If you would have told a younger version of myself that I would be a passionate breastfeeding mom who plans on nursing until age two or longer, younger me would’ve have laughed in your face! Life is certainly funny this way, but I couldn’t be happier and my breastfeeding relationship with my son is something I’m very proud of.
Occasionally I feel guilty talking with other moms who struggled about the early days nursing my son, now 7.5 months old. I didn’t really prepare to breastfeed, didn’t take any classes or read any books. I just had the vague idea that I would try my best and if it ended up being torture, I’d have no problem switching right to formula. On paper you’d think we would’ve struggled, I’d had a C-section and my epidural didn’t take so I was foggy with pain meds. He had a good latch, and while i certainly had the initial pain, after a couple weeks that faded away. I’d like to think that we were so successful because I stopped listening to advice from everyone (nurses, pediatricians, etc.) and started listening to my own intuition.
One of our first nights in the hospital, my son was crying and I was confused because he had just nursed maybe 20 minutes before. “He couldn’t possibly be hungry,” I thought, because weren’t babies born to be on a three hour schedule?! The night nurse, trying to be helpful, advised me not to let him “use me as a pacifier.” That phrase stuck in head for a while, making me feel guilty about nursing him whenever he stared to get the least but fussy. Finally the thought occurred to me in those early weeks, “He’s just a baby! He’s not capable of complex manipulation! If he’s hungry then feed him!” The adage “watch the baby not the clock” is something that really clicked and I would advise any new mom the same. Who cares if it hasn’t been exactly three hours since his last feed, his stomach is itty bitty! Nurse away!!
We did encounter the oversupply issue, my forceful letdown would often give my son a breastmilk shower. A little online research helped me solve that, another piece of advice I’d share with other moms is “finish the first breast first.” In the beginning I was under the impression he should nurse 10 minutes on one side, 10 on the other. I should’ve just let him nurse on the side he started in until he popped off on his own. Next time I nurse a newborn I’m thinking this will help me avoid the oversupply I tend to develop. I was lucky enough to stay home with my son and not have to pump, which was a blessing because the darn pump gave me clogged ducts (ugh, the pain!). We rarely have to use a bottle expect for when daddy or grandma and grandpa are babysitting. I love the convenience that breastfeeding provides—no extra dishes to wash, formula runs, or worrying how much to give when. In my view, staying with it in those tough early days really does pay off down the road.
So that’s my relatively drama-free and boring breastfeeding story. I hope it gives expectant mothers peace of mind that even if you are wary of breastfeeding in the beginning, you may surprise yourself! Trust your instincts and too much advice (however good intentioned) can be a bad thing!
Rebecca is a 29-year-old stay-at-home mom to her son born October 24, 2012. She’s married to a “great man” and her family currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
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