I want to start off by showing you some photos of my breasts after nursing 5 kids.
Oh wait, no. This post is about encouraging and supporting your breastfeeding efforts so scrap that. Trust me, my breasts are awesome. Okay, a little stretchy.
If breastfeeding is not for you, don’t worry. Your baby will grow up and be amazing (guaranteed). But if you do want to try breastfeeding, read on! In the beginning, it seems like breastfeeding should be a lot easier than it is. (It gets very easy.)
It takes a village to breastfeed:
You need experts. Probably not your well meaning noisy neighbor whose dog just had puppies so now she’s sure she knows all about nursing. You need people in your life that know stuff.
I had no natural instinct when it came to breastfeeding. I didn’t magically know how to properly get my baby to latch on. I didn’t know what to do when my breasts became the size of two gigantic honeydew melons. And you probably won’t either.
So utilize the lactation nurse at the hospital who can help you position yourself and your baby correctly. A doula can help once you return from the hospital. There are breastfeeding groups. Your OBGYN can assist you with problems that can develop like engorged breasts, sores from a bad latch and a breast infection called mastitis. (Aren’t I making this sound fun?)
Find an experienced mom you can contact day or night with breastfeeding questions or general encouragement. You can email me for gosh sakes. Seriously.
When it comes to pumping (AKA the moment you will feel the most like an actual cow), you also want to have a good posse to turn to with questions and feedback.
Don’t ever be embarrassed to breastfeed in public:
Don’t be ashamed to breastfeed anywhere. Your breasts are powerful. They are gorgeous. They make milk. They feed an infant. You are nourishing your baby and that is an insanely beautiful thing.
I once breastfed my son Cash in a baby carrier while I grocery shopped. I don’t know how I did it exactly. But somehow it worked. You can do this. Anywhere.
Babies know when they are hungry:
Don’t be concerned with whether your baby is getting enough milk (unless your doctor is). Because babies know when they are hungry and when they aren’t. Sometimes they will feed for longer. Sometime it will be shorter. Sometimes they will be hungry right after you just fed them (usually when you are trying to head out the door). I found with all my babies that they were generally hungry two hours after the BEGINNING of the last feeding.
Yes, you are going to spend a lot of time nursing. Thank goodness for iPhones. Don’t feel guilty that you’re not gazing at your baby lovingly the entire time he is nursing. Just be content that your baby is being fed while you read Perez Hilton. That is a win win mama.
Even breasts like it spicy and different:
Your breasts need some variety so make sure you change your feeding positions. You’re going to like one breastfeeding position more than another but it is really important to mix it up because that will keep your milk ducts flowing properly and prevent you from potentially getting very sore nipples.
Your husband and your breasts:
Your husband will stare at you a lot. First of all, because he is in awe of the mother you have become. And second of all, because your breasts are always exposed. He will wonder how your boobs can be so present, yet so unavailable to him. Tell him, “It’s going to be awhile buddy.”
He will also wish that he had breasts himself when you run to the store alone for a quick shopping trip and the baby starts howling like mad at home. I know a man who resorted to seeing if the baby would temporarily suck on his nipple until his wife got home. It didn’t work. But gotta hand it to him for some creative thinking.
Read this when you want to give up:
Breastfeeding can be such a sweet, wonderful thing. It’s healthy, it’s convenient and it makes you feel like a lactating superhero.
And remember, if I can nurse twins on the side of the road than I promise… you got this.