to have beautiful nursing relationships with both kids. Before having the Bear, I thought nursing would be so easy and natural. It is natural, but it isn’t always easy. So many of my friends have struggled as I did with feeding their babies, so I thought I’d share a few things I learned along the way. The journey we went through has given me much grace for others, so please don’t hear any judgement if your choices are different than mine. It isn’t there. Read more about our breastfeeding struggle here and here, and about all I learned about breastfeeding here.
1) It is ok to ask for help. If you sense something isn’t right, don’t hesitate to reach out to an online breastfeeding community or a lactation consultant. Our lactation consultant (the 4th one we saw) saved our breastfeeding relationship and was the first person to notice the Bear’s tongue tie. If I hadn’t swallowed my pride and called her for help on a friend’s recommendation, we wouldn’t have made it a month. The Leaky Boob community on Facebook and the Kelly Mom website are excellent resources. To find an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in your community go to ILCA.org.
2) Your breastfeeding relationship won’t look like anyone else’s, because it is between you and your baby. It will probably look different with each child. You and your baby may not fit in to a mold, but as long as they are getting the nourishment they need and growing in a healthy way, it is ok. One of my kids nursed for a solid half hour each feeding for an entire year. The other would finish in under 10 minutes. Neither one would ever take a bottle. Several dear friends had to pump exclusively for months because nursing didn’t work out but they wanted to give their babes breastmilk (total rock stars). Your baby may want to eat every four hours, while a friend’s eats every hour round the clock. Whatever works for you and your baby is the right way. On a related note, please try to refrain from judging other mamas for their feeding choices. You have no idea what they have gone through to get where they are and as long as they aren’t doing something that would harm their baby it isn’t your business.
3) It gets better. It really does. If you can push through the first 6-8 weeks it will become easier and more natural and you and your baby will get better at it. Really. Your baby will begin to go a little longer between feedings and you will feel less like a milk cow. You will be more confident in your nursing abilities. However, if it is miserable during those first 6 weeks, see #1 and ask for help.
4) It is the best possible food for your baby, but may not always be the best for you. I would have loved to nurse my babies past a year, but because of recurrent mastitis infections (7 times with Bear and 5 times with Pearl Girl) I had to wean around a year to protect my own body. A friend’s struggle with postpartum depression meant she needed medication that could be passed through milk. Another friend’s heart condition didn’t allow her to nurse as she planned. Both mamas had to choose their own health over breastfeeding, and it was the right decision. Breastfeeding advocates who shame mamas who choose to use formula do more harm than good in my opinion. Formula is a valuable and lifesaving resource and I am so thankful it exists. The Bear had to supplement when my production dropped because of his lip tie, and I felt all of this terrible guilt of not being a good mother. That is total crap and not something any mama should feel who is trying to do the best for their child. Many mamas use formula so they can go back to work and provide for their families. In a perfect world we would all nurse until our children self weaned, but our world is far from perfect. Please do not feel guilty if you are not able to breastfeed or choose to use formula. We have spent too much time and energy beating up other mamas with our words when support is what’s needed. If you are struggling, again see #1 and get the help of a lactation consultant. I love breastfeeding and think it is wonderful, but I know it can be difficult.
5) Enjoy it. The days are long and seem endless, but the years are short. It may seem in this moment like all you do is nurse and change diapers, and it is probably true. Before you have time to blink your baby’s nursing time will be over and you may long for those sweet warm snuggles. I spent too much of our nursing time preoccupied with my to do list or checking Instagram on my phone. It is ok to catch up on email once in a while, but take time every day to just be with your baby and soak up the sweetness. The nursing relationship is so special and over so fast.
What is your best breastfeeding advice?
Follow Dayna :: Lemon Lime Adventures’s board Everything Baby on Pinterest.
Ultimate Guide to Feeding Baby ~ Lemon Lime Adventures
9+ Tips for Breastfeeding (Twins or Single Babies) ~ The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide
My Best Breastfeeding Advice ~ Bare Feet on the Dashboard
Tips to Avoid a Breastfeeding Burnout ~ The Realistic Mama
Do You Give Her Water? Changing Times, Changing Advice ~ Let the Journey Begin
Our Feeding Stories ~ Trust Me, I’m a Mom
Tips for Unexpected Bottle Feeding of your Baby ~ Powerful Mothering
Top 5 No-Cook Baby Food Recipes ~ True Aim Education
Raising a Non-Picky Eater ~ ALLterNATIVElearning
Montessori Weaning Table ~ Living Montessori Now
Quick & Healthy Meal Ideas for Babies ~ The Eyes of a Boy
The Best Baby Food Recipe Books ~ Still Playing School
Why I skipped purees ~ Dirt and Boogers