by Sarah Saucedo
This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies
Being pregnant with my third baby, I am fortunate to be able to reflect on two previous breastfeeding journeys. Two completely different journeys that both managed to encompass the good and the bad and fortunately were able to end on a high note, on my terms. Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting that my third time around will be all rainbows and butterflies now that I have had two previous children to ‘work out the kinks. ‘ No, unfortunately, babies and breastfeeding don’t work like that. But, thankfully, I was able to take away some helpful reminders from each of my children’s breastfeeding experiences and will be able to lean on them when baby number three makes his/her arrival.
1. Babies aren’t born hungry, they are born to suck (literally)
When baby is born, after all the excitement of their arrival, is to latch them on the ‘eat.’ But really, baby latches on to stimulate their reflexes to rid themselves of meconium (dark green poop). Sure baby will get some much needed liquid gold (colostrum) during that first feed, but baby isn’t starving. I promise. Just wait to change those first few diapers and you’ll understand what I mean by them needing to clear out their systems!
2. Baby’s newborn tummy is tiny
Seriously, it is very, very small. Baby’s tummy at birth can actually be compared to about the size of a small cherry. To breaks that down even more, this equates to 1/2 tsp needed to fill their tummy up. Really! So, rest assured, the first few milliliters or colostrum is really all they need for the first few days.
3. Breastfeeding is learned for both mom and baby
Breastfeeding your newborn may not feel awesome the first few days or even week. It’s not necessarily because of any latch issues or positioning problems. It’s the fact that your new little one is attached and suckling your very sensitive breasts a lot. This will get better as you and baby learn. But if it doesn’t or if you start noticing trauma (bleeding or cracks) reach out for help! Breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt.
4. Remember to take care of yourself
We are often so focused on baby’s needs, the onesies, toys, car seats – you name it! It is important to remember that your body is and will be going through lots of changes and being prepared and getting support for yourself can make all the difference.
Even though breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy. Whether you are leaking, have sore nipples, or are working on a good latch getting the right products to support your breastfeeding journey is important. I experienced sore nipples with my second baby due to a tongue tie and by the time I knew what was happening, my case was so severe I needed ointments with antibiotics. This time around, I plan to have a preventive, healing nipple balm in my arsenal . bamboobies boob-ease® Organic Nipple Balm is amazing for sore and cracked nipples. It’s new mom nipple TLC and doesn’t have to be washed off before baby nurses.
In addition to sore nipples, with my first, I leaked a lot and was going through disposable nursing pads like there was no tomorrow. Not only was it not cost efficient but the feel of the disposable nursing pads was less than ideal. This time around I plan to use bamboobies® Washable Nursing Pads. Not only are these washable nursing pads eco-friendly but they are ultra-soft and absorbent! They are also a great registry item!
5. Bonding Time
Until you have recovered and you and baby have learned the ropes together, breastfeeding will involve a lot of couch time or at least sitting down. I was antsy at first and felt that I should be doing more. But really, what can you do when baby wants to eat every two to three hours and each feeding takes 30-45 minutes? Rest, relax, bond with baby and get caught up on all of your favorite TV series while baby is satiated. Breastfeeding will get easier and more mobile (you’ll be eating dinner while baby eats soon enough), but again, it takes time. And that’s ok!
6. Breastfeeding can happen in any position
Piggybacking on the last point, you will eventually feel comfortable to nurse in whatever position is most comfortable, convenient, or simply-the one baby will nurse in at that moment (gymnastics anyone?!) Breastfeeding looks different from mama to mama and that’s because it needs to feel right for mom and baby! I thought the cradle hold was the only way with my first. With my second, I realized that nursing can happen laid back, laying on my side, with a cross hold, a football hold, over my should (my toddler taught me this one). Once the possibilities of positioning opened up, I had a much more enjoyable experience breastfeeding in a comfortable manner.
7. Yes, dad can be involved
Breastfeeding seems like a feeding method that leaves all the responsibility on mom. However, your partner can be involved in more ways that just bottle feeding baby. Ask them to bring you snacks or water during a cluster feed, the remote/phone/book when you are trapped under a fussy nursling. Ask for a foot rub or just plain l’adult conversation when you feel you need it. Breastfeeding takes a lot out of mom so your partner’s support is always helpful and can be a moral e booster when needed.
8. Pumping is not indicative of supply
If there comes a time when you need/want to pump, don’t be alarmed at the little amount you may see in the bottle. With my first baby, I was going to school full time. I pumped all the time with a double electric, hospital grade pump. In return, my body thought I was producing for very hungry twins and my output during my pumping sessions reflected that. I was able to feed baby on pumped milk for about six months before my supply dropped.
With my second, however, I was a stay at home mom. I had no reason to pump. So, when the occasional date night happened, I did not respond to the pump as well. I could maybe pump and ounce or two, although my second child and I had a very healthy breastfeeding relationship that lasted for over two and a half years with no issues of low supply. Rest assured, babies are very efficient at emptying the breast, more so than the pump, thinking your supply is reflected by the amount you are able to pump is not helpful and can in fact cause unneeded stress.
Every breastfeeding journey you may embark on with each new baby will be different. This is simply because every child and situation is different. I had two completely different, yet both successful (to me) breastfeeding journeys. I was able to learn from them and can only hope to use these lessons and tips from the first two with my third baby. Breastfeeding and the relationship you create with your child(ten) will never look exactly the same to the nest baby or even compared to your friend’s journey, and that is ok! Enjoy what works best for you!