August is National Breastfeeding Month and for me, it’s been approximately a year and a half since I last breastfed my toddler!
I had two baby boys back to back. As soon as I started to recover and felt more like myself again after my first son was born, I was then pregnant again a year later! I was still breastfeeding when I found out I was pregnant with my second son!
I made the commitment to breastfeed my first baby some time during my pregnancy when my OBGYN recommended so. However, I didn’t know anyone in my immediate circle who had done it before.
My mom said she briefly breastfed me because I was premature, about a month earlier than expected and just shy of 5 lbs so the doctors recommended it, but she said she might have pumped milk instead for about 2 weeks tops and couldn’t wait until she “dried up.”
That story was not helpful to me. When I look back not many people were helpful and or knowledgeable about breastfeeding and I started feeding my first born in 2015. Wow, on a separate note I can’t believe my first boy is going to be 5. Breastfeeding him still feels like it was yesterday. And that’s motherhood for you! The time just flies!
The one person who was always in my corner when it came to breastfeeding was my husband. When we learned about all of the benefits, boosting our baby’s immune system stands out to me most, we were sold that this would be the way we chose to feed our son! I say we because, while my husband didn’t actually breastfeed, he was like my support coach. He encouraged me when it got tough and fed pumped milk to our baby in the middle of the night so I could sleep. Times are definitely rough in the newborn stage while breastfeeding.
It was either my baby was attached to my boob all day and when he wasn’t I was pumping to keep up my supply and generate as much back up milk as possible.
My husband also washed those pump parts. I could not keep up with it! We eventually bought as much supplies as possible including disposable bags and cleaning wipes which made things a bit more manageable – please look up the appropriate way to clean your parts, I know the rules tend to change over time.
The other strategy I found really helpful was connecting with a lactation consultant. Our local consultant in the Philly area was the Breastfeeding Resource Center.
I had an initial over the phone consultation, then two in person visits and luckily for me the consultant deemed me a pro! Lol! She asked that I connect back with their breastfeeding group to support other women, but I was so consumed with my newborn and my job that I couldn’t make it happen, so here I am hopeful that this blog may help another mama out!
In all my posts, I make sure to add a list of helpful tips. If you are pregnant or in the newborn phase already, read below and please contact me for any friendly advice you may need or just to vent! Mi blog es su blog! (My blog, is your blog) welcome to my site and thank you for being here!
*Also, breastfeeding and pumping are almost interchangeable terms for me because it was hard and it felt like a blur having to do both back to back for the first year of both of my sons’ lives.
My Top Breastfeeding and Pumping tips are:
1. Do your research beforehand – I think it’s important to set a goal while pregnant and research all of the reasons why you want to stay committed. This isn’t a guilt factor if you don’t or didn’t, I just think it helps since it can be so hard when you do start that it’s important to remember why you ever did! I also read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. The resources from La Leche League were very helpful!
2. You can choose to be exclusive or not – I tried to be exclusive, but there were times I couldn’t keep up with breastfeeding and pumping. Instead of quitting all together, I chose to do a little of everything. For me the benefits of expressed milk outweighed my own goal of exclusively breastfeeding, but for the majority I did exclusively breastfeed. Also, if you have a caregiver to support you while you’re working or taking care of yourself, it’s important to set boundaries and flexibility, if possible. I argued a lot with my parents about not giving formula to my baby at first and then when I finally realized it was going to be OK, the pressure was off and that made me feel a bit better in the long run. Again, FED is best. So it doesn’t matter if it’s breastmilk, formula or both, feed that baby!
3. Get support! Breastfeeding is going to be 10 times harder if you don’t have anyone in your corner rooting you on and physically helping you! While you’re the only one who can actually breastfeed your child, you need someone giving you water and snacks (because your baby may be on top of you for a good while); and caring for your well being as a new mom! Of course us moms have superpowers and we can do anything, but don’t feel the need to do it all alone if you do not have to!
4. Be kind to yourself – there were times I made breastfeeding a chore and a race to the finish line. I needed to pump and keep up with my supply like it was my first job! Remember that the best part of all of this is bonding with your baby above all else! If breastfeeding makes it harder for you to connect with your baby then reevaluate whether or not you can continue this journey. Don’t feel guilty with the decision you make. You love your baby and your baby loves you no matter what!
4. For those pumping at work, I started to use that time to call my mom who was taking care of baby, sometimes I stared at photos of my baby, other times I worked in the breast pumping room, I also would read or shop online, but I used that time to multitask and it made the time go by faster which was helpful to me back then. If you’re pumping at home I tried to watch my favorite episode of a new show I was watching. This time eventually felt less like a chore and started to feel more like ME time.
5. Don’t give up or do give up! Again, you shouldn’t feel guilty if mother nature wasn’t/isn’t on your side. Motherhood isn’t perfect as is life. It won’t be easy for everyone and for those that may have had an easier time, they still have their challenges. Let’s be respectful to all women who try and those who say from the beginning that this won’t work for them. It doesn’t mean some moms love their baby more or less because they chose or chose not to breastfeed. I think you have the right to choose not to breastfeed because of the toll it can take on mom, physically, mentally and emotionally. We have to put ourselves first in motherhood in order to be a good, loving and caring mother.
Overall, I can say now that I miss breastfeeding! I chose to end my journeys after the 12 month mark because it started to bother me that I didn’t have that piece of independence back that I felt I needed at the time, but I’ll never forget the nights where I cuddled and breastfed my child to sleep while bedsharing. Those are priceless, unforgettable memories that have made my life complete and fulfilled.
If you found this post helpful, relatable, or informative, tell me below. What else would you add about your breastfeeding journey? What questions do you have?