Hey Girlfriends ✨
I support all forms of feeding babies! Formula feeding , breastfeeding, wet nursing, donation, I do not judge- I admire all mamas for feeding their babies
As most of you guys know, I am very pro breastfeeding. I am passionate about it. I truly believe it is something worth fighting for! I want to start out by saying that breastfeeding is NOT easy, it is not just a natural event that happens after you have a baby.. for some of us it takes extreme effort, determination, and persistence.
I have breastfed two babies. My first only for a short time due to lack of knowledge and postpartum depression. My second I breastfed for twenty-two months, the first year I had postpartum depression and six of those months I was pregnant with my third baby. Between nursing both boys I have learned so much, and have gained an immense amount of respect for this process.
I want to share with you guys some things I wish I would have known going into my breastfeeding journey!
first and foremost, I need for you guys to know that breastfeeding does not come ‘naturally’ for most of us. It takes a great deal of dedication to commit to an exclusively breastfeeding relationship. So, if you are in the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, just know that we have all been there.. and as awful as it might be right now it does get better and a hell of a lot easier. Keep calm, and feed on!
My second bit of advice I give often is, do not give up! Breastfeeding REALLY hurts when you first start ( not for everyone, but for a lot of us!) I know that for me breastfeeding was harder, and more painful than actually having my babies!
I know your nipples are cracked and bloody.. I know you are emotionally at your wits end.. I know you are dying for 10 minutes of alone time to shower or to eat.. I know it can feel lonely being the only one awake at night to nurse… but the odds are, if you are nursing your newborn right now, it is because it was something you truly wanted as a mother for your baby.. despite all the healthy and bonding benefits, you wanted to do it.. and for that reason, do not quit. Trust me when I tell you it does get better, and you will be happy that you pushed through.
And if you are pregnant, and have decided to breastfeed, just start to prepare yourself.. because the odds are that it is not going to happen like you think it will. You just have to roll with the punches, and just know that there is a solution for almost any problem you could run into! Breastfeeding takes a lot of patience, determination, and time. There will be days where you really think you can’t do it for one more second, and there will be days where you are so thankful that you stuck it out. But believe me when I tell you, it is so worth it. There is nothing in this world like the bond you build while nursing your baby. There is no feeling like the one you get when you look down at your perfect little nursing baby.
My third piece of advice & maybe my most important… I beg for you to take this advice and carry it with you! TRUST YOUR BODY! I know as a mother it is incredibly hard to trust your body to nourish your child. I know it is immensely hard to not be able to see how much your baby is actually eating. I know as a mother of a newborn the constant fussing and crying can make you honestly believe that your body is failing you and your baby! I know when your baby is constantly wanting to nurse or wanting to be latched to your breast your first thought is ” he is always hungry, I am not making enough milk” when in reality it is very normal for newborns to nurse pretty much all day and night. There are a whole bunch of reasons your baby wants to be latched all the time! Just have the expectation to spend most of your days and most of your nights breastfeeding for the first month or two, it is normal, it has nothing to do with not producing enough milk ( most of the time), it does not mean there is something wrong with you or your baby! ** side note, a great way to gage the amount of milk your baby is consuming is through their wet & dirty dipes, diaper counting is crucial for a breastfeeding mama needing to know if baby is getting enough milk** Babies don’t only nurse because they are hungry, actually a lot of the time they may not be hungry at all! The moral of this paragraph is to fight the natural urge you have to doubt your body. And trust the process, it takes time to build a milk supply, it doesn’t just happen in the first week for all of us! It took three whole weeks for my milk supply to fully come in and to semi-regulate. Remember- the more you latch your baby, the more breast milk your body will make.
Even as a first time mom, you have instincts. You know what is best for your baby! You know your baby better than any one else in the world. Trust yourself. Trust your body. And trust your baby. Every day is a learning experience- you can learn your way through this process! There is a solution to almost any problem you could encounter.
Some reasons your baby will nurse even if they’re not hungry:
– skin to skin
– growth spurts, the first one happens within the first few days of being home. Then between 7-10 days.. then again between 14-21 days old, and again between 4-6 weeks old. It is very normal for your baby to constantly nurse during their growth spurts. Growth spurts can last anywhere from 2 days to 7 days!
– over stimulated
– because they love you
– because they want to
– because they smelled your breast milk
– because that’s just what breastfed babies do
– because they saw your boobs
– because they’re babies and breastfeeding is normal
Fourth, learning to breastfeed is just as hard for your newborn as it is for you! This process truly takes patience. This was my first lesson on patience as a mother. It takes time to prefect a nice deep latch( not for all of us, but for a lot of us). It takes time for your nipples to toughen up. It takes time for breastfeeding to become a naturally occurring daily event in our lives. Please, don’t feel discouraged in your first few weeks of breastfeeding if you are still sore, and unsure if things are going right. Like any good thing in life, this takes time and a lot of TLC. ** side note, if you are having problems with your nipples being unbearably sore for more than a few weeks it is important to have your baby assessed for lip or tongue ties. Knowing if there is a tie gives you the opportunity to fix the problem and proceed with your breastfeeding journey** During the first few weeks of nursing I highly suggest staying topless as much as possible, and I personally avoid putting any creams or oils on my nipples because keeping them dry helps the toughening up process go a bit quicker. If you get to the point where you are just in tears from the pain every time you latch, which happens but shouldn’t last longer than a few weeks, make sure you are switching breasts every feeding and you’re getting a deep latch. A shallow tight latch will kill your nipples, but it is fixable, it just takes a lot of practice and re-latching and possibly a lip or tongue tie revision.. if it is just so awful that you honestly cannot take the pain for one more second, you can try a nipple shield! The only problem with a nipple shield is that the habit can be hard to break for you & baby!
Fun fact: pumping to see how much your baby is eating is actually not effective or accurate. Your baby is way better at expressing your milk than the breast pump is! So, if you pump and only get a couple of drops, please do not feel discouraged- it is best to gage the amount of milk your baby is getting through the number of wet & dirty diapers your baby has per 24 hours.
Fifth, there will be people who do not agree with your decision to exclusively breastfeed your baby. Please, do not let them get to you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to solely breastfeed your baby! It is absolutely natural and nothing short of a miracle. Prepare yourself to breastfeed in public, most of the time it will be pleasant, but sometimes it will get uncomfortable.. and that is okay! Just keep swimming, and kill them with kindness. You can nurse at anytime, in any place – I’ve nursed at church, my own wedding, my friends weddings, restaurants, the pediatricians office, the grocery store, the park, the beach, family get togethers, you name it! It’s not always easy but it is always necessary if your baby needs it.
Sixth, prepare! Make sure you have a nursing pillow, they come in handy when you need to nurse but still want a free hand. Get a baby carrier, there will be days where you will not be able to get anything done because all your baby wants to do is nurse.. just strap baby on, pop a boob in his mouth and go! Invest in a few nursing bras, it’s just easier to get your boob out of especially if you are on the go! Stock your refrigerator with hydrating drinks- it is so crucial to stay hydrated especially to keep a good milk supply. Keep snacks stashed everywhere- nursing will increase your appetite!
Fun fact: if you have inverted nipples you can still breastfeed! You can simply use a manual or electric pump for a minute or two before you latch your baby if you are having problems! A nipple shield is not always necessary
Some reasons that have kept me breastfeeding even when I wanted to quit:
Breastfeeding has always helped to naturally break my babies fever- the temperature of your milk and your skin will regulate your babies temperature
Comforting- no matter what the circumstances were I knew I could nurse my baby and calm him
When you are getting sick or if you have been exposed to a germ, the antibody is passed through your breastmilk to your baby to help prevent baby from getting sick! I can’t tell you how many times my household was sick but my breastfed baby was not
It was easier to get sleep- we learned how to dream feed and we both got more sleep
Some things that I have learned over the last two years of nursing:
Skin to skin can increase milk supply
Frequent latching can increase milk supply
More medications are okay to take while nursing than we think- do your research
You can still nurse your baby even if they have allergies, it takes about 3 weeks for the allergen to get out of your breastmilk once it’s deleted from your diet
For example: my babe had a milk and soy allergy, I cut all dairy and soy out of my diet & within three weeks he was no longer gassy or constantly fussy
Breastfeeding is free!!
A lot of Pediatricians are not up to date with new nursing information, a lot of pediatricians are not supportive of long term breastfeeding
Comfort nursing is very necessary, healthy, and normal!
The phrase ” don’t let your baby use you as a pacifier” is bull crap.. let your baby nurse.. comforting your baby when they need it builds a crucial foundation of trust and love. You CAN NOT spoil a baby. It is our job as mothers to love our babies unconditionally.
There are more uses for breastmilk- other than just feeding your baby! You can use breastmilk for milk bathes- great for eczema and dry skin. You can make lotion. You can use it for pink eye! And it is great for your newborns baby acne!
I have so much more that I want to jam pack into this post! As you can see I love breastfeeding, I love learning about it, and mostly I love encouraging and helping new moms get past the times where they feel like it is impossible. I am sure I will have a part two to this- or an updated version because there is just so much to share!
If you are a new mom nursing your brand new baby, or if you are expecting and planning on nursing- you have my support, and if you need a push you can reach out to me at anytime! Breastfeeding is not always easy, but it is worth it ✨
Remember, you are strong, and you can do this no matter how exhausted you feel! Just keep calm and feed on
Feel free to comment any advice I may have left out! You can reach out to me via Instagram at @alexandrabrea_