August is now known as the National Breastfeeding month, and this has got me thinking, rehashing my children as babies, and thinking about breastfeeding….the good, the bad, and the ugly. What no one ever told me, was that breastfeeding isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come natural for many women and babies. Some babies have tongue and mouth issues, some women have production issues, and oh…by the way… it hurts nearly as bad a labor in the beginning!
I wasn’t told anything really, when I had my first baby. The lactation consultant spoke to us, but not until after a nurse walked in, saw I was having problems getting my daughter to latch, and just handed me a nipple shield. That “helpful” nurse caused the death of my breastfeeding journey with my firstborn. I tried and struggled, cried and tried again for the first 6 weeks of being a new mommy. She wouldn’t latch without the shield and I never had letdown because the shield keeps it from happening. She had to work so hard to get anything, so I was forced to turn to formula.
I felt like a failure as a mother, not being able to get the hang of breastfeeding, and so I was determined with my next child, to make it work.
I do want to add here… that I believe that fed is best. Breastfeeding has been proven to be the best option for most babies (babies with severe food allergies for example, would be a different story).
Even though I was only able to partially nurse my first daughter for 6 weeks, I was able to successfully nurse my next four babies. Over this four year combined period, I can see how precious those moments are to a mom, and how I truly miss that time because of what that bond became. Having your baby cry only for you, because you are the only one who can meet his/her need is truly awesome..a blessing…a real miracle. How our bodies are able to create the nourishment a baby needs, and formulates that nourishment based on what the baby needs at that time, is remarkable. I think back on that time and cherish it, and sometimes even have dreams where they are tiny again and in those dreams I’m always nursing them. It wasn’t easy, but it was a fabulous experience that I will always keep with me.
5 Helpful Breastfeeding Tips
1.) Use a Nipple Cream! You can use Lanolin, organic shea butter, or even coconut oil to help replenish your sore, cracked, dry nipples. If you don’t treat them before they get too bad, you can really be in a world of pain and have bleeding during nursing sessions.
2.) Feed on demand. Babies don’t believe in schedules, and they shouldn’t have to wait to eat. They are constantly growing, and needing comfort, and to be touched. Nursing on demand will keep your supply high and keep the baby content. Some days it may feel like it’s all you do, but this too shall pass!
3.) Nursing Covers are fantastic, and adorable. There are great nursing cover options on Etsy, and Amazon to just name a few. Using a cover allows you to feel comfortable, and non-exposed, which will allow for letdown. Nursing in public can be stressful. But the covers give you peace of mind knowing you aren’t flashing the old guy next to you.
4.) Take a photo, or have your husband do it. It may sound weird, and you never have to show anyone, other than yourself, but it is so precious and such a bonding time for mom and baby before you really get to know each other. This is the time you will both grow so much….your child physically, and cognitively, and you will grow more as a woman and mother, than you ever could have imagined! It’s not the nursing that did this necessarily, but it’s just the journey of motherhood. It is so exhausting and trying that first year, but also so full of so much good and cuteness, and blessing.
5.) Nurse during the night to help with supply issues. If you notice your supply dipping, and the baby is sleeping more at night, trying to wake the baby up to eat at night may help. The nighttime nursing sessions really do seem to increase women’s milk supplies greatly. Though it sounds crazy to wake a sleeping baby…it may be the best option to give your supply a bit of a boost.