Hey, Breastfeeding Mom, I need To Speak To You

As my due date quickly approaches, I am preparing last minute details for the arrival of our son. My breast pump can’t be ordered until Monday, but I already have a few spare parts purchased. I also have a manual pump (that I found on sale which makes it much more valuable to me) in case my electric pump were to breakdown for some reason.

I have read many articles, blog posts, books and thread after thread of mommy commentary on breastfeeding. I have searched out the pros and cons to both pumping and feeding straight from the tap (ahem, the boobs). I have read all about the different holds and even read about laid back breastfeeding (Google it, or go here to learn more because it seems pretty legit to me). I scoured Ina May’s Guide To Breastfeeding like it might hold the most valuable nugget of wisdom ever shared to breastfeeding mothers everywhere.

The approaches are endless, but the goal is the same–to have breast milk as your baby’s sole source of milk.

There are many drawbacks and many rewards to breastfeeding as a whole; so I wasn’t expecting glorious tales of mommy nirvana, exactly. I was expecting to find some general truths that rang true for every breastfeeding mother out there. Some tidbits of wisdom that would fortify me as I begin my own journey in breastfeeding would have been perfect. Boy, I was disappointed.

I have discovered, instead, that breastfeeding is a lot like childbirth–it is completely different for everyone. Breastfeeding is even different with each subsequent child, for crying out loud!

The universal truth seems lost to me. Many moms stress that the first six weeks of breastfeeding is the most exhausting, most painful experience any woman will ever endure. One mom told me to be prepared to treat the first six weeks like a never-ending marathon in which only your boobs are participating. But, then, another mom completely disagrees with such thoughts of awful.

She stated that it was the most natural thing in the world for her and her daughter, and that it didn’t hurt for more than a few seconds at the beginning of each feeding. She went so far as to reassure me that she wasn’t up at night any more than if she had formula fed (as she had with her first child).

The cynic in me thinks that possibly the second mom was just trying to alleviate my anxiety about breastfeeding, but then I saw her breastfeed. She didn’t flinch. She didn’t even pause in our conversation. She also looked well-rested, and her baby was only eight weeks old.

So, now, I want to stop every breastfeeding mom I see when out and about. I want to take a person-to-person poll, to see if there is a commonality among the moms that dread every breastfeeding session. I want to hear about the experiences of the moms that think it just couldn’t be more natural and easy. Breast is best is the mantra for many, but man, that just doesn’t do it for me.

I think I will stick to analyzing such things from afar (i.e. in a blog post).

What about you, breastfeeding mom? Got any wisdom to share?



15 Replies to “Hey, Breastfeeding Mom, I need To Speak To You”

  1. I will say I am simply amazed by women who are able to breastfeed. I tried for two weeks and switched to 100% formula as my milk never came in fully. I wish I would have learned more about it prior to giving birth so I was better prepared. Between a long labor and giving birth to a 5lb baby I was stressed out as it was and was quick to supplement formula as I didn’t want her losing weight.

    My best advice from what I learned is to commit 100% to it and don’t be afraid to reach out to a lactation consultant for help. If I ever do have another child I would give it a try again but if my milk doesn’t come in I won’t stress about it and will feed formula.

    If you’re on Facebook find some breastfeeding groups. I got added to our la leche league local page and there’s a ton of info. This would be a great question for you to ask on a page like that. 🙂

    1. I have read so much to try to prepare as much as possible. Fingers crossed! If for no other the reason, I am fully committed to breast milk because formula is so extremely expensive!

      C section is hard. There is just no way around it. It’s really hard.

      I am part of a couple of Facebook groups for moms and pregnancy/post partum. Someone recently asked for breastfeeding tips as she was preparing for her daughter’s birth and again, the answers and stories she received in comments were so varied. There was definitely a LOT of advice for specific problems like low supply or poor latch. It gives me hope that I can get support from moms and not just the lactation specialist at least!

  2. I have no advice. I just wanted to share that I visited my friend whose baby is now 4 months old. She pumps 3 times a day and gives the baby milk via bottles. She says it’s “not that bad, but time consuming.” I don’t really know what to think either . . .

  3. I don’t think this passes for wisdom but it’s my, very positive, experience. I LOVED breastfeeding! For me it was the ultimate lazy b*stard feeding approach for E. I had two brilliant things on my side: the first was a baby so hungry that she latched onto absolutely anything – including her dad’s nose – and the second was the luxury of midwife support for feeding for the first 48 hours until my supply was established and we’d both got the hang of it (in Switzerland all mums have 5 days in hospital and my hospital were fierce supporters of the WHO Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative). E slept in a cot next to me and I could roll over, scoop her up and feed her without quite waking up. I loved that if we decided to stay out longer than we had planned I already had dinner with me, I loved that if E was upset and I was struggling to calm her a quick snuggle and feed settled the situation, I loved that I didn’t have to spend a fortune on formula or have bagfuls of stuff with me when we went out, I loved that I never had to worry about choosing the right formula brand or finding the right bottle for her, and I love that even now E is crazy about garlic because she got pounds of the stuff in my milk. Super weight loss in the beginning (my midwife actually had to give me tips on how to keep up the calories), although it did stop me losing those last few pounds and my fat fingers didn’t settle until a few months after I finally stopped altogether. All entirely selfish reasons to breastfeed! Clearly I was incredibly lucky it worked though and I know that it doesn’t for everyone and also it doesn’t suit everyone. I think it’s an intensely personal matter, fraught with guilt, and every mum has the right to decide. A good lactation specialist is worth their weight in gold if you go that way though. xx

    1. Thanks! I’m definitely going to do my best to provide all my son’s milk for the first year.

      We don’t get to stay in the hospital that long unless there is a serious issue. Two days post-partum for vaginal delivery and four for c section is the standard here in the U.S. The hospitals have lactation specialists, though, and they subscribe to the breast is best school of thought. Did you have home visits as well from midwife or community health people? That is something we don’t do either, but I know it is popular in the UK.

  4. I think I could practically write a book on my breastfeeding experiences at this point. I’m currently breastfeeding my second child. I’m not a big fan, to be frank, but I’m determined to do it. I learned a lot between baby #1 and baby #2, so here are just a few highlights.

    First, there is a lot of pressure out there and you have to do what is best and right for you and your baby. Sounds simple, but in those blurry first few post partum weeks, that notion can get awfully distorted.

    Second, seek help from a lactation consultant early and often, even if you feel like things are going ok. If things are going great, just hearing that reassurance from an “expert” can mean everything! Also, if you don’t hit it off with the first lactation person, find a different one. The first one I was paired with was a serious breastfeeding nazi and I hated her. Ok, hate is a strong word, but she was awful. She was condescending and really made me feel awful. Then our pediatrician recommended someone else and it made all the difference in the world. If it hadn’t been for her, I would have given up after a couple weeks with baby #1 and wouldn’t have even tried with #2. The right lactation person can really, really help! And the wrong one can be very detrimental.

    I’m not sure what your work situation is, but if you are going to want to put a stash of milk in the freezer, I learned something with baby #2 that has been life changing. I asked our pediatrician about this and learned that in order for the baby to get the maximum benefits of breastfeeding, antibodies and all, you don’t need to breastfeed 100% of the time. She said as long as baby is getting 50% or more of her calories from breastmilk, she will reap all the benefits. MIND BLOWING! So, this time we chose to supplement just a little bit in order to build up more of a frozen stash. For one feeding a day, or sometimes two, my husband would give the baby a bottle of formula while I simultaneously pumped. Then I would put that milk in the freezer for later. It’s amazing how quickly that adds up! Plus, you’re actually going through so little formula that the cost of it is very minimal. Compared to baby #1 we have a huge stash of frozen milk (#2 is 3 months old now) for later, which will help us keep her on breastmilk longer, ultimately, without sacrificing any of the health benefits. This changed my outlook on supplementing completely, and took away the horrible guilt that can come with it.

    There are so many facets to this, I could go on and on. If you have more questions, keep ’em coming! I’m happy to help any way that I can, and have plenty of stories to tell. But you have already learned probably the most important thing: that everyone’s experience with breastfeeding is different, so everything you read and hear is anecdotal, pretty much.

    Oh, one more thing. If you are committed to the idea of breastfeeding, try, try, try to stick with it through those first 2-3 weeks, which I think are almost always the hardest. If you can get past that initial stage, you will be able to do it!

    1. Do you mind if I repost your comment in a blog post?

      I had no idea about the 50% thing with breast milk! That is pretty exciting! I would love to be able to have my husband feed our son once a day, but I didn’t see how this would even be possible for the first month because I know it takes time to build a supply.

      Thank you for sharing! If you would like to do a guest post on my blog about breastfeeding, I would love to have you. There are several soon-to-be mamas following my blog that would benefit from some breastfeeding wisdom as well.

      1. Wow, I’m flattered! I’m certainly no expert, but I’m so glad to be able to help. Yes, of course you can do whatever you like with my comments! No problem.

        The 50% thing has absolutely been life changing for me this time around. I don’t know why I never thought to ask that question with baby #1. It seems so obvious now. But it’s so liberating to know that exclusively breastfeeding isn’t the be all and end all for young babes. And I feel so much less guilt about formula and supplementing this time because of this info.

        As for a guest post, I’m not very blog-literate. How would I go about doing that? In thinking about it, I guess I would have a lot to say about the subject from my own experiences. More than I realized, I guess!

      2. I will email you to discuss details if that works for you. Because you have commented on my blog, I can see the email address associated with your rceg91109 WordPress account.

  5. I think the most important thing is to do what feels right for yourself and your baby. As long add you are feeding your baby, by breast or formula, you are doing a wonderful job!
    That said, I exclusively breastfed Paxlet for the first 6 months. I did pump a few times to have some frozen milk on hand, just in case, but Paxlet never really took to bottles. They were more of a toy unless he was starved when i wasn’t around…a whole 3 or so times total.
    Yes there was a learning curve and my nipples were sore and a bit painful in the beginning, but I remember a period of time around 6-7 (?) months when breastfeeding was just horrible. (I’d have to go look at my blog to remember the exact time and why.) But here I am a 2nd time getting ready to give birth and I’m looking forward to bf’ing all over again, if it all works out.
    I did love co-sleeping/having my baby in a bed right next to mine for midnight feedings. Not having to get out of bed and fully wake up allowed me more sleep and “beauty rest” time. 😉
    I’d love to answer more questions if you have them and I am able. I can at least give you my opinion.

    1. Thank you!

      I find it funny that some kids are so particular. My daughter didn’t care what type of bottle or nipple. I’m hoping this kid isn’t particular, either. Fingers crossed!

      I’m sure I will have lots of questions once we begin, especially when I am learning how to use my pump. I will be sure to ask since you are willing!! Thank you!

  6. Hi! Your blog was one that was recommended on my reader, and I’m glad to have found it! I had no idea how hard breastfeeding would be– no one warned me! I just figured you show them the boob and they get to it…not so much. But since nothing about my birth went according to plan, I was determined to make THIS work. The first 6 weeks were exhausting and excruciatingly painful at times. Yes, babies have instinct telling them what they need to do, but their technique is terrible at first– they have to learn how to be gentle and efficient.

    If you make it through those first weeks, it will get so much easier. Eventually it just clicked. Instead of an hour, Annabelle can nurse fully in 15 minutes. I’m not flinching in dreadful anticipation of her rough latch anymore.

    You’ll be surprised at the pressure you get to supplement. I had a substitute pediatrician who had never met us tell me I would need to supplement because Annabelle wasn’t gaining enough. I knew she was stupid and ignored her. Annabelle is now 9 months in 18 month clothes! Trust your gut. Make sure to eat plenty of good fats (salmon, avocado, coconut oil, etc) to give the baby what he/she needs. It makes it a little harder to lose the belly, but your baby will be so healthy!

    The one thing I might do differently is to relax a little about pumping. I had anxiety about building a big stash for whatever reason. Now I have a freezer full of milk she will never use because she refuses bottles since I quit working and she doesn’t HAVE to drink them. The pump served it’s purpose while I was working full time, but now that I’m at home I don’t touch it.

    That turned into a bit of a novel haha, but I always like to offer encouragement to those who really want to breastfeed. It’s tough and sometimes having people tell you that you can do it is just enough help to get through the hard times. Never be afraid to ask for advice or support 🙂

    1. I’m glad you found me, too!

      I’m really hoping that since I have been warned about the difficulty of breastfeeding it will somehow make it easier. Ha! I can dream, right? 😉

      I have never really thought about trying to teach a newborn to be gentle or efficient. That should be interesting.

      My daughter’s pediatrician is actually a super relaxed and all about listening to mom’s intuition. I doubt I will get much pressure from her to supplement as long as my son is doing well.

  7. I honestly had a lot of pain at first for like 3 months; my little guy’s latch sucked (pun intended). I will say that he’s 4 months now and it is so much easier and I would say almost pain-free. I think that you can be proud of yourself for trying and sticking with it because it is difficult for some of us. You might enjoy my post on pumping; it’s silly, which I hope alleviates the pressure to breastfeed, at least a little. Hang it there! https://intrepidmommy.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/breast-pump-this-mamas-best-friend/

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