1. It’s hard – anyone that says differently is a liar, a man, or both. Those first few weeks are like putting the ultimate 3D jigsaw puzzle together.
2. It’s painful – even if your baby doesn’t squeeze your nipples and somehow latches on perfectly, they will still crack, bleed and peel – the first week. But you know what fixes that?
3. Breast milk will heal cracked nipples – I did everything until a nurse said ‘just express a little milk and rub it on them’. They were better the next day!
3. Your nipples go numb – which is awesome, because then you can start to truly enjoy breastfeeding and focus on making baby comfortable. And you, which is important if you are going to stick it out for the long haul.
4. THEN it gets easy – it’s like a right of passage; if you can stick it out those first few weeks, it eventually gets easier and pain-free. That’s good, because then…..
5. You will worry about making enough milk, always – those first few weeks and months you make a ton of it (freeze it! You will need it!) but then your amazing body will regulate and make exactly what baby needs. Which will freak you out. Don’t worry. If your pediatrician says baby is a healthy weight, you are doing just fine. Put down all those herbs and just stick with water and a healthy diet.
6. You may gain weight – seriously. Nursing burns 200-300 calories, sometimes more, but you will also be starving! And if you are like me and slow to heel, your body will hold on to all that fat regardless of how many calories you cut. Panda is 5 months and the scale is just now moving.
7. Get the good pump – you will use it, a lot. It will help with milk production the first few weeks and allow you to untether from baby occasionally in later months. Get the hands free bra and the double pump, and you can get the job done in under 10 minutes while sending emails/pinning to Pinterest. Call your insurance carrier and they will hook you up with a free pump. Mine was $300 retail. How much did I pay? $0. Thanks ACA.
8. It can get messy – my baby gets too much in her mouth and dribbles it out of the side of her mouth onto by bra, shirt, and everything. I have found that putting the burping cloth under her in the crevice between the two of us helps.
9. Pumping at work is super hard, but doable – I had to pump in the bathroom with no sink or outlet the first few months back. It was miserable, but I kept telling myself it would get better, and it did. I got a battery pack and washed all the parts in the community kitchen. I got into a groove with my nursing schedule and it just became part of my day.
10. Baby will love it, and you will too BUT it really is ok if you don’t – if you can make it work and push through the hard stuff, it’s a wonderful bonding experience for you and baby on top of all the health benefits. But it’s also not the end of the world if you can’t. Baby will get plenty of nutrition from formula and you will still bond. I’m breastfeeding Panda, but couldn’t with Squishy Bug. Squishy Bug and I are just as close, though.
It’s not really about the breast milk or organic baby food or baby wearing, it’s about nurturing. So Relax Mamma Bear, and just love your baby. The rest will work itself out.