From the time commitment to the supplies to the dreaded mommy-guilt, here are my 10 “things” I wish I would have known about breastfeeding.
There was not a doubt in my mind that when both Joey and Anthony were born, I would be breastfeeding. I took the breastfeeding 101 class offered by the hospital, I talked to a few friends about the best supplies and equipment for pumping, heck I even had Ted read up on breastfeeding.
Regardless of all the prep and learning I underwent to wrap my brain around breastfeeding, nothing prepared me for the rollercoaster ride it was with Joey and has been with Anthony. Because I’m not one for swearing in public, I’m going to go easy on you here and politely share 10 things I wish I had known about breastfeeding— you can leave it up to your imagination as to what expletives I might share.
And just to keep things interesting, I’ve asked a few of my mom pals to join in the fun and contribute to this list! Are you ready for it?!
10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Breastfeeding
1. Breastfeeding is isolating. Please don’t go it alone. It takes two to make a baby so it should be two of you feeding the baby. “But I can’t nurse him,” says the Dad to the Mom. “Oh but you CAN still do SOMETHING,” says the Mom to the Dad. We had that conversation in our house and this Momma didn’t put it so nicely! Here’s how Dad can be involved with breastfeeding.
2. It’s a pain in the neck. Rebecca, mom of two, shares, “nobody told me how important self-care is with nursing— that my back and neck would hurt a lot at times. “ Rebecca recommends a self-care kit for Mom: herbal tea, lavender oil, hot baths or showers, regular massages, heat compresses to the neck and shoulders, and yoga! [For more from Rebecca be sure to connect with her HERE].
3. It can be expensive. You might hear that breastfeeding is cheaper than formula feeding. Which would be true if you didn’t buy all the swag that comes along with breastfeeding— which is of course what I did. I’m a fan of the Medela breast pumps, Lansinoh Lanolin ointment, and Bravado nursing bras and tops. Your credit card will thank me!
4. Now’s the time to eat for two. Soon-to-be mom of two, Elizabeth, drilled it in my head the importance of diet and eating enough “good stuff” when you are breastfeeding. After all, the food mom eats helps to make enough milk for baby. You can read Elizabeth’s guidelines for eating well while breastfeeding here and try her recipe for chicken avocado pita pockets. YUM! [For more from Elizabeth, be sure to connect with her HERE].
5. Breastmilk stains! Or at least mine does. Is that weird? Don’t answer that question. A lot about breastfeeding is weird!
6. It might feel unnatural. Kristy, busy mom of three, shares, “I couldn’t understand why something so “natural” seemed so unnatural and difficult at times.” I get it Kristy. And I’m sure if you’ve been there and done that with breastfeeding you’ll head-nod at the fact that the first week through two months of your baby’s life felt about as awkward as 50 first dates! [For more from Kristy, be sure to connect with her HERE].
7. Breastfeeding comes with mommy-guilt. Get a Kleenex for this testimony from my friend Jessica— “Breastfeeding has not gone perfectly with either of my boys, but in each case I have kept trying – and trying. I have teamed up with incredible breastfeeding support groups and lactation consultants, yet still ended up supplementing with formula. This decision came with feelings of guilt and failure. Though should it have? We place so much pressure on ourselves to DO IT ALL and to do it BETTER than the next mom. I feel the biggest lesson I have learned throughout all of my breastfeeding adventures is that I am not perfect and I will never be that Pinterest-Mom doing it all. But I will be ME and I will continue to take strides to be better than I was yesterday.” Amen to that, Jessica. [For more from Jessica, be sure to connect with her HERE].
8. The priority should be your baby’s nutrition. What do I mean by this? Take a moment and read my friend Lindsay’s story about breastfeeding her little cutie Chase. REALLY read it. If you do, you’ll quickly realize that it’s not about having a baby drinking milk from your breast. It’s about giving your baby the right nutrients to grow. And sometimes those nutrients need to come from the formula. [For more from Lindsay, be sure to connect with her HERE].
9. Magic happens the second time around. Sort of. I will say all-things breastfeeding was easier with Anthony than with Joey. Am I more confident? Yes. Have Anthony or I had medical issues impacting his breastfeeding experience? Nope. The first few weeks were still tough— figuring out a schedule, getting the flow going, working on gas and spit-up. 12 weeks was a turning point for both of my boys where breastfeeding became EASIER done than said. Hang in there! It does get better…
10. Surround yourself with a support system. My friend Lauren is on month #36 of breastfeeding so she knows a thing or two about it. “You need someone to complain to when you are in pain or your supply is low. Find support, whether it’s a long-lost friend on Facebook who is also breastfeeding or another new mom you met at a playgroup.” Funny, Lauren has become part of my support system for blogging AND breastfeeding— even though we’ve never met in person! [For more about Lauren, be sure to connect with her HERE].
While I didn’t leave you with many expletives, I want you to remember that with anything involving food and children, Positivity is KEY. Whether you breastfeed or formula feed your baby, the most important lesson I’ve learned in all of this is the happier I am, the happier my babies are. And yes, that means I TRY to be happy at 2am, 4am, and 6am feedings.
[email protected] Running Mama says
Great post… I’m pumping as I type this! My little guy is 10 weeks– things were hard until week 8 or so and they have gotten better… the clutter feedings have tapered and his eating schedule is bait more predictable.. as are his nights. Your truths are right on!!
8 weeks seems to be such a turning point for most babies. Kudos to you momma for pumping– that’s my least favorite part of it all!
Amanda Hernandez says
Great post! I told you it would get better around 3 months : ). Glad it is working out for you. And I agree that breastfeeding can come with some challenges.
Thanks for being such a great listening ear!!
Such a great post, Katie!
Keisha Gardner says
Breastfeeding is exhausting the first three months, because every baby seems to just want to eat allllllll day and night. LOL
I really did well with breastfeeding the first two times, even with a NICU baby the second time and a few days of pumping to even get milk and a few more before he could try to nurse. I hope we don’t have problems this time.
Thanks for sharing your experiences! Dad’s support definitely helps, for sure!
Aww best of luck with #3!!!!!!!
Jessica @ Nutritioulicious says
Such an important topic, especially for first time moms who are told “Breast is Best” and struggle to breastfeed only to feel down on themselves. Breastfeeding my twins will always be one of the most challenging things I have done. I felt guilty stopping at 7 months, but for my sanity I needed to be released from the chains of my couch. It’s humbling to read your stories and those of other mothers.
Kudos to you momma. And I just gave you a bow. I can imagine you felt like all you did was feed your sweet girls! Whether it’s one hour or one year we all do our best to give them the nourishment they need!
What an honest post!! I was the same… It did come with some cost $$ I felt for the most part my kiddos took to it well, but I know so many women where it was a lot harder. Having support of your spouse and/or friends and family is crucial. Never the guilt though… If you just can’t you just can’t. End of story.
Exactly!!! Having that listening ear is KEY in any part of parenthood really!
Sonali- The Foodie Physician says
Great post Katie! I definitely had my share of struggles breastfeeding Sienna but so many of the points you made here really helped me throughout the process. That “milk-drunk” pic is precious!
I’m telling myself that the solid food process will be easier with #2 too… Fingers crossed lol!
I had such a struggle breastfeeding my little guy. My supply was so low and even though I tried about everything in the book, I couldn’t increase it very much, if at all. I did feel guilty to have to supplement with formula. Thanks for writing this post! Hopefully when I have another child it will be a bit easier – you give me hope!
And the two milk drunk faces are so cute! It’s fun to see how different their personalities can be!
I started supplementing around 4 months with Joey because my supply went haywire. I tried it all too but the only thing that worked was formula! I think the biggest thing that’s helped with #2 is I’m not questioning myself every breath he or I takes. Ping me when #2 happens and I’ll share some of the confidence… Or blunders lol
Jennifer @NourishedSimply says
My first born breastfed until he was two. I pumped at work three days a week and got up in the middle of the night to pump until he was a year old. It was exhausting. My second only breastfed to eleven months. I had a different job and bumping was a bit harder the second time around. She was not as attached to the breast like her brother was…
I think the breastfeeding is isolating one is something I definitely didn’t realize until I started going places (not yet comfortable breastfeeding) and having to hide out. Or just deciding I’d rather stay home than run the risk of having to feed while out. Great list!
tiff @ love, sweat, & beers says
Thanks for sharing! I’m trying to read up as much as I can before baby #2 arrives. It didn’t work out so well for E and I, so I’m hoping for better luck this time around.
It will be. You are a pro now 🙂
Amelia @ Eating Made Easy says
This is such a great post, and I love how you included different real moms’ experiences to show that it’s not the same for everyone. We moms need to support each other no matter what!
Thank you Amelia!!