So breastfeeding wasn't something I grew up around. Then being one of the first of my friends to have kids I didn't know much. I didn't do much research and with baby #1, I thought put the baby on, he feeds and done. I didn't know milk in came in a few days later, with a VENGEANCE. I didn't know I would get so engorged I'd need the Dr's help to get all the milk out. I didn't know breastfeeding wasn't easy. I didn't know the 2 oz I was getting the first few days was more than enough. And I didn't know when my son was 10 days old my husband would get deployment orders for only a few weeks later and the stress would cause my milk to dry up.
Because of that with baby #2 and baby #3 i didn't even try to breastfeed. Then with baby #4 I decided to try again. This time I read up online on sites like Kelly Mom. I read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, recommended by La Leche League. I read it front to back and STRONGLY recommend it! I attended my local La Leche League meeting, took a breastfeeding class and joined a few breastfeeding Facebook groups.
I soaked up a TON of info but here is what I didn't learn from all that, and wish I HAD known.
1. Get a pump
Whether it's a $20 manual breast pump or you spring for a full on Medela dual electric pump, you will need one. In the beginning it will help you increase your supply, you can pump your extra milk to freeze for baby, that you can then use down the road to make baby food.
We were blessed with the Medela electric pump and I couldn't imagine breastfeeding without it.
2. Budget for a Lactation Consultant Visit
If this is your first time breastfeeding over 75% will need the help of one. If you budget it and don't use it great! While this wasn't my first time breastfeeding it was my first time fully committed to it and we were released from the hospital on Friday and Saturday we had to have a lactation consultant come in because were already having issues. If it hadn't been for her I would have given up by Monday that's how much trouble we were having. Baby girl wasn't latching right, therefore wasn't eating.
3. Find a La Leche League Meeting in Your Area, and Attend
Find a meeting and go even before you have the baby. Listen to what other women are saying and their problems that helped me quite a bit to tackle my own down the road plus it's great to have that support group built in once you start breastfeeding.
4. Invest in a breast-feeding basket
Make a Mama's Nursing Basket. This was a life saver for me! This is a simple basket, or in my case a plastic tub, that has the essentials that you will carry with you from room to room while you breastfeed. For me, I carried around a few diapers, wipes, lanolin, the babies vitamin D drops, the More Milk Pills that I was taking, lotion for the baby, hand sanitizer, nose suction bulb and Xlear drops, diaper rash cream, gas drops, an extra sleeper and Orajel swabs.
5. It hurts!!!!
If this is your first time breastfeeding be prepared and stock up on some soothing gel pads they worked wonders paired with lanolin. Make sure to have the gel pads and lanolin again around 6 to 8 months when they start teething because that is another cruel joke to breastfeeding mothers as they start to learn to use their teeth trust me we are going through this now.
6. Oh the Leaking
I was prepared that I would leak. They tell you when the baby cries you will leak, what they don't tell you is that the first time the baby sleeps through the night you'll wake up with your shirt soaked or if you are out even 30 minutes too long running errands while your husband is watching the baby you will soak through your shirt. Oh yes been there, carry an extra pair of breast pads and an extra T-shirt for the first few months. Just added it to the diaper bag.
7. Just Buy Cloth Reusable Breast Pads
Since you WILL leak (like stated above). Don't waste your money on disposable breast pads for the amount of money that you will spend on disposables you could buy 2 sets of cloth ones 10 times over. I bought 2 sets of 5 from BreastPads.com and use coupon code FRUGALNAVYWIFE1 to get them free! Just pay shipping!
8. The Freezing of the Milk
As mentioned before I was thankful to be able to freeze a lot of my milk that I had left over during pumping the first several months but man do you need a deep freezer to store the milk, luckily we had one. I have to say though I am 1000% glad that we had the deep freezer and were able to store the milk because we are now able to use it to make baby food and cereal for her. If you don't have a deep freezer, freeze what you can and please consider donating your milk.
9. The Dud and the Stud
I thought something was seriously wrong when I realized that one breast was pumping double the milk of the other but apparently this is normal and it's called the dud and the stud. No joke.
10. Don't Rely on the Pump
Don't rely on the pump to figure out how much milk your baby is getting. They say that your baby is able to pull out over 50% more than the pump can. I don't know how true this is or how close that is but I do know she gets more than when I pump. If you're concerned, go to a weighted meeting. This is a breastfeeding meeting where you weigh your baby before the meeting, then nurse and weigh after your nurse the amount of weight your baby gaines is what she was able to nurse.
11. Lactation Cookies Help Your Milk and Help You Gain Weight
When my little one was having weight gain issues I was looking for ways to increase my milk supply, one thing suggested to me was lactation cookies. I like sweets so I was like ‘a GOOD reason to eat cookies?' Yep I'm there! They are addicting and I did notice an increase…. in both my milk and weight!
12. Losing Weight is Easy and a Lie
So many books, resources and people say losing weight while breastfeeding is so easy. You burn an extra 500 calories producing milk so you will lose weight right? WRONG! When you have to be on a special diet, and eat lactation cookies ect you will gain weight. I have lost 10 lbs since my birth weight, and gained 15lbs!
13. Your Period Comes Back with a Vengeance
All I heard about periods is that you are likely to not have one at all while you nurse. It's hard to get pregnant when you nurse because of this (though not impossible!) While my postpartum bleeding did stop sooner then normal, my period came back about month 4, hard and as bad as it was before i had kids (which was pretty bad!)
14. You will never be able to prepare for the bonding experience
They tell you that breastfeeding is a great bond but the hours that we spent skin to skin laying on the couch and the time that we spent breastfeeding together I wouldn't trade for the world. Nothing that can prepare you for that kind of bond. Although I think my older ones aren't liking it so much because I'm forcing them to snuggle with me more and they're telling me they're too old to snuggle!