This post is the first of a six part bonus series about breastfeeding, each of our individual stories, the highs, the lows, the “I have no clue what I’m doing” and the “I’ve totally got this”. No matter what your story is, we want you to know that somewhere out there is another mom saying, “me too”. We’re all in this together.
Nursing. What can I say about nursing that hasn’t already been said?
First. Relax. You can do this. Being informed is a great way to gain confidence. I recommend reading at least the basics of breastfeeding. Talk to friends and family or healthcare professionals if you’re unsure about anything. And remember when you’re taking advice from ANYONE – the more babies they’ve personally breastfed the more legitimate their advice!
Second. Yes, breast is best. Is it the only way? No, but if you have given birth to a baby then breastfeeding is right for you. It is not just about getting a certain amount of calories into your infant, the benefits are far reaching for you and your baby. I could go into all the benefits, but I want you to do the research yourself. Yes, there are exceptions. But you are probably not one of them. I say this to encourage parents to know the full implications of their choices – I have seen comments from dads on forums saying they don’t want their wife breastfeeding because her boobs will change…ack! Yes, formula is an option – but make a thoroughly informed decision.
Third. If you or your baby cannot breastfeed for a legitimate physical or mental health reason and you need to formula feed or nurse for a shorter time than you wanted – that’s okay! You are still a good mom. Your baby will still grow and we can be thankful that there are other ways to keep a baby nourished.
Fourth. Breastfeeding will hurt for the first few days, but it will not hurt forever. The second, third and fourth day are usually the worst. Toe curling, tear inducing, uterine cramping pain. Push through it, distract yourself. It will get better. Unless of course, you develop cracks, blisters, or a plugged duct. In that case, welcome to the scars of motherhood.
On Demand: Newborns and young babies should be breastfed on demand. You will both be happier for it. Sure, you can try a strict schedule, but that route has yet to work for any of us here at Pure Grain of Salt (trust us, we’ve tried!). Babies will usually go about 2 hours from the start of one feed to the start of the next, but that is just a guideline, it could be a little as one hour! They will likely start cluster feeding (nursing every 10-50 mins) in the evenings as they get into a regular sleep routine as well, usually around week 4-6.
Switching Sides: Nursing on both sides at every feeding is totally optional and often not required. Nursing one breast per session helps ensure your baby is getting the rich milk that comes towards the end of a feed and also seems a little more simple in my opinion! Obviously keep an eye on your baby, if he’s rooting around for more after draining one side, give him the other! NOTE: For the first week or two there are no rules and you should feed baby both sides until your milk supply is firmly established and you’re both more comfortable with nursing.
Burping: Give your baby a break halfway through. Sometimes just sitting him upright is enough to let a bubble out. This can save a big barf or an uncomfortable howling baby at the end. I often waited until after let-down and baby had filled his tummy a bit – they get very angry if you try and remove them too early! Firm back rubs (while baby is upright against your chest facing you) can be more effective than a little pat on the back. Plus it’s more soothing when baby is sleepy than getting patted like they’re on fire.
I hope you have found our nursing stories and advice helpful and encouraging. I will leave you with this bit of wisdom from mothers throughout the ages.
Whatever you’re going through…this too shall pass.
*Any information or ideas presented within the website of Pure Grain of Salt are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any medical issue for you or your baby. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider in determining what is best for you and your baby.