5 Things I’ve Learned About Breastfeeding I wish I knew to begin with…

First off let me say, I’m not saying that breastfeeding makes me superior or that it makes me a better mom. I have always said that it’s just the choice I made. Yes, Breast is Best but you also have to do what is right for you and your baby. And if you keep reading you will find out, I did turn to formula some as well.

Women have been breastfeeding their infants and toddlers since the beginning of time. Some of us have breast feed for years of our lives. Yet, we often fail to inform new mothers of what to expect when they venture into the world of nursing. Yeah, we tell them about the soreness and the late nights praying you don’t fall asleep on top of your little one. We may even tell them about how to tell if the baby is getting enough milk, weight gain and soiled diaper count. Doctors will pawn them off on a lactation consultant if they ask questions. They will tell them how a normal latch should look. They will explain how to listen for a swallowing sound. They will give them all the information they can. (Some are better than others. I’ve had some GREAT ones that really helped and some that were not in the best suited job position.) If you have a question find a great lactation consultant and be prepared to get very up close and personal with them.

I was fully informed of the basics of breastfeeding before attempting with the first child. I had a plan. I was going to fully breastfeed, introduce the bottle at two months, co sleep, baby wear, and I followed every tip and guideline I could find. I researched breast pumps for months and bought one that was expensive enough to feed a family of four for two months. It was supposed to be the best, the ultimate in pumping comfort. I will tell you now… they are all going to HURT like a medieval torture device only some hurt worse. I swear I did better with a cheap little portable manual I got this time than my ultra high end double electric. 
There are a few things I did learn along the way that I now tell new moms if they happen to ask me (I’m not a doctor, nurse, or lactation consultant, just a mom of three with some experience to share):

1. In the beginning (The first two-three months) Breastfeeding is not just a full time job but an ALL time job.
The first few months are very important. They baby has growth spurts, is learning to nurse, and you are building a milk supply. Meaning that little bundle is going to be a bundle of feed me feed me and for those of you who get the reference you’ll feel like that little one is saying, “Feed Me, Seymour” ALL the time. I did not know this with my first. I thought she was just hungry ALL the time so therefore she wasn’t getting enough to eat. I was doing something wrong and hurting my baby. Everyone around me was telling me she wasn’t getting enough milk and I couldn’t feed my child, I was WRONG. Then I headed down that downhill road of formula supplementing. I don’t think formula feeding is horrible or bad, a baby has to eat and if you choose to go that way, whatever works for you and your baby. It just not a good idea if your heart is set on nursing unless you want to wean.
Once you get through the learning stage and get into a groove all is WONDERFUL again.

2. A supportive family is great but all in all you just need determination and make your own educated decisions. 
I really don’t know what a supportive family looks like but I assume it’s great to have one. Both sides of my family were not into breastfeeding the first two. My husband still says that I’m not going to breastfeed my current baby till 18 months because that is just “gross”. My family was way more supportive but was quick to jump onto the weaning bandwagon at first sight. My mother has been the most supportive in any decision I’ve made except the holding cereal off till six months. My dad isn’t  not supportive, he just wants me to do what is best for the kids. My husbands family… Never mind.
By the time I got to the third I no longer cared. Let them think what they want. So what if your family wants to babysit or someone else wants to feed the baby. They can wait. I went back to work for a little while with my second and I would pump my heart out, felt like literally. My babysitter for four hours thought breast milk was nasty and would dump my pumped bottles, then proceed to fix formula for him (I even found out she was giving him SODA in his bottle!!!) Didn’t last long. He is seven and I’m still… never mind I’m not going to get into that.
I walked on egg shells with the first two trying to combine my family’s and my husband’s family’s ways of infant rearing. Don’t! Do what you want. That is your baby and in the end do what you think is best. If you want to continue breastfeeding, cloth diapering, or what ever, it’s YOUR determination that matters. You are that child’s mom and as their mom you are that child’s most powerful advocate.

3. Baby tummies make all kinds of noises that sound like they are starving to death but doesn’t mean anything.
Those little tummies make all kinds horrible sounds but it’s normal. Don’t freak. They aren’t starving. Don’t go grab a box of cereal because some out dated information says if you do that infant will sleep better because they are just hungry. They just make noises. They all do. Well all three of mine did.

4. There are these things called cluster feedings and nursing strikes.
Cluster feedings means that baby is going to eat and eat and eat. Schedules change, you feel like your milk has dried up and there is something wrong. There isn’t and it does end. Nursing Strikes are the opposite. You can’t get that baby to latch on for nothing. This is usually a older infant who is more curious about their surroundings. It also ends. You just have to wait them out and pump if you need to. These are normal.
The first is why I weaned my first. I thought I had dried up and she was starving. She had teeth by then and all of a sudden everyone was pushing me even harder to wean. I cried. She was already getting some formula anyway and then my milk was drying up so why not. Well we weaned at nearly 7 months and that was that.
My second was weaned due to the second reason. He was a year old. I thought he had self weaned but thinking back it was probably just a nursing strike. I made it to the year with him so I still felt some accomplishment. I’m pushing through a nursing strike with my third at the moment. If and when she wants to nurse I will let her but I’m not going to force her.

5. Teeth hurt but you won’t feel them unless your child wants you to.
Infant eventually get teeth. It’s nature. When my oldest got her first tooth, it became the best excuse for everyone around me to say it was time to wean. Let me tell you, in a proper latch you will not feel those little sharp teeth. I won’t lie and tell you I haven’t been bit. The one I’m currently breastfeeding likes to bite but when she is really nursing I don’t feel her teeth at all. She has a mouthful and often people ask how I can still be nursing a toddler with molars. It’s easy. Until she is in a playful mood and starts biting to get my attention, she nurses easily and comfortably.

There are many other things I’ve learned along the way of raising my kids. I think raising children is about making informed decisions and trial and error while trying to give them the best start in life. It has taken me three times to get this whole breastfeeding to the point I’m at. I’m not a perfect mom but I love my kids completely and want to do what is best for them. That is all that matters. Someday they are going to tell me all the things I did wrong and I’ll tell them don’t worry your family already pointed all my mistakes out as soon as I did them.

And here is my happy healthy beautiful baby at 6 months. Just cause, hey, I needed a picture for the post and look at that big toothy smile.