Growing up, my mother drilled it into my head to wait until I was at least 30 to get married and have babies. So, naturally, I got married at 23 and had my first baby just before I turned 24.
As much as I loved that little bundle, I would have to say... my mother was right.
I don't know if it was being a first time mom, my age or that I just had no idea what I was doing, but nursing was not an easy task for me. My daughter would not latch on – I mean refused (she's still that hard-headed). I had to get a lactation specialist to come to my house and help me work with her on breastfeeding. It was a very scary and frustrating time. She was constantly crying because she was hungry and I had so many people telling me what to do:
"Only give her the boob."
"Give her breast milk and formula."
"Don't give her a bottle, even with your milk in it, or she won't nurse."
Everyone had an opinion on what was "right" for my baby. It wasn't until I stopped listening to everyone else, took a deep breath and relaxed that she finally started nursing on her own.
Fast-forward 9 years later: I was 33 and had my second daughter. She latched on immediately. I had zero problems with her nursing. In fact, if anything, she was nursing too much – or as the doctor liked to put it, "It's like she is having Thanksgiving Dinner at every meal."
I think my second latched on so quickly because I was calm, I knew what to expect and I was an "experienced" mom who didn’t listen to anyone, except my own body. It truly was a beautiful experience.
Whether you’re a soon-to-be first-time mom or a mother who is considering first-time breastfeeding for future children, here are 5 things no one told me about breastfeeding that I wish they had:
- It may not be easy. It may even involve bloody nipples, blocked ducts or pain (maybe all of the above). Even if you’re lucky enough for a quick latch and strong milk supply, you’ll most likely be dealing with postpartum emotions and lack of sleep. You can be as “prepared” as you’d like, read all the books and watch all the videos, but you (and baby) will still be adjusting.
- And that doesn’t make you a bad mom. Breastfeeding is hard. If you struggle, that’s okay. If you decide it’s not for you, that’s okay too. You are the only one who can decide what’s best for your body and baby.
- So listen to your body and your baby - not everyone else or a feeding chart! Everyone has advice. Throw it out along with your clock. Pay more attention to your baby to know when its feeding time and to your body to know how to get it done.
- When that still doesn’t work, stay calm. They’re like sharks – babies smell fear.
- It gets better. Most often, breastfeeding gets easier with each child. You’re more experienced and know what techniques do and don’t work for you. And even if you only breast-feed once, there will be moments where you bond with baby – whether because you finally get the hang of things or both decide to hit the bottle (milk for baby, wine for mom) – and you’ll hang onto these forever.