8 things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding before I had my first baby
Here at Healthy Mommy HQ we are all about supporting moms, and that includes breastfeeding mamas.
One of the fabulous benefits of the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenges is that it includes many recipes and exercises that are suitable for breastfeeding mamas. Today we have a Healthy Mommy Michelle sharing her experience of breastfeeding.
‘I was very fortunate to be able to breast feed both my boys until they self weaned at 16-18 months. It wasn’t easy though, especially first time around. There are so many things that I know now that I wish I knew then. I’d attended classes, read books but I still struggled.’
8 things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding
1. It’s a learnt skill
I’d read all about how natural it was, how babies crawled up mommies bellies at just minutes old to latch and I thought it would be easy.
Boy was I wrong!
Breastfeeding is a learnt skill for mom and baby. Babies are not always born perfectly ready to feed. Some are not great at latching on, others are super sleepy or have a low sucking reflex. It takes time to learn and nothing really prepares you for the real thing. No matter how many books you’ve read or classes you’ve attended, breastfeeding an actual baby is total foreign.
Cut yourself some slack. I went home from hospital with my first pumping and feeding with a bottle for more than half his feeds. It took me a good 4-6 weeks to establish a comfortable breastfeeding routine. Just because you are struggling at first doesn’t mean it won’t work out. Be kind to yourself and get help from a lactation consultant or breastfeeding clinic if you need to.
2. Breastfeeding is hungry/thirsty work
You need a LOT of water to help your body produce plenty of milk for your baby. Have a water bottle on hand at all times. Remember to also have healthy snacks available for when the midnight munchies hit. Trust me, they will.
3. You won’t automatically lose weight
Has everyone told you that those pregnancy pounds will just fall off while you’re feeding? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but for many women that just doesn’t happen.
I actually gained weight while breastfeeding. I was so hungry all the time and didn’t always make the best choices. I’m expecting my third bub in a few weeks and I’ll be being much more aware this time around and am so glad the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge will be there to support me.
4. Low supply doesn’t mean the end of breastfeeding
With my first son I struggled with low supply. It was a combination of factors (both him and me) and I got very close to giving up many times.
I wish I had known that there were both natural and medical ways to help boost supply. It wasn’t until he was close to 3 months that I finally sought help and I really wish I had done it sooner.
5. Formula is NOT the end of the world
When my first son was really struggling with weight gain I felt immense guilt that he might need formula top ups. I ended up pumping 5-6 times a day on top of feeds (including midnight and 4am sessions!) just to keep from having to top him up with the ‘dreaded’ formula.
Oh how I wish I had been kinder on myself. Formula is NOT the end of the world and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. If you need to supplement or move completely to formula for your babies well being or your own then do it. Don’t beat yourself up like I did.
6. Nipple cream is a lifesaver
I cannot emphasise this enough. Add nipple cream to your hospital bag shopping list and apply it after EVERY feed. Even if you don’t feel you need it yet. Trust me on this one.
7. Babies get more efficient
Don’t panic when your bub goes from taking 45 minutes to feed to 15 minutes. It is totally normal and doesn’t mean they are getting less milk. Babies get more efficient and your milk supply will establish more solidly between 2-6 weeks after birth. It’s normal for them to then start feeding for shorter periods.
8. Softer breasts don’t mean less milk
After the shock of newly filled and rock hard breasts following your milk coming in, it can be worrying to notice your breasts soften. Softer breasts that don’t feel as “full” doesn’t mean your milk supply has dropped.
Your body generally will like to play a trick on you by having this occur simultaneously to your baby feeding for less time, increasing the worry that something is wrong. In most cases it is totally normal and just means your supply is stabilising and your body is regulating it based on what your baby needs.
Breastfeeding can be amazing but it can also be hard work. There are lots of great sources of information and support.
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This article was written by Healthy Mommy Michelle Thompson-Laing.