Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Breastfeeding- What I Have Learned the Second Time Around (And I Wish I Had Known the First Time Around)

Thirteen years had passed since I had breastfed a baby when my baby girl arrived last February.  I had read a couple of books, trying to brush up on my knowledge and my skills.  But I felt like a brand spanking new mom who had never nursed an infant before those first couple of weeks of her life.  I had to relearn EVERYTHING.  Sadly for me breastfeeding was NOT like learning to ride a bicycle.  
You apparently do forget.
In the past 11 months, I have learned new things that I didn't get the first time around.  Here are a few things I wish I had known from the get-go with BOTH of my nurslings- when I had first breastfed my son over 14 years ago, and now with my daughter...




  • Throw out the idea of a schedule!  Well, at least as long as you can.  Breastfed babies need to feed on demand.  Just like our appetites are not the same every single day, neither is a baby's.  And feeding schedules definitely do not work when baby hits a growth spurt!  I breastfed my son for 9 1/2 months.  We did scheduled feedings- about once every 3 hours.  Even if he wasn't hungry.  Even if he had been crying because he had been hungry for the past 30 minutes (but it hadn't been 3 hours yet!).  I understand that feeding on demand is not something every mother has the luxury of doing 100% of the time.  Some breastfeeding mothers go back to work and pump and the babies get bottles during the day.  But in the beginning, breastfeed on demand while you are home. And when you return to work, breastfeed on demand when you are home.
  • Don't panic!  Especially when baby seems to want to nurse constantly.  Many breastfeeding mamas panic because they think that baby keeps coming back to the breast because they are not getting enough milk.  And then they start to second guess their ability to provide for their baby.  Just stop right there.  Baby is probably hitting a growth spurt and baby knows to nurse more often so that your body gets the signal to start making more milk.  Your production will more than likely catch up with their demand in 1 or 2 days, so hang tight.  Trust that your body will provide.
  • Surround yourself with as many supportive people as you can, and tune out the naysayers.  The biggest derailment to almost every mother who decides to breastfeed is lack of support from those around her.  You all know who I am talking about.  The ones that question if your baby is eating enough, gaining enough weight.  The ones who keep telling you how much easier it would be if you would just switch to formula. (Easier for whom??  Ummmm... sterilizing bottles every day, mixing formula every day, getting up at 3am to warm a bottle?  NOT easier.)  Find supportive friends and family!  And if you can't, make a connection with a good lactation consultant, find support online (Two good ones?  KellyMom.com and The Leaky Boob.  Also use the hashtag #bfcafe on Twitter. ;) )  It is also important to make sure that your pediatrician is breastfeeding friendly.  If they are not and only discourage your efforts, drop that doc right away and ask for recommendations for another.  Your LC or midwife is a great person to ask for those kinds of recs.
  • Let go of the fantasy.  Breastfeeding is not all rainbows, and snuggles, and unicorns. Especially in the beginning.  It can be challenging at first. (To read more about baby girl and I's bumpy start to breastfeeding, click HERE.)  Sometimes it hurts.  Sometimes it is frustrating.  Sometimes all you want to do is just sleep already!  But guess what??  IT IS ALL WORTH IT for all those moments of pure bliss.  Of satisfaction knowing that you are providing the best nutrition you can for your little one.  The indescribable moments of bonding.  Just because it isn't going absolutely perfect all of the time, does NOT mean you are doing something wrong.  It is normal.  Just like everything else in our lives.  I mean, does everything else in your life happen perfectly 100% of the time?? Yeah, I didn't think so. ;)
  • There is no "prescribed" length of time to breastfeed.  It will be different for each baby, each mother, each nursing pair.  Honestly, I stopped breastfeeding my son at 9 1/2 months because I thought I was expected to once he had cut teeth and had bit me once.  Now I know better.  With baby girl, my initial nursing goal was 12 months so that she would never have formula.  That is important to me.  We are at 11 months, and she has shown little interest in completely weaning in 30 days.  So, I will be revamping my nursing goal for her soon.  There is nothing wrong with being flexible.  Whether you nursed for 2 weeks, 3 1/2 months, a year, or 3, take pride in the fact that you did what was best for you and your baby.  And don't let anyone else tell you any different. ;)
  • Nursing cures baby's hiccups.  I didn't discover this when I was breastfeeding my son, but kind of accidentally stumbled on this little nugget with my daughter.  She had the hiccups and happened to be hungry at the same time.  Within a few minutes of sucking, the hiccups were gone.  The next time she had the hiccups, I latched her on and ta-da!  Gone again in just a few minutes.  Works every time like a charm. ;)

  • To my mamas who are now breastfeeding #2 or #3 (or 4 or 5), what had you wish you had known the first time around with nursing?

    And speaking of nursing mamas, make sure you get entered to win 20 mom-on-the-go lactation cookies from milkmakers! :)  CLICK HERE to enter!