Saturday, October 12, 2013

Things I Never Knew About Breastfeeding

Things I Never Knew About Breastfeeding

This list is compiled of a lot of personal experiences as well as experiences that other Mama’s have encountered. Thank you to all the May mama’s that helped me with this list! :-)

  1. Breast milk is really sticky!! – Keep some hand sanitizer close by.
  2. Have a breast feeding station! I had many around my house. I'd make sure there was a burp cloth, lanolin and chap stick! And hopefully his binky & water for me. Sometimes you're there for awhile! 
  3. When your milk comes in, your boobs feel like giant boulders and you swear that you’ve stolen some porn star’s boobs. But, not everyone's milk comes in flowing and bursting at the seams. It varies from woman to woman. Sometimes it takes longer for the milk to come in than for other women, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to breastfeed.
  4. If you have a real undersupply, there are options for you! You can use a supplemental nursing system (SNS) and/or use donor milk. There are tons of women out there that donate their milk to babies who need it. Formula is not your only option. Seek out help from a lactation consultant for options!
  5. You leak more if your nipple is not covered – that’s why the Milkies Milksaver worked so great for me. I was able to freeze tons of milk just from my letdown from the boob he wasn’t currently feeding on!
  6. Breastfeeding does hurt in the beginning, you're not used to having something clamped onto your breasts, it gets better, a warm compress before a feeding will help with soreness. As will taking a warm shower and letting the water run down your breasts. Engorgement does hurt, hand expressing a little helps with that too.
  7. At the beginning, breast feeding is very messy. I kept baby washcloths under my boobs at all times while nursing otherwise milk would be everywhere.
  8. Breast milk stains clothing.
  9. You have lots of tiny little holes in your nipples, milk comes out from all of them, not just 1 hole.
  10. Your nipples will be hard A LOT!
  11. You will randomly let down, especially the first couple of months!! The worst would be getting a chill and all of a sudden feeling a let down. Or once I came home from work and just looked at Hank and had an immediate let down. Some people never feel a letdown, some people it comes on really strong!
  12. In the beginning, your uterus will contract while breastfeeding, this hurts! Feels like period cramps!
  13. Skip the nursing bras and just wear nursing tanks. They’ll hold the boobies in and only 1 clip to unclip. I only wear a nursing bra when wearing a dress or something that I can’t wear the tank under. My favorite tanks are from Motherhood Maternity. Even if you want to do the nursing bras, they are a million times easier than just using a regular bra or a sports bra. They are worth the money!!
  14. As long as your baby has wet diapers, then you are making enough milk! At about 6 weeks for me, I didn’t feel as full (engorged) and this was concerning for me and Hank wasn’t happy after eating. He had plenty of wet diapers and was going through a growth spurt and had colic so he just wasn’t happy, but he was full!
  15. Most women only pump a few ounces every couple hours. If you’re pumping less than what baby is eating while you’re gone, you are part of the norm! Many times an extra pumping session needs to be added in the morning or at night. A pump just isn’t nearly as efficient as the baby. This article helped me learn a lot about pumping!
  16. You must always pump when baby eats a bottle to keep supply up! Want hubby to give baby a bottle? Make sure you pump!
  17. It’s NOT normal to have cracked and bleeding nipples! Seek help immediately if this happens! Hank had a bad latch which was causing this. He was sucking his lower lip in. He had a great latch in the hospital, then as soon as my milk came in, his latch changed. I’m so thankful every day that I called up Brooks Hospital and talked to a nurse there. She had me come right down! and gave me Medela TheraShells so my nips could breath and showed me how to make sure Hank latched on correctly. See a lactation consultant right away when something doesn't seem right. It can save you from a lot of pain due to poor latch, oversupply problems, mastitis, etc. Luckily I was dead set on breast feeding or I could have possibly given up. I don't blame some women who give up because it truly can be a very challenging time when you have so much to consider already after just having a baby! Just remember that it's worth it and it gets easier!
  18. Nipple shields are not meant to be a permanent solution to sore nipples. Many women unfortunately use them to try to help in the beginning then baby has a hard time latching on after that. A lactation consultant can help you here.
  19. Breast milk is nature’s own lanolin, squeeze a little on your nipples to help with soreness and let those babies air dry!
  20. You can get milk blisters on your nipples! Oww!
  21. Clogged ducts are very common and can make your breasts sore but the best thing to do is to just keep nursing/pumping! Warm compresses and breast compresses help here too.
  22. Babies eat ALL.THE.TIME! Especially in the beginning, you will feel like you're nursing 24 hours a day. Hank would eat on cue every 2 hours. That’s every 2 hours from beginning of feed to beginning of feed. So some days, I would only have 1 hour in between feeding to do something else. Sometimes, it would even be less than every 2 hours!
  23. Babies get more efficient nursing the older they get. At only 5 months old, Hank can get a full nurse in on both sides in 15 minutes or less.
  24. Your nipples can squirt milk really far!! Like I’m talking across the room far!!
  25. You will likely spray your baby in the face many times!
  26. Side lying nursing rocks!! Especially once baby can support their own head!
  27. Your baby might like one position one day, and then prefer something totally different the next day.
  28. Your baby may prefer one boob over another.
  29. It’s very common to have a dominant boob. I’m right boobed – she’s my superstar! Lol
  30. Your baby may boycott one of your breasts. I had to pump my right boob for a day because he refused to latch on that side, that was when he was only 4 days old.
  31. After your milk comes in, it can be harder at first to get your baby to latch on because they aren't used to the hard, full milk boobs. It would take me 30 minutes some days to get him to latch on in the beginning, talk about frustrating!
  32. Your baby might get frustrated with you after having a bottle, because babies actually have to work at nursing. This will pass. Just keep nursing.
  33. You don’t hear about oversupply as much as undersupply but it’s very common. Especially in the beginning when your body doesn’t know how much milk to make. Keep nursing baby and they will tell your body how much milk they need. People always worry about not having enough milk when in fact very few people actually don't make enough. People generally worry about that and it never even occurs to them that oversupply can be a real problem, too. It can be very overwhelming and painful. And if you want to relieve the engorgement by pumping, you're just telling your body to keeping making that much milk. It's hard not knowing what to do.
  34. Babies tend to eat more during growth spurts!! They’re just upping your supply!! This doesn’t mean they aren’t getting enough which is a common misconception when you feel like all they want to do is eat!
  35. Cluster feeding is VERY common, especially before bed time!
  36. Babies don’t need formula or cereal to sleep through the night! A breastfed baby can very well sleep through the night.
  37. Pumping sucks!! Haha!! But, it’s so worth it knowing your baby is getting the best! Pumping hands free is so much easier than hold the bottles on the pump; buy a hands free bra or buy a sports bra and cut holes in it to stick the flanges in. Kudos to the mama's out there that exclusively pump!!
  38. Most insurances cover breast pumps for free, make sure to call them about this!
  39. You can work full time and still give your baby only breast milk, it just takes time and determination
  40. Baby’s have teeny, tiny stomachs!! This picture below always confirmed to me that baby was definitely getting enough and didn’t need any supplementation.
  41. No one can “make you” use formula. If you don’t want your baby on formula (at hospital for example) then don’t use it, they cannot “make you” use it! Many hospitals push formula for whatever reason, you do not have to give in to them. It is your child, you call the shots. PS I highly recommend Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, they are very pro-breastfeeding with awesome lactation consultants!
  42. Breast milk is good for diaper rashes, eye crusties, baby acne, you name it!
  43. It changes flavor slightly according to what you eat so eat a varied diet. Breastfed babies are likely to be less picky because of this.
  44. Your immunities pass to your baby so nurse even if you are sick. Oh and breastfed babies are less likely to get sick as well!
  45. It is normal for a breastfed baby to not poop for multiple days. For a few months, Hank pooped on average of once every 9 days!! Some breastfed babies do poop a lot though. Every baby processes their milk differently.
  46. Your boobs feel empty a lot once you milk regulates, they’re really not. Still freaks me out some days though!
  47. Your nipples will be SORE for quite a while once you start breastfeeding. And can randomly become sore even after months of breastfeeding.
  48. Don't compare anything as far as amount baby eats to a formula fed baby. Here is a great article about how much breastfed babies should eat.
  49. That first night baby sleeps well? Get ready for sore boobs in the morning! That first pump/feed is like using the bathroom after a long movie! There are times I’ve considered waking Hank because they were so full and sore!!
  50. Your nursing relationship will continue to change, so continue to reach out for help to reach your goals. Whether it is through Facebook, Facebook groups, or a lactation consultant, stay in touch and ask questions!
  51.  I never knew just how rewarding it would feel. To provide everything my baby needs to grow and thrive is simply amazing. It’s really freaking amazing!!
  52. There's a good chance you're going to need breast pads all of the time! And if you leak a lot like I do, the cotton pads simply WILL NOT work for you!! You’ll leak right through them! My favorite breast pads are made by Lansinoh. I can finally wear the Bamboobies now that I'm not leaking as much. I can't stand feeling wet!
  53. You can still nurse when your baby gets teeth!! When they nurse, their tongue covers their bottom teeth, so it’s really uncommon to get a full on bite. Not saying it’s not going to hurt, but they will learn in no time that biting equals no Mommy milk!
  54. Even with plenty of wet /dirty diapers and frozen milk, it doesn't matter the quantity of anything it's the quality of the milk (fat), so eat lots of fats!
  55. Sometimes elimination diets are needed. I had to eliminate basic dairy from my diet for the first 12 weeks or so. It was hard, but it was worth it to not have my baby have an upset tummy!
  56. Before you freeze a ton of milk, thaw it and try it with baby. Just in case of lipase. Freeze in 2-4 oz bags since it must be used with 24 hours of thaw. Definitely don’t want to throw out the milk you’ve worked so hard for!!
  57. You will cry over spilled milk, it’s inevitable!
  58. How important it is to stay hydrated and eat for supply. Your burn a lot of calories nursing, so if you don’t eat enough, you won’t make enough.
  59. Not everyone loses weight from breastfeeding. Even if you do, you will likely hold onto those last few pounds until after baby weans.
  60. I didn't know I would always feel like I'm starving, especially in the beginning. I would almost always need a midnight snack. I still feel like I could eat a cow some days!
  61. Expressed milk will look funny after it cools in the fridge from the fat separating.
  62. Get extra flanges if you’ll be pumping!!
  63. You can keep your flanges in the fridge in between pumping sessions instead of having to wash them after every use.
  64. Some people get really nervous about you nursing! It’s not about them, it’s about you and your baby, you feeding your baby. If you don’t want to use a nursing cover, then don’t!! I used one a total of 1.5 times, it just didn’t work for us! I got too hot, couldn’t see Hank very well and he hated it too! Nursing in a baby carrier is a great way to nurse in public hands free and no one can even tell!!
  65. Some babies grow slower than others, this does not mean you aren’t making enough or they need formula. Some people even have to take their babies in for before/after nursing weight checks.
  66. Babies don't just flip a switch when they turn a certain age and outgrow nursing. It’s not weird to do extended nursing with your baby. You are providing them with the absolute best thing you can give them. They’re still your baby that you’re nursing.
  67. Nursing is not only good for baby, it's good for Mom too as it decreases your chances of breast cancer.
  68. I always thought that everyone nursed their babies, I was very surprised to learn that many women chose to formula feed their babies from the start and not breastfeed at all. Breastfeeding isn’t as common as one would think, but it is becoming more and more common.
  69. The biggest reason women stop breast feeding is because they think they have low supply. Supply is something you will always worry about. A cranky baby does not equal a hungry baby. If you feel like you have low supply, there are many ways you can up your supply. Just keep feeding baby and pumping. Adding in supplements or certain foods will help up your supply too. There are many things you can do instead of stopping breastfeeding. Another time to reach out to others for help!
  70. Being the sole provider of food can be exhausting, frustrating and can also be hard on the Daddy because the baby is always with the mother. Even pumping to get a break is work. It's not all sunshine and roses.
  71. I never knew how proud of myself breastfeeding would make me and how much I would absolutely love nursing my baby! And how sometimes it is a way to fix anything that's wrong with baby. Bump your noggin? Here's a boob! Tired? Here's a boob! Miss your momma? Here's a boob! You shouldn't feel bad if you don't love to nurse at first. I can honestly say that I hated nursing at first, it was really hard for me (I’m sure the PPD was a big part of this). No one tells you that at 2am your baby's cry makes you cringe because the thought of breastfeeding him hurts so bad, but I can promise this doesn't last long at all and will instantly become a distant memory. I love it now, but it was certainly a journey and I thought I was a terrible mother for hating it so much and struggling so much with it. The first two weeks are by far the hardest, harder than giving birth even, but like a light switch it gets so much easier and is so rewarding! I totally expected breastfeeding to "just happen." It’s hard work!! You will have a love hate relationship with nursing - it can wear you out and is hard but nothing is better than the feeling you get when you’re staring into your baby's eyes and they just grin at you. Or start laughing when you pull out a boob knowing what they’re about to get!

Wow this list turned out to be longer than I ever imagined!!
This post is not meant to scare anyone, this is to help you be informed!! I wish I had found a list like this before I started breastfeeding. I will add that after going through the rough times in the beginning, I am still exclusively breastfeeding Hank at almost 5 months old, and he's never had a drop of formula. Nursing is such a good thing for your baby and for you.

If after reading this you would like to be added to any breastfeeding Facebook groups, just let me know! There are some great ones out there!

My favorite breastfeeding resource is, I highly recommend checking them out if you have any questions at all.  

I am not a lactation consultant, nor do I claim to be by writing this post.

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