5 Things I Wish I'd Known About Breastfeeding

mom breastfeeding babyBreastfeeding is something almost all women can do... or at least their bodies are able to do, but between jobs, medications, and lack of good support, many women don't succeed in their efforts. Sad but true. A lot of the low success rate is because of the common misconceptions about the experience itself.

My second go at breastfeeding, with my daughter, has been speed-bump free ... but my first? My first was wrought with worry, misunderstanding, lack of support, Booby Traps, and frankly, I'm pretty amazed in retrospect that I stuck to it. I think there are a lot of things that if I'd known before going into it the first time, I could have saved myself a world of trouble.

  1. Newborn babies will eat ALL. THE. TIME. The information I read was the typical crap based on formula-fed babies, so when I read that newborns "should nurse every 2-3 hours," but sometimes every hour and a half, of course I was concerned when my son nursed what seemed like every 45 minutes, for about 45 minutes (Psst, they can nurse over 15 times in 24 hours and it's NORMAL!)
  2. Making breastfeeding friends is insanely important. What every mom needs is someone to tell her that it's okay, it's normal, and they've been there, too. When you want to cry because you're exhausted and your boob-fiend is at it again, having a mom friend who will say, "Oh honey, I've so been there. Learn the side-lying feed and relax," means more than all the pamphlets in the world.
  3. Even when everything is right, it can still hurt. Who winced seeing me say that? But it's TRUE. Sometimes a teething baby is awkward for a day or two. When I'd vacation from my humid home to my mom's arid climate, my nipples would split and there wasn't anything I could do about it, other than apply ointments all day. Sometimes the bad latch from two hours ago, that you fixed, will still feel sore later even when everything is right. If it hurts, GET HELP and make sure everything is okay, but moms should also know that sometimes it isn't going to be great.
  4. Well-meaning supplementation makes life so much harder. When we talk about not giving bottles or formula, we're not just on the breast-brigade. Every bottle given to your baby screws up your feeding schedule from your breasts, which can make you sore, lower your supply, cause oversupply/choking at the next feed, and so on. If you HAVE to supplement or pump, then you have to, end of story. But if you don't? Then skip it because that is sooo much more work that causes even more work and struggles.
  5. Sometimes you're going to hate it. Yes, it releases chemicals to make moms happy and relaxed. I love that, I do. But frankly, there are times when I just want to say, "LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!" and don't want to nurse, don't want someone needing me, or want to sit down without someone in my lap. Sometimes it's not a loving act, but one I force myself to do and I spend the whole time tapping my toes, waiting to leap up and do something "more important." While I do almost always love it, there are definitely times I don't, but that's okay.

What would you go back and tell yourself to help make breastfeeding easier and more successful?


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