I’m no breastfeeding expert, but I am a mother of 5 and I’ve attempted to breastfeed each of my children. I wasn’t successful every time, but I’ve learned a thing or two about breastfeeding over the years.
I’m currently breastfeeding my 5th child and I’ve realized some basic truths that have held true for all 5 of my breastfeeding experiences.
1. IT HURTS! A lot!! Don’t let the baby books fool you when they say breastfeeding *shouldn’t* hurt. They lie!! Even when my baby was latched on properly (yes, a lactation consultant and several nurses confirmed that we had a proper latch), it hurt until my nipples toughened up and that took a few weeks with each child. For me the pain (and blisters) always started the day after the baby was born. At times, I wished I could get an epidural each time I needed to feed the baby! But just like the pain of childbirth, it didn’t stop me from having more children or from breastfeeding them. 🙂
2. You should ask for help. Asking for help has never been easy for me. I don’t like to admit that I need help, but if you’ve never breastfed before, trust me, you are going to need help. You may need help breastfeeding your second or third child and that is perfectly okay!
If you ask someone for help and breastfeeding doesn’t improve after taking that person’s advice, ask someone else! I learned this the hard way. I met with a lactation consultant while I was still in the hospital with my first child. Her advice did nothing to alleviate the pain or my blistered nipples. Once I got home, I should have called a friend, a relative, or another consultant, but I didn’t. Now, eleven years later, I do wish I had found someone else to help me, but once I gave my son a bottle, I was able to focus on bonding with him. Although I was disappointed that I didn’t breastfeed him, in hindsight, bottle feeding was the right decision for us.
3. It’s okay to pump in the early days. When I was in the hospital recovering from the birth of my second child, I mentioned to a nurse that I was starting to get blisters on my nipples. She ran out of the room and returned with a breast pump and some infant medicine dispensers. I was shocked! She told me to pump and give my nipples a break. I followed her orders and because of her, I was more successful with breastfeeding each child since then. There was still pain in the early days and a lot of it, but pumping helped me to get through it each and every time! (No, feeding my babies with the medicine dispensers did not confuse them.)
4. It will get easier. The pain will eventually go away (unless you have an infection or other issue) and your nipples will heal and toughen up. You will get on a schedule and your baby will eventually sleep through the night. These will all happen at different times for each woman and each child, but they will happen. Hang in there and if you have to bottle feed for whatever reason, it’s okay!
5. Natural remedies for common breastfeeding issues really do work. Okay, I just learned this one while breastfeeding my new baby, but I’ve used natural remedies several times in the last few months for blocked ducts and the start of mastitis with great results each and every time. I wish I had used them while breastfeeding my other children, but I hadn’t learned about them yet. (If you experience issues that you haven’t had before, you should call or visit your doctor to get a proper diagnosis.) (If you want to know what natural remedies I used, leave a comment with your email address and I’ll contact you privately.)
Do you agree with these truths? Did I miss any? I’d love to hear your breastfeeding stories. Please share them in the comments!by