In my last post, I gave you all the not-so-lovely details of my breastfeeding experience with my first little tyrant. Now I’m going to share a few things I learned from my first breastfeeding experience, and that I hope at the very least will offer some solidarity. Since as I’ve said a lot (you’ll probably get sick of this one), all mommas and babies are different, take all this advice with a grain of salt. This is just one mom’s experience which might be helpful and might not.
- Breastfeeding may be natural but that does not mean it comes naturally.
We’ve all heard that babies are born with the sucking instinct, but sucking a breast in order to get milk is not an instinct, but rather a skill that needs to be learned. Mom has to learn too, how to hold the baby in the most comfortable position, what position is best for her individual baby, how to get the baby to latch properly, how to keep him awake, and on and on. It’s not an innate skill for mom or baby. It’s a learned one, and as with all learning there’s a curve. Some will catch on better than others, and some don’t catch on (er, latch on?) at all.
2. The early days are the hardest days and all that matters is that your baby is fed – aka, Fed is best!
All this learning and teaching you do takes place while on little sleep, out-of-control postpartum hormones, and an infant who’s still trying to figure out why it’s suddenly so dry, cold and bright. Nothing – and I mean nothing – can rob a mother of her peace faster than knowing that her baby is not getting the nutrition she needs. Go easy on yourself, and if for whatever reason breastfeeding isn’t working out, it is ok to give your baby formula! Surrounding this is also fear of what’s called nipple confusion, where a baby will become accustomed to a bottle nipple instead of mom. This isn’t something to pass over, but in my case, what helped was making sure that nipples I used for a bottle didn’t have many holes so that the flow wasn’t faster than what my baby would get at my breast. My daughter had no trouble going back and forth between bottle and me.
3. Formula is not a death sentence for your child.
It’s actually life-saving. Praise God we live in a day and age where we moms have options about how to feed our babies! Could you imagine if breastfeeding didn’t work out and that was it? Baby’s tiny systems are very fragile and can be put in serious danger in they are not getting the nutrition they need. Formula can be vital for those moms and babies who are struggling until they get the hang of breastfeeding. Plus, the way formula is made now is light years better than when it first came out, and it keeps getting better.
4. Struggling with breastfeeding, or even flat-out hating it, does not make you a bad momma.
As you read in my last post, I hated breastfeeding and only stuck with it for admittedly very selfish reasons. It’s ok if you don’t like doing something even when you know it’s what is best. Pretty sure that Jesus had an episode in his life where he was asking for a cup to pass him by knowing full well what drinking that cup would mean for all of us. And that’s what motherhood really is, isn’t it. Doing what is best for our kids, constantly putting their needs ahead of our own wants and desires. For some moms, that might be giving up breastfeeding altogether or sticking with it no matter how hard or painful it gets.
5. Get a filter and get it fast.
This pretty much is a rule for motherhood in general, but definitely goes for breastfeeding. Decide what is best for you, your baby, your whole family and stick to it and filter out whatever anybody else says to the contrary. Every single stranger, friend and family member is going to tell you their opinion on every aspect of how you are parenting, but they aren’t there with you day-to-day and can’t see everything that is going on that has shaped your decisions. Some comments or advice may actually be helpful (ahem, like this post wink wink), so don’t block them out altogether. Just let the judgmental comments roll off your back, trust your gut, and keep on doing what you believe is best.