As I am weaning my 3rd baby as he approaches 12 months old, I wanted to share what would be my best advice & tips to a new mom or someone who was considering breastfeeding. It is not for everybody, but it was a wonderful experience for me that I would never trade.
1. Nursing an infant gives you unadulterated, private time with your baby. In my family, my momma loves to have baby snuggles. I mean she loves it. I am pretty sure it is a genetic trait I've inherited, so word to the wise... haha! I had to take the baby, sorry it was time to nurse! No one could do it but me. :-) But seriously, it was the.sweetest.time with my little bitty baby boys. priceless.
2. If your hospital has a lactation support group, go! I was lucky enough to have a monthly support group when I delivered my first baby. The lactation consultant even came to my house & had a private weigh in & meeting with us a week after our baby was born. It was wonderful to have a weigh in every month to see how he was gaining, & someone to ask all my questions. Did I mention it was free?? seriously, ask about it!
3. Take 3 deep breaths. This little bit of advice was from my momma. She told me I'd have trouble with my let down if I was stressed or anxious or worried. Three deep breaths, the kind where you let your shoulders fall & you release tension from your chest always, always, did the trick. for the baby & me!
4. Nursing gear is a must. I used a nursing cover with all mine so I was comfortable nursing in public (favorite is the DRIA cover). I loved my nursing tanks (Target has great ones!). Nursing bras are not horrible (Motherhood Maternity & Destination Maternity had good products for me). Breast shields were a must for me until I didn't leak with my let downs (yikes). Never really needed the nipple cream, but was good for soreness. Buy a pump if you plan to go back to work, I did buy one (baby #1) but didn't really need it. A pump is a great way to increase supply though! I never took any supplements to increase supply, but heard good things.
5. Nursing is a win. I am so happy to have been able to nurse all 3 of my boys until they were 12 months old. James almost weaned early because I was already pregnant with Hayden, but we made it!! Hayden & James weaned effortlessly. Almost harder for me than them to cut out feedings. Calvin is going to make it hard on me to stop! Only 2 weeks left & I need to cut him down to one feeding... he is by far the most vocal about wanting to nurse. But really, any time spent nursing is a win-win, for you & for the baby. Whenever you stop, don't be discouraged but be glad for the time you spent. I know the science backs me up on this one. Nursing was the break I needed as a tired momma - you can't multi-task while nursing! Nursing was the nutrition my baby needed & it was always there.
In conclusion, give it a try. Even a completely, ridiculously modest person like myself, who was embarrassed for others to nurse in my company (before having babies to nurse) & who was embarrassed at the idea of nursing, gave it a try. I am so glad I did. Yes, I did get mastitis once, or twice, but it was lucky it wasn't severe. Don't ever believe the lie that you fail if you don't make your goal, but that you succeeded in doing it at all.
I am so thankful to God for giving me my boys & letting me nurse them, a gift out of myself. The chance for self sacrifice is a work of sanctification, and continues on in so many different ways. Few things in life demand your sacrifice like motherhood, but when you give it freely & see how it mirrors Christ, how beautiful the mundane mess truly becomes- transformed into a work of redemption, the remaking of myself. Thank you reader, for you time & attention. ;-)
** I would like to add one more tip...
6. Nurse tummy to tummy. I had a nurse tell me this little tip, & it made so much sense to me. When you hold your baby, make sure your tummy & his tummy are touching - essentially, that he's nursing facing you. I was holding one of my boys on his back, which made him nurse while his head was turned, chin over shoulder. I think it makes it easier for them to nurse this way! Can you imagine drinking a glass of water with your chin over your shoulder?? I generally can make this work by adjusting his hip alignment & keeping his lower arm under his body. ;-) Hope this last tip is as helpful to you as it was to me!