The Breastfeeding Journey
Congratulations on your new breastfeeding journey! Providing breast milk is one of the best things you can do for your little one’s health and development.
No two breastfeeding journeys are the same; we and our babies make it unique, and this is why it is such a special experience!
I am sharing what I’ve learned during my breastfeeding journey so far, hopefully, it will help you confidently navigate your own.
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Chances are it won’t be easy at first and you'll need to put the work in. But don’t put pressure on yourself; this is a skill that takes a little time to learn.
The quest for the Holy Grail
Don’t expect too much the first time you breastfeed! You’ll feel anxious about when your milk will come in, but just be patient and let your body do the work. At first, your breasts will only produce colostrum, a yellow fluid that contains antibodies and nutrients that are essential for a newborn’s health and growth. This is exactly what your newborn needs for the best possible start.
After about 2-5 days, your milk will come in. You’ll get super excited and may cry and it’s ok; it’s important to celebrate our bodies’ wonders and enjoy every success!
At first, you might hope to set a schedule for the baby to make life easier. But, the best thing to do is to feed on demand, whenever your baby is hungry, this will help stimulate and establish your supply mirroring baby’s needs. Be patient, scheduling can come.
My top three breastfeeding items were a good breastfeeding pillow, good quality, supportive nursing and/or hands-free pumping bras, and a breast pump.
The pillow is good to help you position your baby comfortably while nursing. The nursing/pumping bras are a must-have! Don't be afraid to spend money on them. Moms tend to forget about themselves when baby arrives, but this is an investment that will ease your breastfeeding journey and will be good for your boobs too! Finally, a good breast pump will allow you to express milk and build a stash.
Breastfeeding is not easy. It's physically and mentally exhausting, you will no doubt encounter some struggles along the way.
The first may be perfecting your baby’s latch. This takes some patience but it’s key.
You may also feel a lot of nipple pain; your baby will be feeding every couple of hours which means this problem can worsen quickly. Pain is common, especially at the beginning, but it isn’t normal. Your positioning or baby's latch may be the reason. Or it may be a sign of infection.
You may also experience an overabundant milk supply and feel uncomfortable with frequently leaking breasts. Your baby may also struggle to eat with the fast flow and let down. Or you may produce a small amount of milk and worry that your baby isn’t getting enough.
If you're struggling, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone. Almost every new mother experiences the same difficulties. Look for local breastfeeding support groups and get help from family, friends, or a lactation consultant. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child.
Things that are worthwhile are often challenging. Breastfeeding is one of them. By breastfeeding, you are choosing to give your baby the best food they can get. Breast milk contains a lot of antibodies that will protect your baby and many studies show that breastfed children are sick less often.
You may also benefit from breastfeeding as it can reduce the risk of hypertension and ovarian and breast pre-menopausal breast cancer. Breastfeeding is also the best opportunity for you and your baby to get to know one another and bond in the most beautiful way.
So yes, you may be exhausted and experience pain and frustration in the short term (we all do!) but trust me, breastfeeding will empower you and ultimately bring you a lot of joy and pride!
Hey, you are a superhero with a nursing bra, Mama. Stay strong and committed, and remember why you chose to breastfeed. You are amazing and can do this!