Update: This is a post from the archives, but still very relevant. B is now 30 months. I nursed her until 14 months. I loved my breastfeeding experience and am now nursing my son, born April ’15 and plan to nurse him until he is 12 months.
Even before I got pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed B for at least the first year. I made it my goal when I got pregnant, to breastfeed B until at least six months. Fortunately, through good genes (both my mother, my maternal grandmother, and my great-grandmother were all good nursers) and through educating myself I felt like I set myself up for the best possible outcome. I have to say I was really lucky with not only having the genes for easy nursing (it seems like it runs in some families); but also having a great support system (E was very supportive as was my family). Even with all of these things working for me, to be honest, the first six weeks were the hardest thing I had ever done (well except giving birth to B naturally.) To be constantly on-call and to be so tethered to her was a bit overwhelming at times. Most of the time she really just wanted boob and nothing else would suffice.
B finally started taking a bottle of pumped breast milk around 4 weeks with the help of my mother-in-law; but it took a lot of effort and the right technique (cradled in as close to the breast as possible.) I couldn’t even be in the same room as her when she was getting a bottle. And we had to go through several bottles before we found one that worked–we tried two different Born Frees with no success, then the Lansinoh Momma more success, and then finally the Medela for the win. And even when I could leave the house I would have to pump beforehand which totally sucked literally (more on pumping in a following post.) It made leaving B a bit more complicated.
A Few Tips to Keep in Mind:
1.) Educate Yourself
I took a breastfeeding class prior to having B. We took the class at the same place we took birth lessons, Mother Me. The class wasn’t particularly cheap but I felt that I learned a lot, gained valuable knowledge and resources on trouble-shooting, and left knowing I could call Rita and go to any of her free breastfeeding clinics if I had trouble. I would really recommend it to anyone who is interested in breastfeeding. As much as people say it is instinctual, proper technique is not and without coaching it would be really hard. Plus the cost of this class is less than formula costs for a single month!
2.) Read All About It!
I read several books on the topic, and read a ton via online resources. As far as books go, I used the Nursing Mother’s Companion per the recommendation of Joanna Goddard. It is a great book and I even passed it on to a neighbor who has twins. I have also heard good things of Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding but didn’t personally buy it. I found that in the heat of the moment (aka at 3 am when you have a question) that Kelly Mom is an awesome resource with the bonus in that you can search the website for anything and articles come up with links to actual studies. I used this way more than I used any of the books. I also read the sections on nursing from Dr. Sear’s Baby Book, which were helpful but a bit to pro-attachment parenting (he is the attachment parenting guru.) And real life blogosophere moms who had written about their experiences: Modg is the self-proclaimed dr. of boobs and I don’t disagree! Katie Bower of Bower Power wrote truthfully about her not so great breastfeeding experience with her first son, and Sherry from Young House Love wrote about her good experience with her daughter, and finally Joanna wrote about her experience with her son, Toby, and nursing in public. Note: most of these women did multiple posts on breastfeeding and their experience (especially Modg) so be sure to search their websites, I only linked to their primary posts.) All of their opinions were really helpful, as were online boards at Hellobee which had great advice on pumping too! Reading the blogs and talking to friends, my mom, and other new moms was the most helpful because it made me feel like I wasn’t alone in it and I could relate (whereas, although E was as supportive as he possibly could be, he didn’t truly understand because he unfortunately lacked boobs–oh, how many times I wish he had boobs and could nurse her in the middle of the night!) But alas, if he did have them we wouldn’t be here…
3.) Consult the Experts:
4.) Get the Right Gear
I bought all the gear I needed which was not inexpensive. Between nursing shirts, nursing tanks, nursing bras, a boppy (which we were gifted), bottles, and pumping bags it was not free but way less expensive than formula is. *Note: thanks to the Affordable Care Act I did not have to buy my own breast pump out of pocket which saved us hundreds of dollars! I have included all the gear you need in a separate post that is coming up! Just remember, that even with all the breastfeeding gear, it is still cheaper than feeding formula. *Update, you are entitled to one breast pump per baby per year, so get a second one with your second baby that way you have a back up!
5.) Don’t Be Embarrassed:
I was totally ok breastfeeding everywhere I went. While I didn’t flaunt it (I wasn’t out there with exposed boobs), I wasn’t ashamed of nursing her. I nursed her hiking, nursed her in restaurants, on the beach, on planes, in parked cars. Pretty much everywhere we went we nursed. And I was ok with it. I also was always ready to tell anyone who complained about it off–I loved Joanna’s comeback:
The first couple months or so we used a nursing cover because we weren’t that good at being discrete; but, after a few months we got better and better at not flashing nipples. After that, I used the cover only when I was concerned about not making the people around me uncomfortable or wanted to calm her down (like on the plane when I wanted to let her know it was time to go to sleep.) Even at the top of Mt. Mansfield, I just used my father-in-law’s sweatshirt because it was cold and there were probably 60 people. On the more secluded hikes I would just latch her on.
6.) Set Your Mind to It!