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I often ask my followers what topics they would enjoy that I press upon. One of the most common requests I get is “Breastfeeding.” And, man, do I GET it!
***Please note- I am a mother. I am not a nurse, doctor, lactation consultant or a professional in this field whatsoever. The tips below are things that worked for me and advice I was given by other mothers as well as professionals in the field.
Breastfeeding was one of those foreign concepts I never fully understood. When I found out that I was pregnant, I knew from the get-go that I wanted to breastfeed. I never set any parameters around it. I didn’t tell myself “You HAVE to breast feed for at least ONE year!” I made it a goal to hit a year and if it happened, it happened. If it didn’t, the world would still spin. Let me tell you, I lasted 8 months (and it was the hardest, most emotional experience I have ever had.)
First off, let me start by saying, I was the first woman in my family to breast feed. My mother and grandmother were not for it. “You had formula. Just give her formula! It’ll be easier for you.” Well if I wanted EASY, I wouldn’t have chosen MOTHERHOOD. I wanted the experience, the connection, and the satisfaction that comes from being able to provide for your child in such a way.
Many women believe that their body’s were designed to give birth, therefore they forgo any pain medication so they have the full experience. I never understood that. I wanted an epidural. But, when it came to breastfeeding, I had that same passion. I felt my body was designed to nourish my child and I wanted the full experience. I didn’t know the proper way to feed her, how often I should, or honestly, what to fully expect.
The day I gave birth, my milk STILL hadn’t come in.
I sat in my hospital bed and sobbed. I felt that I had let her down. She went immediately to my chest and with nothing to offer her, she cried, so I cried. It was a cycle of tears and I was so angry with my body for letting me down. Keep in mind, once you give birth you are already a whirlwind of emotions.You are hungry, exhausted, excited, relieved, and ultimately drained. I sat with different nurses and lactation specialists in hopes that someone could help me in some way. I felt like a failure.
Here are my tips to you:
- Do what works for you
My child was PHYSICALLY on me for the entire eight months that she breast fed. She NEVER took to a bottle. In feeding in such a way, I was EXHAUSTED. I was the ONLY one who could feed her. So all the feedings throughout the night were done by me. The feedings throughout the day—me. I would stop mid-task to feed and eat while she was eating. I truly think that’s why it was such an emotional experience for me. I would crave a break, but didn’t want to let her down. I felt selfish for wanting a break. I wondered if other mother’s had ever hit that point where it was too much for them as well.
As my father would often joke, “It sure must be hard being the only cow in the field.”
My husband felt horrible. He wanted to help in any way he could. He would bring me food, change the diapers, and assist in every other area (since he wasn’t able to feed her). I truly felt bad too, because he wanted that connection.
If pumping works for you, great. Pump your milk. Save the ounces and allow other members of your family to feed your child. You are NOT lazy if you take a breather and allow another to give your baby a bottle.
<—Breast Milk Storage Bags LINK!
**Also- If you pump an unusually HIGH amount of breast milk, please consider donating it.
**Many insurance companies offer breast pumps for FREE! It doesn’t hurt to ask your insurance company if they offer them!
If you’re unsure how long to feed-
My lactation consultant told me to think of feedings as meals. Think of 5 minutes as a snack, 20 minutes as a meal and 40 minutes as a few trips around the buffet!
Let your child feed for 20 minutes from one breast. If still hungry, continue the remaining 20 minutes from the other breast. I was informed AFTER 20 minutes they’re really just getting air so it could result in a gasier and still hungry infant.
If you are unsure how to hold your baby while feeding-
I have a smaller chest, therefore it was easier for me to hold my child with her head in the palm of my hand with her body across my forearm with her feet in my elbow.
If you have a larger chest OR twins, I HIGHLY recommend you look up the “Football Hold” for breastfeeding.
<–I LOVE this style, because it offers back support!! LINK ATTACHED!
2.Your boobs WILL hurt when they are full of milk
My chest would get hard like rocks and I would BEG my child to be hungry. There is such an oddly incredible relief when you release your milk and your chest no longer feels like two large bricks just sitting there. Some women would leak milk and would need additional coverage over their nipples. I did not have that problem.
<–Reusable Covers LINK!
<—-LINK Attached! Love that this is Organic!
3. Wear clothing that gives EASY ACCESS to your chest
Sounds self-explanatory, but I literally had to avoid half of my closet. You’ll be so relieved when you wear something that allows you quick and easy access to your chest, especially if you have a crying baby looking at you like a steak dinner. I always brought something to cover myself up with. I was more comfortable if I didn’t feel like I was on display. I find it baffling how offended people get by seeing a woman breast feed in public, yet they’re also offended if you choose to formula-feed your child.
(The dress in the photo above-not including belt- was from Undercover Mama They offer great clothing items for the breastfeeding mama! Giving the user easy access to the chest without compromising fashion!)
Let me tell you the best parenting advice you’re ever gonna get—DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! There are a million Judgey Judgerson’s in this world. Don’t let them control your life or the way you do things. I stopped breastfeeding at 8 months and I will never forget the nurse who called me a “quitter.”
I assumed a quitter was the woman who never fed her child (formula, breast milk, whatever) I assumed that’s when you could judge me. DO NOT judge the woman who gives her child a formula bottle. DO NOT judge the woman who has a child attached to her boobs. Don’t be that person. Be better than that. Whatever the mother is doing is because it is best for her.
4. Find Healthy Ways to Produce More Milk!
-Drink PLENTY of water.
<–LINK Attached! These were my personal fav!
-Purchase Lactation Tea
-Nurse Often- When your child is sucking on your chest it notifies your body to produce more milk (which brings me to my next point…)
5. Don’t Touch Your Chest When Trying to Stop Producing Milk
When your child is feeding, it notifies your body to produce more milk. Your chest is NOT like a water bottle where you pour and you pour and eventually the bottle empties. Your body is like a well-oiled machine. It knows if someone is feeding from it, then it has a need to produce more.
Your chest will get hard and you will want to release milk so badly, but don’t. It took my chest less than a week to stop producing milk. I tried the cabbage method and it was a miserable few days, but once my milk was gone (trust me, you can physically tell) the pain subsided too.
6. Why I stopped at 8 months
I voluntarily chose to stop. I was stressed and emotionally exhausted from constantly feeding. It had become too much for me. I knew that the only way to be the best version of myself was to stop and switch to formula.
If your baby is PHYSICALLY on you and NEVER took to a bottle, try a WEIGHTED STRAW CUP. The suction and speed of straw is similar to that of breast milk. It will make for an easier transition. I tried countless baby bottles and brands before someone handed me that tip and it was a game changer!
I hope my experience helped you! I hope I may have answered some questions or concerns you have! GOOD LUCK MAMA!