Breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart. Something that seems so natural is actually really freaking complicated and for most does NOT come natural. It takes practice and patience.
my first experience with nursing was messy, hard but I learned so much. Those hard lessons I’ve learned have given me much more confidence nursing this second time around. Here is what I learned the hard way nursing my first born.
1. Your emotions affect your baby’s emotions
Yep. Looking back on my time nursing the first time this makes SO MUCH SENSE.
When you’re postpartum you’re of course super emotional but when you are nursing your baby you have to be in a calm state. Think of it like being around a horse (I know weird analogy stay with me). When you ride a horse they always tell you to stay calm because horses sense fear and anxiety. The same for your little one.
It’s so easy to be on edge. You’re tired, hormonal (that’s probably an understatement) and sure you probably have anxiety about feeding still. But staying calm and knowing when you take a break will help you tremendously.
2. Less is more
When you’re at the hospital they make you write down when you fed, which side and for how long. They also make you track wet and dirty diaper and what the poop looks like. So, when you get home it can be overwhelming to do all that on top of, I don’t know adjusting to life with a tiny human!
With my first I obsessed over every minute he fed, the time between feeds and what his diapers should look like. It was exhausting.
My best advice the first week or two track it. The doctor will want that info and it’s hard to recall it all. But once your babe is back to birth weight relax and go with the flow. Make sure they nurse a good amount but don’t obsess. Forget the clock and soak up the bonding.
3. Let baby take the lead
Since breastfeeding is natural a lot of it just happens. Baby knows what to do (in most cases). Let them nurse as long as they want to. Nurses made me believe if my baby didn’t nurse 20-30 minutes he wasn’t getting enough. False.
Of course always make sure baby is swallowing and nursing. A good amount of time but some babies are more efficient and will nurse less. There are also other factors time of day, mood, age. All these things play a part in how long a nursing sessions last. Let baby lead and as long as they’re making diapers, are content and satisfied you’re doing great.
4. What works for one mom, may not work for you
This one is hard and honestly it applies to more than just breastfeeding. As a new mom people will have so much advice for you. Take it with a grain of salt.
What works for one mom may not work for you. Maybe, Sally really loved nursing on demand for a year, good for her. That might not work for you, maybe it will. Who the heck knows! Only you can make that call. My advice is try it. Try Sally, Megan’s whoever’s advice. If it works, great! If not, great! Do you, momma.
5. Build you stash early and wait on the bottle
With my first I would pump and freeze it (even as a SAHM) but then I would let my husband use the frozen milk to feed at night. Which was fine but I did it too often.
If you pump and only use it when necessary then when it’s time for date nights, meetings, or simple mom time you have it. Even if you’re a stay at home mom, make a stash, you’ll thank me on date night when you can stay out that extra hour or so.
6. Your journey is your journey
This one is most important. If you’re scrolling and didn’t read anything stop and read this….
It’s your journey! It doesn’t matter if you nurse 3 years, if you exclusively pump, if you nurse part time, or if you supplement. It doesn’t freaking matter!
Breastfeeding is hard, it’s taxing emotionally and your journey is yours. Do whatever it takes to keep you and baby happy and healthy no matter what that looks like or what anyone thinks.
What lessons did you learn through your first nursing journey? I’d love to hear them below.