I wanted to chat with you all about breastfeeding and maybe give you a little encouragement! It can be such a hard and sensitive topic, but I wanted to reach out you mamas who may be struggling or feel guilty about your breastfeeding journey, from a mama who has both bottle fed and breastfed her babies.
I so badly wanted to breastfeed my first son. I got the pump and the nursing covers and the boppy pillow and I was ready to do this! But I had no idea how hard it was going to be, and within weeks I had given up. I was convinced that I was starving my son because he was a l w a y s hungry. I thought that I didn’t make enough milk and I was so tired and frustrated that I just gave up.
And here I am now on the other end of the spectrum, successfully breastfeeding baby number two for almost five months now!
Wherever you’re at in your journey with your baby, I just want to tell you that as long as you’re feeding your baby that YOU ARE DOING GOOD! Maybe it’s not the way you pictured, but as long as your baby is healthy and thriving that’s all that truly maters!
Here is what I have learned along the way:
IT IS GOING TO BE HARD
You have to work through the pain (which will go away I promise) and the sleep deprivation. You have to learn how to help your baby latch properly and which positions are most comfortable. There were so many days that I wanted to give up again this second time around, but we just kept trying and learning and soon we were nursing without any issues.
BABIES EAT A LOT
Like a lot. When I had my first son I was absolutely convinced that he was starving because he wanted to eat every thirty minutes. I thought he wasn’t getting enough milk and that I was not making enough milk. Nobody told me that THIS WAS COMPLETELY NORMAL. Babies eat so much in those newborn days to help build your milk supply. So when they cluster feed, it is actually a good thing. I did not know this and ended up giving my first baby a bottle of formula. With baby number two, I had done my research, asked a million questions, and learned that this is totally normal and good, and that it will soon pass. It doesn’t make it any easier when it’s three in the morning and you’ve been sitting in the rocking chair for hours just feeding your baby. This too shall pass, and you’ll have lots of milk for your baby because of it! As long as your baby is having lots of wet diapers and is gaining weight, then more than likely you have plenty of milk for your little one! Cluster feeding and growth spurts are so difficult to get through sometimes, but thankfully it only lasts a few days. Hang in there!
GIVE YOURSELF A MONTH
At least a month. It gets SO much easier after that milestone and by the end of your second month it will be pretty much second nature. You will have your positioning down, be able to latch your baby on more gracefully, the pain will be minimal or totally gone, and you will know all of your babies hunger cues. Those early weeks are torturous at times, but if you can stick it out, it will get so much more enjoyable.
TAKE CARE OF YOU
It’s so important to make sure that you stay fed and hydrated! Keep a bottle of water with you and stock up on lots of snacks that you can grab and eat with one hand! Try to rest as much as you can, which is totally easier said than done, I know! Ask for help if you need it and make sure that you have plenty of support! My husband was and is so helpful; he constantly checks if I need some water or a snack. I know that when I am fed and hydrated that I can take care of my babies better. And on top of all of that, make sure that you’re taking care of yourself emotionally. Postpartum is hard. Your hormones are freaking out, you’re exhausted and sore and trying to keep your tiny human alive and happy and healthy. Make some time for yourself, even if it’s just twenty minutes: read a book, take a bath, or better yet take a nap! Let someone you trust snuggle your baby so that you can just take a little time for YOU!
IT’S OKAY IF IT DOESN’T WORK OUT
I grieved for well over a year because I did not successfully breast feed my first son. I felt like I should have tried harder. I felt like a bad mom. I felt like I failed him. But if I’m being completely honest, giving him a bottle helped my sanity. Looking back, I think I could have corrected the issues had I been properly informed on newborn eating habits and such, but I had no idea what to expect. You hear that that it is so natural and you think it will just click, but sometimes it doesn’t. For my firstborn and I, it didn’t. The bond you have with your baby will be just as strong and your baby will love you just as much whether your breast feed or bottle feed. Don’t live in guilt or shame, live in grace and enjoy every moment with that little bundle!
Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, or both just remember that FED IS BEST.
You’re doing great, mama, and I am rooting for you!