I never thought I’d be going into my third month of breastfeeding, but here I go!
Going into this pregnancy, I felt so conflicted about breastfeeding. Hated doing it in front of people. And when I say people, I mean my own family, not even the general public.
But something changed.
I started writing for Babble in October of last year. I wrote about my ambivalence toward breastfeeding and took some flack for it but mostly I got hundreds of comments from awesome women who could commiserate or who just wanted to offer nonjudgmental support. The more I wrote about breastfeeding the less uncomfortable I felt about actually doing it. What I’m saying here is that I have y’all to thank for this. You helped take away the stigma.
With that said, I’ve got five tips, five things that have helped me and may help you breastfeed longer:
1. The right nursing bra - This is so important you guys! Seriously. When I had Violet I was like, screw that, I’m not paying that much money for a bra. I eventually bought one nursing tank top that didn’t fit right. Here’s the thing, ladies. You’re going to be wearing this nursing gear all the time. With your boobs as big as bowling balls you’ll want to be wearing it all the time. But do it right. Try various tanks and bras on until you find the most comfortable one and then buy three. Buy tanks to wear around the house and also buy nursing bras to wear under clothing. If you’re comfortable and can get baby to the boob in one fell swoop you won’t feel like breastfeeding is a hassle at all. In fact, you will realize how convenient it is compared to mixing formula and keeping it cool then heating it up and all the shenanigans that come with preparing formula. For some quick & easy tips on how to choose a great nursing bra click over to this post I wrote a while back: Why I Now Swear By Nursing Bras And How To Choose A Good One.
2. Breastfeed in public – Get comfortable breastfeeding in public. No, you don’t have to be the chick that whips boob out at a restaurant for all the world to see, but go to the mall or a park or some place where people are around, find an out of the way bench and do your thang. One of the major benefits of breastfeeding is the convenience. But if you aren’t taking advantage of that by breastfeeding on the go, you’re missing out on half of that convenience. You may initially feel like everyone is staring, but they aren’t. Remember how you feel when you see a woman discreetly breastfeeding – you don’t think twice about it, do you? Exactly. So just do it. You aren’t alone, check out I Did It! I Breastfed In Public by Roni and you’ll feel a lot better.
3. Don’t overpump – When I breastfed my first baby I did it all wrong. My boobs would fill up, she’d feed for maybe ten minutes on one side and then I’d use my electric pump to empty both boobs. I’d pump until the milk was gone. I pumped so much I had a freezer full of frozen milk and giant, leaky boobs. The more you pump, the more milk your body produces. So basically for the entire month I breastfed Violet my boobs were engorgement-like huge and there I was pumping like a fiend to relieve them, not realizing I was making them that way. If baby doesn’t empty your boob pump a little, like an ounce and that’s it. Your body will take cues on how much milk to make and it eventually won’t be a problem. The first month of breastfeeding can be difficult, but once you get past that hurdle your breasts settle back down to about the same size they were while you were pregnant and don’t leak as much.
4. No goals, no pressure - I constantly hear women setting goals about how long they want to breastfeed. Don’t do that! Just take it one day at a time. Setting a goal automatically instills a sense of pressure, as if breastfeeding is this thing you HAVE to do. It also sets you up for failure if you don’t make your goal. The only goal you should make is that you aren’t going to have any goals. That way you don’t beat yourself up if you contemplate quitting. If you feel like quitting, give it a day and if you still feel like quitting then stop. Easy as that. Do your best, that’s it. You aren’t in competition with anyone.
5. Remind yourself how much money you’re saving – They say breast milk is “liquid gold” but at the cost of $24.99 a can, I’d say formula takes the cake. You’ll go through at least one can a week so that’s at least $100 a month, not to mention all the cash you now have to shell out for diapers. That’s a lot of cheddar, yo! With the enormous hospital bill you likely accrued and the fact that you are either on maternity leave or living off just one salary, $100 (at least!) a month is nothing to sneeze at.
Bottom line is this; do your best, utilize the above tips and when you’re done, you’re done. No guilt, no regrets. Don’t listen to anyone else. YOU are the mama and only YOU know what’s best for both you and your baby.
Look, if you go back and read those links to my old articles on breastfeeding you’ll see how far I’ve come. If I can do this, ANYONE can.