My first born arrived six weeks premature at four pounds and eleven ounces. Nurses urged me to encourage a latch, which is definitely easier said than done. Upon Nicholas’ birth, I would sit for hours in the NICU holding my nipple to his mouth hoping, praying he was getting something. Anything. Even a drop. I was restless, yet persistent. And within due time, my preemie became a regular breastfeeder through nine months of age.
My second born was the complete opposite, latching immediately. He is now 15 months old and still going strong. This whole weaning thing has me stumped.
I recently came across Momsense, The Smart Breastfeeding Meter, and was reminded of my first days as a new mom - freaking out day after day and wondering, Is my baby eating enough? How much has he eaten? Is he just using me as a pacifier? I was drawn to this product because moms finally have peace of mind when it comes to obsessing over nursing with this tool that measures baby’s breast milk volume intake, and reporting feeding patterns overtime, all in real time. What a help that would have been!
And it got me thinking about things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding. So here it goes… my top 10.
1. Fight the urge to surrender
Try. Try. And try again. During round one, the NICU nurses worked with me A LOT, teaching me tactics like helping squeeze the milk out when my preemie started breastfeeding. It was weird. I felt weird. I felt like there was no way in hell it was ever going to work. But it did. Eventually. Stick with it and know you’re not alone.
2. But if it’s just not working, find an alternative
While breastfeeding worked for me, it’s not the case for many women. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you can’t bond with your baby. It just means nursing wasn’t in your cards. Get some formula and stock up on bottles. Don’t punish yourself and spend time feeling sad – the newborn phase is meant to be enjoyed.
3. It’s OK if your boobs fall uneven
Both my boys preferred my right boob over left. Maybe it was me – one side simply felt more comfortable. As a result, I’ve become totally uneven in the chest- my left is deflated while my right is very big. Yes, people told me to switch, and yes, I didn’t listen. And yes, I’m OK with that. To me, comfort was key. My husband makes fun of me and I don’t care.
4. It’s draining
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen asleep with my son on my boob. For some reason, he literally sucked the life out of me, so it seemed. Nursing burns about 500 to 600 calories a day — the equivalent of an hour run or three hours of yoga. It will actually help you shed baby weight! Because of this, stay hydrated. Always have water accessible.
5. Have an outlet
Nursing is a calm, relaxing time for baby…and tends to take anywhere from ten minutes to hours per feeding. Grab a book or have your phone handy to browse Facebook – you’ll want to keep yourself occupied.
6. It shouldn’t hurt
OMG! With my second born, the first week was painful. VERY PAINFUL. So painful that I bled. I thought something was wrong with me! Turns out, it wasn’t me…it was him. My son had an issue with his tongue, so after a simple snip from his pediatrician, breastfeeding as I knew it, went back to normal. Consult a doctor if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
7. Babies have an eating instinct
While I often wondered if my babies were eating enough, doctors always assured me babies consume what they need. However, I’m the kind of mom who prefers TMI. I like to know…or else I worry. I worry a lot. And then I turn to Google which is dangerous considering I start self-diagnosing. Anyway…treat yourself to Momsense. It’s an innovative resource that helps calculate how much baby is consuming during every feed.
8. Pumping sucks
There’s no other way to put it. If you’re falling short on milk, it does, in fact, increase your supply.
9. Stop or go! Up to you
Doctors say breastfeed for a year, but if it’s just not your thing, then stop. And on the flip side, if you’re having trouble weaning, keep going. Do what works for you. I still have no clue how I plan on suspending nursing from my 15 month old.
10. You’ll miss it
I don’t even remember the last day I breastfed my first born – isn’t that sad?! It was like all of a sudden I was done…and that was that. I now look at him, a baby-turned-toddler, and miss that quiet and alone time when we were the only two people that mattered. I know it sounds strange, but take a nursing selfie for yourself. You’ll want it.