I recall being pregnant four years ago with my first son Tallen. I was inundated with information, particularly on breastfeeding. Breast is best. Are you going to nurse? Children who are breastfed are less sick and have less allergies. Seriously, the laundry list of benefits could go on. I continued reading and preparing, however, there are some lessons that cannot be learned in a book.
- Breast Milk Coming In. I was under the impression that I would give birth and I would begin breastfeeding. In reality, it takes several days for your “breast milk to come in.” In my case, it was about 3 days. Up until that time make sure your baby gets plenty of colostrum.
- Ask for Help. A second misconception that I had was that breastfeeding was natural. That I would “just know what to do.” Let’s face it. I was learning and so was Tallen. I requested to meet with the lactation consultant at the hospital. She made a world of difference. She was kind, patient and really taught me how to feed my baby.
- Toughen Up. My mother did not breastfeed so I relied heavily on my Aunt. She told me my “nipples would need to toughen up.” Boy was she right! My nipples hurt for the first two weeks. I couldn’t begin to tell you how much lanolin cream I used. Once I got through that initial phase, it was easy, however, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to “quit!”
- Breast milk is free, right? True, but, the nursing bras, tanks, blouses, nursing pads, and loads of lanolin are not. I didn’t put much thought into these unexpected expenses, but they didn’t break the bank either.
- Baby Feeding Machine. You will literally be feeding around the clock! Tallen would wake up to nurse every 2-3 hours. To help ease the sleep deprivation, pump a bottle or two so your spouse can help out.
The final lesson I learned breastfeeding is that not every mother will have the ability or will want to breastfeed. There are so many dynamics that can come into play and we as a society must be mindful not to “mom shame.”