I’m super excited to have a guest post today!! My dear friend Amber from Let It Glory has agreed to come over and share with us about a topic that can be controversial in today’s society. Breastfeeding. Cover or no cover? In public or only at home? One side or both sides (yes, I have heard people argue over this)? What will my family think? Are there really benefits for baby and mom? Is it breastfeeding or nursing? There are many other questions out there. Amber has addressed many of them in this post.
Breastfeeding … For some the word carries with it such sweet memories of nursing their babes, for others it brings bitter remembrance of their feelings of failure as a mother because they could not/ did not nurse. For some, breastfeeding is the ONLY way that any mother should feed her baby and for some, breastfeeding is NOT even an option they would consider! Some people nurse their babies until they are school age, while others don’t think you should nurse past a few weeks/months. When it comes to feeding babies, there are lots of different opinions on the subject!
I have breastfed two children and will soon be breastfeeding a third! I love nursing and am a big advocate of it but, I also do not judge those who choose to feed their babies in different ways. I know mamas who exclusively pump, use formula, exclusively breastfeed, or do a combination of both. As long as the mom has made an informed decision about their feeding method, I have no problem with what another mom decides. I do, however, feel sad when I hear about mamas who have cut breastfeeding short for lack of information, thinking they could not do it, because they had mastitis and lacked the knowledge of how to heal it, because they “thought” they could not produce enough milk, because their babies didn’t latch on right away, because they thought it was “gross”, or because they simply didn’t look into it or even consider it. I want all moms to have access to the information they need to help them make an informed decision regarding breastfeeding.
When I got pregnant with my first child, there was never any question in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed him. I had never given much thought to breastfeeding before my pregnancy but as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I automatically knew I would breastfeed my baby. In fact, as my pregnancy progressed, I became so worried that I WOULDN’T be able to breastfeed him that I began doing as much research and preparation as I could before hand to ensure that I WOULD be able to.
Here are the things that I did to try and make my breastfeeding experience go as smoothly as possible:
1. Take a breastfeeding class
The concept is simple, right? Put the baby up to your breast and they drink, right? Well, things aren’t always that easy! It took my son and I about a month for us both to “learn” how to breastfeed, and that was even after having taken a class on it and learning all that I could. The class I took was offered at the hospital I delivered at and was a great way for me to get tips on how to make breastfeeding work and ask questions that I had. The teacher showed diagrams, videos, and had paperwork she handed out that gave me lots of resources and information. It was very beneficial!
2. Apply Lanolin
When I entered my third trimester I started applying lanolin to my breasts every day. I used the Lansinoh brand, but there are many out there (there are also natural methods such as coconut oil you can use but I’m not as familiar with those). I didn’t have any cracking or bleeding at all when I began breastfeeding and I really think this had a lot to do with it! I also stopped “soaping up” that area in the shower so that I wouldn’t be doing anything that would dry me out. The lanolin is thick and a bit greasy so (after ruining a bra!) I started wearing a nursing pad in my bra to create a barrier between the lanolin and my bra. It worked great! I kept applying the lanolin until a few weeks after delivery and breastfeeding was going well. It’s safe for baby so you can apply any time and not worry about baby getting some.
3. Connect With a Lactation Consultant
A few months before my son was due I contacted a local lactation consultant in my area. She was so sweet and we are still friends today! She came over to my house before my son was born and walked me through things and answered my questions. She also came over after he was born to check on how things were going for us.
While I was still in the hospital after delivery, I asked for the hospital lactation consultant to come in my room and make sure that my son was latching on properly. I was glad to have her come in and just see how things were going for us and make sure I was doing it right!
A few days later, when my son could not kick his high bilirubin levels from jaundice and even the lights were not working on him, my doctor asked me to stop breastfeeding for 24 hours and only feed him formula. I started freaking out, thinking I would lose my supply (and be in alot of pain from stopping so abruptly!). I called my lactation consultant and she came right over with a hospital grade pump I could borrow to pump until I could feed my son again! She was also so encouraging to me as I was worried he would not latch on again after having had a bottle for a day. She assured me that he would, and, of course, he went back to breastfeeding with no problems. =)
Once my son was born, he was able to latch on right away and nursed like a champ. I experienced some pain for a few weeks and it took a little over a month until we had worked out all the kinks and both he and I had learned how to breastfeed. But once we worked things out, we enjoyed an amazing nursing relationship that I will always treasure. Breastfeeding him is one of the sweetest memories I have from his first year of life.
When our nursing relationship had been established and things were going smoothly, I had to decide how to handle breastfeeding in public. Would I cover up when I nursed? Should I just bottle feed when out in public? Would I pump breast milk for when I was away or just give him formula?
I decided that I wanted my son to get as little formula as possible. Thus, I bought a pump and would pump my extra milk (which was a lot in the first few months as I over produced big time!) to freeze. This way I had a lot of extra milk on hand for when I was away.
As far as nursing in public goes … I think that mothers should be allowed to feed their babies whenever and however they want to, BUT, I think they need to be careful not to expose themselves. A woman’s breasts can turn a man on. YES, even if you are using them to feed your baby. I know, I know, there is the other side of the argument that a man shouldn’t be looking anyways, or should be able to control his desire, etc. But men are visual and what if he does see you even if he’s attempting not to? Do you want to accidentally turn a guy on while you attempt to feed your child? I sure don’t! Exposing yourself too much can also make other women uncomfortable so it’s best to make sure that modesty is always your goal when feeding your baby in public!
Here are the things that I did to make nursing doable for me:
1. Use a Cover
I always used a cover or at least a blanket, unless I was around just close friends that were women, and even then I did my best to be discreet. Having a cover gave me the confidence I needed to feed my baby whenever he needed. If you can nurse discreetly without a cover, then go for it. I personally needed to use a cover in order to feel like I was covered up enough. Here is the brand cover that I used, but there are many good ones out there like this one.
2. Bring a Bottle
I usually had a bottle with some powdered formula in the bottom of it, ready to mix up if I found myself in a situation where I could not or did not feel comfortable nursing. I only used it once or twice but it gave me the reassurance I needed that I had a back up in case I found myself in that situation. The bottle with formula in it also helped reassure me when I left my son for extended periods of time. I knew that if, for some reason, I couldn’t make it back in the time I was planning on, he would have something to eat to get him by until I could get back to him! (For this same reason I kept a small supply of formula on hand at home too, in case my husband needed to give him something and I didn’t have any pumped breast milk). As a side note, although there are mixed opinions on this, many experts agree that it’s best not to give an exclusively breastfed baby a bottle or pacifier until they are at least a few weeks old in order to avoid “nipple confusion.” Although it’s not certain how much of an impact the early introduction of these things has on a baby’s breastfeeding relationship, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can read two different opinions on the subject at Mother 2 Mother – The Truth about Nipple Confusion and here Today Moms – No More Nipple Confusion.
There are lots of great resources online that I found myself referencing again and again when it came to breastfeeding questions. I also had several books on breastfeeding, but honestly, with a newborn it was often easier just to type in my question on a website rather than flip through the pages of a book!
One of my favorite online resources is KellyMom. It is a wealth of knowledge and information on most everything pertaining to breastfeeding such as how long freshly pumped breast milk can sit out, what herbs help with milk production, how to know if your baby is getting enough milk, and lots of other tips and tricks. Book mark it!
I nursed my son until he was 14 months old, at which time both he and I agreed that we wanted to be done. I remember the intense feelings of sadness when I realized that I had nursed him for the last time. Yet, that is the way things are supposed to be. Babies grow up and “need” mom in different ways as they get older. It’s the way God designed it to be!
I loved nursing my son so much that a year later I started the process to induce lactation and nurse our adopted daughter!! More on that to come in part 2…!
Amber has lots of other great posts on her blog Let It Be Glory. Here are some you may like:
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