Breastfeeding is hard (or it is likely going to be hard)!
Once we appreciate the work and dedication it takes, then we can move on to being a little more prepared.
There is enough breastfeeding propaganda out there. Therefore, all I have to say about breastfeeding is if you want to give a try, good for you! If it doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up and do what works for you! (And don’t let anyone tell you what to do or guilt-trip you).
Having said that, here are a few tips to help you during those initial painful moments of establishing a supply and learning to breastfeed.
What no one tells you about breastfeeding
1) You will need patience and deep breaths. If you are feeling defeated, take a minute or a walk, vent on an Internet forum support group or to a friend, regroup strength and try again.
2) You will need determination. Breastfeeding is not for the weak (a sort of joke on my part, but kinda true). It will take many attempt for you to figure out what works.
3) There will be pain (Lots of it!) It will be really painful to establish your supply, to get through the hard parts where your nipples hurt and you keep going on, like scratching off a wound. Use the lanolin, use your supplies, use formula if you have to. Instead of giving up, take a break. Taking some pressure off of you by giving one of two bottles a day, or even half the time, is better than giving up if you really want to do this. If you feel that you hate it, then it’s better to be happy than bitter.
4) Your baby will feed (really) often. Expect to be feeding your baby every two hours for the next 6-9 months. Breastfed babies eat more often than formula fed babies, every 2 hours versus 3 hours.
5) Your baby will be more fussy. Expect your baby to be more fussy than a formula fed baby. Breastfed babies look for comfort of being close to mommy, they look for more than just food and they love falling asleep on the boob.
6) Expect to feel irritated during the first two months. At that time, babies don’t have a lot of control of their bodies, which is why they will have a hard time finding the boob. Newborns have very poor vision, which is why they use their hands to guide them on finding the breast. Let baby touch the breast so it will be easier to find. Just like a blind man finding his way through.
7) Your best chance of success is to cosleep or bedshare. There are ways to do it safely, but not every one is looking forward to having their personal space invaded by a baby. It’s a matter of what works for your family. Just be conscious of the fact that you will be getting up from your bed every 1.5 hours if you don’t bedshare. Just the reality, sorry. Instead, you could be sleeping with your baby by your side and just letting him have the boob while you continue to sleep. Trust me when I say that when you are so sleep deprived, you adapt to sleeping with your boob popping out of your bra. Yes, I am aware of the hilarious mental image. For this, you can sidecar the crib, or put up a bed rail, use a cosleeper or a small bassinet. It’s easier to sidecar a crib that you can continue using rather than have a cosleeper or bassinet that baby will outgrow.
9) You will need to be aware of your diet, and keep taking prenatal vitamins. There will be no alcohol allowed, unless you want to use alcohol detection slips for breastmilk and continue to pump out and throw away your milk for several hours. You will continue to lose your concentration unless you keep taking DHA vitamins or eat well. It takes a lot to sustain a growing baby and your body will be working overtime.
10) Baby might start biting you, when teeth start breaking. It will hurt like crazy and you will be stuck saying “no” and trying to protect your nipples from the pain. Withdraw the breast and try again until baby bites. After being bit 50 times, baby might start associating biting with the boob going away.
This article is not a means to convince you to give up breastfeeding, but to known what to expect and to be full on prepared and with your eyes open. It’s best to know all this things rather than suffer through them thinking that they will last forever. Don’t be discouraged because the pain eventually goes away and the breastfeeding relationship becomes more relaxed once it’s established.