Why I Changed My Mind About Breastfeeding
My Original Feelings Towards Breastfeeding
My opinion and attitude about breastfeeding hasn’t always been the same. Originally, I thought of breastfeeding as something awkward and painful. I was completely turned off from the idea. If I shared my thoughts, though, you could tell I had no children! I had no clue. Breastfeeding moms that wanted their babies nothing to do with formula and “cow’s” milk were just unnecessarily over-protective. I was like ‘Really?! Just hand the baby a bottle and call it a day already!!!’ (LOL)
Little did I know, these moms were on to something. Little did I know, these moms were doing one of the biggest and best things for their babies. I started to come around as I would read and hear about how breast milk is best for babies. So I figured ‘okay, I’ll pump all of my breast milk and feed it to my babies through the bottles.’ I just couldn’t imagine myself full blown breastfeeding. It still seemed awkward and uncomfortable. Plus, I didn’t want to have to worry about people looking at me. I can remember getting dirty looks just from carrying one of those dolls from child care class where you have to stick in the key to stop it from crying, and it’s supposed to teach you to not have a baby before you’re ready! It was DOLL (and I was 15), so imagine how people would look if I went around popping my boob out and attaching a kid to it!!! This was literally my mindset!
As I learned more and more about breastfeeding, I became more open to the idea and considered exclusive breastfeeding. I continued to see all of the benefits and I loved them and the idea of having a very healthy and happy baby. When I was pregnant with AJ, I really picked up on my reading and even watched videos. I learned even more about breastfeeding, how it works, and how it can be a challenge at times. I took all of this into consideration. I had decided that I wanted to at least try breastfeeding. I went to a breastfeeding class and learned even more about a newborn’s appetite, stomach size, and the techniques of getting baby to latch on. I was excited and couldn’t wait to try breastfeeding and see how it would work out!
What really won me over to the point where I was like ‘oh my babies are getting ALL breast milk, NO formula, NO dairy milk!’ is when my husband and I attended a two-day birthing class. In the classroom, we walked around to look at the things posted around. There was so much information to take in and so much knowledge! I wanted to soak it all in because I wanted to everything right with my precious little baby boy! There was this particular chart on one of the walls. It was a comparison chart of formula and breast milk. It included a list of what all each type of milk contains. It actually blew my mind. There was a long list of things in formula, but what blew me away was that the ingredients in breast milk went all the way to the floor!!! LITERALLY!!! I was like ‘WOW!!!’ Then and right there, I DEFINITELY knew I was breastfeeding and NOTHING ELSE!!!
After this, there was no doubt, no ‘let’s try and see’. It was ‘Oh we are GOING to make this work!!!’
First Concern Of Breastfeeding
When AJ was born, my breastfeeding journey began, and I absolutely LOVE it! However, it didn’t go without its challenges! The first started before AJ was born. This challenge was the worry (probably like a lot of new moms) of whether or not I was even producing milk. When reading and watching videos about breastfeeding and how your body starts to produce milk (colostrum) before the baby is even born, they also mention that your boobs may start to leak. This is supposed to be fine and just a sign that milk is getting ready! My problem was that I didn’t have the problem of milk leaking. I got concerned and OFTEN wondered if milk was even being produced and what would happen after my baby was born and there wouldn’t be any milk. I had also heard of the stories of moms not producing milk or not enough milk for their babies. I didn’t express this much (if at all), but I wondered if I would be one of those moms! But I would quickly brush it out of my mind and reassure myself that everything was well.
Just because your boobs aren’t leaking all over the place doesn’t mean there isn’t any milk in there!!! That’s what I continued to tell myself. Sometimes, I would be tempted to try out the pump just to practice using the machine and really to see if I had any milk yet! But I didn’t. I trusted God that all was well and the best would be provided for my baby.
First Few Days Of Breastfeeding
Once AJ was born, there was the moment of truth. Did I have milk or not? A few minutes after he was born, they cleaned him up (after bonding with me) and took his measurements. When they brought him back to me, they told me to go ahead and try to nurse. I held him close just like I learned in the classes, lined his nose with the nipple, and my little baby boy latched on PERFECTLY! It was such an amazing moment! I went from waiting to holding my baby finally, to having the ultimate bonding moment with my baby…breastfeeding. It was wonderful! The feeling of knowing that my body was still providing to this little guy’s health and development was just too big for words!
This was the moment when I thought back to my original opinions of breastfeeding and thought ‘I get it now.’
The first few weeks of breastfeeding also did not go without its challenges. Basically, just keep in mind that with becoming a parent, there are challenges. LOTS of challenges. The thing is to get over it and work through them! With breastfeeding, I found that the first challenge was that AJ only latched on one boob and not both. When breastfeeding, you are supposed to nurse the baby on the boob you left off on at the last feeding first. Well, I would start AJ on the right, but he wouldn’t latch on and would just cry (his cry was more of cute little whimper). So, I would put him back on the left, and he would latch right on! The left is where I nursed him the very first time that I mentioned above. Maybe when this happened, he instantly preferred that boob. I’m not sure. All I know is that I started to get worried and frustrated because I didn’t want him deprived or frustrated either.
We called for the lactation consultant there at the hospital. One of the great things I heard about the hospital I was at was their AWESOME breastfeeding services. And awesome it was! The consultant came in and reassured me that some babies actually just have a preference of which boob they want. To this day (7 months later), AJ still prefers the left boob. The consultant also gave me some tips on getting baby to latch on. For one, I wasn’t bringing baby close enough. Once their mouth opens, basically shove them on! Also, he latched on better when I held him with the opposite arm and used the other hand to hold the boob to him. For example, if I nursed him on the left side, I would hold him with my right arm and held the left boob with my left hand.
We AJ latched on and feeding and I was so happy and felt so much more confident! The next challenge came in the next few weeks. AJ actually still prefers the left side, so in order to keep the supply up on the right side, I start him on the right side every time. If I don’t, he will actually get full from the left side and won’t latch on to the right AT ALL. I always pump more on my left side than my right. If I pump using the dual pumps, the left side will have, let’s say 5 oz while the right side will only pump 3 oz. So, I let AJ nurse on the right side first every time in order to get him to nurse on both sides.
A few days after AJ was born, when we were back home, I started pumping so that someone else could feed him at night while I slept. I only pumped about an ounce or 2, and to see the milk was amazing to me! After wondering and wondering during pregnancy whether or not I was producing milk, it was so amazing to see it add up in the bottle. AJ was born on a Tuesday and by that Saturday my actual milk started coming in! I was so excited! It was after this that I started pumping. Then I was hit with something I had NO CLUE about!
Okay, so maybe I had a CLUE, but I didn’t think it would be this bad, but I started to have REALLY BAD CONTRACTIONS!!! Worst than the contractions I had in pregnancy and during labor!!! These felt like my spine was being CRUSHED!!!! I cried my little eyes out!! Mostly because I was so scared and didn’t know if this was normal or not. I may have been able to deal better if I knew it was normal and was aware that it would happen like that. The good thing was that it only happened about 4 or 5 times all within 20 minutes. Then that was it. It didn’t happen again. But I tell you, that was by far the WORST pain I had ever felt in my ENTIRE life!!! And mind you that I had just given birth! This was worst!!! (FYI: I also have a high tolerance for pain)
With this being said, I could have given up and quit right then and there and said ‘this is ain’t the life for me!’ (LOL), but I knew it had to be part of the adjustment and my body was going through a lot. Growing a baby for 41 weeks, laboring a whole day, and birthing a big baby, to now nurturing a baby outside of the womb. I kept all of this in mind when going through tough times and when words of discouragement would be said to me. Just like how I originally felt about breastfeeding, those around me also had some of those same thoughts. So now I looked liked those parents that I would roll my eyes at (to myself) thinking ‘it’s not that serious’. But in actuality, it IS that serious!!
My baby is so healthy and the only problem he has had is a cold! AJ caught a cold around 6 months and it was not fun. But that’s it!!! That’s all!!! So, I DON’T CARE what anybody says, my baby is breastfed and I’M PROUD OF IT!!! I’m also thankful!!!
How Long To Breastfeed?
So my original thought on this was I would breastfeed until the baby was 6 months then pump for the remainder of his/her milk feeding age. Why? Because I did not want to be bit by any TEETH!!! I don’t care what anyone says, being bit on your boobs does not sound fun!!! Well, I’m still breastfeeding and AJ is 7 MONTHS OLD AND he also has TEETH!!! What have I been thinking????!!!?!?!
Well, I’ve been thinking of how much I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE breastfeeding!! AJ loves it, too. He prefers nursing to drinking from the bottle. Nursing is soothing for AJ, but it’s also soothing for ME TOO! Plus, that same bonding moment we had that very first time after he was just born is the same moment we share every nursing session. The fact that I keep my baby alive, strong, and healthy just by bring him to me is just so amazing. No formula has to be made, nothing has to be cooked, nothing has to be mixed. He depends on me for that nutrition and part of me doesn’t want to lose that either!
Honestly, I’m waiting for the signal for when to stop. AJ will be 8 months in a few DAYS and he will be a year old in 4 MONTHS, so I’m just waiting for it to happen naturally. I’ve actually been bit a few times, but it wasn’t bad…well, the first time was, but he hasn’t done that since. Basically his teeth just bumps it some as he is latching on. Uncomfortable, but no big deal. At least not yet. What I PLAN to do is start to wean him to more of the bottle and feed him breast milk through the bottle until he’s around a year. He eats solids (fruits, veggies, and cereal).
Boosting Milk Supply
Throughout my 6 months of breastfeeding, I haven’t had ANY troubles with milk supply. I always produce how much AJ actually drinks. I use the weekends and days off to pump extra in order to have an over-supply for those days that an extra thing of milk is needed for outings or if I just need a day to sleep in (when you’re breastfeeding, YOU are your baby’s food supply, so pumping extras is great for those days when you prefer not to be woken up!).
Around 7 months, AJ began eating more solid food and less milk, therefore my milk supply lowered. I wasn’t pumping as much either because of work and I was running out of milk and not producing enough for a day’s supply. I felt SOOOO discouraged and was considering formula to supplement because I was so tired, but wanted AJ to get all that he can to grow. This made me so sad. I didn’t want to do formula. There’s no way to know for sure what exactly is in that stuff and with him used to breast milk, it just broke my heart. But it felt like breastfeeding was coming to an end.
I spent one morning just venting to my husband about my breastfeeding, milk supply, and pumping and work. He listened, and venting was the beginning of me feeling better. My husband told me to stop worrying and feeling so negatively about the whole thing and we PRAYED! He prayed that I would pump 15 ounces each day! Now we have a freezer full of milk bags!!! I love it!!! I was so encouraged after that, I was motivated again! I tried the nursing teas and I thought those things were GROSS, NASTY, DISGUSTING!!!! BLAHHHH!!! If any of you plan to use nursing teas and find they are gross to you too, I suggest making it hot, then mix it with another drink like hot chocolate mix, coffee, or a smoothie. You can’t even taste it then! But you still get those herbs that supposedly boost milk supply.
I just couldn’t do the tea. I tried the nursing cookies. Also gross. More tolerating, but still gross. It doesn’t help that I don’t like oatmeal raisin cookies. So, all I did was continue prayer and pumped after every nursing session. One weekend, I pumped every 2 hours. I was pumping around 2 oz each time, but now I pump and fill the bottles up! So, if you reach a point that your supply is decreasing and you’re not ready for it to, depend on and trust God to allow your body to provide what it needs to provide and pump all of the time!
If you are choosing to breastfeed or are new to breastfeeding, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE STAY ENCOURAGED!!! It is such a rewarding thing! And not just for you, but mostly for your baby!!! Don’t let others discourage you or talk you out of what you want to do! And don’t let people like how I used to be make you feel like what you do is weird or over-the-top all because they don’t understand! Remind them that breastfeeding is FREE! You’re saving money!!! That’s the opposite of over-the-top! (LOL)
Other Breastfeeding Tips
1. Everyone may not understand and THAT’S OKAY. Refer to bonus tip below.
2. Your milk will adjust to your baby’s appetite, so don’t be alarmed if you are producing more all of a sudden or less all of a sudden.
3. Your baby’s weight will fluctuate also depending on the milk, so once again, don’t be alarmed!
4. Stay hydrated! Look at it this way: milk is a fluid. If you want to keep milk production up, then you need to keep fluid in your body to provide your baby with fluid!
5. Give your baby Vitamin D supplements either right before nursing (to wash down the taste), or take baby for walks outside often, or make sure you are getting TONS of Vitamin D so that your baby does, too!
6. Use bra pads! You can be 20 miles away from your baby while at work and your baby cries and you STILL leak or feel your boobs fill up! (LOL)
7. If breastfeeding exclusively, then that is all your baby will need! Nothing additional. I didn’t INTRODUCE AJ solids until he was 5 ½ months (just cereal with breastmilk) and that was because he was showing an interest. Refer to tip #1.
8. If nursing bras don’t work for you (I hate them!), sports bras are AWESOME!!! Just lift them up or pull them down for each boob and easily put it back when you’re done! SIMPLE! Plus you get that extra support that you definitely need!
9. My very first baby purchase was a nursing pillow. GET ONE! It is so helpful and it acts an extra arm when you need one. You can also use it to prop baby up when you want to give him/her some floor time. It’s even great against your back while nursing!
10. Get a nursing cover! A dear friend of mine got one for me and I LOVE IT!! I can easily nurse anywhere and not feel exposed, plus I can peek in on AJ. I keep mine in my purse so that no matter where I am, I’m ready to nurse if I have to.
BONUS TIP: Do what works for YOU and YOUR BABY!!!
I love you all!
Happy Breastfeeding Super Moms!!!