I was asked “What is the most difficult part of being a mom so far?” Breastfeeding. Hands down. No arguments. My husband agrees with me and he’s not even the one doing it!
Breast feeding was one of my non-negotiables going into parenthood. I planned to be a stay at home mom which means that my role changed from making money to conserving it. It was and is important for me to keep my milk flowing to conserve finances. Formula isn’t cheap!
Before I gave birth I spent countless hours watching You Tube videos, reading online forums and asking questions to my lovely sisters about breast feeding. I’m so very glad that I did. You can ask my sisters, I asked and continue to ask A LOT of questions about breast feeding and quite frankly I’m still not an expert.
The #1 lesson I’ve learned is: Breast feeding is something a Mom and dad have to be proactive about. (yes I said dad too) There is a small window of time where you can fool your body into thinking your baby needs more milk than it does. I found this little supply and demand trick extremely useful as I had to give Moriah a bottle to supplement her feeding because she had a hard time latching on for the first few weeks of her life. When she was first born I never gave her formula. I stocked my freezer full because you never know what could happen. And if you’re planning on going back to work after you have a baby and want to give your baby breast milk you REALLY need to be proactive!
My little bits of advice for first time mom’s is buy all the supplies. Get it all. I had a Brest Friend AND a boppy and I used them both. I had wonderful sisters who stocked me full of things I didn’t even know what they were and it was so wonderful to open up my drawer and see everything that I needed just waiting for me. I had no idea what a nipple shield was, or storage bags, or covers, or pads, the list goes on. I have used every single bit of it. True, I used a majority of it in the first 3 months of her life but I used it all. In my opinion, breast feeding supplies are not where you want to conserve your baby budget.
Another lesson I’ve learned in this new motherhood experience is: Daddy’s are a big deal. I never thought I would have needed so much help from my husband and I’m very thankful for my husband’s servant heart. I would never have succeeded in breast feeding if it weren’t for his constant support and encouragement. I really thought when it came to breast feeding the responsibility would fall completely on my shoulders and I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was right there with me. While I held our upset hungry daughter he was right here to keep my frustration at a minimum. The lactation nurse taught him how to put together the breast pumping equipment and how to clean it while we were still in the hospital. She also taught him how to suck up the colostrums that I pumped out into a syringe and then expel it into my breast shield so that Moriah could eat it with little effort on her part. It came to a point where trying to eat was burning too many calories and she was losing weight at a rapid pace and needed to be bottle fed. Bottle feeding was his responsibility as I was again, hooked up to the mechanical parasite (aka breast pump).
Another shock: babies lose weight after they are born. I didn’t know that, but it makes sense as they are learning how to eat. One of the nurses on the night shift felt my pain as I struggled to feed my baby and went to get me a breast shield and I’m so thankful that she did. Most mothers don’t even know what a breast shield is and that’s a good thing. It’s really a last resort type of thing, and that’s because you will have to re-teach your baby how to breast feed if you use it as regularly as I had too. Moriah was small, had a shallow gag reflex, and wasn’t born through the vaginal canal. All things that were stacked against us, thankfully she was never jaundice. That was really the only thing working for us. That was truly a miracle.
Despite all that was mentioned above one bit of advice I got was spot on. It’s totally worth it! I was going to breast feed her if it killed me (and I think it almost has several times, but that may be another post). There’s nothing like the bonding time you get with your child. It’s a little piece of heaven on earth when your little one stops feeding, looks up at you and smiles as milk drips down both sides of her face. It’s like she’s saying “Oh wow, my mommy is so pretty and I love her so much.” After 3 visits to lactation consultants after we left the hospital and two visits to the chiropractor to give Moriah adjustments to get her to have the sucking reflex. She’s now 8 months old and breastfeeding. She’s distracted, but that’s because she’s 8 months old. Breast feeding is messy, painful, frustrating and can be incredibly difficult but I still maintain that it’s totally worth every hurdle you may face. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to drinking my Mothers Milk tea.