There is so much to be learned when breastfeeding and there are a ton of things I wish I would've known. Above all things I think the most important lesson I learned is that so much of breastfeeding is controlled by the mind. Having a clear mind makes it easier to send signals to your body about calmness, producing and in my current situation weaning.
Here are ten things I noted on my journey that I hope will inspire, comfort and support moms thinking about or on this breastfeeding journey.
1. It is not always a match made in heaven. No matter how natural breastfeeding is, it still takes work. Work to establish a good relationship between mommy and baby, and work to establish the correct latch. It doesn't happen overnight. You have to work at it. Try not to get frustrated. Reset and try again when both of you are calm. You can do it, you are a superwoman!
2. It hurts! Sometimes, even with the correct latch you will feel sore. All of a sudden there is a baby nursing around the clock. Your body has to adjust. Don't let that put you off! It's normal. But, this is where you need to find that strength to push on! Dig deep, take a deep breath, use that nipple cream and push on! Usually after a few weeks the soreness subsides. Stick with it, you'll thank yourself later, you are a super woman!
3. Your emotions will run wild! Even after finding your rhythm, things change. Cluster feeds, growth spurts. Am I producing enough? Is she full? I don't know how much he drank! Is he latching properly because it's hurting again? My boobs feel SO FULL. She's been nursing all day! I've experienced all of these things, and sometimes all in one day! I've cried, we've cried, she's cried. Most times, it's absolutely normal, and we are just working ourselves up. Try not to stress too much about it. If you're concerned ask your doctor. If not, push through, you are a super woman!
4. Once you get the hang of it, you'll feel totally bad ass! Just wait for it! Breastfeeding is SO convenient and SO empowering! No bottles, no bottle warmer, just your tatas full of milk! Travelling? No need to pack bottles for take off, or rush to the store for formula. You've got it on tap! Being able to feed on demand, when I wanted to and where I needed to was so convenient! It reminded me just how badass the female body is! We are super women!
5. It's harder to find "me time", and sometimes all your baby will want is you! Don't feel bad if you want to run, scream, get away or hide! You will literally be your baby's lifeline. At one point, my daughter wouldn't even go to her father. I became her life size pacifier. Chances are you will go through something similar, whenever she is hungry, sad, tired, cranky, upset she will want you! That can get exhausting. Make sure you have a strong support system, it will help you to get through those moments where you feel you have no energy left. Stick it out, super woman, you got this even at 2am when your partner is fast asleep!
6. If you miss a feeding be prepared to leak! There has been numerous awkward occasions (at work talking to coworker, on the dance floor at a wedding, date night) when you'll finally get out of the house and realize that you've forgotten your nursing pads and BANG wet tshirt contest, and not the hot and sexy ones! Keep an extra shirt in your purse, laugh it off and move on! Don't be hard on yourself, you are a super woman!
7. If you miss a feeding, you might get mastitis. Okay, this one is not so funny. Mastitis can happen when you have a blocked duct. It can occur if you miss a feeding or if you do not adequately empty the breast. I got it twice. You experience flu like symptoms and sometimes will have to take an antibiotic to prevent infection. It's the strangest thing that a blocked duct can make you feel like you have the flu but it happens. Don't stress, call your GP and they will advise you. You also have to continue to breastfeed through it to release the blocked duct. Crazy? Yes! Superwoman, I know!
8. Pumping is HARD WORK! Being chained to a breast pump gets depressing! I went back to work when my daughter was five months. I pumped every single day, twice per day for SEVEN MONTHS! It takes commitment. You get busy, but you have to take the time to pump. Do it for YOU, and for YOUR BABY! Don't let work get in the way! My daughter cleaned through her supply pretty early on, I was literally pumping milk for the next day. If I missed a feeding it meant I had to scramble to figure out how to get 12 oz for the next day. Yes, I was pumping 6 oz twice a day! If I can do it, you can do it, we are Superwomen after all!
9. You have to dress for breastfeeding. Keep in mind easy access to the goods when you get dressed. Don't be like me, in the back seat of the car, dress off trying to breastfeed. Or in the shower room trying to figure out how to pump wearing a fitted knee length work dress. Go for two pieces. But if you don't, you'll figure it out and you'll feel like a Superwoman for doing it.
10. You are a Superwoman! I guess by now you have figured out that I think mother's are Superwomen. You will be surprised at the confidence you gain knowing that your milk is what is keeping your baby thriving. You will go through many ups and downs, it wont always be easy, it won't always be beautiful but it will be an experience like no other. You will bond in a way that is indescribable. You will miss the moments when they are gone, so cherish them while you are going through it. Through it all, remember that you are, even after housing this baby, still sacrificing your body to continue to keep your baby alive. Literally. And that is Superhuman!