Since it’s World Breastfeeding Week I thought it would be a good moment to write about my breastfeeding journey.
When I was pregnant I knew I was going to breastfeed. I was set on it and being the stubborn person that I am I decided to educate myself about it before my daughter was born.
I was shocked to find out the great division that exists in the US within breastfeeding and formula feeding moms. It is such a delicate subject that I feel like I have to watch any pro-breastfeeding comment that I make. Honestly, this kind of rub me the wrong way…not because I am against formula feeding moms (each mama does what feels right and is best for her baby) but because I love breastfeeding my daughter, I’m proud of it and love sharing about it.
The more I spoke to moms and learned about this division the more shy I became about thinking of breastfeeding in public but I had made my decision, I would be breastfeeding my daughter. The first thing I decided was NOT to buy formula as a back up, not to buy bottles nor pacifiers (read why I didn’t buy a pacifier here). I learned that the first weeks of my baby’s life she would nurse a lot and this way key into establishing a good supply.
There were a few articles I read and bookmarked to read again once my baby was born. If you’re an expecting mom, I recommend you read these:
My favorite posts! These helped me understand what to expect.
I learned that the key in breastfeeding is to have a proper latch so I keep this info handy.
I learned about breastfeeding diet and lactogenic foods:
Once my daughter was born I learned how to make lactation cookies and ate them for about a month or two.
I also bookmarked information on the breastfeeding law in case I had a negative public encounter.
One of the most important sites to bookmark if you’re a breastfeeding mama is Kelly Mom and La Leche League. ANY breastfeeding question you have or will have is answered here. When in doubt, check this site. Really.
So, back to my journey…
After a lot of reading, I decided that going to a breastfeeding class was not necessary for me (although many other moms have found them useful). My hospital provided lactation consultants, my doula was there to help and I figure if I had issues I could always get a lactation consultant to come to my house.
My baby was born awake and alert because I didn’t get an epidural. She was put on my chest immediately and a few minutes after being born she started looking for my breast. At that moment I got a little scared, she seemed so fragile and I was scared to hurt her. My doula helped me by holding her head, my baby opened her mouth wide and latched. I was happy and felt I succeeded. Little did I know I was going to be in that position for the next 2 months!
The first night at the hospital my daughter nursed on and off. It was painful every time she started to nurse but the pain would go away. However, the second day she nurse almost all day and I felt my nipples were going to fall off. Really! “How can this baby be stuck to my boob all day?” I was in pain and all she wanted was to nurse. They checked my baby’s latch and she was doing great. The pain I was feeling was because my nipples were not used to being sucked like this.
In my husband’s words: “I sucked it up” and let her nurse away. Whenever she would stop I would put some Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter to help my nipples heal since they were a bit cracked. You should bring this with you to the hospital.
We got released from the hospital and came home. What I didn’t know, or I probably I did but forgot, is that your baby will nurse A LOT!!! For the first 6-8 weeks I barely showered. I couldn’t do much of anything. I was in my recliner all day and nursed, nursed and nursed. I was determined not to give up. I knew all this nursing was good for my baby and it was helping to establish my supply.
Every time I freaked out that my baby was nursing frequently because she wasn’t getting “enough milk”, I would read about how babies nurse for comfort, remind myself that this is normal behavior, look at this chart to remind myself that their stomachs are little, count her wet diapers – if she’s eating enough, she’s peeing enough, and asked on my breastfeeding support group if other babies were also nursing around the clock. Turns out, they were.
(Tip: Join a breastfeeding support group, in person or online. You will have many questions and it’s great to share with other mamas that are going through what you’re going.)
Instead of letting all this nursing drive me crazy, I embraced it. I took this time to read a lot, watch some movies, but mostly read. My husband was a great support and it would have been hard to do this without him. He would buy or cook food, fill up my water bottles, have snacks ready for me and did everything around the house since I was stuck on the recliner.
The times we went out I had my daughter in the ErgoBaby carrier and she would nurse, nurse and nurse. If we went out to eat, she would nurse, nurse and nurse. By the time she was 6 weeks I felt like a pro at this.
Bed sharing saved my life! I was tired from waking up to nurse my baby so many times at night. She would sleep 3-4 hours at most. That’s when I became determined to learn how to nurse in bed. This was AWESOME! I got to sleep much more, I didn’t need to get out of bed to nurse and my husband loved it because he got to sleep through the night. My baby would never fully wake up. She would move her head looking for my boob, I would latch her and she ate half asleep. 6 months later, we’re still co-sleeping and will do so until, at least, she stops nursing at night.
At around 3 months things got a lot better. I could actually do more without having her stuck to my breasts and nursing got much much easier. If you make through the first 2 months, breastfeeding becomes easier: milk is always ready, at the right temperature, no need to sterilize or wash anything, goes with you wherever you go, you can nurse sitting or walking (using a carrier), baby learns to latch on it’s own…It’s awesome!
Oh but don’t forget about the growth spurts! If you’re baby is suddenly nursing a lot, then you know it’s a growth spurts. This usually happens for a few days and as always, I let her nurse all she wants.
Months 4 and 5 were pretty great too. My baby started nursing less at around 4 months, which freaked me out but then I realized her tummy was getting bigger and she was able to drink more milk. She started getting distracted by everything around us so nursing in public became a little bit of a challenge. I don’t use a nursing cover because she never liked it and gets super hot in it, so I wear 2 shirts at all times: one I pull up and one I pull down. This means my daughter can see everything that’s going on so her nursing sessions when we were out got shorter. She would nurse more when we came home to make up for it.
This is a reason why I never tried to get her on a schedule or to deny a feeding. Babies are not like us, they don’t eat because they crave it, they eat because they are hungry, whether it’s 1pm or 1am, if she’s hungry that’s all she knows so she gets to eat whenever she wants to.
I can tell when she was too distracted to eat during the day because she would nurse more at night. Since I don’t get out of bed to feed her, I don’t mind. Read about Wakeful 4 Month Olds.
My daughter is now 6 months and she still nurses pretty frequently. If we’re by ourselves, she will every hour or every hour and half and if we’re out or with friends she will nurse about every 2 to 2 and a half hours. Nursing has also become even more interested. When we are out she will only nurse in the ErgoBaby carrier. She might nurse on my lap, but only if she’s really hungry because the world around her is way more entertaining than eating.
When we’re at home she starts doing baby gymnastics. She grabs her toes, tries to nurse while sucking her toe, yes her toe. Realizes she can’t nurse this way so she tries to nurse and suck her finger at once, then she realizes that doesn’t work either. Suddenly she needs to check if our fan is still there, nurses again, then she looks at the fly passing by, nurses again, she checks if my nose is still attached my face and nurses again, and she smacks my boobie while nursing. Let me tell you, our nursing sessions are not boring!
If we’re lying in bed she will experiment to nurse in different positions. Right now she loves to nurse lying on her belly. She puts her face sideways and keeps kicking her legs and tries to crawl. She stops nursing many times to practice her crawling skills and then continues to nurse. My favorite is when she’s crawling, looks at my boob and jumps towards it, lands on my boob and nurses.
I’m sure this is just the beginning of fun nursing sessions. She makes sure I don’t get bored. Lol!
I am pro breastfeeding because even though breastfeeding is not easy it is well worth it. It’s amazing to know you can provide nutrition to your baby and even more amazing is when she’s nursing and looks into my eyes…gives me an “I love you” look and grabs my hand. That moment makes it all worth it!
Some have asked if I will stop nursing once she turns one. After all my research I decided I’m not. My original goal was to make it to one, but after reading Breastfeeding Past Infancy and learning that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to breast feed for AT LEAST two years or beyond, I decided I will nurse until my baby weans herself, in other words, until she decides she doesn’t want to nurse anymore. I’m probably going to be one of those moms that people stare at for nursing an older baby, but I know I’m doing what’s best for her.
Do you plan to wean your baby or will you let your baby wean her/himself?
Have an older baby, then read about my breastfeeding journey: