Breastfeeding: the seemingly simple yet completely eye-opening experience most moms aren’t prepared for. After having breastfed all three of my kids, I learned a thing or two about nursing, pumping, the health benefits as well as complications that can arise.
Breastfeeding didn’t come easily for me in the beginning, especially with my eldest. I wanted to give up every day and would need to motivate myself to keep going. After a few weeks though, I finally got the hang of it.
With my twins, I breastfed easily from the start, as if my body picked up right where it left off with my eldest. However, after four months, I got hit with thrush, and needed to find ways to cope and overcome that obstacle.
And throughout both times I breastfed my kids, I dealt with clogged ducts and engorged breasts—both uncomfortable hassles, however common they may be.
Still, I chugged on, and I’ve learned a lot of breastfeeding tips. Not everything is as picture-perfect as you may assume (as I did) and may face challenges. And still, you’ll realize some pretty amazing benefits that come from breastfeeding, as well.
If you’re interested in breastfeeding your own children, consider these 12 breastfeeding secrets every mom should know:
#1: Breast milk has tons of health benefits for the baby
This was my number one reason I wanted to breastfeed my kids. With so much disease-fighting antioxidants and nutrients, breast milk has been cited by experts as the best option to keep babies from illnesses.And since breast milk changes depending on what a mother eats, babies are also able to taste different flavors.
#2: Breastfeeding comes with its own slew of complications
You might deal with thrush, plugged ducts, mastitis, engorgement, and all the other fun friends that make it so difficult to continue breastfeeding.
#3: You’ll lose weight faster with breastfeeding
Breastfeeding moms usually expend an extra 500 calories a day due to milk production. With twins, I was losing 1,000 extra calories a day when I was exclusively breastfeeding. Talk about a major plus when trying to shed the baby weight!
#4: You’ll be wearing those darn nursing tops or bras nonstop
I cannot wait to toss my old nursing tops and bras once breastfeeding is over. Day and night, I’m wearing them or have them nearby to change into for nursing or pumping. And let’s not forget the nursing pads to catch leaky boobs.
#5: Breastfeeding offers the convenience of ready-made food without preparing formula or washing bottles
Breastfeeding offers a simple and convenient way to feed the babies without the added chores of washing bottles or pump parts. You don’t have to prepare bottles half-asleep in the middle of the night.
#6: You may feel tied to the baby
Going out and about can be difficult for a breastfeeding mother and can limit your outings. For instance, my husband is usually the parent who takes our older son to day-long outings because I need to feed the babies. Even if I’m not with the babies for the whole day (when they’re at they’re grandma’s, for instance, and drinking bottles over there), I still have to be home every three hours to pump lest I get engorged or diminish my supply.
#7: Breastfeeding saves you money
Even with a hospital-grade pump that costs a lot to rent, formula still comes out more expensive. If you forgo pumping completely, you’ve got free milk for your baby, minus any potential one-time purchases (and the extra food you need to eat to make milk).
#8: You’ll detest pumping
Ugh. One of my least favorite parts about being a breastfeeding mom is pumping. If you’re able to pull it off without having to pump, I’m jealous. I hate lugging my pump to work every day, washing those pump parts, and the worst of all, feeling so exposed with tubes and suction shields in places I’d rather not have them.
#9: Breastfeeding allows the baby to control how much he eats
With breastfeeding, babies get to decide when to stop, slow down, drink, and how much. There’s no wasting formula or determining how much is enough—baby knows in this case. But at the same time…
#10: Breastfeeding makes it difficult to tell how much your baby has consumed
You won’t know for certain how much your baby drinks, and sometimes this can be problematic, especially if you’re trying to make sure your baby gains wait. If your baby has issues with gaining weight like my little preemie did, the uncertainty can definitely make you feel anxious.
#11: If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you are the only source of food
Beware dads: you may just get dagger eyes from your jealous partner because you don’t have the responsibility of being the sole provider of food for your baby. It’s a huge burden sometimes, and while dads can do their best to help with breastfeeding, in the end, they don’t come with lactating boobs. The upside? I also felt proud that I’m continuing to help my baby grow just as I did when he was in my womb.
#12: Breastfeeding is a “once in a lifetime” experience
I was so ready to call it quits when I had my bout with thrush. Formula isn’t evil, I was in pain, and the babies took to the bottles well. But I also struggled with ending my supply: once I stopped, there was no going back. Unfortunately, breastfeeding is one of those use-it-or-lose it deals—you can’t switch back and forth and pick it up later. I wanted to hang on to this experience a bit longer, knowing full well that time goes by too quickly and this wouldn’t last forever.
Read more about my experience with breastfeeding:
- Ask the Readers: Would You Breastfeed in Public?
- Do You Feel Guilty for Not Breastfeeding? Don’t.
- 6 Ways Dads Can Support Breastfeeding Moms [FREE Download]
- The Minimalist Guide to Pumping at Work
- 9 Tips on Staying Motivated to Breastfeed
What were some things about breastfeeding that surprised you?
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