Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top Ten Things I Wish I had Known as a New Breastfeeding Mom

As I have said in this blog post, My Breastfeeding Journey, breastfeeding was quite a challenge for me.  
Here is my top ten list of things I wish I had known before (or at least when) I started breastfeeding my son.

1)  Breastfeeding will be the hardest, most challenging endeavor you will ever accomplish in your life.  I knew it wasn't easy, but come on all animal species breastfeed their young.  It is the natural thing to do.  So then if it is oh so natural, why did it not come easy to me?  I have come to realize that like anything it is a learning experience.  Heck, I am still learning.  Which leads to number two.
2)  Practice makes perfect.  Each time you get your newbie baby latched on (and sometimes it can take a long time to get the babe latched) is one more time your baby has done that.  He is learning as are you.  Weeks down the road and it will all be second nature.  I can now nurse my baby and type on my blog.  Multi-tasking at it's best.
3)  This one is actually something a friend told me in those hard early days.  If asked to rank breastfeeding on a 1-10 scale in terms of how hard it is, most new moms will rank it somewhere around an 8-12 in the early days.  By 6 weeks, most moms will rank it at a 1.  Whereas with formula feeding, it always stays around a 4 and never drops.  This has stuck with me because it is so true.  My first four weeks of nursing I think I would rate at about a 50.  But now, it is so easy.   I whip out a boob and we are done.  Easy, peasy.
4)  You will be so hungry that you might utter the words " I swear to God if someone doesn't move (we were stuck in traffic) I might get out and walk to the nearest McDonalds"  And I would have.  Breastfeeding hunger is like nothing else, not even pregnancy hunger.  I actually eat like 50 meals a day.  I have first breakfast, second breakfast, morning snack, mid morning snack, lunch, early afternoon snack, late afternoon snack, dinner, second dinner, before bed snack and then when the baby was waking every three hours I had middle of the night snacks.  And on to five which goes hand in hand with four.
5)  Breastfeeding makes you thirstier than a person walking across the Sahara Desert.  Enough said.
6)  Breastfeeding gives children a great immune system.  This immune system makes immunization aftermath suck.  Kai ran a 103-104 fever for 72 hours after his first round of shots.  This happened after all his shots although the fevers were more in the 101-102.5 range.  It was crappy, but just goes to show that breastfeeding truly does have an awesome immune system benefit.

Destructo with his battle scars

7)  You will second guess (and third guess and fourth guess) yourself all the time.  It is hard to be sure of something you have never done.  And boobs don't come with ounce markings to see how much the baby is eating.  I would definitely recommend a good lactation consultant or breastfeeding support group.  I did a bunch of weighed feedings just to put my mind at ease that he was truly getting enough milk in the early days.
8)  And along with second guessing comes all the worrying you will do about whether you have a good enough supply to meet your baby's needs.  For all the worrying I did, it accomplished nothing and guess what?  I ended up hitting the year mark with only having to supplement 20 oz when I had mastitis.  But I got my supply back up and just this Friday ended up donating about 100 oz to a mom who needed it for her baby.  All that worrying only to have enough to donate.  Go figure.
9)  If you are a working mom, you will have a love/ hate relationship with your pump.  I loved my pump because it helped enable me to supply milk for my son while I had to be away.  I hated my pump because it was a huge time suck (LOL yes that was a pun on words) and I wasn't able to have any sort of social life at work since I always had to pump.  I was not sad to see this part of my breastfeeding journey end at a year.
9 3/4)  Mastitis really sucks.  (But more on that in an upcoming post.)
10)  And finally, breastfeeding is a roller coaster ride.  It has its up and downs and stomach turning dips and peaks.  But you will never regret breastfeeding.  I know I will look back on this 20 years from now and truly feel that it was some of the best moments in my life.  Never again will Kai need his momma like he did this first year of his life.  Excuse me while I go sob in a corner for a short while that my baby is growing up way too quickly.

If you like this post, be sure to follow us on GFC or networked blogs for more posts like it.   You can also follow me on Twitter.

Linked up at:
Breastfeeding Blog Hop
Modest Monday
My Pregnancy Journal 
Ten Things Tuesday
Tuesday Baby Link Up

47 comments:

  1. I have breastfed 3 kids, all until at least one year old, and these are so true. Thanks for sharing this with new moms starting out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just want to be a source of info and encouragement for new moms just starting their breastfeeding journey. It is a hard one, but so worth it in the end.

      Delete
  2. Thanks do much for sharing! I am 5 weeks in and it is still tough! I really do wish our boobs had oz measurements. We are just barely meeting the minimum gaining guidelines and it is killing me. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep in mind that those requirements are made based on formula fed babies (unless you specify and have a pedi who has them for breast fed babies too), and breast fed babies usually don't gain as much as formula fed babies. If your baby is gaining, try not to stress. Keep up with babies weight weekly and try to leave it at that (I know how hard that is). If they are gaining and, not dropping weight or staying the same then they should be fine. Every kid is different.

      Delete
    2. Yep I agree with Rebecca. My son rarely gained the minimum requirements. He was just a small, skinny boy like his daddy and I. As long as your baby is having enough wet and dirty diapers, is thriving, energetic, meeting milestones appropriately, I wouldn't worry too much.

      Also you can check out the WHO's growth chart for breastfed babies. You can find it linked somewhere on the Kellymom site. I chose to follow that over my pedi's growth charts. On it Kai was always closer to the 25th percentile, whereas on my doc's charts, he was at one point off the chart for weight.

      Good job momma for making it five weeks! The first six were the hardest for me. It got much easier after that.

      Delete
  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel like we always hear about the trials of pregnancy and labor, but no one really told me how hard breastfeeding would be. The hunger and thirst were totally unexpected. I'm much hungrier and have many more odd cravings while BFing than I did while I was pregnant. I would like to say that #3 was very true for me except when I went back to work and started pumping. That sent it back up to at least a 9, maybe 10. Pumping is a whole new learning experience again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the time I went back to work, pumping was old news to me. But only because I had had to start pumping from the get go since Kai wouldn't latch on. I think my biggest challenge with pumping was I would be exhausted and okay when I was go go going at work. But I would sit down to pump and get so tired that I was not nearly as productive after. I am glad those days are over. I did a little happy dance the first day I went to work and didn't have to lug my pump with me.

      Delete
  4. Thanks for the great blog for new Mamas! I am currently nursing my third and final baby and I still second guess myself but we happily truck on.

    Talking with older Mama's and sharing our experiences I'm very satisfied with my decision to breastfeed and cloth diaper my babies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep I couldn't be happier with both of those decisions. Especially now that I got my diaper ammonia issue squared away.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for linking up at the GFC Blog Hop today!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. All of them are true.every.single.one. at least with me! Thanks for sharing and I am a new follower!
    Hope you are having a great day!
    Michelle
    www.delicateconstruction.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for following! I am going to check your blog out now.

      Delete
  7. I am currently nursing my 5th child. My first was definitely my hardest. I don't even think about it nowadays it has gotten so easy. When I delivered last October my nurse was stunned that I had over 5 years of nursing experience :). New follower from the hop. Would love a follow back www.cumminslife.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will go check out your blog and follow you. Five years of nursing a child is awesome experience. I am at 14 months right now.

      Delete
  8. That was a great post! Breastfeeding was heartbreaking for me. I had twins who were 6 weeks early and at that point breastfeeding wasn't and option. I tried as early as I could, but it never really worked for them. I pumped for the first few months and there were many many tears. I will have to keep these tips in mind for next time around. I love reading encouraging words. I found you on Monday Mom Musings. I'm a new follower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry that breastfeeding wasn't really an option for you. I hope next time it is easy peasy for you so you truly get to have that wonderful experience. But good for you for pumping while you did/could. Thanks for following.

      I hope to continue to be an encouragement to breastfeeding moms. If I hadn't had my great lactation consultant and my breastfeeding moms group, I know I wouldn't have made it. I wanted to quit so many times and cried so many times. Motherhood is hard, but great.

      Delete
  9. So true - especially about being so hungry and thirsty! I had never been so thirsty in my life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. I am down to only nursing 2-3 times a day, but am still hungrier than I was pre-pregnancy. My thirst isn't as bad as it used to be, but geez I out eat my hubby still. And I wonder why I haven't lost all the baby weight yet.

      Delete
  10. This is a great list!! I'm always much hungrier nursing than I am while pregnant, so that part made me laugh :) I hope you will link up with us at the breastfeeding blog hop again next week! ~Melissa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will. I link up pretty much every week unless I just have no opinion on the topic or not enough of one to make a sufficient blog post. I love that particular blog hop.

      Delete
  11. I completely agree with everything you wrote, especially the hunger part. I would eat EVERYTHING in sight. I also told myself to drink AT LEAST every hour on the hour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am down to nursing 2-3 and am still super hungry all the time. I sometimes wonder if the hunger will ever go away.

      Delete
  12. This is all so true, Melissa. I can definitely relate to how difficult it is, and to the crazy THIRST! I never managed to get breastfeeding worked out despite weeks of trying (my daughter was born with a tongue tie) so I pump instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really admire you pumping full time mommas. Pumping was so hard for me and my lactation consultant actually equated it to almost being like having twins since you have to pump and then still feed the baby. Kudos to you guys for making breastfeeding work even when it doesn't "work."

      Delete
  13. Boy, I wish I had known these things too!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Live and learn I guess. Thanks for reading.

      Delete
  14. Love this Melissa! I'm stopping by from Me + the Moon, and so far I am loving your blog! As I was reading this, I was nodding my head and smiling, especially at the breast pump being a time suck, b/c I have called it the EXACT same thing! :} I'm still nursing my 2nd, a boy, at 10 months, and it is super easy now, but started out as a challenge with both of my kids (my daughter is 2 now but weighed 5 lbs at birth and was soooo hard to latch on at first). I'm so glad I stuck with it, and try to be super supportive of my new mommy friends and encourage them to keep going even though it is the hardest thing they'll ever do. I always say, if God intended breastfeeding to be the best thing for babies, He should have made it a little easier :} Thanks for this post! Have a great weekend! ~Cameron

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No kidding. God really should have made breastfeeding easier. I mean come on we have to push a baby out of our womanly bits (or worse have a csection) and then get the joys of newborn breastfeeding. Dang that Eve for eating the apples. :)

      I have learned to be so supportive of all my mommy friends and try to point them in a way that helps them and also gets them to reach out to lactation consultants. That is the only reason I made it through.

      Delete
  15. New follower and a new mom to a beautiful 11-week old baby girl! What is a "weighed feeding"?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for following! A weighed feeding is where they strip the baby to his/her diaper and weigh them before the feeding and then again once they finish one side and again after the other. It allows you to see exactly how much your little one is taking in. They were invaluable. We actually had a support group at the local hospital so I got to take Destructo for one each and every week.

      Delete
  16. I love that babies are actually learning even when they are only a few hours old! And mothering of course is a constant learning experience too! You're so right, breastfeeding is a skill that has to be learned no matter how natural it is. Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link Up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep I have learned a whole lot since having Destructo. It is awesome to watch him learn and master new skills daily.

      Delete
  17. I loved this post! I'm expecting my first in January and I'm trying to get prepared! Stopping by from the Tuesday Baby Link up!
    thenotquitemilitarywife.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is AWESOME. I agree with all of this so much - especially #1. When my son finally started gaining some weight after weeks of breastfeeding challenges a couple of years ago, it felt like the biggest accomplishment of my life. Once we got it down, our nursing relationship lasted 19 months till I lost my milk halfway through my pregnancy with my daughter. :-)

    Thanks for linking up at The Tuesday Baby Link Up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. I used to day weight checks every week and then once I went back to work every other week at my local lactation group. It was like being on top of the world the weeks he gained well and I felt like a failure the weeks he didn't. That is why nursing is so much easier now that he isn't solely dependent on me for nutrition.

      Delete
  19. Just stopping back to say this will be my featured post when next week's Tuesday Baby Link Up goes live tomorrow! Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! I will come over and check it out tomorrow.

      Delete
  20. everyone i know in my family formula fed their children. my grandmother said only poor people breastfed in her time. i always thought breastfeeding was gross when i was younger. when i got pregnant with my son, i knew we were not going to have much money so i decided to "suck it up" and breastfeed. unfortunately, i had had multiple breast surgeries over the past 2 years (lift with implants that had to be corrected 3 times) so i was unsure if i would make enough milk since the average time for letdown reflexes to regenerate is 5 years. another side effect from my surgeries was that i had flat nipples due to the skin being so taut. so when i went to feed my baby, i had to use a stupid nipple shield (or so i was told). i had no support from my family, my breast were HUGE from the implants and then my milk coming in (which caused even more difficulty for my newborn to latch), i had to stay in a room by myself because we stayed with my mom for the first week out of the hospital and no one wanted to see me breastfeeding because it was "gross". i had never experienced anyone breastfeeding and felt like i had no one to turn to for support. my grandmother constantly tempted me with the fact that she would buy the formula for me. i gave up after a week.

    next time, i think i will be more prepared. i want to do it not just to save money but for all of the other reasons/ benefits. i know people who breastfeed and my husband is on board.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can do it! I highly recommend working with lactation consultants as much as you can while in the hospital and reading up as much as you can before hand. I like the book The Womanly Guide to Breastfeeding. Attending a few La Leche League meetings while pregnant might be a big help to you as well.

      And if anyone ever tells you breastfeeding is gross, tell them no it is the natural way of life. All mammals feed their babies their milk. I mean it is horribly disgusting to drive by a field of cows and see calves nursing from their moms? Gasp those darn cows don't even use a nursing cover.

      I wish you all the luck in the future with breastfeeding and if you ever have questions or just want to vent, feel free to email me. I struggled a lot with Destructo in the first six weeks of nursing, so I like trying to help out other moms when they are struggling to make nursing work.

      Delete
  21. Just helped my sil through her first 6 weeks :) It is definitely a struggle without a support system!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep I am so thankful to have had a support system with my son. This time around I have an even larger support system! I joined LLL and everything.

      Delete
  22. I wish someone told me my son could pass thrush to me and it leads to severely raw cracked nipples. It was a friend of mine, who is a pharmacist, who told me to rub the medication over my nipples every time I treated the baby. What a huge difference it made. The pain was so severe prior to this I almost quick because I thought it was solely the breastfeeding at fault.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I just found this post, and it made me wish I had read it after I had my daughter! You also made me laugh... the comment about being hungry and thirsty really hit home. And it would come out of nowhere! Thanks for a great list and great reminders for when I have my second child later this year. :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I know this is an old post but it was exactly what I needed to read as I mentally prepare for the arrival of my first child. I'm due in April and I know if I want to breastfeeding to work out, I have to have the right mindset!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I had no idea about the immunizations! Glad to have a warning!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great info thanks! It is nice to know real truths before going through this.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving a comment! They really do make my day. I make every effort to reply to each and every comment.