Thursday, May 31, 2012

10 things to know about breastfeeding

(my nursing cover)

For me, it's been a love/hate relationship.  My thought before having Duke was that I would breastfeed as long as I could or until a year.  That's still the plan but it's proven to be much easier said than done.

There have definitely been several hiccups along the way.  This includes the meltdown I had when Duke was 3 weeks.  It was Thanksgiving and we were at Colt's parents' house.  I was SO tired of breastfeeding.  I wanted to be done.  Colt was supportive of whatever I chose, but I am glad I stuck with it.  On the practical side, it saves a lot of money.  And although somedays I don't feel this due to the chaos of life or my own selfishness, I do enjoy the bonding process of the whole thing.

Breastfeeding isn't necessarily doable for some moms and I totally get it.  Along with that, breastfeeding isn't what some moms choose either.  There are benefits to using formula.  You don't have to use a nursing cover out in public, you don't have to worry about your supply, and other people can feed your baby.  I don't know what it's like to have a baby on formula, but I would imagine there's an added element of freedom you experience.  The decision to breastfeed or not really is based on your goals, your lifestyle, and your personality.

So far everything is still working out for me.  It's hard to believe it's been going on for over 7 months.  When I look back, I see how uninformed I was about the whole thing.  I had to ask a lot of questions, figure out a lot of things by trial and error, and just make a lot of silly choices.  Here are a few nuggets of information that I would've found helpful in the beginning:

1.  Feed on both sides at each feeding.  Being lopsided isn't awesome and it's a good way to have a natural break in your feeding time to burp your baby.
2.  Yes, if you have more on one side than the other, you are normal.  Everybody I've talked to has experienced this.  For me, I always feed on the 'lesser' one first because of that.  It's worked great.
3.  Use lanolin after every feeding in the beginning.  Eventually you won't need it anymore.
4.  Get a hooter hider (or a nursing cover) for feeding in public.  No, it's not fun or preferable.  But if you must feed in public, this is the way to do it.
5.  Mastitis?  Maybe.  But maybe not.  Don't freak out and assume you have it.  I freaked and I don't even think anything was wrong.  I just think my body was saying, "What the??" to me.  Breastfeeding is a totally new thing to experience.  Give yourself and your body time to adjust.
6.  Don't think every little thing is going to make you lose your supply.  I was definitely guilty of this.  You just have to make choices.  Missing a feeding every day will most likely be detrimental to your supply.  Missing a feeding every day but pumping in place of it would be a better option.  But if you miss a feeding (and don't pump in place of it) for a date with your husband one night, you are not going to lose your supply!
7.  For me, feeding time has ranged from 15 minutes to an hour.  In the beginning, I fed about 20-30 minutes.  It wasn't long before I was feeding for an entire hour.  That's an episode of Felicity, people!  Plus more!  (I shutter thinking about it.)  It's rough when it lasts that long because it feels like all you do is feed.  But trust me, it will end.  Now, Duke eats for 15 minutes at most.
8.  How many times you feed in a day is dependent upon your doctor's recommendations, your baby, and how you do things.  In general, you usually feed 8-12 times a day at first.  Now, Duke eats 5 times a day.
9.  In the beginning, it's good to plan on a 2.5-3 hour feeding schedule.  Most babies stay on a 3 hour schedule during the day for quite awhile.  Duke still is at 7 months.
10.  No snacks!  I thought that's what Duke was wanting in the first two weeks.  Why is he wanting to eat again?  He just ate an hour ago!  What I wasn't doing was focusing on full feedings, as Babywise instructs.  If you focus on keeping your baby awake to receive full feedings, then he shouldn't be ready to eat a 'snack' an hour later.

(Disclaimer:  I'm not saying every breastfeeding mom will agree with all of this, but this is what is true for me.)

At first, it feels like feeding is all that you do and all that you're good for.  It's very overwhelming and very hard.  It does eventually space out and you do get your life back.  If you're a month in and ready to quit, just hold on.  It does get better!


  1. Amen!! I can't tell you how many of these things I experienced with my first, and as a result I ended up weaning her before I was ready because I didn't know there was any other way! One other tip I would add (that I didn't know the first time around) is that even if your supply goes down to the point that you feel it's affecting your baby, there are things you can do (taking fenugreek supplements or eating foods like avocados and oatmeal that are known to boost supply, etc.) to get it back up. If you are making any milk at all, you absolutely don't have to be done nursing unless you want to be! I am so much more relaxed and self-assured with my second, and as a result so is he! He's 9 1/2 months now and I've decided to begin the process of weaning him, and even though I know it's the best time and the right decision for both of us, every time I think about the reality of it, my heart hurts! Thanks for the practical tips, Claire. So so so wish I'd come across something like this when I was a first-timer. :)

    1. Yes, that is a good one to add. I went down to 5 feedings a little too early for Duke and when I went back to 6, my body totally bumped up production. It's really crazy how it all works!


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