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What I wish I had been told before I breastfed for the first time
by Christi Qazi / July 1, 2007

Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing for both you and your baby. It is a wonderful bonding experience for the both of you. Your breast milk is perfect for your baby.

I do want to say that there are some situations in which breast feeding is not possible, or desired. No woman should not be made to feel guilty if breastfeeding is not the right choice for them. Formula is nourishing and a perfectly good substitution for those who do not breast feed, or even for those who would like to supplement breastfeeding a couple of times a day. Most importantly breastfeeding is a choice; you are not a better or worse mother for choosing one over the other, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

For those who choose breastfeeding, you might find that it is much harder than you thought it would be. I know that I found breastfeeding difficult at first with both of my boys. I had this image of breastfeeding being intuitive... open mouth, insert breast....wrong! I have flat nipples, which means that my nipples do not "pop" out and it makes nursing harder. I had a c-section which also made it harder for me to nurse. The women in my family chose not to breastfeed, so they were not very supportive of my choice to breastfeed. Their comments, and the difficulty I had made me want to give up on the whole idea of breastfeeding. I asked for the lactation consultant to help me, and we decided to supplement with formula, and to use a nipple shield. This helped some, but nursing was still tough and man did it hurt! Yikes, could those little toothless gums chomp down, but as he learned to latch on properly, the pain thankfully went away. I thought it would be easier the second time around, but it was not.

With my first child it took about two weeks to really be comfortable with breastfeeding. With my second child I did not have any need for the nipple shield but decided that because I had been so constantly tied down, every hour my first child wanted to nurse for 30 minutes; this time I would have 2 feedings a day of supplemental formula. My second child was asleep for 12 hours after his birth, (after a 20 min crying protest about coming into the world) so when we tried to nurse, he was really having trouble staying awake (as was I). Every time he nursed it was like I had taken a sleeping pill; the wave of good endorphins relaxed us both totally. I nursed both children for 10 months, and both weaned themselves with no problem. Basically they let me know they were finished.

I really miss the closeness and that total feeling of peace I had while nursing my children after we got into the groove of it. It took about two weeks, and I wanted to quit more than once, but I kept going because it was right for me.

Things I wish I had been told before I breastfed for the first time.

  1. It hurts at first sometimes, but as you get to learn the positions and your baby gets better at latching on, it will get better quickly.
  2. Do not let other people's comments bother you. EVERYONE will have an opinion to give, take the advice you want and leave the rest.
  3. Do not buy a cheap breast pump, the expensive electronic ones are the best investment you can make. If you can not afford one, you can rent them from your local lactation center. DO NOT WASTE MONEY ON THOSE $50 hand pumps they do NOT work especially if you are a C cup or more.
  4. When you get it right, a wonderful feeling washes over you, there is nothing like it.  I have never, ever felt that kind of warm and fuzzy feeling before.
  5. There are lots of ways to get your milk supply up: Pumping, fenugreek, lots of soups and water etc...

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