Are you considering breastfeeding your new babes or already on your breastfeeding journey and need some honest advice? I am here to help!
I recently just had my second baby about a month ago who I am currently nursing and previously breastfed my first daughter until about 14 months old.
Read more about my birth story here: Natural Hospital Birth – Delilah’s Birth Story
When I was first pregnant I knew I wanted to attempt to breastfeed my babies but had no idea what it was going to entail. In fact, I was unsure if I was even going to be able to do it.
Luckily, shortly after Melina was born, we attempted our first feed and we were successful! I had been so worried that I wouldn’t know what to do or that I would be uncomfortable with how it felt while feeding her. I didn’t come from a family that nursed their babes and for a while, the thought seemed a little uncomfortable for me.
When the time came, everything came naturally. I didn’t think twice about any of that and just started to nurse her.
If you are expecting and hope to breastfeed your baby, the best thing you can do is to keep an open mind.
Be accepting of either way to feed your baby. Remember fed is best!
Here are some realities about breastfeeding:
YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU ARE DOING
And that is okay!! Some women feel very pressured to make sure that they can successfully breastfeed and I think that can make it a lot harder. It can make the situation much more stressful and unenjoyable.
Give yourself and your new baby time to figure out how to get a successful latch and determine the most comfortable positions for both you and baby to nurse in. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
There are lactation consultants that you can reach out to help assist you. I am a firm believer in trial and error throughout time.
Remember that each baby is different, so what may have worked with one is not guaranteed with the rest.
YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED HUGE BOOBS BUT NOW THEY ARE HARD AS A ROCK
Hey there boobs! Your milk has come in and your boobs are most likely huge and hard. Seriously pump as much as you need to remain comfortable.
Try to have your breast pump when you leave the hospital to prevent engorgement. Newborns usually eat about 2-3 ounces and your most likely going to produce a lot more than that.
If you are feeling like you just can’t empty your breasts, try taking a warm shower and then nursing or pumping right after. I also find it helps to massage the breast while nursing, especially if you feel a hard lump in your breast. A hard lump in your breast usually means a milk duct could be clogged.
LEAKY BOOBS ARE NO FUN
Since you will be producing so much milk at first you are going to have some leaky boobs. I know sounds fun right? I hate this part of breastfeeding.
In the beginning, I feel that I have to constantly change my clothes from leaky boobs and baby spit ups. I constantly feel sticky and smelly. Daily showers are very appreciated during this time.
Nursing pads are a must to slow down the turnover rate in clothes. I use both reusable nursing pads and disposable pads depending on where I am at. Reusable pads are for mainly when I am at home.
When my supply is really intense or I am behind on laundry I even use washcloths as nursing pads. Nothing more attractive than some square boobs…my poor husband. Disposable pads are great for when you are out and about and want to quickly swap out pads.
NURSING BRAS AND TOPS ARE NICE BUT NOT A MUST
Do not feel like you have to completely change over your wardrobe and lingerie because you are breastfeeding your babe. That would be pretty depressing and expensive!
I would say it is nice to have a few nursing bras and tops for when you are out in public feeding that way you are not completely exposed.
BUILD YOUR MILK SUPPLY EARLY
When you are pumping, to remain comfortable, it is the perfect time to get your milk stash started. Just make sure to properly label and date your freezer bags so it’s easier later on.
Building a milk stash allows you to have some freedom away from the baby at times. Trust me, you will need this after a while.
Plus it gives your partner a chance to be involved with feeding your little one. I know my husband feels left out in the beginning because of how much the baby is on me. We have introduced the bottle with both babies fairly early, probably about a week after birth because of this.
Some women report that their babies won’t take a bottle which is why I recommend attempting earlier so they are more accepting of the bottle.
CHAPPED NIPPLES ARE A REAL THING
Your nipples may become chapped and bleed or just be sore from the constant feeding every two hours in the beginning…invest in some nipple balm and pack it with your hospital bag.
Read more about what I included in my hospital bag here: Hospital Bag Essentials – Second Time Mom
My first time around I only had one period where my nipples became chapped to the point of bleeding and that was within the first week when she was learning how to properly latch on.
This time around I applied my nipple balm, Earths Mama Organic Nipple Butter often and only had minimal discomfort the first few days. No bleeding!
As painful and uncomfortable as it is, feed through it Mama! Make sure to continuously apply your balm/cream to heal the chapped area faster. Within a few days, it should feel back to normal.
Decreasing your feeds because of the discomfort may hurt your supply or even affect how your little one nurses. A lot of women will end up giving up breastfeeding because of an issue like this.
YOU MIGHT FEEL LIKE YOU ARE BINGE EATING
You may feel hungrier due to the extra calories you are burning. Most women burn about 300 calories from breastfeeding. This is great in the beginning when you are trying to lose the baby weight. But make sure you are getting enough nutrients to fuel both your body and the baby as time goes on.
By the time I was done breastfeeding my first daughter I was under where I was prepregnancy. While some women would kill to have that happen to them, I started to lose my womanly figure and became insecure about how skinny I was.
Remember the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
This time around I have some major sugar cravings. I am not sure why but am assuming it is from all my hormones. My toddler doesn’t mind my daily ice cream craving though!
Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate!
It is said that nursing mothers do need additional fluid intake other than the recommended daily amount.
The general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day.
So if you are 150lbs, it would be ideal for you to consume 75 ounces of water.
Dehydration can cause havoc on your body and mental state.
Trust me I know. On days where my water intake is low, my energy is drained and I am more irritable.
BURNOUT IS COMMON
Breastfeeding is often a difficult journey for Mama’s to go through. It may feel like your baby is on your boob 24 hours a day in the beginning and you don’t have any time to yourself. Or that you feel like you are not in control of your time because oftentimes you are nursing on demand. I know I have felt like that this time around.
It is important to remind yourself that these feelings are okay and completely normal. I mean we are human and need some time to ourselves too.
Whenever I am going through a difficult time in my motherhood I remind myself that it is only a stage. This too shall pass.
In the meantime, make sure to schedule a time for yourself. Whatever you want that to look like. Whether its a lunch date with your friend or a mani and pedi trip to unwind, go do what makes you feel good!
Read my go-to self-care ideas here: 5 Self Care Tips Every Mom Should Do Daily
Self-care is so important to ensure we stay in a positive mindset in our motherhood.
All of the discomfort and frustration breastfeeding may cause, I believe it is still a beautiful journey. It creates a bond like no one else has the chance to experience with your child. Moments are filled with adorable milky smiles and their arms hugging around you.
But that does not mean this journey is for everyone, and that is okay too.
If breastfeeding ends up causing you too much stress and unhappiness, consider giving it up. Your baby needs you to be the best mom you can be, not the most stressed.