I wish there were more things people told me about breastfeeding so that I could have managed my anxiety better.
Traditionally, many women breastfeed their baby because it seems to be the most natural. I’ve always wanted to breastfeed but I didn’t know it was going to be so hard. LIKE FOR REAL.
Yes, breastfeeding is amazing for so many reasons and I am blessed that I managed to breastfeed both of my children.
But it isn’t a walk in the park. At least for me and many other moms, it isn’t. Especially in the beginning, when you and the baby are new to this, both don’t know what to do, both are tired (babies are tired too—being born is hard work!).
While I am so grateful I managed to make it this far, here are some things I wish someone would have told me about breastfeeding (that I desperately needed to know!)
1) Breastfeeding your baby (especially if ur a first time mom) is harder than giving birth.
No one tells you that!
Everyone talks about the pain of labour, the stitches etc but let me tell you the mental and physical strength you need to breastfeed is something else! I had a difficult labour—baby was overdue 10 days, I was bleeding, I had to be induced, went through normal labour, then finally an emergency c-section.
That didn’t compare to the difficulty of nursing your baby when you are sore and trying to recuperate, experiencing milk supply issues and no one around during confinement, hardly any sleep and this may go on intermittently for as long as u breastfeed, if you are one of the “lucky ones.” Fuhhhh giving birth was definitely easier than breastfeeding, at least for me.
12 hour labour pains? I’ll manage somehow. Emergency C-section and sore body, aching back post surgery? You get over it.
But cracked and bleeding nipples? Fever? Engorged breasts? A baby that can’t suckle properly because of tongue tie (the case of both my kids)? People telling you left and right that you need to give formula? A baby stuck on your boobs for what seems like the entirety of your confinement and for the next few months (or years)? Yeah breastfeeding is definitely harder for me!
2) When they say let the baby latch, latch, and latch– they mean it.
The moment you give birth is the moment you should let the baby feed– it is the best time to stimulate their sucking instincts. And after that, they are literally attached to your boobs 24/7.
If you want to increase your supply, the baby needs to latch latch latch.
3) When you breastfeed, you need to be mentally strong.
Sometimes, people will make you doubt yourself.
Your family members, friends, and sometimes even nurses and doctors, may doubt your milk supply.
“Why is your baby thin– mom doesn’t have enough milk!”
“The baby seems yellow–mom doesn’t have enough milk!”
“Is the baby crying because there is not enough milk!”
“The baby is not sleeping long enough because breastmilk doesn’t make him full!”
Everything is supposedly because mom “doesn’t have enough” and this MAY make you doubt yourself, make you depressed, make you cry, make you feel like a failure and you may give formula (nothing wrong with that but usually, there is nothing wrong with your milk supply either!)
If you decide to breastfeed, believe in yourself!
So it is IMPORTANT to have confidence, babies cry because it is what they do, they nurse long because it is what comforts them in this cold, harsh and unfamiliar world.
Also, breastmilk is easily digestable + the size of a newborn’s tummy is small—this causes them to feed often, and feeding frequently is necessary to increase demand = increase supply!
So you need to have KNOWLEDGE on breastfeeding before you give birth, coz once you have knowledge–you have confidence and the rest is, insyaAllah, in the bag! You can also refer to a very helpful website on breastfeeding here: kellymom.com or www.babycenter.com
4) Support means everything.
To withstand criticism and pressure to give formula because “you don’t have enough,” you need to have confidence, which you also can develop through a strong support system. Tell your husband or those closest to you, that you intend to breastfeed and need their encouragement.
Positive vibes or breastfeeding support group
Positive vibes around you will help your mood, lift your spirits and this will affect your milk supply positively. That, and latching latching latching.
And when in doubt, do consult mothers with experience in breastfeeding but I also seek consultation from a certified lactation specialist. Other people mean well but not everyone is an expert, so find an expert when you are in doubt, because this helps your breastfeeding journey in so many ways!
I consulted the fabulous lactation specialist, Puan Kamariah from susuibu.com
5) You lose a lot of weight. Then, you can gain it again!
I packed on the pounds during pregnancy but lost more than 10 kgs in a week, and more after that. It is awesome! But after you start feeling confident, and after confinement, you are always hungry (effect of nursing) but usually less disciplined so you eat thinking the weight melts off like it did in the early days post birth. Let me tell you, it doesn’t melt off as fast as before.
So eat when you are hungry, indulge sometimes (moms deserve it!) BUT remember– if you eat more calories than the baby drinks, then yeah, you may put on some pounds too.
6) Breastfeeding is a love-hate relationship.
I breastfed my firstborn until she was 2 yo, and I am still nursing my son and I love holding them, cuddling for hours, the looks in their eyes when they stare at you while they nurse, the booby superpower that nothing in this world can compare to especially when it comes to calming them down— I LOVE IT.
But often times, it’s really hard. Tough because you don’t get enough sleep. They look for you all the time, and sometimes, they even prefer you more than their father (when they are overwhelmed).
I cherish it because I feel so special but I cannot deny that I.AM.SO.TIRED. When they wean off, its like FREEDOM for me but also an emotional cry-fest for me too.
See? Love-hate relationship.
7) Breastfeeding is COMMITMENT.
If you are a stay at home mom, it is easy for you because you don’t have to wash bottles but is hard coz you are the only milk source, and sometimes some babies wont take to the bottle so that makes leaving the house without the baby hard. So yeah, bottle training even for a SAHM is important.
You can give expressed breast milk (EBM) sometimes–I think you need that option and the time to rest. Because breastfeeding is both love, and WORK. If you are working, it is work too coz pumping is tough! No matter what flight you have to catch, trial you need to conduct, speech you are giving in front of VIPS and media, meetings after meetings to attend– you need to find the time and space to pump.
(If you’re looking for a breast pump check out my review on the Spectra breast pump).
I’ve pumped in the nursing room (duh), in my car, any room I can lock, a clean and non smelly toilet, surau, basement– you just do what you gotta do! If that isn’t commitment, I dunno what is.
8) Spilled milk can bring about WW3.
When you breastfeed, lose sleep, wake up early to pump when you could sleep in etc and your husband spills your EBM/forgets to close freezer door, you literally lose your mind.
I remember crying to my husband and said “This is my work! My time my effort and you were careless and now it is down the drain. How would you like it if I ruined YOUR work?” Hahaha emo but yeah. Spilled milk is a serious crime to many breastfeeding mamas.
9) Immunity through BF is a lifesaver.
Every baby and every situation is different, but my babies hardly got sick while breastfed, and if they did, they recovered quickly Alhamdulillah. They were hardly hospitalised. Even when my son was a newborn and his sister contracted chicken pox, my son did not get it because I was breastfeeding, so he received my immunity to the dreaded chicken pox, which is dangerous for newborns.
It makes the breastfeeding effort worth it doesn’t it?
10) Despite it all, it is the best feeling every time.
I know it is tiring, I complained to my husband sometimes, I wanted to quit breastfeeding so many times, I wanted to give up pumping and just focus on work, I wanted to NOT have tiny hands on me 24/7– but I also DON’T want the tiny hands to be away from me at the same time.
Because when they nuzzle close to you, when they touch you and look at you and caress your face— you melt into a puddle because that kind of love hits you like a truck (in a good way, as weird as that sounds) and you love being their only one, their no.1 and the tiredness, aches and pains is worth it. It is all worth it and you would do it all over again, and again, and again. It is true what they say, you will miss it when it is over, so enjoy it while they still wanna be attached to you 24/7 despite how sweaty you may be.
A love like that, is unlike any other. ❤
Some women do not face these issues when they nursed their babies. Some breastfed babies don’t latch latch latch all the time. And to be fair, my firstborn only woke up once a night when she reached 3 mo. She only started waking very frequently when she got really ill once, and after that her schedule was off so she woke up several times a night, and I was too tired to “re-train”her.
But you know what? It is okay for me. They are only babies once.
One day, they will grow up and then you will have all the time to yourself, wishing for days when they were glued to your side.
So as cliche as it sounds, mamas—enjoy the moment for now. While it may be so tiring, it is also one of the best times of a mama’s life.