Whether or not to breastfeed was never a question when I was pregnant with Adeline. I didn't even register for bottles until a month before she was born when a friend pointed out that I might need somewhere to put my pumped milk...duh! In my mind, babies ate from the breast and that's it. We can thank my mother for that. She did a thorough job in
brain-washing teaching me that breastfeeding is the way to go. I'm a stubborn person. I make my mind up on something and that's how it stays. We can thank my dad for that.
So anyway, I was going to breastfeed Adeline and that was that. I wasn't worried about it in anyway. It never crossed my mind that I might have difficulty, or that she might be a poor latcher, or that I might not make enough milk. To me, breastfeeding was how God intended babies to eat, therefore it had to be the easiest way to go and there was no need for me to stress. I know now that it's not the easiest (nothing is), but I think having that mentality helped me stick to it through all the stressful moments.
I bought a book about breastfeeding called The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. It gave me a lot of pointers & prepared me for what to expect & how to handle those stressful moments as well. I highly recommend it. I ended up breastfeeding Adeline until she was 13 months old, she continued to drink milk I had pumped & frozen until she was about 15 months old, then she switched to cow's milk. I plan on doing the same with Annabel. However, this time around I'm not quite so naive. I know it's not so easy for everyone. I was blessed with a healthy baby. She had no problem latching and I had no trouble with my supply. I hope I'm that blessed this time around.
Why I Love Breastfeeding
- It develops such a strong bond between mother & baby. It is a tender, loving experience. It is something only you, as the mom, can do and your baby soon realizes that.
- It is so nice to not have to make a bottle in the middle of the night, or even get out of bed if your baby sleeps in your room.
- It is the healthiest choice for you & your baby.
- It helps you lose that pregnancy weight in no time.
- It is so cheap. I calculated that I saved us approximately $1800 by breastfeeding.
Why Breastfeeding is Hard
- You can't do it anywhere. Well I guess you can, but I was too modest to.
- If you work, or ever have to be away from your baby, you have to pump. I hated this & am already dreading it.
- You still have to be careful of what medicines you take, or what you eat or drink, just like when you were pregnant...but not as strict.
- It can be painful at first, then again when you wean.
- Your breasts don't really ever look the same, but pregnancy sometimes does that anyway.
What I've Learned
- The taste of breast milk changes according to what the mom eats. This exposes the baby to all kinds of new flavors, making the transition to foods easier on their stomachs & their palates.
- What's in formula does not change, so you have to increase your baby's ounces as they get older to make sure they're getting enough nutrients. Breast milk changes according to what your baby needs. It is not necessary to count ounces because what they get is what they need. If I wasn't nursing, I would pump during the time she would normally nurse, and whatever amount I would get, was what she would get. I never stressed over ounces. She drank 3-5 ounce bottles always because that's what I would produce and she grew & gained weight exactly how she was supposed to.
- Supply increases with demand. When Adeline would have a growth spurt, she would be more fussy & want to eat more, so I would nurse more. Therefore, my supply would increase & she'd get what she needed.
- A good latch & nursing as soon as possible after birth is the key to starting breastfeeding off correctly. All hospitals should have lactation consultants. Get one in there with you as soon as possible to make sure your baby has the proper latch. If your baby is making a slurping or sucking noise, the latch is wrong. It should be silent. An improper latch can be extremely painful for the mom & bad for the baby as it doesn't allow the baby to get enough milk. It can also lead to mastitis in the mom which usually ends in giving up breastfeeding.
- It took almost 6 days after birth for my milk to come in. That's ok. Right after birth, you produce colostrum. This is a vitamin-enriched form of milk that the baby needs to jump-start their life in this world. They are not starving. Your milk will come in as long as you keep letting your baby nurse every 2-3 hours. Your baby may act starving, but really they're crying because they're not so happy about being outside your cozy, safe womb. Relax...they're ok, you will get through it. Six days may seem like eternity when you're going through it, but it will pass.
- If you have to go back to work soon after giving birth, start pumping between feedings as soon as your milk comes in. Having a supply of frozen milk sure eases the stress of returning to work. Pumping between feedings will also help increase your supply.
- Feed your baby pumped milk in a bottle around 1 month and keep feeding them a bottle at least once a week. The time will come when you need/want to go somewhere without your baby. It will be a lot less stressful if you know your baby will eat while you're away.
- Read books & talk to other moms who have breastfed. Don't isolate yourself. Raising a baby takes lots of support from others.
Feel free to comment or email me with any questions. I'm no expert, but I'll do my best to help.