Before I had kids, I never thought I would breastfeed. Now that I recollect, I never really considered what I would do when it came to feeding my child until I was about 9 months pregnant, heading down the home-stretch.
Like it so often happens in life, I found myself pregnant at the same time as my sister and my friend Chrissy. For each of us, it was our first. Naturally, since we were all professionals who were all due around the same time, we kept each other abreast of all of our lastest findings: the safest car seats, the best rated cribs, the “must-read” pregnancy books, clothes sales, parenting tips, etc. And in our search for “the best” we all were in agreement that the best nourishment for our new bundles of joy would be breastmilk. And so each of us was committed to giving it a shot.
And so what seemed like such a simple decision, took us all by surprise when we found out that is a most complicated undertaking. We all hear how it is “the most natural thing” and how “our bodies are made for it”, but there’s no way to truly know what it’s like until you’re “knee-deep” and swimming right in it.
As with many of you reading this post, I can just hear your stories; both good and bad. Probably like many of you, I just thought: “Okay, so you take the baby, hold it to your chest, and viola, the feeding begins!” It’s easy and it’s natural, instictive. Yeah, right! Then I find out there is a whole new vocabulary like “latching on” and “colostrum.” All of a sudden, I wondered why I didn’t do more homework and really research this topic during my pregnancy – but no matter, I’m from the old school. Once I decide to do a job, I do it!
After breastfeeding my daughter, I’ve learned these basic truths:
-No matter how determined you are, it takes two to tango: Your little one has to be ready, willing, and ABLE (yes in caps) to breastfeed, no matter how much you want it to happen.
-The sooner you start pumping the better. Ask the hospital for a pump and get on schedule: This really helps get your production on track. I rented a hospital grade pump from a home-health store. I was producing milk like a machine!
-There’s no substitute for experience: Talk to other breastfeeding moms if this is your first time trying it. You’ll be suprised at how much you learn from a group of women who really love to talk.
-Don’t give up! If this is what you want for your little one, it IS possible even with a preemie and mulitiples. You can do it.
-Make goals that are attainable: my initial goal was 1 month. After I celebrated making it that far, I tried to reach the 3 month mark. Once I made it to that goal, I was in a groove so I decided to push for another 3 months. Now, we are almost 11 months and going strong. I would have never dreamed!
-Convenience, convenience, convenience: This one is self explanatory.
-Don’t forget to buy some lanolin cream: Hospitals usually provide this as a parting gift too, thank goodness!
-Invest in a comfortable robe or pajamas since this will most likely be your dress of choice for the first 4-6 weeks. This is one of the only things I bought for myself. Some cute polka-dot jamies from Josphines that buttoned up the front. They were cute and comfortable. I didn’t mind answering the door (to my friends, of course) in them.
As for weaning your baby, that is where I’M asking for advice. I never thought I would make it to 11 months with my Sweet Pea (or Bea, rather) but here we are: she still likes to nurse before naptime when we are at home, right before bed, and at a very early 3:30am every morning. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that we still have this time together and I know this is great for her development. But sleeping in until 6am when Poppy wakes up is rather tempting…did I say VERY tempting.
So if you decide to try breastfeeding, whether you do it for 2 days, 2 months, or 2 years, just remember that you are blessed for the time you had together. Good luck!