18 (Honest) Things I Wish I Knew Before I started Breastfeeding
1. The first couple of weeks are REALLY HARD.
You finally get to go home with your new little addition and you are elated! (Also VERY TIRED). Don’t stress yourself too fast about things! If the house is a mess…let it be a mess. Relax. Take all the time in with your newborn that you can. The other things can wait. It is a whole new life transitioning into motherhood and your entire routine changes! The most difficult thing for me was that I was very very sore and hobbling around for the first week or so. Usually when I feel bad I just relax and rest until I feel better, but now I had this beautiful little girl that was depending on me no matter how I felt! This is where an awesome support person comes into play! They will be your most helpful tool throughout your breastfeeding experience! For me, that person is my husband, he is my rock and is very supportive in my breastfeeding journey. I cannot express how crucial his support has been throughout the entire process.
2. Everyone has an opinion
Surprisingly, most people will NOT support your decision to breastfeed. Crazy right?? And if they do, they will likely harass you the entire time with things like “Your baby is hungry” and “How long do you plan on doing this?”. Then there is all the horrific media bashing breastfeeding and the whole issue of people getting “offended” when you nurse in public. First of all…IT IS NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS. If you plan to breastfeed exclusively, stick by your decision and stand your ground. Secondly, IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND NATURAL! Be proud of yourself! Breastfeeding for any length of time is a big accomplishment!
3. You really need to introduce bottles around 5 weeks if you plan on pumping and using them
When I started breastfeeding, I was told to wait until 12 weeks to introduce bottles. I was fortunate not to have to go back to work full-time so I thought that it would be fine. This would allow my milk supply to fully regulate before I started pumping. As a result of this, my child refuses to take bottles. She is now a year old and still will not take any bottle that I buy! I wish I would have introduced bottles a lot earlier so that I would not have had this issue! Don’t get me wrong I love being able to exclusively nurse her…however, it sure would be nice to have some help for feedings here and there.
4. Sleep is a beautiful thing…
I literally would have curled up and slept for days before delivery if I could go back! Before having my daughter I was one of those people that could never function on little to no sleep. All of that has changed now. I am a completely different person in the sense that when I am up, I am fully up and it is no problem for me to be fully functional on little sleep. When you are exclusively breastfeeding (No bottles), your husband cannot do any feedings which really sucks! There were nights that he was sleeping so peacefully and I would look over at him (being awake for the 4th time already) and want to just poke him in the eye! 🙂 Not that I would actually do that but the sleep deprivation seriously makes you delirious…lol
5. Carry around a silicone breast pump in your diaper bag
This is an awesome tip!! Whenever we would go out places my little one would often get so excited about everything going on that she would not want to nurse! She didn’t want to miss out on anything. I found myself with the issue of having huge, painful and leaky breasts when this would happen. Then I found the silicone breast pump! It is great!! I can stick this under my shirt discreetly while I am out in public or in the car if I need to! This helped so that I could empty my breasts some until she was ready to eat again.
6. Nurse on both sides equally
I made the mistake of nursing on one side more than the other because it was painful at first and I have a very lop-sided milk supply. You usually have a great producing boob and a slacker boob anyways…but there is a 5-6oz difference between the two. This is actually not a real problem and my daughter gets everything she needs and is growing very well! But it would be kind of nice to have boobs that were almost equal size. Lol
7. Baby Wearing is Great!
This became the only way that I could get things done around the house once I felt ready! It allowed my baby to be comfortable for long periods of time without fussing! I would highly recommend trying it. Plus, you get more little snuggles 🙂
8. Take care of your back
Use your back supports! Whether you have a favorite pillow set up or you use a bobby…make sure that you are using them! Breastfeeding and hunching over can do some serious damage to your back. I would really take some time to make sure that you are paying attention to your posture whenever you can.
9. Nipple cream works wonders in the beginning.
I am not going to lie to you. I actually felt like my nipples were going to fall off in the hospital because my daughter had such a strong suck. She wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME and they were raw. Lanolin was my lifesaver through the first week or so.
10. People will get jealous.
So this is something that I did not really expect. Family members will actually get very jealous because they cannot feed the baby. Breastfeeding forms a special bond between you and your little one that people will be jealous of. Don’t feel bad about this. This is YOUR child. If they are crying and want only you that is perfectly normal. You are their source of comfort and food. If it gets really over the top, suggest that they do other things like diaper changes or helping with a bath.
11. Every breastfeeding mother faces different challenges
Every mother’s journey is completely different. You will have different obstacles to overcome too. The key is to know that this is a process and to be flexible. It takes a little while for you and your little one to get into a groove. That is very normal!
12. There are local support groups in your area and Facebook groups are good too!
You can search La Leche League or breastfeeding support groups in your area on Google. They have many different groups available that are actually very useful! Many of them also have a lactation consultant or two that attend to help with any problems and answer questions. You can do things here like track weight gain and intake (In case your baby is a slow gainer), learn different positions, check your latch, meet new moms, etc. Facebook also has a bunch of good groups where other moms share their problems and experiences. You can learn a lot! And sometimes it is reassuring to know that you are not alone.
13. Co-sleeping is okay!!
Don’t feel bad if you want to co-sleep with your baby. As long as you’re doing is safely, it is so much easier for night nursing! Inventions have come a long way to make it much safer for baby. So do your research and pick which product will work best for you! And if you are completely anti co-sleep and want them in the crib ASAP that is okay too! It really is all about personal preference.
14. The postpartum periods are INSANE!
I was one of those annoying people that never really got cramps or had any pain with my periods growing up. I got my first postpartum period when she was 10 months old and it was horrific! The cramping was incredibly painful and there was a lot more blood. Every period that I have had since has been much worse than they ever used to be. So…warning. I was not prepared for that.
15. You have to get out of the house.
It can become really appealing to just stay inside in your pajamas and cuddle your little one every single day. But you really need to get out sometimes. You can fall into this mode where you nurse-Netflix-chill and your brain turns into mush! Even if you just get outside and go for a walk, it can do wonders for your mental health. Go somewhere with a friend! It’s great if you have friends who also have kids because you can have a chance to talk about all the changes and vent! They will understand the struggle!
16. Prepare meals
If I could go back, I would have prepared and frozen so many meals before delivery. My husband had to go back to work very quickly and the last thing that I felt like doing everyday was cooking for the first couple of weeks. We ate a lot of takeout…which is not only horrible for you, but it is very expensive as well. So do yourself a favor and just get some big&easy meals in the freezer ready to go into the oven!
17. The constipation is REAL
Make sure you are drinking a lot of water! You can get so constipated while breastfeeding. Your doctor will most likely send you home with a soft laxative…make sure that you use it! Not only does it help you in general but it will make that first postpartum bowel movement less painful and scary too!
18. The bond is unmatched
This journey is the toughest but most amazing thing that I have ever done. The struggles are truly all worth it. The closeness that you get with your baby is wonderful. They are only so little for a tiny part of their lives and I am going to take all the cuddles that I can get while they last. Breastfeeding seriously is the best decision that I ever made. I am so glad that I did not give up when it got hard and I seriously encourage you not to either! It does get easier! You got this mama <3
Check out my posts on Breastfeeding Basics, Positions Simplified , Power-Pumping & Self-Care Tips for Mom!