Friday, January 3, 2014

The Truth About Breastfeeding

If there are any folks that read this blog and don't want to hear/read about breastfeeding, then this post isn't for you. When I was pregnant, I made the decision that I wanted to breastfeed Baby Wilson. I did some research but most of what I read said that it is hard to prepare beforehand. The best way to learn was with your little one already here. As someone who likes to plan and prepare, this made me nervous. I always like to "keep it real" on this blog so I'm going to tell you some of my thoughts. There are a few things I didn't realize beforehand and I thought I would let some of you all know of how things have worked out for me.

1) Breastfeeding is hard. Moms that say that it is "easy" have it pretty lucky. The actual act of breastfeeding isn't difficult; it is all the other things that go along with it. You really have to be committed to it and want to make it work. There is lots of overthinking and worrying that goes along with it (just like with pregnancy). The first few days (and week) are kind of painful as your body adjusts to this new task. There are things that help with the pain and it subsides. The pain is never excruciating, just discomforting. I just would tell myself "Let's try one more day" everyday until things got easier... Kind of like running a half marathon. "Just one more mile.. I can do this." And then it got easier, just like everyone said it would.  Thankfully there was a support group at the local hospital as well as a wonderful Facebook group that are always discussing all things breastfeeding. They helped me get through those first few days/weeks.
Patsy and I at the Nursing Moms group Halloween Party

2) Newborn babies need to eat every 2 hours during the day (3-4 hours at night). Babies also can eat for about 40-50 minutes. So, if they eat every 2 hours, and it takes them 40-50 minutes to eat, that means I have 1 hour and 10 minutes to get anything done before she needs to eat again. I think the first time I left the house without the baby was to go get ice cream for me and the hubs. I think I was gone for about 15 minutes. Patsy is slowly starting to go 2.5-3 hours in between feedings during the day. That extra 30-60 minutes makes all the difference! Here is a little example of a real life scenario and part of the reason I started to ask for help while Christmas shopping...
Start feeding baby at 12:00, finish at 12:45.
Put baby in car seat, finish packing diaper bag, start car, put baby in the car.
Finally pulling out of the driveway at 1:00.
Drive to the mall 25 minutes away. Get out of the car, unpack stroller, load diaper bag onto stroller.
Get into the mall at 1:35. Get to shop for 25 minutes before it is time for Patsy to eat again.
Hanging out in the backseat after one of our many backseat nursing sessions

3) Everyone has a different opinion about breastfeeding. I am extremely lucky to come from a family where all of my relatives nursed their babies. I spend a lot of time with my in-laws and they all nursed their babies as well. My husband is also hugely supportive of breastfeeding which makes things so much easier. Without such a strong support system, things would have been a lot more difficult. Thanks to my trusty Boppy nursing cover, I've been able to nurse Patsy around friends, relatives, and in public. (Patsy has eaten at Panera, Bakers Square, TGIFridays, Portillo's, and all around the Michigan City Outlet Malls) I've gotten a few stares here and there while using it, but I don't really mind the stares. I'm not going to feed my baby in a bathroom. I wouldn't want to eat in there, why would I want to feed my baby in there? :) I know every mom has to make their own decisions as to what works best for them, whether that is formula or nursing. I'm pretty lucky that breastfeeding has worked out for me. I hope to breastfeed for 6 months and eventually a year. Right now we are just over 3.5 months and still going strong! :)
Nursing Patsy Rose at Ann Taylor LOFT!
4) Breastfeeding isn't just putting your baby by your boob and hoping for the best. There is the latch (is it good? Is it strong?) and the transfer (how much milk is baby getting?). Since the milk is coming from the source, it is hard to gauge how much the baby is getting unless they are weighed before and after feedings. I left the hospital feeling confident in my breastfeeding capabilities. After a few weeks, I started going to a Nursing Moms Network at the local hospital. There, I started doing weekly weight checks and Patsy wasn't gaining as much as we would like to see. I was able to take some milk supplements, eat some oatmeal and my supply increased! Patsy started to gain more weight and we were on the right track. I feel lucky to have had such a great support group for help! I think I would have worried myself sick if not for other moms who have gone through something similar.

5) Despite the difficulties, bumps in the road, and worries along the way, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world! The bond that I have with my child through breastfeeding is something I really can't describe. I won't go into more mushy details, but it really is quite amazing. :) I feel that this is what our bodies were meant to do. Even if I don't meet my end goal, I am grateful for every time I get to nurse my child and for every ounce of milk she gets from me. As I go back to work, I know the challenges will only increase, but I'm about as ready for them as I can be! :)

As I mentioned in a previous post that the most important thing I've learned about being a mom is that you have to think beyond your original plan. Babies don't always do things according to plan so you have to be able to roll with the punches when the changes come (and they will come). I hope some of you found this post helpful!


  1. Hey! I want to hear the mushy details!!!

    Didn't Patsy eat at Emil's, too? Hee hee.

    Do people still care that women breastfeed in public? That really cracks me up, with how our society is now. I mean, we show half naked woman on TV all the time... who cares if someone is breastfeeding? And they make all those covers and stuff for it. Anyways. Don't understand.

    I think it's great you have such a wonderful support group, and the Facebook group too. :)

  2. this is a wonderful post. I have yet to write mine. maybe I will, maybe I wont. im do glad you are open and not feeding little patsy in the bathroom hehe <3

  3. Michelle @ Crazy Running LegsJanuary 3, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    Breastfeeding IS hard, but I agree it's soooo worth it. So glad you've been able to find the support you need and make it happen!! I feel very, very blessed that it's something that I've been able to do for all my kids.

    Also - love what you said about thinking beyond the original plan. It's not only necessary, but it keeps you sane!!

  4. Glad you wrote this! Even now it's helpful for me to read about other people's experiences with this stuff. I am still slapping my forehead at things I learned about BF after I was already done.

    Kenzie lost too much weight before we even left the hospital, so I had to pump for several days to make sure she was getting enough. It was a pain and shattered my confidence. I don't think I really got the hang of breastfeeding for probably 3-4 months. I admire anyone who is able to stick with it because I know how hard it is. (although warming and preparing bottles at 4 a.m. ain't no picnic either!)

  5. It literally IS what our bodies were meant to do :) I'm so glad to hear that the experience has been a positive one for you, and you have gotten a lot of support along the way!! And regarding breastfeeding in public, it is protected by law. So if someone did have a problem with it, it's THEIR problem, not yours, or Patsy's.

    I've had enough ladies close to me breastfeed (specifically Genevieve, and two of my sisters-in-law), plus my mom, so that I've heard quite a few "scary" realities of breastfeeding. Such as whatever is in your system is passed along to baby (not just booze, but certain meds), the latch can be quite ... aggressive ... and lead to bleeding (of the nipples), and I've seen Robert's sister pump in person (sans cover-up) which was quite a sight but kind of cool. And there are pics in my family photo album of my mom breastfeeding us, sans cover-up. My mom is the queen of keeping it real.

  6. Yes, some people do care, and for the reasons you point out, it is sad that they do. It's fine to show boobs as sexual objects, for not for their natural purpose, which is to nourish a baby? SO SEXIST.

  7. Katie @ Live Half FullJanuary 3, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Love that you wrote this post!

  8. I appreciate you writing about your experience! Would love to hear another update after you get back into a work routine.

  9. Yes lots of people are still anti-breast feeding. There is so much information out there about the pros of breast feeding, I don't understand why people are against it.

  10. Thanks! I know you've eluded to your bf experience on your blog. Thanks so much for the support!

  11. I wanted to make sure to add that even though there are all these difficult and worrisome things that go along with it (like most parenting things...) it has been so worthwhile! That bond is one that can't be described with words.

    Haha yes about planning! Babies do their own thing so you really have no choice but to be flexible!! Lol

  12. Thanks Marie! I'm really lucky that I had lots of resources available for when I had questions or ran into trouble. Without those resources and the huge support of my family, things would definitely have been much much harder! Weight loss in your little one is always scary and a mom has to do what a mom has to do!

  13. Haha that is awesome! I only heard about past experiences from family once I started breastfeeding so I didn't have many visual aids. I think the act of pumping totally weirded out Toph at first, but now he doesn't think twice about it. Many of the support groups say that if you're going to feed your baby in public, do it with another mom who also does or with family who would support you. Support in numbers!!

    Thanks for the support! Breastfeeding is hard so it is nice when not just family, but friends are supportive too! I'm lucky to have so much support on so many levels. It definitely leads to a more enjoyable experience for all!!

  14. Thanks Katie! I feel I had some misconceptions about breastfeeding so I wanted to give my experience!

  15. Thanks Lauren! I will work on a follow-up post.

  16. Thank you for sharing this! I am not a Mom yet but hope to be at some point and I appreciate your insight and how you keep it real! You go girl!

  17. Thanks Valerie! That's why I wanted to post about it! I figure some of my followers are women that maybe one day plan on having babies. I wanted to help be a resource full of information that I never knew!