Most of our mothers and our mothers mothers didn’t breast feed. They have told me they didn’t produce milk, or the doctor told them it wasn’t good. My own mother was given a shot to dry her milk supply just days after I was born. The formula advertisements before my mother was born used to target house wives and tell you to save your breast, and feed your baby formula. Now before I continue with this post I do no look down on anyone that feeds their baby formula. We all have different lives and different choices to make for our own babies. No judgements here. Mr grandmother had four kids and told me she never produced any milk and my mother told me it was so painful and none of the nurses helped her they just handed her a bottle of formula and a shot to dry up her milk supply. This is experience that most women in previous generations have had. The minute it was difficult or they were lost someone handed them a bottle of formula as the solution. My generation is bringing breast feeding back. The research has been done and it is the best form of nutrition you can offer your child. It is a common misconception that most women are not physically able to breast feed their child. On the contrary unless you have a condition that doesn’t allow you to feed your child or you are one of the rare cases that just doesn’t produce milk you can breast feed.
It is important that if you choose to breast feed that you find an OBGYN, a hospital, and a pediatrician that are breast feeding friendly and knowledgable on the topic. I personally interviewed a few pediatricians and that was one of the main topics I spoke about. The hospital may say they are breast feed friendly but a good way to be sure is to ask if they offer any classes to prepare you. If they don’t it’s a good sign they aren’t going to be pushing you to breast feed. It matters that your OBGYN know you want to breast feed. The release of your colostrum ( I will get into that funky word later) is triggered by your birth. I had a c-section and some mothers say there bodies get confused and colostrum isn’t triggered. Your doctor will remove your placenta and let the nurses know to start getting the body ready.
While you are pregnant I highly suggest to learn as much as you can about breast feeding. DO NOT USE GOOGLE! Just like I am able to start a blog and write what ever I want so can others who aren’t doctors. Check out your hospital for birthing and breast feeding classes. I know most people will tell you that you will forget it all while you are going through labor but your partner or support person won’t. It is crucial that who ever you want to be in the delivery room with you take these classes with you. Your husbands, boyfriend, girlfriends, mom, dad, sister who ever is going to be helping you for the first few weeks after the baby is born has to take the breast feeding class with you. They need to also be prepared to help you and guide you when things get tough. I also had a coupon I used on http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com for an online breast feeding class. I used this before and after the baby was born to refresh on everything. This is great for working moms because it goes into the topic of pumping and storing milk. With the coupon it was free but if not it’s only $20 and well worth it. Now I’m going to put a list of items you will need before the baby is born and this may vary for each person.
- Breast Pump
- Nursing Pads (for those leaks)
- Nursing pillow (go to local baby stores and try them out)
- Mother’s Milk Tea (amazon, Publix, or Whole Foods)
- A comfortable chair with arm rests that is very firm for both your back and bottom.
- Nipple Cream (I used the Lansinoh brand and Medela brand, but Coconut oil is a good alternative)
- Nursing bra (a bra that you can easily plop out your boob and still be comfortable. I also like camisole tanks for around the house with the built in bra but you will be topless for the first few weeks)
- Ice packs and warm ones too
- PATIENCE (lots and lots of it)
- and of course your breasts!!!
No need to get fancy as most of these items I got as hand me downs.
So you have given birth what now? The idea is to breast feed your baby as soon as possible so it sends the signals to your brain to release all of your colostrum. I had a c-section and didn’t get to see my baby until almost 5 hours after my delivery. One of my regrets is that I didn’t demand them bring her to me but we live and learn. You have the choice at most hospitals to put on your paper work breast milk and formula, formula or breastmilk only. I put breastmilk only so that no nurse would offer my little Penelope formula. Once your baby is born you should immediately try to offer them your breast. It’s best to do skin to skin contact and allow the baby to discover your breast while learning your scent. It is the most magical feeling when you both and naked skin to skin the warmth and sparks between you two are unimaginable and hard to describe. Your babies mouth is very little and it may be hard for you to get a proper latch at first but ask a nurse to help you that is what they are there for. All the nurses at my hospital even the technicians would grab my boob and show me how to do it. You need to ask don’t be shy! Yes it is going to hurt, but I promise you it will get better. If you can make it through the first ten days you can do this. You need to understand that you are now your babies only source of nutrition and you will not sleep because if the baby is hungry you will be feeding him or her no one else has your breast just you. This is why I emphasize so much on the you having a support person that knows how to help you and is knowledgeable. On day 5 I was dying I mean hysterically crying as the baby was latched on and the pain of my cracked nipple was awful. Tito my boyfriend who went to all classes with me sat down next to me and reminded me of all the benefits of breastfeeding and how much this was going to benefit Penelope and just told me I was doing a great job. Every time I broke down he was right there encouraging me to continue. He never offered me a way out with formula. He helped me be selfless and take the pain for our daughter. Not everyone has a partner but you may have a parent, a friend, or sibling that can pump you up to continue. Many do this all alone but I encourage you to have a someone be there to support your decision. I know with out him I would considered giving up because everyone else around me was telling me that I shouldn’t put myself through the pain, and that’s why formula was invented and blah blah blah. What is colostrum? Well fun fact you don’t produce milk right away you produce colostrum. Think of it as a the first vitamins and antibiotics for your babies immune system and development. Made especially by you. It looks like a clear or foggy colored liquid and many women see this coming out of their nipples and think they can’t produce milk. This goes on for a few days for me it was three days until my milk started coming in. Ladies if you want to choose formula that is fine but at least breast feed those first few days so your baby can get that those essential and natural nutrients from your colostrum. This is what your baby will thrive on. As your milk comes in you will feel pain and soreness in your breast. That’s where the ice packs come in. After I would feed the baby I would put breastmilk on my nipples a little bit of nipple cream as well and place ice packs on them for a few minutes and then air dry. Remember that both you and your baby are learning how to breast feed together so it is important that the baby be latched on correctly. If the baby isn’t latched on correctly they can cause major damage to your breast which will be painful so don’t be afraid to break the latch as many times as you need to until the baby is latched on comfortably. Your baby may cry while this process is going on and you will get scared or frustrated and want to comfort them but by getting a good latch you are making it easier for you baby to suck out the milk so it’s for both of you. Most mothers nipples will crack and be dry and sore. You will be topless for some time because air drying is the best thing you can do. I couldn’t even put a thin shirt on for the first few days. They sell breast shells which will allow you to wear clothes and them not rub up against your nipples. Remember to get a good latch, put breast milk and/or nipple cream on your nipples, allow to air dry and repeat.
Now how will you be able to personally get through this? I can tell you what I did in hopes that this may help. When you want to give up remember all the benefits of breast feeding. Think of how much you are doing of your little one. I would look into Penelope’s eyes and I was sold after that. She is so at peace once I latch her on and it is such a amazing feeling to know you have to power to calm her and nourish her. I had to pump myself up and do little things to reward myself like online shopping. I also reached out to a friend that had recently had a baby and chose to breast feed. I texted her at all hours of the night and day and she would console me and offer me remedies that would help. She sent me her nursing pillow, nipple cream, and new breast shells because I had no clue you needed these items. She really guided me through those first ten days and just like she said it all got better. There are also many support groups online where you can go on and ask questions. I am a part of a breast feeding support group and we all go on and ask questions and every one offers their remedies and input. My hospital has a hotline where you can contact a lactation consultant and they help you over there phone. You can also have one come to your home they can be expensive but they will teach you everything you need to know and be sure to help you with your latch. If after ten days you are dying in pain still you should contact a vacation consultant because breast feeding is not supposed to hurt. It is worth every penny if your are experiencing a lot of pain. The first ten days your nipples will hurt, they may crack and bleed. You will cry and swear that you can’t do this but you can. We were built for this. This is natural to our species. Point is there are endless resources out there to help you with breast feeding it is all on your to reach out and ask. Day 10 arrives and you start to feel a little less pain when she latches on and you start getting the hang of the positions and you start to feel like a pro. Then day 11, 12, 13 and so on you will just get better and better and it will eventually not hurt at all. I am now going on 15 weeks and I truly enjoy feeding my baby. It doesn’t hurt at all anymore and we bond while it’s happening. Plus the world stops when she is hungry. I get to sit down no matter what I am doing and just relax and feed her. You will miss those moments. I have already watched so many shows on Netflix and just get to have me time with my little baby. She will one day grow up and no longer need me to feed her and that makes me sad. Thinking of that makes me look forward to each feeding.
My original goal was 3 months, then after the classes I changed to 6 months, and then I reached the 1st month and said I could do this for a year and now I don’t know if I want to let go. Each woman has their own lifestyle and can create their own goals. If you decide to just do 3 days, 7 days or 1 month I applaud you because anything you do is great! Listen to your body and mind and do what feels best for you both. Everyone is different. It will not be easy but it will be worth it once you see them looking into your eyes while you are providing that liquid gold we call breast milk. Enjoy every moment ladies and please use me as a resource. Feel free to reach out to me and I will do my absolute best to help you.