That should do it. Everyone who’s left should have experienced this themselves or is likely considering it in the future. I wanted to do my own breastfeeding post after reading Ariana’s over at Becoming Mom. (Love her, by the way.)
I completely agree with everything she said. My intention is not to plagiarize her work, but I will be saying many of the same things. If you’re considering bfing in the future it won’t hurt to hear them multiple times. That said, here’s my advice for nursing successfully:
1. READ. It helps if your reference material wasn’t copyrighted in 1987 like the one book I took to the hospital (bought in haste at a half-price books on the way to my induction when I realized I had no guide) but it will do in a pinch. READ READ READ. Kellymom.com and La Leche League are great resources. Knowing what to expect will be the only thing that keeps you from making decisions that could easily ruin your chances of breastfeeding successfully. Sound harsh? Good.
2. Think before you supplement. I know that it is sometimes necessary, so please don’t misunderstand me there. However, there are many times when a pushy nurse or a misinformed doctor will urge you to supplement! supplement! supplement! because it’s an easy answer. Baby seems a bit jaundiced? Supplement! Not gaining weight like a sumo wrestler? Supplement! Before you know it, the formula to milk ratio is creeping up, your supply is going down, and the decision is made for you.
3. In the same vein, listen to your gut. Remember our “milk allergy” crisis? If I had listened to the first doctor we met with, I would have weaned Andrew for absolutely no reason. After our pedi advised the same, I agreed to pump for a short time and try the formula. He ended up not having an allergy at all, and we were back on the boob in no time. In both of those cases, the doctors thought I was being a wackadoo for not taking the easy way out. Every night (no lie) when I nurse Andrew before bed, I give thanks that I went with my gut and kept milking.
3. Go in expecting it to suck at first. Breastfeeding hurts like a BITCH. If you give birth to a piranha with a latch so strong that the lactation consultant is massaging his temples trying to get him to relax, it will HURT. You will cry. Your nips will crack and even bleed. You’ll shower in a sports bra for weeks. You’ll watch the clock, dreading the next feeding.
And then, suddenly, one day you won’t. And you’ll forget the previous eight weeks of agony and you won’t even notice when your baby turns his head, still latched on and stretching your nip like Laffy Taffy, to see what that curious noise was. You’ll relish being able to load up and go, not worrying about buying/storing/preparing anything. You’ll have a connection to your baby that no one else on this planet ever will. And your nips will look like normal.
Sidenote: Some women professnot to experience any of the initial agony. Some also claim to eat what they want and never gain weight. I lend the same credence to both claims.
4. Build your freezer stash! In the beginning, while your milk flows like honey and your boobs refill like magic cups, pump, pump, pump. When you find yourself a few ounces short every day for two weeks at seven months, you will be oh so thankful for that stash. It’s also a lifesaver when you decide to go out of town. Your little darling can pull from the freezer while you’re gone, and you can replenish the freezer with what you pump while you’re away. Don’t be afraid to surprise hotel employees by requesting to use the freezer. You can hold your head high as you march to the front desk to drop off your product every four hours for two days. Bonus points if the employee is a young male.
5. Remember that breast milk is the very best food for your baby. I know it’s not a very PC attitude to have any more, and you’re not supposed to make formula moms feel bad for their choice, but it is what it is. I showered in a bra for two months, cried when anything touched my nips (including air), and have provided virtually every feeding for my baby for seven months of his life (including around the clock nursing fests and every-two-hour feasts for the first six months.) I get credit for this. I did it because it matters, and I have the right to say that. If it gets to be too much and you throw in the towel, that’s fine. Formula isn’t poison, your baby will still thrive. Just know that once you quit you can’t go back, so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.
6. You can’t do it all. You need to sleep. You need to eat (especially protein). You need to relax. You are keeping a human alive; someone else can do the dishes.
Lactaters, (sounds like a milky potato dish, no?) have I left something out?