Upon my first glance at that second dark line, I knew I wanted to nurse my baby. However, I had absolutely no idea what that would entail. Currently, I’m on my third breastfed baby, and I have learned so much along the way. I’d love to share some of those things whether you’re a new mom, curious about breastfeeding, or even if you’re a golden boobies vet.
1. It can take up to FIVE days for your milk to come in!
In the beginning, it’s going to seem like baby is getting NOTHING. Trust your body! Baby’s tummy is super tiny and your breasts are giving them colostrum in the beginning in tiny amounts! Baby is going to be nursing like crazy to signal the body to bring that milk in! This is NORMAL, and it is also very normal for a baby to drop weight in this period. I have heard that baby should be back to birth weight by one to two weeks. This was really frustrating for me even with my THIRD baby. Here’s why! It’s customary for your doctor to bring you and baby in a few days after you’re home from the hospital for a weight check. Well, we were brought in with my third before my milk had even had a chance to fully come in, and of course, she had dropped some weight. Some pediatricians are quick to suggest formula at the VERY FIRST APPOINTMENT. This can be really discouraging for a tired, new mama who has been nursing like crazy and currently has cracked bleeding nipples (more on that in a second). Don’t supplement with formula if the baby is having the correct diaper output. I’ll include a chart for this! Remember your breasts create milk via supply and demand. The more baby nurses the more milk you’re body will create. This is also why you should try to delay giving a pacifier or even bottles for a few weeks too! If you start supplementing or giving a pacifier baby isn’t going to nurse and your body isn’t going to create milk. However, If you’re baby isn’t having the correct diaper output or you’re past day five and not seeing milk when you hand express consult with a doctor because there may be an underlying condition causing an issue with your supply.
2. Breastfeeding a newborn is HARD! Every single time in my experience!
Newborns have zero head control and require a ton of support to properly latch. The best thing you can do in the early days is seeing the hospital’s lactation consultant and let them help you practice the correct way to support baby’s head and get the deepest latch! I know it is super uncomfortable and sometimes hard to ask for help, but this is ESSENTIAL to being successful in the beginning. Also if you haven’t already figured this out from pregnancy and birth there is NO modesty in motherhood. One more thing, it’s going to hurt in the beginning! Your nipples may blister, peel, and even bleed. Lansinoh has this amazing cream that will soothe your nipples in those early days while you and baby figure out the latch! It has saved my nipples all three times! Just remember this part doesn’t last long. By the first month, the baby will be stronger and require less support! It gets easier and easier as time goes! Push through if it’s worth it to you!
3. Pumping is hard & depending on your situation you may not ever have to pick up a pump!
I am a SAHM or a stay at home mom. I am always with my babies for the first year. What I wish I would have known with my first nursling was that all that pumping was unnecessary. I spent all this time pumping and saving this milk when he didn’t even need it because he was getting it straight from the tap. It actually created an oversupply which made me super engorged and made him super uncomfortable! If you want to save a little milk so someone can occasionally give the baby a bottle look up the haaka on Amazon! It just suctions to the breast not in use and collects your letdown. It catches a couple ounces of milk at a time and doesn’t signal to your body to make an entire extra feeding of milk like an electric pump. If you’re a working mama then the electric pump will be your best friend! Invest in a hands-free version like the freemies or a pumping bra to make it less miserable!
4. Boobs leak & baby needs access!
Get yourself some breast pads and nursing bras. I like the washable breast pads. I had no idea that you could possibly have to wear these the entirety of your nursing journey. However, for me, I only leaked milk until about 6 months. Around month 3 your supply regulates and you could possibly experience not feeling a letdown anymore as well as no more leaking. Again, this is normal! You can always know baby is getting enough by keeping up with how many wet diapers baby is making! Check out this website to know what is normal output for your babies age. Also just a tidbit to new moms you don’t need tons of “nursing clothes”. I recommend buying a couple of soft sleeping nursing bras a few sizes up to account for engorgement, reusable breast pads, and a nursing cover. (these also serve as a breathable car seat cover) If you like to dress up I would splurge on one or two nursing dresses. Otherwise, you will be able to access boobs with your normal shirts and nursing bra.
5. Sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out and that is OKAY!
My first breastfed baby and I only made it to three months before we encountered problems! I actually became pregnant with number two and the stress of an unexpected pregnancy and not having all the correct information tanked my supply. We started him on formula and you know what it was the best thing for BOTH of us. You may find that breastfeeding isn’t working for you for a health reason, or it may just be mentally exhausting. This is where you need to weigh the benefits and ask yourself if it’s worth stealing the joy from you and/or your new addition to the family to continue. If your answer is no then you made your peace and you don’t owe anyone an explanation. If you want to continue in spite of the difficulties I recommend surrounding yourself with support. There is a great Facebook page called Milky Moms as well as tons of groups that meet in person. Look them up and GO!
Mamas I wish you all the love and success on your journey. Remember breastfeeding is only a tiny fraction of your child’s life. While it is a wonderful nutritious start for the baby I am a firm believer in fed is best and each mama will know exactly what’s best for her and her little. These are the five things I wish I would have known before I began my breastfeeding journey. Thanks for reading, liking, following, commenting and sharing!