The Truth About Breastfeeding

Just like being a mom, breastfeeding is NOT easy! However, nursing your baby has so many benefits (most importantly, the wonderful nutrition your baby receives from your milk!)

Many benefits to mom breastfeeding baby

I’m not sure why all of the books/resources say that breastfeeding should not hurt. Everyone I know has experienced some pain when nursing, especially towards the beginning of their experience. Yes, breastfeeding is ‘natural’, but the first time you have a go at it, it certainly feels anything but natural. It feels awkward, scary and painful. Not only that, but you need to make sure that the baby is latching properly and that he’s getting enough milk. You need to decide if you are going to feed on demand or use the clock as a guide. You need to decide if you are going to pump and use bottles sometimes or stick with breastfeeding only. On and on… :) I also read that your baby can not suffocate when nursing. Well…my little man came close a few times when I first started nursing and as a new mom it was incredibly scary. As if new mom’s aren’t already constantly worried about their kids!

Breastfeeding is more time consuming than a full time job. Nothing I read prepared me for just how much time you commit to feeding your baby when you make the decision to nurse your newborn. For the first few weeks, I literally would finish feeding my son, had a moment to blink and then it was time to start up again. Things got a bit easier after the first few weeks because we started to settle into more of a routine and I started pumping once in awhile to give him bottles.

The hardest thing for me in the beginning was how sore I got, which made me dread feeding time. I took a few days off from breastfeeding after 2 weeks because I was literally in tears from the pain. During that 48 hours I pumped and bottle fed him with breastmilk and a bit of formula the few times I didn’t have enough. Luckily, I felt better after 48 hours and Connor took fine to going back to nursing after having bottles. For the next few weeks I nursed him most of the time, but pumped and gave him a bottle occasionally. It worked out really well for us.

When Connor was a month old, hubby and I decided to take him shopping and we knew it would take longer than the time we had between feedings. We decided to bring a bottle of breast milk and use our handy new bottle warmer. I brought a battery pack and figured I would pump in the car. Hubby went to the car to start warming the bottle while I tried on a few quick things at a store. The bottle warmer didn’t work well at all so we went to Dunkin Donuts and got a cup of hot water. Of course I overheated the bottle and it was way too hot to use so I had to put it back on ice before giving it to Connor. Finally, we fed him.

Around 5 weeks my son started to spend the majority of his days screaming, which was a complete change from his easy-going personality. The doctor witnessed him screaming this past week and told me that she didn’t think he was eating enough. At that point, we decided that it would probably be best for everyone involved if I did one bottle of formula per day and pumped the rest of the day, giving him bottles of breast milk so that I know how much he’s getting. So far this is making all the difference  in his happiness! The screaming baby is gone…yay!

Happy baby eating enough

A few tips:

  • Find a few shows that you can DVR or get on Netflix. You will absolutely be spending a lot of time at home with either 1 or no free hands!
  • Work towards becoming comfortable with using a blanket or nursing cover so that you don’t have to disappear every time visitors are around or rush home when you are out in public.
  • Buy some Lanolin cream. Your nipples are NOT used to this and will hurt at first.
  • Take warm showers! It’s really soothing when you are sore.
  • Ask the lactation consultants lots of questions. Mine also gave me some great gel packs to put on after nursing when I was sore.
  • Be patient. It takes time for you and your baby to figure things out.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t working out the way you want them to. (This was hard for me last week when I decided to start incorporating formula and to focus on pumping and bottle feeding versus breastfeeding, but as I mentioned above, it’s what’s working for us right now.)

On that note…gotta go feed my kid. :)

Moms, any other tips out there for us newbies?

As a side note, if you’re in the mood for a laugh…Read this hilarious article about why one husband knows what breast milk tastes like.

Comments

  1. Hello, simply wanted to say, I liked this blog post. This was inspiring. Keep going posting!

  2. Dear Amanda,

    My little one arrived 12 days early and I am soooo thankful that I had read your posts about breastfeeding. It really helped me prepare for everything. You were right about the soreness… wow… I am going to try a breast shield as well as pumping to let the soreness subside a bit and will let you know how that goes (however I am pretty sure you don’t have this problem anymore!) Thank you again for all of your wonderful posts! Baby Andrew is now 4 days old and I can’t wait to get back to working out again :) Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Jessica – CONGRATS on your new little man! I’d love to see pics. So sorry to hear you are sore. :( You’re right…I’m not having that problem anymore, but I also pump and bottlefeed instead of breastfeeding. I had soreness on and off for the 6 weeks that I breastfeed. The lanolin cream (you can put seran wrap on it to keep it moist too…someone told me that and it really helped even though it’s a pain in the butt!) really helps. Best of luck to you and Andrew! So happy for you. :) Let me know if you have questions as you go as far as working out…or even just being a new mom. I have found it so helpful to talk to other new moms!

  3. I agree that nobody tells you how difficult breastfeeding can be. My first daughter is 11 years old and I was only able to breastfeed her for 2 weeks she had reflux and besides how difficult it was for her to latch on she would throw it all up. I didn’t have the patience or the knowledge and support I have today with my second daughter which is now 11 weeks was born May 24, 2011. Let me share that at the hospital I had a lot of support which made all the difference the baby was born with Jaundice and the doctor advised that I should give her formula to help get her eliminate the Jaundice. I was very hormonal and felt like a failure because I was only producing the colostrum not to mention some family members constantly saying the baby is staying hungry you are not producing enough and telling me to give the baby formula. This was all happening after the first days she was born. I think it’s very important to know your facts about breastfeeding so that you can block out all the negative remarks and be confident about nursing your newborn. If it wasn’t for all the literature I read I would’ve given up. Now that she is almost 12 weeks this has been an unforgettable experience and incredible bond I share with my baby in knowing that all she needs is me. It’s going to be so hard to wean her off the breast because I’m already thinking of getting back to work and just the thought of having to wean makes me feel depressed.

    • That’s so great that you have had such a better experience this time around! :) Hopefully with nursing before/after work and pumping a little during the day you can keep it up? :)

  4. Great post, thank you! I’ve been breastfeeding for over two months now and we hit a couple of rough times. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such an intense amount of pain from the world’s tiniest cut! Yow! And no one ever told me how much b’feeding would make me sweat! I had no idea. The first two weeks, I felt like I had the flu, sweating, shakes and the chills. I didn’t read it in any of my books, but the pediatrician said that was caused by let down. All that aside, it’s been wonderful and I know I’ve made the best choice for my baby. And it certainly gets better … I can’t think of anything that’s good for you that doesn’t take a little persistence and patience! Finding a group of women to bounce things off of and share experiences with has been key! Thank you for your honest post :)

    • This is the EXACT same conversation I had with a girlfriend of mine yesterday. I, too, think that women are done a disservice by the info that bfeeding shouldn’t hurt; I keep hearing that it’s all my/baby’s fault in that it’s all about a poor latch. We persevere – daughter is almost two weeks old and while this is my second time bfeeding, it’s one of the hardest things. But on a positive note, latching on has gone from foot-stomping pain (yes, the entire household knows when it’s time for a feed!) to a mere toe-curling one. Progress!

      • It’s not your fault! Sounds like you are doing everything you can. Oh my gosh…I have definitely felt the toe-curling pain. My toes would literally curl almost every time (except for a few days here and there where things just went great for some reason!).

    • Tara – this is how I’ve been feeling lately, too. And I’d never heard of those symptoms related to bfeeding. Thanks for sharing this info!

      • Great point that everything that’s good for you takes patience and persistence! :) Hope you ladies are doing well! I didn’t have a ton of sweating, but there were a few nights I was sweating like crazy…that must have been why!

  5. Aside from the formula supplementing, I could have written this post! Breastfeeding has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done and harder than the sleep deprivation that comes with a new baby. There’s nothing wrong with a little formula if it makes everyone happy! I’ve been tempted to do it a few times, but I make enough. Sometimes you just want a break from the feeding or pumping!

    • I always hated the misconceptions about nursing being so easy too. The best advice I ever received was someone who told me b’feeding would just plain SUCK the first 6 weeks but then get a lot better and be worth it. She was so right!

      And lanolin cream = best thing EVER!

      • That is definitely great advice. It does get A LOT easier if you can make it through the beginning. I wish my lil man was getting enough when he was just breastfeeding, but now that I see how happy he is this way (pumping/bottles) I can’t go back!

        • I totally agree that breastfeeding is very difficult with the first kiddo. It hurts like crazy and takes so much time. Truly what saved my sanity was to put my little ones on the babywise schedule. I know that it doesn’t work for everyone but it sure worked for me and my family. Be encouraged that breastfeeding does get way easy as they get older and you may prefer it to pumping because it is so much quicker and you don’t have to wash anything:) By kid number two you will be a pro…still hurts at first but at least you will have all the tricks up your sleeve to help easy the pain :)

          • I would imagine (and have heard) that kid #2 is a lot easier because you already had a chance to figure some of it out! :) I tried babywise and not sure if I just didn’t do it right, but my kid ended up being awake almost ALL day. Now I’m just focused on getting him to sleep more and he’s a lot happier! I guess all kids are different!

    • That’s awesome that you haven’t even had to use any formula at all. I totally agree that breastfeeding is the hardest part of having a newborn!

      • Great post Amanda! I agree with everything you have said! Sure everyone knows that breastmilk is best but in saying that please don’t ever feel guilty for using formula, even if you have to switch 100% to formula.

        I persisted with breastfeeding my premature daughter for a total of 12 long horrific weeks and that whole time I kept telling myself.. just one more week, just one more week. However, by the end of that 12 weeks my mental health had suffered severely and I decided to switch to 100% formula and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. However, I felt soooo guilty for having made this decision but in hindsight – I should have done it a lot earlier for the sake of my mental health. A happy mum = a happy baby and I was not a happy mum at all.

        Sorry for the long winded story but what I am trying to say is that sometimes things don’t work out how we would have liked and at the end of the day different things work for different people and whilst breast is best for baby, I also strongly believe that it has to work for both baby and mother for it to work.

        I am now expecting baby #2 and whilst I am still open to breastfeeding baby #2, I will switch to formula a lot sooner if it isn’t working for me and my baby. There is such a push for mother’s to breastfeed now which is a great thing but the downside is now mother’s have huge guilt over using formula when they shouldn’t. Good luck!!

        • You are exactly right. Formula is not the end of the world, especially with most moms having to go back to work much sooner these days. I was disappointed to start mixing it in, but I know that I need to start preparing for what I’m going to do when I work and breastfeeding 100% of the time is not going to be realistic for me then!

          I’m so happy for you that you’re expecting baby #2 and sounds like you have figured out that you need to do what’s best for you and baby together. Best of luck to you!

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