There are many rumors around breastfeeding, both good and bad. From my experience, older African American moms (40+) are pro-formula and swear off breastfeeding, while surprisingly this generation under 30 is embracing it! Granted, there are exceptions to both sides because some young women want to follow their mother’s advice to use formula and some older women grew up when breastfeeding was very common. Regardless, there are some amazing benefits and some not-so-amazing consequences.
Here is my very REAL experience being a first-time breastfeeding mom with my son: the stuff none of the articles I read prepared me for!
Breastfeeding: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Am I Producing Enough?
This is a question a lot of moms have. Doctors will tell you that those first couple of feedings are all babies need even if it doesn’t seem like much to you. Believe them! Don’t worry about it any more than you have to, because after that first feeding they will be on your back about making sure baby is feeding every 2-3 hours and they’ll want to know for how long.
Generally, in your time in the hospital, a great feeding will at least be 20 minutes, but don’t be discouraged if they don’t all last that long. This is something new for both you and your baby and it will come with time
There’s no need to start pumping immediately. You’ll want to pump sooner, rather than later, if you will be going back to work shortly after delivery. Since I have an extended maternity/parental leave, I will be waiting a couple months before I start pumping.
The most important reason to hold off is because your baby should be fed on demand! Pumping is a supplement. Pumping and feeding on demand tells your body you have multiples and you will begin to produce A LOT more milk. While this may seem like a great thing, it can also be a pain once you feel you have enough supply but your boobs are still leaking. Trying to go back to normal may cause your milk to dry up completely.
These Munchkin Latch Bottles are the best bottles I’ve found and are most similar to a breast. He sucks pretty hard to get my milk out and, unlike other bottles, these don’t shoot out too much milk for him. This is great for moms that want to do both!
My Experience: Currently feeding on demand
Has My Milk Come In?
This was a very violent experience for me and I didn’t quite understand what was going on at the time. This is the ugly of breastfeeding, in my experience. I had cold sweats, I was shivering uncontrollably with my teeth chattering, and even my nipples were cold! When your milk comes in, you’ll know it for sure. It was after this experience that my breasts started leaking.
Something they also don’t tell you about your milk coming in is that you’ll for sure need to start putting your bra on in the bathroom. And make sure it already has your breast pads inserted! I remember drying my boobs off and there was still a slow drip of “water” from them. It’s milk, and if you don’t want it getting everywhere you’d better be prepared. This may not be a problem if you get dressed in the bathroom anyway, but I personally like to dress in my bedroom.
My Experience: Uncomfortable and scary/alarming!
Once your milk comes in, your breasts will be leaking as I just mentioned. There’s no need to waste it, especially if like myself you aren’t pumping. Every little bit counts! While I use breast pads to soak up excess most of the time, someone bought me these from my baby registryand it’s a great addition to any list.
If you want to make breastfeeding as painless as possible so that you’ll actually stick with it, latch is so important. When baby isn’t opening his or her mouth wide enough it irritates your nipple. Imagine it being sucked into a vacuum. You’d be grateful for a wider tube. Same thing applies.
So latch and re-latch as many times as necessary because you’re teaching your baby how to do this, just like you’re learning along the way.
Cracked & Sore Nipples
One word: OUCH! When I first started my nipples we cracked, bleeding, raw and…crunchy? That’s the best way I can describe it 😅. Maybe it was crunchy because it had been raw and then scabbed over, but all I know is I remember being afraid what if my baby eats the scabby skin (gross!). I don’t know what made me get over that fear, but here I am still feeding.
I can’t imagine the added expense of buying formula. The great thing about breastfeeding is you don’t have to worry about this. While you do have hidden expenses, like breast pads, nursing bras or a milk saver if you choose it still doesn’t add up to the countless expensive cans of formula you would’ve purchased otherwise.