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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Things People Don't Tell You: Breastfeeding

I decided to write a mini-series titled Things People Don't Tell You because there are so many things that people don't tell you in regard to pregnancy, parenthood, etc.  In fact, Pinterest and blogs and social media make it all look so easy and glamorous and natural.  And a lot of it is, but a lot of it isn't.

So, I'm willing to be honest and open and share the things that people don't tell you in regards to pregnancy, delivery, bringing home a baby, breastfeeding, etc.
You can see my previous post here

If you have questions or suggestions for future topics, please email me.  I'm happy to share!

Breastfeeding is such a controversial topic.  Anyone and everyone has their opinion on how long, how often, when, where, everything breastfeeding.  So, please, take this post for what it is: one woman's experience breastfeeding for the first time.  I simply want to share things with you that I wish I would have known going into this as a new mom.  Understand that not every experience is the same.

Some things I wish I had known about breastfeeding...

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world.
But, it doesn't always come naturally.  Don't beat yourself up if it takes time for you (and your baby) to get used to it.  No prep class or counselor is going to totally prepare you.

And for some women, milk just doesn't come in or one side produces more than the other.  That is a lot more common than you can imagine.  Disheartening, but common.

It is a commitment.  Regardless of whether you decide to nurse or pump, you must be 100% committed.  Breastfeeding means nursing every 3 hours and pumping after every nursing session.  Or it means pumping every 2-3 hours.  There were days in the beginning when I felt like something was attached to my breast 24/7 be it baby or machine.

With that said, a simple trip to the grocery store becomes one of the most scheduled events in your life. 

All babies don't nurse the same.  Some are slow, some are loud, some are pros.  Don't get frustrated or stressed because baby can sense that.  (Easier said than done.)  Just be patient and work with your little one to find the perfect position.

There are several different ways to hold a baby while feeding.  Try them all out and figure out what is most comfortable for both of you.

Sometimes breast milk isn't enough to completely satisfy baby.  It devastated me when I had to give CT some formula because he hadn't gained weight at the one month mark.  I found out later it's actually a lot more common than you think.  It's okay to mix the two or supplement to help your baby sleep longer stretches (particularly at night) or to keep him satisfied longer.

Don't try to be super mom.  It is 100% okay to admit you are tired, to pump so someone else can feed baby while you rest, or to introduce formula/cereal so you can rest longer.  I promise, it won't hurt the baby and it will make you a better mommy to share responsibility.

You will get sore.  But, use lanolin sparingly.  Your body can become dependent on it like chapstick.

Keep disposable nursing pads on hand, but purchase some cloth ones.  Personally, I hate things you have to throw away on a daily basis and I feel more confident with the absorption of the cloth ones.

Make a comfortable space for nursing/pumping.  At first I would sit in the living room with my husband because I felt so secluded being in the nursery all the time (because it was frequent), but I created a nice space in the nursery where I am comfortable in my rocking chair, with my iPad in a basket beside it, and a small lamp and clock to keep track of time.  Now that CT is sleeping through the night, I still go in there to pump in the middle of the night.

That's another thing...just because baby is sleeping through the night doesn't mean you can.  In the beginning you will need to pump every 2-3 hours, but eventually you should be able to go 3-5.  I still wake up once in the middle of the night.

Lastly, (and maybe most importantly) educate your significant other on breastfeeding so that he can support you through this.  There will be nights where you cry through a feeding or mornings where you cry out of exhaustion.  If they understand they will be able to support you when things get tough and you want to throw in the towel.

Enjoy these moments.  They go quickly.  Those mid-night feedings are exhausting, but there are only so many.  Soak them in as precious bonding moments that only you get to share with your little one.

Do what is best for you, your baby, and your family.  Always ask a doctor if you have a question.  No question is a stupid question.


  1. Great post! I can relate to a lot of this. I quit breastfeeding last week and it has been so tough (mentally and physically). I was proud that I did it for over 5 months but have had so many mixed feelings and have felt guilty for quitting. I felt like I needed to because of excessive travel this month, but man it was a tough decision. Breastfeeding was much more time-consuming and difficult than I expected, but it was worth every moment.


  2. I loved this post and I am going to love this series on your blog. I'm so scared about becoming a mommy. Husband and I are probably going to try to get pregnant by next summer, and it is both a dream and terrifying me!

  3. I love this post and am super excited about this mini-series! I'm one of those who produces more on one side than the other, schedule grocery trips (or other earrends) around feeding times, I used lanolin cream all the time at the beginning and had more chapped areas than I do now without using it hardly ever, and an educated spouse is certainly a supportive one that's for real! :) Thank you so much for sharing!!

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