Inside: Read what it’s really like to breastfeed a newborn and get tips and insights to make breastfeeding more successful and enjoyable. This post was written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own
I sit, boppy wrapped around my waist, shirt down, ready to feed my baby.
I have to mentally prepare myself because I know it will hurt. They tell me it’s not supposed to hurt, but it HURTS.
Pins and needles stab my entire chest. This isn’t right. Tears roll down my cheeks. This can’t be right.
My feet kick as my little babe nurses peacefully, while I sit here holding my breath, gritting my teeth and praying that I can find someone to help me.
Three weeks, three doctors appointments and one amazing lactation consultant later and my thrush was finally believed and treated properly.
It was a rough first month of motherhood, mainly because breastfeeding was so hard.
Breastfeeding is something I was committed to doing, but it wasn’t 100% natural to me.
Through blood, sweat, and lots of tears, my baby and I figured it out.
Looking back, those first hard weeks were hard but worth it. I ended up enjoying it so much that I didn’t hesitate about nursing his younger brother when he was born.
Before my son’s arrival, I had spent hours learning all about breastfeeding. I attended classes, got all the best gear, and googled all the things. That knowledge helped me get through some of the hardest parts of breastfeeding.
But, in spite of all the knowledge I had, there are a few more things that I wish someone had told me before I started breastfeeding.
1. Breastfeeding Takes Practice (and lots of it)
My naive-before -baby-self, thought that breastfeeding would be easy. I mean it’s the most natural thing in the world! You put your baby on your breast and it eats. Simple.
Like most of my pre-baby thoughts, I was wrong.
Breastfeeding is something that doesn’t come naturally to every mom or to every baby. It a skill that takes practice.
I had to learn how to hold my baby in the right position and get a good latch, and my baby had to learn to latch well too.
My first baby really struggled with getting a good latch, and I had the cracks to prove it!
Speaking of latching, always aim for a good one. Always.
It’s easy to let a bad latch happen, especially when your baby is crying and hungry. But trust me here, you’ll pay for that bad latch later.
2. You’ll Worry
Just being a new mom raises your level of anxiety a lot. It’s nervewracking to take care of a helpless little baby.
But when you’re nursing, it’s hard to know if you’re producing enough milk, if the latch is right, or if your baby is eating enough. Unlike bottle feeding, you can’t measure to see how much your baby is eating.
Add all that worry to crazy out of control post-baby hormones and it’s not uncommon for a new mom to become an emotional wreck.
But, there’s someone who can help…the mighty Lactation Consultant!
Lactation Consultants are usually easy to find (they’re in most hospitals) and their services are usually free.
A good LC will help you learn how to get a good latch, how to know if your baby is eating enough, and can answer all of those questions you have swirling around in your head.
3. Breastfeeding Takes A Lot of Time
New babies nurse at least every 3 hours around the clock and it can take them an hour at each nursing session to eat. So that means you’ll get a maximum of a 2 hour-ish break between sessions.
It’s a huge time commitment. You’ll be nursing about 8 hours a day.
That’s a lot of time sitting down and feeding a baby, and it’s not a job you can pass onto anyone else (at least not at first).
I remember running out to the craft store and getting stuck in the checkout line for what felt like an eternity. My breasts started to swell and I worried the worry about my baby being hungry without me, made me abandon my purchases in line and I hightailed it out of there asap.
After a few weeks my milk supply leveled off and my son’s feeding times became routine, so I was able to get a little more freedom. It gets more predictable and babies learn how to eat faster, so it gets better, I promise!
But before then, you’ll need someone who can help take care of you while you’re spending so much time nursing.
Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories and you’ll be hungry all.the.time.
The best thing anyone can do for a breastfeeding mom is to make sure there are snacks and water nearby.
And then they can hop over to the laundry and fold that too.
Seriously, having a good support person is imperative at the beginning, because you just won’t have the time to do everything that needs to be done.
4. Get A Breast Pump
Even if you think you’ll exclusively breastfeed, get a breast pump. It can be your best friend.
Not only will it allow for other people to feed your baby and to give you a little bit of freedom, it can also help with a few potential breastfeeding problems that can pop up.
Some Moms might struggle with producing enough milk, a brestpump can help with that.
Some Moms get so engorged that it’s hard for their baby to latch, a breastpump can help with that.
Some babies struggle with latching due to tongue-tie, a brestpump can help you supplement.
And sometimes unexpected things pop up and you’ll need a pump.
My youngest son caught RSV at a very young age and had to be hospitalized, and my breast pump helped me keep my milk supply up while he wasn’t eating as much as he should.
The problem is that Breastpumps can be expensive.
I wish someone had told me that my insurance would have covered my pump 100%.
I wish I had known about 1 Natural Way. This company will not only contact your insurance provider for you but also your Dr. to get the prescription. All you have to do is fill out their online form and they’ll take care of the rest. It’s so simple and takes less than 5 minutes.
All breast pump models are covered by my insurance provider, Tricare, at no out of pocket expense. This includes the Medela Freestyle and the Spectra S1 Breast Pump, and the Medela Pump in Style Tote/Backpack.
Dude…I paid full price for my Medela Pump in Style Backpack! Ugh.
In addition to breast pumps, 1 Natural Way also offers breast pump accessories, compression socks, and postpartum care supplies.
Get yourself a breast pump, you’re going to need it!!
5. It Gets Easier
Yes, breastfeeding is messy, hard, and time-consuming, but eventually, you and your baby get the hang of it and it gets so much easier.
You both learn how to get a good latch, sore nipples heal, and the pain goes away.
Your baby becomes a faster eater and won’t have to eat as frequently, so you’ll be spending less time sitting and nursing.
You never have to worry about packing enough bottles or being out too long because as long as your baby is with you, they can eat.
And if you need or want to have time away from your baby, use that Insurance Breast Pump and make a bottle.
But if something does happen, like my fight with thrush, it can be helped. If you ever feel pain, don’t hesitate to call your Lactation Consultant. Mine was a lifesaver!