One of my life-long best friends is due to deliver her first child any day now! After breastfeeding for a year with my first son and just five weeks into feeding my second, she’s come to me with some questions. Check out the questions she asked and the answers that I’ve learned from my personal experience, professionals and of course, Google.
How do I know if my latch is okay?
Use any available nurse or lactation consultant from the very first latch. I remember the first time they asked me, “Do you want to try and feed baby now?” I had NO CLUE what to do. It’s okay, they will show you, just ask! And then ask again! See the lactation consultant on your first day in the hospital. Have your partner take notes or video of your session to refer to at home.
When will my milk come in?
Oh, you’ll know! As soon as you hit the recovery room drink an insane amount of water and eat a hearty meal. Put that sweet new baby on your chest and cuddle. I had Clif bars (rolled oats) and coconut water in the hospital to help establish my milk from the first day.
Will it hurt?
Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Everyone experiences chafing in the beginning, but don’t be discouraged. Be prepared to have Lanolin ready to apply for a little relief, and my favorite – Lasinoh Gel Soothies out of the fridge.
What happens when I leave the hospital, who can help?
Check out a free breastfeeding support group run by a lactation consultant through your local hospital. You can also hire a personal lactation consultant for a “private lesson” and often, it is covered by insurance!
I always refer to the La Leche League website, as they are the International non-profit breastfeeding gurus. I also follow them on Facebook for tidbits of information and encouragement.
Find your tribe of breastfeeding mama’s that have similar experiences or breastfeeding goals, they can really make you feel like you’re not alone in your journey.
When do I start pumping? Will a bottle/pacifier ruin my baby’s latch?
This was one of my first self-inflicted torments when I started breastfeeding. I read too many articles about “nipple confusion” and felt like a terrible mother during the first night at home with my son because I gave him a PACIFIER (gasp!). He was fine. I was fine. He wasn’t nearly as confused as I was.
Pumping is your best friend and worst enemy. It gives you freedom to be away from the baby, but it takes some serious determination to keep at it for months at a time, especially if you’re back to work quickly. Pumping is the only way many nursing mamas are able to take care of themselves, maintain their career outside of the home and get a break! It can suck the life out you, (haha, get it?) but it also can get you out of a boring meeting at work.
What about the naysayers?
You will find people who don’t understand or support your breastfeeding goals. They can be parents, friends, co-workers, random people on the street. Everyone has an opinion. In fact, I had a pediatrician who did not take time to learn about my breastfeeding plan and that was the end of our relationship. Find your people who support and encourage your goal! Any remember, you can freely breastfeed anywhere now!
What if I decide that it is all too much?
Good for you! It is your choice. Let go of any mom-guilt. Exhaust all of your options, and remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Trust your instincts. You can supplement with formula, or breastfeed for 3 weeks, 6 months or a year and beyond. The American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) recommends 6 months, but they also say 1 hour of screen time a day or less for kids so…
Why did you choose to do it all over again with number two?
This was a hard one for me to answer, but last night I had to take my newborn to the ER because of a fever and it all came clear. After they poked and prodded him to run tests, the most calming thing for him-and I-was the fact that I was able to comfort and nurture him with mama’s antibody filled milk. The quiet time alone with him, the little grunts and coos while he’s drinking, and that sweet milky drunk face when he’s done – that is why I do it.