5. Do what works for you!
I received a TON of well-intended but conflicting advice in the beginning. I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of advice and information available. In many ways, I set myself up for failure by calling my lactation consultant for advice and then reading every forum and blog available afterwards just to make sure I was doing it “right”. I think the old adage of “do what works for you” is true when it comes to breastfeeding.
In my case, no matter how many different ways I tried to nurse, I was still really sore. Forget sore. I was in PAIN after a week of breastfeeding. By the second week, after trying a range of different solutions, I decided to do it my way.
I alternated pumping and bottle feeding the baby with using nipple shields when I did breastfeed because I needed time to heal. By the end of week 8, the baby was able to latch better and I was able to nurse without any issues. During this time I was surprised at how many people told me that my method was a bad idea. I hate to say it but it worked for me so I unapologetically went with it and never looked back.
4. “Can I breastfeed in this?” is the new norm.
Picking an outfit is hard enough, especially when you just had a baby and don’t exactly love how your old clothes fit. But picking out an outfit when you have to nurse 4-6 times a day is just ridiculous and frankly annoying at times. My daughter was born in the summer and summer to me is all about the flowy maxi dresses.
The problem is that almost none of the dresses or tops that I loved were breastfeeding friendly. For example, the straps on the beautiful print dresses were not made to be pulled down over the shoulder and most of the spaghetti strap dresses that were looked like bathing suit cover ups (you know the look). Even now in the winter, I have a difficult time finding sweaters that provide easy access but don’t expose everything.
The good news is that a lot of new maternity clothing companies are coming out with breastfeeding friendly tops and dresses. In the meantime, be prepared to try on a couple of different outfits everyday if you have to nurse outside of the home or pump at work. That’s not even counting a possible change if the baby throws up on you. But we will save that for another day…
3. A manual hand pump is indispensable.
In addition to my electric double breast pump machine, I bought a Medela manual hand pump and it changed everything! The electric pump was fast but also cumbersome and unrealistic at times. For example, there were many days where we were outside of most of the day and I needed to pump because I was too sore to nurse or wasn’t in a place where I could easily nurse. Enter the manual pump.
It was discreet enough that I could just put my nursing cover over my head and pump away at the park or even on a flight without any issues. Even now, as my daughter transitions to solids, I sometimes need just a little bit of fresh milk for her cereal so I whip out the pump and a couple of minutes later, I have enough to make her food.
Speaking of which…
2. Solids are my savior.
When my baby turned 7 months, we started incorporating solid food into her diet. That shift alone opened up a whole new world of opportunity!
It meant that I could nurse her before we left the house and then take her outside for a long stretch of time without worrying where I was going to nurse or whether her bottle of milk was going to go bad.
We can even go out to dinner (albeit a 4:30pm or 5pm reservation) and feed her from her little bowl. She loves being “one the adults” and eats the entire serving quietly without any issues. That is something that rarely happened when I was exclusively breastfeeding so I am enjoying this new level of freedom.
1. What weight loss?
Probably the biggest myth (at least for me) that I encountered was that i was going to loose a ton of weight because breastfeeding burned so many calories. Umm no.
While that may be true, exclusively breastfeeding made me incredibly hungry! I thought it was just me but whenever I talk to other mothers, they experienced the same thing.
To make matters worse, when I tried losing weight for a wedding by cutting a few calories, my milk supply dropped noticeably. I’m not saying losing weight isn’t possible when breastfeeding. I’m just saying that if you think it’s a magic weight loss pill…think again.