Preparing for a new baby may look like buying the cutest onesies, googling all things labor and delivery, and creating Pinterest boards for nursery inspiration, but have you thought about breastfeeding? It may seem silly since it’s a natural part of motherhood, right? In reality, it may be natural and easy for some, but others may struggle and need time to get started.
And while you’re preparing for baby also be prepared for Tom, Dick, and Harry to throw advice at you (whether you asked for it or not!) A popular topic of choice is breastfeeding and they always make it seem like sunshine and butterflies.
The Internet Vs. Real Life
Not only are you getting constant advice, but the internet is packed with images of perfectly put-together moms breastfeeding their children in the most tranquil setting ever. A beautiful and clean nursery in a comfortable rocking chair with both mom and baby looking well-rested and content.
It’s easy to see why breastfeeding comes as a bit of shock to a first-timer right? Here you are in stained pjs, a messy bun, and a mountain of laundry waiting for you.
Don’t get me wrong, breastfeeding my children was one of the most amazing experiences I’ll ever have with them, but I did not love every moment of it! It was HARD.
To be 100% honest I was not prepared mentally or physically for my breastfeeding journey because I had no idea of the realities of it. People only spoke of the positives with the infamous saying “breast is best” and breastmilk is liquid gold. Ultimately, implying you’re not a good mom if you do not breastfeed your child.
Listen, we all know now that FED is BEST! Please by all means do what’s best for you and your child, and your sanity!!
Here are some of the things I wish I knew about breastfeeding:
Picture it: Your newborn feeds every 2 hours. You feed them and they drink for 5 mins or 20 (or more), you burp them, change their diaper, and get them back down. You try to get back to sleep and are back up at the next 2-hour feeding mark which was really maybe 1 or 1.5 hours since you got them down to sleep. AND REPEAT!
Now imagine doing that over and over while exclusively breastfeeding from the breast! This was something I did not think about prior and I am urging you to do so! Will you exclusively feed from the breast or bottle-feed as well? Will you supplement with formula?
Here are some challenges I came across and what I learned from my experience that helped me with nursing the second time around!
Challenge: Exclusively feeding from the breast meant hubby could not help with feedings – it was literally all on me.
Lesson Learned: Pump! Pump and bottle feed so partner can help – especially at night! During those 2-hour feedings partner can help with diaper changes, burps, and getting baby down to sleep. Don’t feel like you have to do it all. Ask for help.
Challenge: Cluster feedings are more likely – leads to sore nipples and takes a toll on you mentally as well. You already have little time and energy to do anything so this takes up even more of that.
Lesson Learned: Honestly there isn’t much you can do here. Just feed your baby and make sure to stay hydrated and have snacks on hand.
Challenge: Baby may be more inclined to only want you – it is indeed an amazing way to bond with your baby, but a lot of moms have said their baby seemed to prefer them over others including dad.
Lesson Learned: Partner can make time several times a day for skin-to-skin contact with baby. This will help the baby bond with both of you.
Challenge: Transition to bottle – baby will become so accustomed to the shape and size of your nipple it may be hard for them to transition to a bottle nipple.
Lesson Learned: Funny story – My oldest had a hard time transitioning from breast to bottle but I was determined to get her going because I had to be back to work soon! Amusingly, we used to have to walk around with her and run water from the sink for her to drink the bottle! The sound was calming for her and I eventually found a running water video on YouTube which helped too. Once she was comfortably transitioned to the bottle we didn’t have to play it anymore, phew!
As a first-time mom that was a major learning experience for me. With my second child, I breastfed and pumped to bottle feed so she was well accustomed to both! This was a lifesaver for me the second time around, and hubby got to help with feedings too!
Challenge: Sore nipples – enough said, yikes! For me, the feedings weren’t painful but it can take a toll on you by the end of the day.
Lesson Learned: For sore nipples, I know time is not really on our side, but try warm and cold compresses to alleviate any pain as well as nipple creams.
Challenge: Clogged milk ducts – ouch! I was not prepared for this. Clogged ducts are very common and at-home treatments are available. Also be on the lookout for signs of mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue resulting in pain, swelling, warmth, and redness. Thankfully I did not experience that, but it is very common in breastfeeding and requires medical treatment immediately.
Lesson learned: Warm showers and massages are great for clogged milk ducts.
Challenge: Engorgement – this is when your breast becomes overfilled with milk. Your breasts will feel heavy and full, tender, and possibly achy.
Lesson Learned: Your baby may take a longer nap than usual or your hormones might shift, either way, if your breasts become engorged make sure to pump out the milk. It will provide immediate relief!
Challenge: I only breastfed in two positions which were the cradle and football. It would become tiresome and uncomfortable sitting up at night.
Lesson Learned: The second time I learned about the side-lying position which was heavenly for night feedings!
It’s ok to not love every moment of breastfeeding
There’s no denying that breastfeeding comes with a plethora of benefits, but it is HARD! I hope the things I wish I knew about breastfeeding can help you prepare as much as possible for your breastfeeding journey. Remember to take it one day at a time, and make decisions that are best for you and your baby!
Don’t forget to check out these Must-Have Items for Breastfeeding.
Best of luck mama!