When I First Started
When I was pregnant, the idea of breastfeeding was captivating. I read up on all the benefits, and soundly made the decision to do it.
When my son was born and we got started, at first it seemed easy enough. He seemed to be nursing and I guess he was getting milk.
Then reality set in.
- He had lost over 10% of his birth weight.
- It was day 6 postpartum and my milk still hadn’t come in.
- His newborn attempts weren’t strong enough to draw milk out.
- My nipples started to hurt.
- It seemed like every waking moment was spent alone (and most of my resting ones too), with him, trying to feed.
I became frantic!
Desperation set in and I started doing everything I could think of to get help. I called my friend Rachel who was also a new mom and asked for help. She referred me to a lactation consultant who I talked with on the phone for about 45 minutes, some of which I was in tears. I visited breastfeeding support groups beginning when Levi was only 9 days old, weighed him religiously each week to measure my progress, and asked everyone who was willing to help me.
As I write this post, Levi is 5 ½ months old. He’s never tasted formula. My milk did come in. And I have a crate and a half of pumped milk in reserve in my freezer.
I wish I could have known that’s how it would end in the beginning. But that’s not how life works.
So, having the perspective of hindsight now, I wanted to share a few insights with you on how to get started…
How nursing begins is NOT how it continues for your entire nursing experience. Your milk will regulate. Your leaking will stop. Your nipples will heal and the pain cease. Your baby will become more efficient. My daily nursing duration went from 9 hours to 90 minutes. It will work out! You can do this.
Your body is designed to produce milk and enough milk to feed your baby. The more relaxed you can be the better your body will be able to do what it is designed to do.
The best way to signal for your body to produce milk is for it to be demanded. Give your baby opportunity after opportunity to learn how to latch. Don’t worry about offering too often, there’s really no such thing.
Do not supplement
This decreases demand for your milk production, teaches your child to feed from a source that’s completely different from your breast, and could have significant health risks for both you and your baby.
You will need to hear someone speak words of encouragement into you and to physically show you how to breastfeed. It’s not very intuitive. It’s more like an art – passed down from woman to woman. Before you pay for a lactation visit, call a friend you know who breastfed her baby. Find a local La Leche League and call their 24 hour support line. Ask your mom.