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I have two boys and I’ve breastfed both of them.
That is where the similarities end.
My experience nursing my youngest has been nothing like the experience I had the first time around.
I fought tooth + nail to make it to 9.5 months with my 1st. And every moment of it was a struggle.
I forced myself to do it because I knew it was the best thing for him. But it was a chore. To be honest, I kind of dreaded it.
My initial goal was to make it to 12 months, but I lowered it to 10 months and by 9.5 months I just couldn’t do it anymore so we quit. Cold turkey. There was no weaning.
And he didn’t even seem to notice. That was mostly because we had been ‘forced’ to supplement by our healthcare provider. So he was accustomed to taking a bottle, unlike most BF babies.
I have so many regrets about that, but I really didn’t know any better. So I have to give myself some grace and call it a life lesson.
I wish that I had taken the time to educate myself about breastfeeding. It would have been awesome if there were online lactation classes [like this one] available back then, but I didn’t have that luxury.
By the time we were expecting our 2nd baby, six years later, I was more prepared.
I read, watched, and listened to everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding. And became obsessed.
I was determined to “do it right” this time!
So I did all the things.
We had a 100% natural birth, immediate skin-to-skin birth crawl, natural early latch, etc. He had all the requisite wet + dirty diapers in the hospital. So we were sent home expecting the best.
But then we were hit with our first barrier. It is one that many of you have, or will have, experienced. He lost more than 10% of his birth weight.
We were directed, in no uncertain terms, to supplement with formula. In fact, the nurse even gave us a multi-pack of pre-made formula to use.
Our instructions were to give him an ounce of formula following every feed over the weekend with a weight check scheduled first thing Monday morning.
I was heartbroken. I had failed AGAIN.
But had I? Or were they being overly cautious?
FACT: It can take 3-5 days for your milk to come in.
And mine comes in late. Just like my babies like to cook a little longer than most. It’s still normal.
I knew he was fine, but I was also worried about “getting in trouble.” As if they were going to give me a time out if he didn’t gain over the weekend.
So we did what we were told over the weekend.
My milk did come in during that time. So that, along with those extra calories, gave us the boost that we needed. So we got the “all clear” to discontinue supplementing. And we did.
But then what? Now we were at home with a newborn for the first time in six years and learning this whole breastfeeding thing all over again.
The most important things that I realized right away was that I needed to remove as many barriers as possible in order to be successful. And that’s what this post is really about.
EBF On Demand | I stopped “trying so hard.”
One of the barriers that I ran into the first time was an issue of convenience. The way I did it the first time was inconvenient.
I breastfed on a schedule including a pumping session after every feed. What a pain!
Don’t do that! You can build your stash later. Right now you need to focus on establishing a natural rhythm with your newborn.
Feed on demand based on baby’s early hunger cues. Don’t wait until that baby is screaming of starvation.
And I’m telling you right now that there will be a moment that you will want to cry because something MUST be wrong with your baby. You just fed them 5 minutes ago, they couldn’t possibly be hungry again.
This is normal. Nothing is wrong with your baby, you, or your milk. Don’t cry [too much]. You will survive.
Babies have teeny tiny tummies, breastmilk is quickly + easily digested, and baby needs to cluster feed to build up your supply.
If you plan on feeding your baby whenever and wherever baby is hungry and don’t try to force yourselves into a schedule you will be so much happier.
Don’t listen to the naysayers who will say you are spoiling your baby or any of the other negative things you will hear from people who don’t understand breastfeeding. Listen to your gut.
2.) Nursing In Public | This one takes some getting used to, but it is a lifesaver.
I did not nurse away from home with my 1st. Not once. I was far too embarrassed. I didn’t even try to hide in a corner + cover-up.
See – I get it. It’s scary. And it’s taboo in our culture because breasts have become so hyper-sexualized.
But that’s society’s issue, not yours or your baby’s. Your baby’s comfort + wellbeing should come before anything else.
So I gave it a go, I started out super discreet. I hid in the furniture section of our local store with a blanket over us. I was sweating and uncomfortable. And just waiting for someone to say something rude to me.
But nobody did. It was fine.
Over time I became more comfortable and now openly nurse my toddler uncovered anywhere we happen to be.
Nobody has ever said anything to me. But I am always prepared with a witty retort just in case!
It’s liberating in so many ways. Most importantly it gives you your freedom back.
You’re no longer stuck at home or banished to some strange land to nurse your baby. You don’t have to worry about bottles, nipples, or how much milk to bring.
You can just feed your baby what they want when they want it no matter where you are.
3.) Bed-sharing | Yes – it can be done safely
One of the most challenging parts of nursing my eldest was night time feeds.
I would set a timer. Wake him up. Change his diaper. And sit there in the dark with my Boppy nursing him in the football hold.
I used an app on my phone as a timer to track that I was feeding him 15 minutes on one side, then switching him and feeding another 15 minutes on the opposite side.
I had to try and force him to stay awake to actively eat by tickling his feet.
It was a whole production. And it was exhausting.
I tried the same routine with our 2nd baby. But realized early on that it wasn’t going to work well this time either.
In fact, I fell asleep nursing him one night. So dangerous!
So I gave in and brought him into bed with us. I figured at least that way I wouldn’t accidentally drop him on his noggin.
We started sleeping belly to belly in the side-lying position so he could dream feed throughout the night.
And do you know what? We both slept!
Plus he could eat to his heart’s content throughout the night, which is super important for building + maintaining supply!
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WHAT I WANT YOU TO KNOW
Ultimately the biggest takeaway that I want you to glean from this post is to remove as many barriers as you can.
When we impose a ton of rules, schedules, insecurities, and expectations on ourselves it just makes it that much harder.
Be patient with yourself. Give yourself some grace.
The two of you are just learning this together. And the majority of us don’t have a family history in this area to draw from.
We are the generation to bring this back so that our daughters and granddaughters have women to look to for support.
DO NOT GIVE UP ON BREASTFEEDING
Just remember the three things that saved our breastfeeding relationship. You really need to feed your baby on demand, even when it feels like 24/7. Try baby steps to ease into nursing in public comfortably. And read up on safe co-sleeping practices to see if this might be a good option for your family.
I promise you this works. We just celebrated our 28 months breastfeeding anniversary! If I can do this, then so can you.
You can do this. It won’t be easy, but do NOT give up. Get support. Your baby is counting on you, mama!
If you need a more step-by-step guide to breastfeeding success then I highly recommend the Milkology course. It’s all online + super affordable!
Don’t forget to check out all of my favorite things on my recommendations pages for the best things to make your life easier whether it’s parenting, budgeting, family living or blog related. Thanks again for visiting…I hope to see you again!!
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