Breastfeeding 101

9353575386_8d57e14413_cYou may have been to the breastfeeding class, prior to giving birth. My husband referred to our instructor as:  THE BREASTFEEDING NAZI. No breastfeeding nazi here, I tend to believe that you should feed your child in the way that works best for your family dynamic, sanity level and the child’s ability to thrive. Here are a few lessons I learned along the way.

  1. Breastfeeding seems IMPOSSIBLE the first week. I was that mom that FREAKED out when my baby would not latch. I was sweating profusely, crying incessantly and stressing out both my baby and myself. My mother tried to help. God Bless Her Heart,  she walked in to find me with boobs hanging out, snot pouring out of my nose, tears rolling down my cheeks and the baby screaming bloody murder. This leads to lesson number two!
  2. It’s OK to let someone hold and rock your baby when you come home from the hospital. Sometimes you both need a break from trying to breastfeed, so that you can both come back to it rested and refreshed. At times we just need a “New Attitude.”
  3. I learned that breastfeeding hurts like a beast the first two weeks and you find yourself holding your breath until you realize the baby is attached and it no longer hurts! Thankfully, that pain goes away after two weeks, provided your baby learns to latch properly.
  4. I learned that wearing breast pads is ESSENTIAL, because leaking really happens and usually at very inopportune moments, like maybe while you are dishing up your plate at Easter dinner and one of your male cousins happens to point it out to you. Put them pads in and be glad you did. I recommend the Lansinoh pads, in the purple box… they may look cheap and ugly, but you will end up loving them for what they do for you!
  5. 9350206637_cc5c7853cc_zI learned that I am NOT comfortable nursing in public. It’s not that I think it is bad or in poor taste, but rather that I just couldn’t relax when nursing in public. Nursing in a quiet private location worked best for my situation. If you are comfortable nursing in public, by all means, feed that baby!
  6. I learned that EVERYONE has an opinion about breastfeeding. And I learned to ignore the opinions that I did not seek out. 
  7. I learned that four different babies will all nurse differently and will all nurse for the period of time they want. I never had to wean a baby. (This, I learned, is a blessing.)
  8. I learned that people think you are nuts if you nurse past a year. And I nursed mine past a year regardless of the nasty comments and bizarre looks. My kids are all fine and well adjusted. I was not comfortable nursing past two years, and none of my children seemed to want to nurse past two anyway. Win Win for me and my babies!
  9. I learned that nursing covers are really cute now and I bought more than I needed, considering I did rarely nurse in public.
  10. Biggest lesson learned — Relax, take it a day at a time. Don’t set a long term goal for nursing. Get through one feeding at a time and eventually, you’ll realize that you can do it and it no longer hurts. You’ll catch yourself NOT holding your breath when the baby latches on and then you’ll feel like a champ, because face it, being your child’s food source is pretty cool. It’s like a super power!

For me, nursing was a rewarding experience. I’m so thankful that I was able to nurse all four of my children. I realize that not everyone has an ideal go at breastfeeding. Do what works for your family, but I do encourage you to give it a try. It’s a wonderful gift to give your child, if you are able.

Native Richmonder, Lisa McGhan is a full time stay at home mother of four. She has been married to her soul mate for 12 years. She is the founder and President of the Children's Heart Foundation Virginia Chapter and works to raise awareness for Congenital Heart Disease. Her new found love is distance running. When not on the computer or in the momvan, she can often be found pounding the pavement.