Breastfeeding, breastfeeding, breastfeeding… breast is best they say. I just want to start off by saying FED IS BEST!
But, for those mamas who are set on walking the breastfeeding journey or are more lax about trying it and seeing how it goes, keep reading sis because I’m going to drop some truth bombs. Before I start, this seems like an appropriate time to drop a disclaimer, because everyone’s experiences are valid, right?! Yes, absolutely! What I share here is my experience and experiences of mama’s I know! Okay, lets dive in!
I am a mama of 2 amazing, precious, beautiful boys! I nursed both and am currently nursing and pumping for my 8-month-old. So, I’m definitely not green to the breastfeeding scene.
1. Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally.
I wish I would have known this starting out with my first son. Breastfeeding is all about learning your baby, learning your body, and baby learning how to nurse! So, with that being said it isn’t instantaneous harmony when baby is at the breast. So give yourself and baby grace.
With embracing this notion that breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally, it is important to set guilt or shame aside when nursing isn’t going how you envisioned and reach out to a certified lactation consultant. They can normalize your experience, give pointers on baby and breast positioning, and the weird things that can happen to your breast like nipple blanching, clogged ducts, mastitis, and milk blisters. This is the perfect segway to my next point!
2. Breastfeeding should not be painful.
The first thing I remember learning about breastfeeding is how painful it would be. I literally heard that your “nip” would feel like it was put in a pencil sharpener! Wild, right? Here is the caveat, it is normal to experience pain as you and baby are learning to breastfeed.
If you find yourself shouting expletives, or beads of sweat formulating on your forehead with each new latch, and/or bleeding, there is something happening that a professional lactation consultant can address and bring relief. I know this all too well. This was me! I was that mama! My spouse knew that early on when I was latching baby or nursing baby to steer clear because I literally couldn’t hear anything or see anything other than the nip, the babe, and the impending pain.
With my second child, my birthing team advised that he get evaluated for a lip/tongue tie after observing my breastfeeding challenges. I was so thankful for that referral! Nursing exponentially got better after his lip and tongue ties were released. If you think something is off, ask the professionals!
3. Breastfeeding is a full-time job.
For the new mamas or mamas to be, this may or may not be a shocker. Babies are so stinkin’ cute but they eat a ton! In the early days of having a new baby, it really felt that there was no point in wearing clothes. I was nursing, or pumping, or trying to rest. I don’t know about you, but bras are not restful to wear so dump it early on if you’re inclined!
Breastfeeding takes up so many moments of the day and it can subsequently feel like a very lonely and isolating journey. There were plenty of times with both kiddos that you’d find me nursing and crying,…because nursing is hard.
Partners can try to be as supportive as possible but if they haven’t nursed a baby, or been on the pump several times in the middle of the night on top of every few hours during the day, they just don’t get it. This isn’t their fault, but having a support system of folks that have experienced breastfeeding/pumping can be a breath of fresh air. Never underestimate the power of community. Lastly, take heart mama, it doesn’t last forever!
4. I wouldn’t trade the experience.
There are many beautiful experiences to be had nursing that precious baby. It is so empowering to know that you can be ‘enough’ for baby! Your body is amazing and perfectly designed to support your baby. Although nursing and pumping have been exhausting and quite frankly sometimes a nuisance, my babies have absolutely been worth it. My youngest actually squeals before we nurse and it continues to melt my heart every time. I am well aware that this time is but for a brief moment, so I’ll do my best to enjoy it while it lasts.