If you would have told me when I first had Brave that I would still be breastfeeding 10 months later, I wouldn’t have believed you! This has by far been the hardest thing I have ever done. It is a continuous journey that takes on a life of it’s own.
I remember when I first started nursing Brave, I purposely set low-expectations because I didn’t want to be bummed about having a short-lived experience with breastfeeding. To my surprise my body knew exactly what it was doing to nurture my son.
Nothing about this journey was easy. The early morning or late-night feeding was tough to get through, the drop in supply that I experienced around month 5, the planning outings, dressing to breastfeed and beyond made things just a little more difficult.
Even with all of the set backs and adversities, I knew deep down I wanted to breastfeed my son. It was much more than just feeding him, it was build a bond that stands the test of time. It was showing him that I was everything he needed. It was showing myself that I could do the impossible. It was much more than just food, it was sustaining life.
If you are considering breastfeeding regardless of your timeline goals … whether it’s 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, a year, or beyond … here are a few tips from an experienced mom that may help you too:
- Have Support. The best thing I could have done for myself is surrounding myself with the proper support. From friends who had success with breastfeeding (both nursing and pumping), to having a lactation consultant with vast knowledge to offer professional advice. This is critical. Knowledge and experience is your “breast-friend” when it comes to breastfeeding for the first time. As a first time mom, you will have tons of questions and uncertainties that need to be addressed. Use your supportive mom friends for those middle of the night emergency questions, and follow up with your lactation consultation for professional insight and assistance. I recommend having 2-3 sessions with a lactation consultation after having your baby to ensure you are actually breastfeeding properly. This will be the difference between a positive and negative breastfeeding experience.
- Eat well, stay hydrated. You don’t realize how much you are pouring into your baby. Breastfeeding a new baby is equivalent to working a full workout. You lose a lot of important nutrients from your body each and every time you feed your baby. It’s important to eat well and stay hydrated. You will notice a huge difference in your milk supply if you are hydrated.
- Leave Stress Out. There’s just no way to have a successful breastfeeding journey if you’re constantly stressed out. I understand that as a new mom you have so much on your plate, but try your best to not welcome stress into your nursing / pumping sessions. Why? Because stress factors in your milk supply. Anytime I nursed or pumped stressed there was a significant drop in my supply, I wouldn’t have much milk output. I learned that I needed to relax. Sometimes I would take a nice hot shower, watching videos of my son, or go and lay down for a while to sooth my body then try and pump or nurse again. It made a huge difference.
- Don’t Compare Your Journey. Your journey may not be like another mamas. I would often find myself scrolling for hours in breastfeeding groups saddened by how much less milk I made in comparison to other moms with their full eight ounce bottles of milk output. I had to reprogram my thinking to understand that MY BODY was making milk for MY SON and it was everything that he needed and the perfect amount that he needed.
- Let Go of Timelines. I would often stress about how long I had been breastfeeding. I remember thinking that I couldn’t make it to 6 weeks, then I would look up and it would be 8 weeks later. I remember thinking I couldn’t make it to 3 months, then I would look up and noticed I had been breastfeeding for 5 months. That’s when I learned to take things one day at a time. I realized, however long I breastfed on my journey was a blessing in itself. Every single drop of golden milk poured billions of good antibodies into my son and wherever our journey ends is exactly where it’s suppose to.
So mama, if you’re about to begin your journey, or if you’re already on it, I hope you know that you are doing amazing and you have every single thing your baby needs already inside of you. Keep your head up, ask for help and support, and enjoy these precious moments. They don’t last forever.