Disclosure :: This post was sponsored by Woman’s Hospital and published in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.
The 3 Things That Changed My Breastfeeding Experience
Breastfeeding wasn’t something I was very concerned with during pregnancy. I was generally aware there could be issues, but my resolve was to exclusively breastfeed unless there were unforeseen circumstances that prevented me from doing so. The romantic idea of easy motherhood and perfect instincts was still floating somewhere in my brain, although I wish I could say otherwise. Most of my energy in preparing for my first child was focused on my own nutrition, actual birth, and items we might need for him. I had no idea there would be such a steep “learning and adjusting” curve during the first weeks of having my little blueberry pie with me. Now, looking back, it doesn’t feel so bad since we are happily breastfeeding without any issues – at that moment, though, while being exhausted from birth and sleep-deprived, I did feel like breastfeeding was a struggle. Here are the 3 things that changed my breastfeeding experience:
1. Lactation Consultant Appointments
Today, I would have told my pregnant self to go see a lactation consultant even before birth and ask questions. I would have had their number saved on speed dial and have multiple thank you notes to hand them after birth. I really cannot speak highly enough of lactation consultants. From engorgement, to discomfort, and helping the baby adapt, they’ve helped me get through it all. Not only do they take phone calls and LISTEN to you, but they also call you to follow up and REMEMBER details about the conversation you had previously.
At a point, my child decided that after feeding he was supposed to cry his lungs out. When you see all these peaceful images of babies breastfeeding, this is not what you expect. Turns out there were multiple things that could be causing him to behave like this… The lactation consultant went through minute detail and assisted me in creating a plan of things to try. There was no judgment, no prescription, just unwavering help.
2. A Water Tumbler
This might sound very mundane, but the right water tumbler added a lot of comfort to our breastfeeding sessions. I had spent hours reading about what the right breastfeeding pillow would be, and my experience was that many things can be the right breastfeeding pillow. Throws, blankets, towels, toys, cushions, clean laundry, anything soft at hand. What I actually needed was the right water recipient. There were no forums debating what the best water bottle/tumbler/cup would be while breastfeeding. Of course I had no idea how thirsty I would be while breastfeeding, or how long I would be attached to the sofa while needing to drink water and having no way of doing so. “Why didn’t you use a cup or one of the exercise bottles” – you ask me. Well, I was afraid I would drop the water, drop the cup, drop both (on the baby), and 16oz was maybe enough for one session only. I needed something that would hold a fair amount of water, be light, have a handle and a straw. I am so attached to this tumbler, I take it everywhere I go. Maybe breastfeeding turned me into a mermaid.
3. Learning From My Son
It’s not easy to take lessons from a baby. There are textbook cues, and then there are the actual sounds, body language, and reactions from your unique baby. It’s like learning a whole new language, except your teacher is frustrated with you more often than not because you are not doing what he needs you to. Remember the crying after breastfeeding? My son, turns out, gets upset when after emptying one side he is still hungry, but the flow becomes very minimal. He also hates the feeling of having to burp. When I finally found out what the issue was, I used targeted strategies to help him/us. After 5 months of training, we communicate much better, and breastfeeding has become an amazing bonding moment.