For my first pregnancy, I spent 9 months dreaming about my baby… what he’d look like; how I would feel about him; and that beautiful moment when you hold your child in your arms for the first time and the nurse takes a picture of you (looking flawless), your husband kissing your forehead (with amazement) and that snuggly, perfect little baby in your arms, breastfeeding comfortably.
I dreamt about breastfeeding him while cuddling and how easy and natural that all would be… Then reality struck… C-section, no flawless photos… and then breastfeeding… why was it so confusing and difficult to breastfeed?!
Listen to Your Body While Breastfeeding
After my C-section with my son, we had the opportunity to work with some great lactation consultants during our 4-day stay at the hospital. I realized at about day 2 that each one said something a little different:
- “Breastfeed every 2 hours.”
- “Breastfeed every 3 hours.”
- “Breastfeed on-demand.”
- “Do one breast one feed and the other breast the next.”
- “Do fifteen minutes on each side.”
I then came to the conclusion that the reason there were so many different techniques for breastfeeding is because there’s no one right way. If you nurse on one side and the baby pulls off and you want to switch to the other, go for it! If you want to nurse on only one side for the next feed, that works too! Make sure you’re comfortable physically and that the baby seems satisfied, that’s all that matters!
Trust Your Body
You literally just created and developed another human so I think we can give your body some credit here. For 40 weeks your body automatically supplied the essential nutrients and nourishment to your growing fetus and your body can continue to do so well after the baby is born if you choose to breastfeed.
Think of your body as a machine; if your milk is out, automatically a message is sent to your body that milk needs to be replenished. Your baby will take what s/he needs at any given time and your body knows to then fill up again. Anything you give to your baby outside of what s/he eats from you will not be. It’s as simple as that.
Resume Pre-Pregnancy Activities
Have an adult drink!
I don’t mean getting drunk like you did on your 21st birthday but enjoying a glass of wine or two or a couple of beers is totally fine. You’ve already gone cold turkey for the duration of your pregnancy so to be expected to keep that up is unnecessary. You can safely nurse your baby after a glass of wine without having to pump and dump.
Exercise, if you can find the time that is. Just make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and it won’t affect your milk supply. Breastfeeding is supposed to be rewarding for both you and your baby and you’re not going to be able to thoroughly enjoy it if you can’t feel like yourself.
And finally, most importantly:
Be The Best Version Of Yourself!
There’s no badge of honor to receive when your baby turns 1 and never had a sip of formula. If you nurse during the day and do formula at night so you can sleep and have someone else help out, do it! Sometimes nursing just isn’t for you. Yes, studies show it helps you bond with your baby and “breast is best,” but it’s not if you’re pumping after every feed to try to make more milk. Or you’re up 4 times a night and then completely sleep deprived and depleted.
Find what works for you and allows you to be the best mom!