Picture this: You just labored for 36 hours, pushed for 3 hours, and was then rushed to emergency surgery because your babies heart rate was over 200 paired with your fever was the fear baby was in shock. You here her cry after being in pain and throwing up during surgery and your suddenly in pure bliss. Its 3 hours before you get to hear that cry again or even see her face… you have no idea what she looks like, she has no name, and your laying there with out your baby waiting for the feeling to come back in your legs so you can go to your room!
Finally, you are back to your room, but baby isn’t there. You hug your husband and ask him to tell them to bring her in. It’s 5am and the staff is tired and just wheels in the baby and leaves. So here you are first time mom, woozy from surgery, and unsure of what to do next. You know baby needs to nurse and you have done your research, but what if you don’t do it right? What do you do? Here are some things I wish someone told me about breastfeeding before my baby was born.
What I wish someone had told me about breastfeeding before baby was born
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The first day
Day one is stressful whether you have a natural water birth, or an unplanned c-section it is beautiful and stressful. These tiny babies come out of our bodies needing one thing, comfort. They have just been ripped from the only world they have known and brought in to this bright, cold, and loud place.
That first time nursing is magical it really is, but it is also fills your mind with questions. Am I doing this right? Is baby getting any colostrum? Is her latch good? Should it hurt? Why does it hurt? The list of questions goes on and on, and it is so easy to doubt ourselves in the world of formula!!! That is not meant to offend anyone shoot I was formula fed and I think I turned out just fine, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t pushed in an inappropriate manor. The fact of the matter is breast milk is made for babies to drink, our bodies create it just like they created these tiny humans and it will always be better for them! (End my mini rant, HAHA)
So sometimes it hurts because baby has a shallow latch and that could be caused by just learning and needing more guidance or it could be because of a tongue and/or lip tie. Both of which are fixable and with some time, patience and possibly a simple procedure all will be fine. But guess what when you have a little human sucking on your nipple all day long it tends to become raw and painful! So to help battle that you can use nipple cream or raw coconut oil which was my go to!
The best part, it’s not just your nipples that hurt. Those contractions to shrink your uterus hurt so bad. Some even say it is worse then labor, but it is normal and it is a good thing! All those hormones help your uterus go back to its normal size faster than a mom who isn’t nursing or pumping. PSSST… It hurts even worse the more kids you have.
Baby nurses all day
That first day both my girls nursed all day long. I can remember thinking something was wrong with both of us! My oldest wouldn’t let anyone hold her she would just scream until she was back at the breast. My OB wanted to hold her so bad and every time he came in she was nursing! I was exhausted between labor, pushing, the surgery, and now her nursing the whole day, but guess what? It is completely normal, that first day they nurse for colostrum as they are use to getting a constant stream of food from the umbilical cord and now they have to adjust. I should note it is also normal that day 2 they sleep much more as they too are exhausted!
Week 1 to Week 4
So you are home and adjusting to this new life of having someone else who needs you more than you have ever needed yourself! You are tired, hungry, and probably sad. You are still full of questions and lost on if things are going as they should. Why am I so hungry? Why do I cry all the time? Am I leaking? Baby nurses way more than 20 minutes every 2 hours, am I not making enough milk?
OMG, my boobs are huge
Engorgement is no joke! I won’t lie beyond the fact that it was uncomfortable and letdowns hurt so bad I enjoyed my nice perky boob HAHA! When baby goes a little longer without nursing, or only nurses on one side I would be so swollen and uncomfortable. Honestly there isn’t much you can do but nurse baby! If baby is only nursing on one side and you are struggling with engorgement the Hakka will be your best friend! It simply catches what would leak on the opposite side and I was able to collect a few ounces every time I nursed! I have an over supply and was able to pump and donate so I’m not sure if that played in to the major engorgement.
Watch for lumps as these are clogged ducts and need to be worked out before mastitis sets in. That is a whole other ugly beast that I won’t dive into but you can read more about it.
The hunger with breastfeeding was 10 times more intense then it was with either of my pregnancies. I could eat all day long and still be hungry. I tried just drinking water and milk, but I needed something more. That first month I would drink a gallon of water a day, half a gallon of milk, and eat like a 12 year old boy! But rest assured it is normal!
- You now have more room without baby there
- You are literally making food and that burns calories
- Food equals energy and with a lack of sleep you need more energy
So your granola bar broke and you cried?! Yeah that so happened to me! It is normal to be emotional after giving birth and the stress of breastfeeding can make it worse, but it is normal to an extent. If it’s been weeks and you are still struggling or you having anger, resentment, refusing to let anyone care for your baby, or just don’t feel like yourself I suggest seeing your doctor about postpartum depression or anxiety.
Is baby getting enough milk?
Babies nurse a lot and it is not just because they are hungry, but for comfort, to help them sleep, or just so they can snuggle! As a new mom though you question if baby is getting enough milk because she is nursing day and night. My advice DON’T WATCH THE CLOCK just nurse baby when baby is showing signs! Watch diaper output as it will be your indicator to if baby is getting the milk baby needs. From week 1 on baby should have 6 to 7 wet diapers with 2 of them being really wet, if cloth diapering it should be a few more diapers. Poop is going to vary some breastfeed babies poop every day many times a day and some go a week with out pooping. Both are normal and as long as they are yellow and seedy nothing to stress about!
Baby is crying at the breast
Sometimes baby cries and no matter what you do baby won’t calm down. I can remember Adella was just a few weeks old and she was crying and crying and wouldn’t nurse. So I started crying, and Luke was so sweet and I know he was trying to help but he suggested a bottle and I bit his head off. I wasn’t going to cave because we were having a rough day, or I knew I would continue to do so when it got tough. I’m stubborn, but it did us good!
So what do you do? Baby is crying despite having a clean diaper, being burped, cuddled, and trying to nurse so what the heck is wrong! Sometimes baby gets upset because
Breastfeeding in public
If you are a breastfeeding mom it is only a matter of time before you will need to nurse in public. Some pump and bottle feed in public, but if you replace a feeding then you need to pump when baby is drinking a bottle and it is just so much more work! You also should wait to pump until baby is 6 weeks so your supply has some time to regulate. It’s an inevitable event, but it doesn’t have to be challenging.
Breastfeeding tops are a life saver when it comes to nursing in public! They make your breast easily exposed with out having to expose everything else. Nursing clothes are so cute and fashionable and prices range from $20 to $100’s of dollars. I thought I didn’t need a new wardrobe just for breastfeeding but I’ve now been breastfeeding for almost 3 years and we plan on having more kids so I decided to get some and not just do the two shirt method and man they are so cute and easy to nurse in. Some people like to use a cover and that is okay too, there are some really cute ones. You have to do what you are comfortable with.
Unfortunately, rude uneducated in breastfeeding folks exists and they like to spread their anger. Some people are luck enough to never have to hear these rude people, but I have not been so lucky. Adella was just a few weeks old and I was nursing her in the parking lot while walking into a store and a lady yelled “do you really have to do that here” she didn’t say anything until she was well past me but she just had to rain on my parade. Usually I just get dirty looks or long stares, but I brush those off with out a second thought! I just feed my baby because that is what she needs!
Breastfeeding has been such a blessing and I have had the joy of tandem nursing my girls for over a year, but that first month I didn’t think I would make it another day. I was so tired and literally lived on coffee! But it does get easier, like so much easier!
I don’t even think about it any more, I just pull out a boob! HAHA