Spurred on by the fact I’ve been breastfeeding one child or another for two and a half years (save for a couple months just prior to Freya’s birth) I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. Super awesome Carmen from ShugarLove posted some facts she’s recently learned about breastfeeding, so I thought I’d chime in with what I’ve learned through experience! Boobs are magical.
- Breastfeeding helps make the nights easier. Freya sleeps in my bed with me. Co-sleeping is a fabulous way to take advantage of a mother’s heightened awareness of her child and when done safely, can pretty much guarantee that you’re making the most of what can sometimes not be an entirely restful night. Learning to side-lie and nurse prevents me from having to even wake up all the way to feed Freya. She’s so close I can feel her stirring and she’s latched on and happily feeding before she has a chance to even make a peep. I can then go to back sleep while she’s breastfeeding and when she’s done she falls asleep too, slips off and we’re back to snuggling! Bonus – the hormones released by breastfeeding (oxytocin) helps me go back to sleep so quickly I hardly remember waking up with her at all the next day.
- Babywearing is the best way to get things done with little ones and also helps with milk production. When a mother is in close proximity with her infant throughout the day, her body produces more milk – even after wearing Freya for only a couple hours today, I’ve noticed a huge difference in the quantity of milk!
- Breastmilk is amazing for skin, for rashes, eye infections… pretty much anything. I’m not above admitting that I chased Annabelle around the house once when she had an minor ee infection shooting milk at her trying to hit her in the eye. It was excellent, silly, and did wonders for her.
- Pumping is not a reliable indicator of how much milk you make. Poop/pee and weight gain are. Letting go of society’s obsession with numbers and quantifying everything can save you a lot of heart-ache. Babies are much better than pumps at getting milk out. If you’re hydrated, nursing on demand (for food AND comfort), and baby is filling diapers and growing well, you make enough milk. Until you’re sure you are, avoid pacifiers and bottles. Learning to let myself trust my body to meet my baby’s needs has been an amazing and empowering lesson for me.
- Support is everything. I can’t overstate this. I would not have been nearly as successful had my partner not been 110% invested in helping me, encouraging me and taking an interest in breastfeeding. Getting in touch with other mothers who breastfeed, natural parenting groups and trying to find environments where breastfeeding is normal is so helpful as a new mother. Truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. It can be awkward to feed a newborn when you’re both trying to figure yourselves out – making sure you’re covered properly because someone might be offended should be the least of your worries.
I really hope that this might give you some insights and if there are any new moms out there reading this – trust: like anything, breastfeeding takes practice, and when you’re feeding your baby, no matter how awkward you may feel about it, know that YOU are your babies mother, and that you can nourish your new baby and help him or her grow just like you did while they were inside. Your boobies are magic.