My sister in law sent me this list of 5 things I wish I knew about breastfeeding and I loved the article as much as she did. It just reassures a nursing mom of all the things she's insecure or unsure of in some of the most challenging, confusing, exhausting times during those darkest hours when you're first trying to figure things out:
"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.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
My goal was to nurse for the first year, and we met that mark, but now with our new dairy / gluten issues I'm not sure how long I SHOULD continue to nurse or for how much longer I will WANT to nurse. I don't think that this feeling of wanting to be free of being sucked on every few hours is new or only develops after a year of breastfeeding. I think when my first son was just a couple days old I was filled with dread at the idea of having to keep this little baby on my breast every few hours for a WHOLE YEAR, but honestly, after a while, you just get use to it and in my experience, I fell in love with being able to nurse my babies. I think there are just going to be moments where you feel tired, when you feel like you've had it and those are the times to know that it's okay to feel that way and to reassure yourself that you are doing the best thing for your baby and it isn't going to last forever. A breastfeeding relationship, whether it lasts for a few days, weeks or even a year or more, is just a drop in the bucket when you look at the entire span of your life, but it's one of the best experiences you'll ever look back on. Promise.
PS If I could add one thing to the list above of things every mom should know about breastfeeding: Your breast becomes the ultimate pacifier. Your baby will be comforted by nursing and will use you as his/her paci. Celebrity and singer Pink recently had a baby girl she named Willow and states that her husband Carey can calm their baby like only her boob can! It's so true that sometimes these breastfeeding babies only want to nurse on their mom and it's very special when someone has that magic touch that can even come close to what a breast can do for baby. The downside of course is when baby is upset, and nobody can calm him/her down, they pass baby back to you because they know you, and your breasts alone, can end the crying. It's a double edge sword because as a breastfeeding mom, you become the human pacifier!