I was a formula fed baby, not even a single drop of breast milk was put into my system. I grew up giving my dolls bottles filled with baby powder and water to look like formula. All the babies that I was ever around were formula fed, except my two youngest nieces. My sister in law nursed each of them for about 6 weeks, but it was never spoken about and always done in private. Breastfeeding might as well have been a different language to me considering how “normal” formula was for my family. I always figured when I was to become pregnant I would buy the cutest print bottles I could possibly find and likely use soy formula with my own children like I was given as an infant. But when I found out I was pregnant in 2012 something from within me decided my child would be fed differently than I was.
My first piece of advice is to gain all the knowledge about breastfeeding that you can. I instantly started researching and educating myself about breastfeeding. I watched at least 50 YouTube videos on how to get a proper latch, how to hold a baby while nursing, how to pump, hand express, you name it I likely watched a video about it. I spent hours reading (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking, Breastfeeding Solutions: Quick Tips for the Most Common Nursing Challenges, and The Breastfeeding Book) about ways to increase your milk supply, signs of a low supply, tips on how to establish a good latch. I asked basically strangers that I knew breastfed questions. I had dedicated my life to breastfeeding.
Even through my 19 hours of all natural labor, breastfeeding was on my mind. My midwife got a nice little kick out of me during one set of contractions as I told her I needed to shower because my milk makers were sweaty. That my son wouldn’t like the taste of sweat when he made his first latch. I was wrong, he didn’t mind the taste at all. After impatiently doing skin to skin immediately after his birth, my 7lb 8oz baby boy made his way to my breast and nursed just as I read he would. My second piece of advice is to make sure to do skin to skin after giving birth to your baby and allow them to do the breast crawl.
I quickly learned that breastfeeding wasn’t a piece of cake. The struggle is real. I struggled to learn my baby’s cues, and ways while battling sore, raw nipples- I found coconut oil is the best nipple cream out there! It not only is all natural but it heals, while killing any yeast. I struggled to trust my body that my supply was fine while my baby cluster fed for what seemed to be 24/7. (Which I later learned cluster feeding is a good thing, that is helps establish a good supply.) I struggled to believe in myself when people were telling me I should be sleep training, give rice cereal, supplement, or a give a real pacifier not my breast for comfort. All which are things that can compromise your supply. Through all those struggles I never let my goal to breastfeed until Bruce self weaned go. Formula, a word that once triggered a picture of a baby in my mind, had become a word that no longer existed in my dictionary. By 6 weeks into our journey, breastfeeding was as natural as drinking water for me.
My third piece of advice is to surround yourself with support. Not only was my husband extremely supportive and allowed me to cry it out in the middle of the night when I was extremely tired, but I found friends that breastfed. I also joined groups on Facebook that were full of breastfeeding moms. It is nice to have other moms that you can vent to when you are tired. Other moms to ask if your baby’s poop is the right color, or if the sudden 24/7 hour cluster feedings are due to a low supply or a grow spurt. Mom’s that understand and don’t judge because they simply get it. I stopped questioning myself and started following my “mom gut”. I knew no one knew my baby better than I did. I started trusting my body to do what it was made to do. The hardest struggle has yet to get better.
The hardest struggle isn’t a struggle that any amount of knowledge could help me. The struggle is dealing with idiotic, judgmental, uneducated people. Even with my strong “I will breastfeed only” attitude, I am constantly receiving negative comments. Not from strangers either (usually strangers are the nicest people and give me encouragement), but from family and friends. I first got told we wouldn’t make it to his first tooth, or how breast milk isn’t nutritional enough for him to live solely off of for his first year. I even was told I was selfish for not allowing others to bond with my baby through feedings. The worse was when someone told me that I am going to hate never being able to go anywhere, since it wasn’t appropriate to nurse in public. Nowadays the comments are more along of the lines of “are you going to be one of ‘those’ moms that breastfeeds until their child is too old?”. I also get lot of the “once he can ask for it, it is time to wean”.
My fourth piece of advice is to not allow other’s to discourage you. We are currently in month 17 of our nursing journey. I made it through the teeth and biting (which hurts, but not enough to wean). We haven’t been stuck at home because we nurse. We carry lighter diaper bags, and I always have milk ready to go at the perfect temperature where ever we are because I DO nurse. Bruce has bonded with those who put an effort into it, but the bond I have with him is unbreakable. He has never had a drop of formula, and is a healthy, smart, big boy. Although the struggle is real, I never have allowed it to discourage me, and neither should anyone else. I can proudly say, I am one of “those” moms.
Megan is a small town girl with a BIG country heart. She along with hubby and son currently live on a small homestead that includes chickens, turkeys, and a pot-bellied pig. She is passionate about natural remedies and gardening like she is breastfeeding. She is also researching homeschooling.
Affiliate links to Amazon and Tropical Traditions Coconut oil were added by Something 2 Offer for your reference and ordering convenience.
This post was part of the #LatchOnLinkUp Breastfeeding Linky: