When I was pregnant, a lot of moms would say “I remember leaving the hospital with our first child thinking ‘Why are you letting me leave with a child?! I have no idea what to do now.'”
Maybe I never felt that way because I am one of 6 children and currently have 25 nieces and nephews(with 3 on the way!). I’ve been around babies my entire life! I remember changing my little brother’s diaper and he was only 4 years younger than me, so I guess that means I have been changing diapers since I was probably 5 years old! My first niece is only 5 years younger than my little brother, so there wasn’t a big gap from children to grandchildren.
I’m sure most first time moms definitely wouldn’t want to take home a 3 1/2 hour old baby, but I felt pretty confident that I knew what to do next.
Another positive advantage to having a midwife, is that they educate you on what to do next! My midwives held group prenatal sessions to go over different things for when you get home with your baby.
I babysat for my siblings multiple times. I gave them bottles, fed them food, gave them baths, and put them down for bed. Easy enough right?
During all those times, my siblings would tell me how much to feed them, when to feed them, how to give them baths, and what time to put them to bed.
When I got home with Kate, I realized I hadn’t thought about the details of the day to day to keep my child alive HAHA, and nobody telling me what to do next. It was all my decisions from here and I didn’t know exactly what to do.
So I started asking questions and researching schedules and how much to feed a newborn.
It turned out to be a little easier than my initial panic. I chose to breastfeed, which in the long run was so EASY and CONVENIENT, not to mention the best nutrition for your baby! And your baby lets you know when they are hungry and they let you know when they are full; whether that is to stop eating or throw everything up as soon as they finish.. If its the second one, maybe they ate a little too much, a little too quickly ha!
If you choose to breast feed, here are some facts of nursing your baby:
- It is amazing!
The quality time you get to spend with your child while you nurse them is so life giving for you and you baby, literally! It is a great feeling to know that only you carry what keeps your baby alive. It allows you to STOP in your busy life and FOCUS on your baby’s needs.
- It hurts like crazy for the first few weeks.
The first few weeks won’t be necessarily easy. I was so thankful that Kate latched on really well the first time and we didn’t have any problems in that area. If your baby struggles with latching, DON’T GIVE UP! Research how to help your baby latch. I believe that all women can nurse, but you have to stick with it. There are lactation consultants that specialize in teaching you how to nurse your baby.
After several nursing sessions, the pain will set in. I honestly have to compare it to natural childbirth, except in a different part of your body. It makes sense though.. up until this point, you haven’t had anyone consistently latching on to you for 30 minutes every 2-3 hours. Give it TIME! My mom suggested that I suck on a straw and drink water as soon as I started to let Kate nurse. It helped!! Maybe because I was taking my mind off her latching, or that I could take my pain out on my own straw! Have something handy to squeeze as well so you don’t squeeze your child (you are going to want to lol!) You are going to feel like you nurse them all day every day at first, because they nurse for so long each time and then 2 hours later you have to do it again. It is so worth it though and it gets quicker.
- It is literally free! $$$
I nursed Kate until her first birthday. During their first year of life they need all the nutrients they can get, and the Lord gave all those nutrients to you to give to them! My goal was nurse for a year. Very few people that I knew made it to a year, so that was my goal. I can’t imagine the amount of money I would have spent on formula that year. I don’t even care to find out exactly. I know it was a lot. I never had to buy one box of formula… and it was fabulous. Once they are a year old they can start to drink whole milk. Breast milk is still better for them, but not as necessary. A more natural route than cows milk can be goats milk. I had a few frozen bags saved for if she got sick and needed it to get better quicker.
- Your baby NEEDS it!
I’m not judging anyone who chose not to breastfeed, but man can not mimic what the Lord gives us. He gives our bodies all the nutrients it needs to grow in our wombs and continues to give those nutrients to us to help our babies acclimate to the world we live in by giving them antibodies to build their immune systems from diseases and bacteria. It is easy for your baby to digest and contains the perfect balance of protein, fat, carbs, and nutrients that help your baby grow and develop properly. Kate was hardly sick at all her first year of life. I believe that has to do with several choices that I chose to make for her. I may discuss that later.. I haven’t decided yet… but for the few times that she had minor colds and fevers, nursing her kept her symptoms at a minimum and helped her recover faster. (I’ll explain later some of the home remedies I used to help her recover quicker and easier without pumping her full of medicine.)
- You will miss it.
Those first few weeks when you are in pain while they nurse, you probably won’t think that you will miss it. When you are in a restaurant and have to excuse yourself from the table (or if you feel comfortable enough to do it at the table, I totally think that is okay!), you probably won’t think you will miss it. When you are tired and wish your husband could just feed them for once, you probably won’t think you will miss it. When you just want your body to be your own body again without sharing, you probably won’t think you will miss it. When you are rushing to get ready and go somewhere, but you have to stop and feed your baby for 30 minutes, you probably won’t think you will miss it.
But you will…. SO ENJOY IT while you can! It’s only a season, but oh what a special season it is!
If you are struggling with nursing right now.. Don’t give up! You can do it!
I hear some women say “My body just stopped producing what my baby needed.”, “I just never had enough supply, so I quit.”
I don’t believe that is true. Don’t believe that about yourself! “Our God supplies all of our needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” -Philippians 4:13.
What you believe is what you are!
Yes our supply does drop, but it also comes back!
Here are some things that helped me:
- Feed your baby until they are full, or you are empty.
If your supply doesn’t seem to be enough to satisfy your baby, pump directly after feeding your baby for 10-20 minutes whether 4 oz comes out or nothing comes out. Repeat this after every feeding for 1-3 days. The sensation of the pump is tricking your body into thinking that your baby needs more, so it will produce more!
- Nurse on demand.
The more your baby nurses, the more your body produces.
Eat healthy and stay hydrated to increase milk supply. Just like when we were pregnant we had to eat a little extra calories for the baby’s needs. Well same goes for nursing. We need to eat about 500 extra calories, and drink about 65 ounces of water a day. Try drinking a glass of water every time you nurse and see if that helps!
If we are tired, our bodies are tired. Get a good nights rest, or take a good nap. (Easier said than done if your child doesn’t sleep well. We’ll talk about sleep patterns later.)
It is so easy to get frustrated and down on yourself when you don’t feel like you are doing a good job or your body isn’t giving you what your baby needs. But the more we stress the more our body stresses, and that is never a good combination.
One thing that can effect your milk supply the most is being away from your child during feedings and not pumping. Even though your child may be having a bottle and getting fed, if you aren’t pumping at the same time or around the time your baby would be eating, your body thinks your baby doesn’t need it during that time so it will stop producing!
Every time your baby is being fed, you need to be pumping!
It’s hard. I know! I am a working mom and had to pump all day every day at work for 10 months! It is no fun, but its a sacrifice for the good of our baby. We all want what it best for our child’s health and development. Breast milk is best!
Let me tell you…. I do not miss pumping one bit, but I miss nursing and can’t wait to do it again!
With recently starting my blog and covering motherhood from the beginning, a lot of this is coming from a memory of 2 years ago. I have baby fever and they say when you have baby fever you forget all the bad and only remember the good…. I’m forgetting all the bad, and remembering all the good! So some day soon 😉 when I go through all of this again, I’ll be sure to blog with a fresh memory of day to day life with a newborn and how it may be different the next time!
If these tips of breastfeeding have helped, comment below. I want to hear your experiences of breastfeeding and what your challenges may be.