I’m going to get really honest today. I’m going to talk about my personal experience with nursing. I don’t think there is enough firsthand advice out there to new moms about the realities of breastfeeding. The best advice comes from experts. (Which is good…) But the real advice should come from women who are trying to learn this new art, and sometimes failing at it miserably. Have you heard things like this before? “It shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it right…” “How hard can it be? Women have been doing it for thousands of years!” “Babies were born to suck. You’re just not doing it right.” These comments are hurtful and do not provide the support that women need.
|Adair, after a satisfying meal from her momma|
1. It IS the best thing for your baby – research has proven this a thousand times over. Better health, stronger immune systems, less of a chance for getting diseases like Athsma, higher IQs, the list goes on and on… Women – you’ve got to try! Please at least try. Please.
2. It takes work – lots of work. Practice, patience, time, privacy, vulnerability… In the beginning, you are literally nursing 12 or more hours a day. Those first weeks HAVE to be dedicated to figuring the whole nursing thing out. Which reminds me that I hate how short maternity leave is. 6 weeks really isn’t enough time to master the art of nursing. Next time around, I’d love to take a full 12 weeks so that I am confident in my nursing. (Many times I feel that if I would have had that time to get good at it, I’d still be nursing her now.)
3. It does hurt, but not for long. I don’t know a single woman who didn’t have bleeding nipples at one point or another during the first week of nursing. For me, that didn’t last long. Only a few days. Then, I was broken in and ready for use! In comparison to pushing a baby out of your lady parts, the pain really isn’t so bad.
4. You have to ask for help. I didn’t. And that’s where I messed up. I got my tips in the hospital, but once we were home, I didn’t ask. I guess I felt incompetent and embarrassed. Not to mention I didn’t really have any close girlfriends I could ask. They don’t have babies yet
5. Nipple shields work if you have flat/inverted/weird nipples. The lactation consultant at the hospital gave me a shield to help Addie latch on. She claimed that Addie would get used to it and then once I removed the shield, she’d suck just fine. Unfortunately, this never worked for us. For all 5 months of breastfeeding, we used a shield. It wasn’t the best, but it was a solution. It provided us with 5 successful months of milk and bonding. 5 months I wouldn’t trade for a thing.
|Addie, nursing with her cute little fist up to her cheek|
6. There is nothing wrong with exclusive pumping. It’s really surprising how little information is out there for moms who exclusively pump. This means that the baby is never on the breast, but are only eating breast milk, which has been expressed via pump. When I went back to work, I pumped like most moms. Addie had breast milk from a bottle during the day, and then I would nurse her at night. After a few months of that, we started to struggle. She was used to her bottle, where the milk came fast. Adair finally had enough and refused completely. I decided that her happiness was more important than me feeling like I had to nurse her, so I exclusively pumped until she was 7 months old. My milk was still there, so I figured she was still getting the health benefits and I still felt like I was providing for her in that way.
7. Weaning ain’t no thing, unless you stop cold turkey. I’ve heard of women who abruptly stop nursing and pumping altogether. Their boobs explode and it’s quite painful. I’ll tell you this right now – I weaned for 2 weeks and experienced NO PAIN WHATSOEVER! When I could tell that my breasts just weren’t producing near enough, I decided to start the process. I slowly went from pumping 5 times a day, to 3, to 2. Then once a day. Then I started pumping every 36 hours. Then I stopped. It only took about 2 weeks and my body quickly stopped making milk, leaving me pain free. Hallelujah!
8. Breastfeeding in public should be more accepted. Sadly, I never had the courage to do it. I didn’t even feel comfortable nursing in front of my good friends or my family. I wasn’t good enough at it. I had to use the shield. I wasn’t quick enough with a scarf or a blanket. I didn’t really know how to begin or end a nursing session without exposing my boobs to the world. If I had been a master at it, you better believe me that I’d be nursing at the mall, at the park, downtown, wherever and whenever my baby needed to eat. Next time around, I’m giving it a better shot!
9. Good Lord, does it save money! In addition to all the wonderful health benefits nursing provides, it saves you a mighty large wad of cash. Now that Adair is on formula, (womp, womp) we spend $40-$60 a month just for her to eat milk. (If we bought the expensive stuff, it would be more than double that price.) Since she had only breastmilk for the first 7 months of her life, we saved nearly $420!
10. People need to stop being so freaked out. Is it weird to anyone else how freaked out everyone gets about nursing? It’s always an awkward topic of conversation. And it shouldn’t be. Breastfeeding has to be the most natural thing between a mother and her child. Most women choose to do it, even at least for a little while. Stop being so weirded out and get over with it. Instead, people ought to be encouraged that a mother is choosing to do what is best for her baby.