The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week! Breast milk gives not just essential nutrients and protection against illness, but also helps mother and baby create a bond that is like no other. However, breastfeeding isn’t always as glamorous as it seems to be – especially at first. But like most things, preparation is key. We asked the mom.life community what they wished they had known about breastfeeding before they had their baby, and here are some of their responses.
1. Mastitis can be very painful. Recognize symptoms and get treated early.
“I wish someone would've told me to PUMP! I had mastitis twice and thought I was going to die. Of all the sisters I have, no one told me about any of that and didn't help me learn how to clean everything correctly, etc. I kind of had to figure everything out the hard way! I also wish I had known that it isn't something that just comes naturally like everyone had made it seem. People talked like it was some magically effortless bonding time between mother and baby. Though it is a beautiful thing, it is also exhausting and very painful. It takes patience and persistence! It is a lot of work in the beginning but if you can get through that first month or so, you're golden! Been EB my son for 6 months and going strong!”
“I wish I would have known how serious mastitis is….I ended up having to quit because I waited too long to get treated and ended up hurting myself.”
2. Try different feeding positions.
“The high and the low of producing milk… The way you can chose different positions to help your discomfort!! Most importantly it takes time and to remember it's the best option for your baby so stick it out!!!!”
“How comfortable the side laying position can be once baby is big enough to not pull your nipple down. Especially since my son refuses to sleep in his bassinet (believe me, we tried). We bed share, and I wake up as soon as he does, which means I can simply roll him over to the other side and nurse. If he swallowed a bunch of air or has a dirty diaper, I hand him over to my husband to burp and change. I feel so much more rested than when I was getting up to nurse in the chair at night and him waking up when we went back to bed. It's a 20-30 minute process instead of an hour and a half.”
3. Breast pumps can hurt.
“I wish someone would have told me how hard it would be to get her back on the breast after being forced to introduce a bottle and pacifier early. I have the hardest time getting her to want to feed from my breast regularly and now she hates it, so I'm stuck with breast milk from the bottle. Pumping becomes a total pain and I wish I could just feed her. My pump now is making my nipples extremely sore and it seems it's sucking my whole nipple through the flanges. Trying to breast and keep your milk up is definitely a trying task. Although I'm complaining, I wouldn't do anything different because everything was done for the betterment of my child.”
4. It’s downright exhausting. And painful. But it gets easier!
“How exhausting it is. I was so scared of falling asleep in my nursing chair until I realized my son was safe and snuggled up enough that he wouldn't fall off. Also how much nipple shields helped. They decreased the pain I had the first week and I believe they made it easier for my son to switch back and forth from breast to bottle. I only needed the shield for a few days in both sides, and a week and a half on one side.”
“It's not as easy as it looks and you will be in pain but it will definitely get better in time. The easiest way to get a baby to latch is skin to skin and this allows them to find the nipple on their own. When they are searching, it will make baby's chin drop and then they will latch perfectly with a nice wide mouth. I feel like the worst advice was to help your baby, after all the pain and a million videos and meetings with the lactation consultant, I just laid Bella on my chest and she wiggled towards the boob she wanted and latched perfectly. If you allow nature to work it seems to be best!”
“Definitely the after pains. As soon as I started to nurse after he was born they started immediately. They were pretty painful and I'd get so tired I'd just want to pass out. I wish I waited 6 weeks before I ever pumped so my supply would have regulated better. It is also exhausting to feel like you constantly have a baby attached to you. I'm also a pretty modest person so it felt awkward for me to BF in front of people even with a cover over myself.”
“Your nipples crack and blister! Wish I knew so I could have bought nipple cream to help sooth them.”
“I wish I knew that contractions don't just happen in pregnancy and labor, but they can also happen in the early days after birth when you nurse your baby.”
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5. Milk sometimes comes in late. It’s totally normal.
“Well for my first son (the one I didn't breastfeed), I wish I would have been told it takes a while to have your milk come in. I felt like I was an under supplier and gave up too soon. Also, in today's world, there are support groups everywhere (like on mom.life) and those are SUPER helpful. Wish I had those 5 years ago!”
6. It’s ok if you have to introduce formula.
“I wish I knew that it's okay if you have to supplement with formula. I felt like a failure because my little man wasn't getting enough to eat… turns out he just likes to eat A LOT!”
“As great as breastfeeding is, you’re just as amazing if you can't/don't do it!”
7. It’s basically a full time job.
“I wish someone let me know that breastfeeding is a job in its own! It takes a lot of patience and energy. It's hard work around the clock for the first couple months.”
“Breastfeeding is definitely a full time job! Even supplementing! I feed on each breast for about 15 minutes each then give a 2oz nursette bottle! He isn't even 2 weeks old yet.”
8. Do your research and/or meet with a lactation consultant.
“Caffeine can/will decrease your milk supply.”
“I wish I would have known not to drink FIVE cups of mother's milk tea in one sitting to help my milk come in. It came in alright, so quickly and so much that I was so engorged I couldn't see straight or stand up. I had a fever of 104 and couldn't even hold my baby. Also I wish I would have known that you are hungrier breastfeeding than being pregnant. I am a bottomless pit, I eat all day and I’m shocked I’m still losing weight nearly 5 months post-partum. But all in all I love breastfeeding my baby more than anything ♡”
“Definitely wish I had known that it can be like a sedative lol! I had researched a lot beforehand, so I knew the basics, but I wish I had known some tips in the beginning, like if you're trying to build up a stash for when you are away, pump while you feed. I also wish other moms had given more encouragement for new moms about feeding in public. Not that it's that frowned upon, but it's nerve wracking as a new mom trying to figure it out when others are watching. ?”
9. Your baby eats what you eat. So hydrate and eat healthy!
“Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I wish someone had really given me a clue as to how amazing it is. I tandem nursed two babies for about 6 weeks (rest in paradise, sweet Camiyha) & it was exhausting and rewarding. I also wish there was more information out there for pumping mamas!”
“Not only does your newborn eat a lot, you do as well! Lots of water and lots of food with good nutrients in them for milk supply. Cracked, blisters, and sore nipples are at their worse when they first latch. If you feed on demand and do not use a pacifier, your milk supply will come in faster.”
10. The bond you’ll have with your child will make it all worth it.
“I wish someone would have told me that your baby isn't always born with latching skills, that after he was born 1 hour later, I was going to have to pump and get blood blisters, how many times a day I would have to struggle to feed him without him unlatching or falling asleep every minute or so . Breast pads! How sleeping without a bra could make you wake up at night thinking the baby peed when in reality I leaked my son, my husband, myself and all my bed ?. Most importantly, how amazing the bond between your child and you would be! How special it would become and the idea of stopping someday would break your heart. Here I am 17 months later, many judgments and still breastfeeding him 36 weeks along with my second and excited about tandem nursing and both of my boys sharing that wonderful bond! It is so worth it ❤”
“The fact that it stimulates the brain and emotions of baby and mommy's body. The importance of nourishment for bonding time and increases intellectual stability and replenishes growth. No matter if maybe you end up feeding formula. It’s not as tasteful as and sweet as breast milk nutrition. The more you breastfeed, the more you see yourself with your baby as they grow and nourish. What you eat is what baby eats. It’s important to eat healthy and study organic nutrition. Also, SKIN TO SKIN is the greatest connection an infant can have.”
“Ending breastfeeding can be just as hard as starting. Breastfeeding creates this special bond and helps your body excrete endorphins that make you happy. I'm still nursing my 2 1/2 year old and dreading when he doesn't need his milk anymore.”
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