A pregnant friend of mine recently posted a request for baby product suggestions on my Facebook page. Of course I was happy to share all of the wonderful products and ideas I have for new moms because I’ve been keeping a list! There are so many wonderful products out there to help ease the shock and awe of becoming a new parent.
At the top of my recommendations list for new moms are usually breastfeeding related items. That’s because I remember very clearly the pain, frustration, and feeling of failure I had when I started breastfeeding my baby. I’m sharing this in the hopes it will help ease her mind when the time comes, and also any other moms out there who feel like they’re alone. Here are MY 5 Truths About Breastfeeding.
1. It will hurt
Breastfeeding hurts. Really, really bad. You might get bloody nipples. You might cry hot, wet tears. It’s not as beautiful and easy as the images on Instagram or blogs make it seem. At first. It does get easier, but when you first start it’s horribly painful. It definitely was for me. I’m telling you this so you don’t think you’re doing it wrong, or that you have failed in some way because you haven’t. I don’t know why more moms don’t talk about this, but it’s been a recurring thing that comes up when I talk about my breastfeeding experience. It hurts. But it won’t hurt forever!
Whew! I feel like I just dropped some serious knowledge on you. Now onto the next one.
There has been a long-standing debate in the breastfeeding & formula worlds on whether or not it’s okay to supplement with formula. For me there was never a question. I would feed my baby. Whether it was breast milk, formula, or whatever the doctors recommended, that’s what I would give her. She was depending on me and my husband for survival and I couldn’t watch her scream and cry in hunger and just ignore it if I wasn’t able to breastfeed.
I had a hard decision to make when Chan was born. She was losing weight and my milk wasn’t providing enough sustenance to properly feed her. So we supplemented with formula. Just a bottle here and there, but breastfeeding was still my focus and goal. I also set a goal to try to breastfeed her for 6 months. Although it was hard, I did it. And even made it another 6 months to her first birthday. Boom!
And you know what? It took a tremendous amount of stress off this new mom to know my husband could help with feedings while my nipples healed, or when I was physically too exhausted to get out of bed. Those first few weeks are so hard and many parents are in survival mode. I say do whatever you can to survive.
Yes, breast is best. It has natural proteins, vitamins and healthy fats that get your child on the right track. But if you can’t do it, it’s okay! My daughter is no worse off than someone who exclusively breastfed. I can count on one hand the number of times she’s been sick. She’s a strong, healthy, kick ass kid and you would never know that during her first few months she had both formula and breast milk.
3. You are going to be judged
No matter what you decide on the breastfeeding issue, you will be judged my someone. Fuck them. You do what you gotta do. Want to exclusively breastfeed? Go for it! Want to pump only? Pump away! Everyone will have an opinion on whether what you’re doing is right or wrong. Some will have the balls to say it to your face. Heck, it might even be me! Haha! But I’m telling you, whatever you decide about breastfeeding be confident in your decision, yet still open to hearing suggestions from others.
4. Lactation consultants are hit or miss
Okay, put down the pitch forks. Whenever a mom voices frustration with breastfeeding everyone is quick to say, “Have you tried a lactation consultant?”. Great suggestion! But for me, it wasn’t the solution. I’m saying this because I had several lactation consultants in the beginning and none of them could figure out why I was having so much trouble. I spent hundreds of dollars letting strangers watch me breastfeed in the hopes they would have some magic idea that we hadn’t discovered yet. They did have some helpful tips, but ultimately it just took time. Time for her mouth to grow, time for me to figure out the right position for her body, and time for my body to get used to having milk drawn out of it. These are things our bodies are naturally designed to do, but sometimes they just need to be trained how to do it.
5. Invest in BF tools
Get your hands on whatever you can that will help ease the pain of breastfeeding. Nursing pillow, nipple cream, lactation bars, mother’s milk tea, a good breast pump, cooling gel pads. I used all of these things in various forms throughout my breastfeeding experience and I can honestly say it’s what helped me stick with it. I will make another post for new moms with a list of MUST HAVES for the first few weeks. Mostly because I want to write it all down before I forget! And also to help people. Yeah, that’s it.
I can tell you the pain didn’t stop until about 6 to 8 weeks later. But it DID stop! And breastfeeding became my favorite part of the day. It sounds strange to say it now, but I feel like I really became a mom during those late night breastfeeding sessions. I would look at her sweet face, so content, so beautiful, and know I was providing something that would help her grow into a strong, smart, healthy woman.
Looking back now, I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel like I went to battle over breastfeeding and won!