I haven’t gotten too personal here. But, I’m about to.

I’m a big believer in breast-feeding. I think everyone that can, should. My jaw drops when I hear about people who choose, choose, not to even try to breast feed. Wha?! I just don’t get it. Now I have friends who have tried, and for some reason or another haven’t been able to breast feed. I’ve heard some very sad stories recently, mastitis so bad the woman ended up in the hospital, one woman I know heard voices, evil voices, every time she started to nurse, and finally a friend who desperately wanted to breast feed but her body wouldn’t cooperate.

I had a very hard time with G. He probably didn’t have the best latch, but I was also very uneducated. Looking back there are so many things I would have done differently. G was 8 months old when I finally gave in and stopped trying to nurse him. I had supplemented him with formula from the 2nd day of life, he only nursed when he woke up and before bed… I don’t think he was getting much milk either time.

Things are going AMAZINGLY better with Baby C. She has been exclusively breast-fed pretty much her whole life. I’m convinced it’s because I’ve learned so much more. I want to share what I learned.

  • Be your own advocate. Don’t let a nurse bully you into supplementing in the first 48 hrs. Babies don’t need an entire bottle (2 oz) of formula, they need your colostrum. Colostrum comes in small amounts at first. With G the nurses told me he had a bad latch, that he wouldn’t be able to nurse. I felt like a bad mom because I wanted to nurse him. I caved. I let them give him formula. I didn’t ask for a different lactation consultant when I didn’t like the first one I saw. I didn’t talk to the nurses. I didn’t fight hard enough.
  • Speaking of small amounts; your milk doesn’t (usually) come until 48 hours after you give birth. So it will seem like baby isn’t getting much to eat, but they will get what they need.
  • Ask for and use the hospital’s pump. Use it after every feeding for at least 10 minutes on each side. Do this for at least the first 4 days. (I was so happy each time I got milk after a feeding. I cried the first time I filled a bottle. With G, I was lucky to get a few drops after pumping for 20 minutes.) There is a fridge somewhere on the recovery floor for you to store the milk you pump. Take it home, or ask the nurses to use it to feed your baby in the middle of the night so you can sleep through one feeding.
  • GET A GOOD PUMP! If you can’t afford to buy a good pump, rent one. A good pump makes a HUGE difference. My first pump wasn’t very expensive, it had decent reviews, but not amazing reviews. It would make my nipples swell, and crack. I thought that was normal. It’s not. That’s what I found out from the hospital pump. My second pump is amazing, it works exactly the same as the hospital pump. I love my pump.
  • WATER! Drink LOTS of water! All the time. I made sure to always have a water bottle in my hand or beside me . I asked my friends to bug me about my water consumption, every time they saw me. I was peeing like I was 9 months pregnant, but I knew I was well hydrated.
  • Flat breasts don’t mean empty breasts. This was my BIGGEST mistake with G. I assumed that because my boobs felt empty, they were empty.                 I. was. wrong!     How I wish I could take back the bottles of formula I gave him because “I’m flat, I have nothing to give him.”  I used to cry because I felt like I was empty. I didn’t know until one of Baby C’s nurses told me that my body would respond to her sucking and make more milk for her.
  • Get some rest. Stress effects milk production, rest should reduce stress.
  • When you’re having a hard time, ask someone to distract you. There were many times that I was getting frustrated while trying to feed Baby C. She was doing that annoying head shake thing, you know the one. Where they won’t latch on, but their mouth is open and rubbing back and forth on your nipple. I was fortunate to have friends around to chat with me, to distract me. Taking my mind off of nursing. My friend and I would be chatting and after a while I’d look down and “Whoa! She’s nursing! How long has she been doing that?”
  • ENJOY the process. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing your baby’s face while they’re nursing. Enjoy it. Coo at your baby, smile, love, celebrate everything about the moment, revel in it. Your body will react to the joy you are feeling.

I am not a professional in lactation, Breast Feeding, etc. I’m just someone who has learned from her mistakes. All the tips I’ve provided have worked for me, and many of my friends. I can’t guarantee that they will all work for you, but it’s worth a try, right?