The Reluctant Breastfeeder: Top Ten {Tuesday}

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It’s World Breastfeeding Week and my friend, Amy is using her blog to post tips, tricks and encouragement for breastfeeding (or soon-to-be) moms this week. I looked through my blog to see if I had posted anything about breastfeeding. I nursed both my kids for about 14 months and it was one of the most significant and empowering things I’ve ever done. But I have zero posts about our experience!

I was a reluctant breast-feeder. I knew it was best for my daughter but ugh! I did not want to do it! It seemed…I don’t know, freaky.  I remember telling my husband, “Well, I’ll just do it for however long ‘they’ recommend.” When I found out the recommendation was a whole year I felt sick. A whole year?!

Finally, I decided to go to a Breastfeeding 101 class at my hospital. And that class changed my life. I say that without exaggeration. With almost every new thing I learned I wanted to shout, “GOD! You are awesome!!” Our bodies are so amazingly designed (yes. DESIGNED.) I just could not believe it. Did you know…

…that breastmilk grows with your child? If you deliver your child early, your milk is exactly designed to take care of a baby that age. A mom who delivers at 30 weeks has different milk than if she delivers at 38 weeks.

…that breastmilk is naturally anti-bacterial? When babies spit up breastmilk around their mouths or even into their ears, it keeps bacteria away from those areas protecting them from colds and even ear infections!

…colostrum (the gold-ish milk produced by moms in the first days after delivery) is super-concentrated?
So sleepy newborn babies don’t need to eat huge amounts of milk to get the nutrition they need. The first week of life, your baby’s tummy is smaller than a ping-pong ball, there is no need for huge amounts of milk!

So, in honor of Breastfeeding Week, Amy’s Finer Things and my two little former nurslings (is that a weird word?) here are my TOP TEN BREASTFEEDING TIPS, TRICKS AND ENCOURAGEMENTS:

1. Go to a breastfeeding class. Yes, you can read books. But there is nothing like listening to a professional who has seen hundreds and thousands of woman nursing. You will be encouraged and have some great instruction to lead you in the early feedings. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. You need clear instructions.

2. Find a Lactation Consultant. When Lydia was born there was a great group of lactation consultants at my hospital. I could call them or visit them at any time. They were a big encouragement to me. When Asa was born, I had some lactation consultants available to me via my insurance. I know it sounds weird but they will sit with you and watch you nurse, show you better ways to hold the baby and help you till you get it right. I have called many a lactation consultant in tears…and hung up feeling much more confident!

Here is a list of lactation consultants from the International Lactation Consultant Association or call 1-877-4-LALECHE to speak to someone from the La Leche League.

3. Read Up. When I first began breastfeeding Lydia I found a Breastfeeding Messageboard on iVillage that is hosted by a Lactation Consultant. You can post any question and she will respond. Of course, lots of other seasoned breastfeeding moms will respond, too. It was an absolute life-saver for me. Not only could I ask a question, but I also had a trove of information for me to look through and glean from.

Another great online resource is kellymom.com which covers every imaginable problem or question you might have concerning breastfeeding. I’ve read Breastfeeding: A Parent’s Guide by Amy Spangler several times and also recommend it as an easy resource.

4. Tools of the Trade. Breastfeeding is the simplest way to feed but in those early days it is nice to have a few extra tools to help you out. One is a Boppy (or something like it). These pillows help you position correctly and give your arm a break from holding the baby so long. The second must-have is Lanolin. Yes, breastfeeding is painful at first. (But really what’s NOT painful those first few weeks?) And lanolin will save your life. My fave is Medela Tender Care Lanolin.

5. Sleeping & Schedules. It’s OK to breastfeed and be on a sleeping/feeding schedule. Yes. It is. I did it. And my kids are healthy. The first 3 or 4 weeks are just do-whatever-you-have-to-do but even within that you can follow an eat-wake-sleep routine that will be invaluable as your child begins to take regular naps and sleep through the night. To help me remember previous feedings I used a Milk Band.  It’s a cute bracelet that you can record the time of the last feeding (and which side you started on!).

6. Nursing With Other Kids Around. Having a second child rocked my world. The hardest part of all was not having a quiet time in which to nurse. Lydia wanted to be entertained the entire time. Although I’m pretty super, it’s hard playing Candy Land while nursing a newborn. I finally got into the groove of preparing activities for my toddler while I nursed. And she finally got a clue about quiet and the necessity of this time. Here’s a vlog I did called Entertaining a Toddler While Nursing a Newborn.

7. Nursing Your Second Born. I loved nursing Lydia. So, when Asa got here, I was sure it would be a cinch to breastfeed. And it was NOT. The last thing I remembered was nursing a 14 month old who was an expert at it. Now I had a 7 pound infant who didn’t know what was going on. It was much harder and I had to re-learn how to do it. And even moreso, learn how to do it with a completely different baby. (This was actually the story of my life with Asa. Remembering he is NOT Lydia.)

8. Don’t Give Up. Nursing does hurt at first. It just does. When I was ten days into nursing Lydia, I was crying. Somehow I had the clarity to realize, “I’m only ten days in. No one is an expert at anything in ten days.” It encouraged me and after about 3 weeks, I felt like we were pros. With Asa it was much harder because I had undiagnosed yeast and thrush for about 3 months. *shudder* But I knew how great breastfeeding could be so I kept at it. And even though I spent many many 3am feedings crying in the living room while the rest of the family was asleep and visited many lactation consultants, we figured it out and had a successful nursing relationship.

After being involved on the the iVillage messageboard I began to realize that many people (myself included) had a lot of preconceived ideas about breastfeeding.  Maybe something their mama told them, or their best friend experienced or just a feeling they got that are honestly, NOT TRUE. So many women just give up with no information, no support and no help. If you think you want to breastfeed, you can do it. Don’t give up. Find some help and you’ll succeed!

9. Don’t use a pacifier. This was just my experience. Using a pacifier with Lydia messed her up. (Hence the crying at 10 days.) Let your baby get used to breastfeeding, then if you want to introduce a pacifier or other bottle do that about 3-4 weeks.

10. Nursing in Public.

breastfeeding
Me nursing Lydia on the ferry to Magic Kingdom in Disney World!

Don’t let the idea of nursing in public keep you from breastfeeding. With Lydia I learned to nurse in public by using a shawl. It was easy (and mine was super cute, too). With Asa, I got super good at being quick and discreet. I figured most people would turn their head anyway, so I just went without the shawl. And I’m a very modest person. Once you get good at nursing, you’ll be able to nurse in public without a problem.

Breastfeeding is empowering. And I say that as someone who discovered it on her own. I wasn’t an attachment parenting wannabe. I didn’t have any friends or family that breastfed. I feel like I discovered so much of it on my own. I provided every bit of nutrition for my kids from my own body! I didn’t even want to start solid foods because I was so proud of the fat rolls my little babies had! It probably sounds weird if you’ve never done it, but I promise it was a life-changing experience. If you’re still unsure, read up on some of the benefits of breastfeeding. It’s awesome for you and your baby. And, even though it does take time to figure it out, it’s worth the effort!

If you have any questions or tips on breastfeeding, please share in the comments! And don’t forget to check out Amy’s posts about World Breastfeeding Week!

:: :: ::

Now it’s your turn! After my super-long top ten, do you have any energy to read or write more? I hope so! Go ahead, write a Top Ten about anything you’d like. Then LINK back to me in the post (so everyone can join in the fun!). Next, PASTE your url in the linky below. And if you still have time I’d love for you to read, comment, stumble, tweet or generally love on the rest of the participants. It’s a great way to make friends and be a part of this thing called the blogosphere!

Happy Top Ten {Tuesday}!!

Comments

  1. I was a reluctant breastfeeder turned breastfeeding advocate too! And I too am constantly amazed at how God designed our bodies to do so many fabulous things all on our own if we just let them. :-)

  2. Thank you for this! I was not able to breast feed either of my girls due to the seizure meds I’m on. However, the lactation consultants who saw my in the hospital actually got upset that I stopped because the pediatrician told me no breastfeeding while on those meds. She said that they would have said to continue despite the medication. The more reading I do about this subject the more I’m finding that the general consensus is the benefits of breast feeding outweigh the negative side effects of the meds. However, I’m going to find it hard to try to breastfeed this next baby without the complete OK from my pediatrician. I’m going to talk to them about it again but am going to feel like I may be putting my baby in danger if they continue to say it’s better to not breastfeed while on these meds. It’s such a hard decision!! Plus, it scares the heck out of me. The little bit that I did try with my first daughter was AWFUL and exhausting. I was actually relieved when the pediatrician told me I wasn’t supposed to be doing it anyway. However, I would love to give it another go with this next one.

  3. Amanda, thanks for sharing. Very well written too!

    Since I’m not a mother yet I really can’t relate. However, I have heard several of my friends and relatives talk about their struggles with breastfeeding.

    I love that you mentioned getting them into some sort of schedule…I know that would be very important for me. All my friends just let their babyies rule the schedule and I keep thinking that is wrong. Glad to hear you got believe in scheuldes!

  4. Amanda, I love this post! We also had a REALLY hard time establishing breastfeeding. In fact, I pumped for the first six weeks before I could get my little one to latch on. But here we are at 14 months, and Simon does not seem ready to wean yet!

    Thanks for advocating breastfeeding for all different lifestyles. We are definitely still not on a schedule, although I would like to be, but it has really been impossible with Simon’s health problems. Sometimes breastfeeding is the only thing that will soothe him! We finally go in for his kidney reflux surgery this week. I am so nervous, but I am ready to get my little boy feeling better.

    Oh, and about breast feeding in public, Simon refused to ever let me use a cover. I have totally nursed while pushing my grocery cart around Wal-Mart and pushed up next to old men on airplanes. Yeah, we have no schedule and no modesty. :-)

  5. Great mention of Lanolin – I could not have lived without that miracle cream!! Also, very true about nursing with a second child. I finally ended up buying my oldest daughter a box of toys that stayed high on a shelf and only came down when I was nursing #2. That way, my oldest looked forward to that time and was engaged with novelty toys whenever I was nursing. Great post!

  6. I loved nursing my babies!! I think your list is great, but I just wanted to add not to be scared of it. I had so many friends telling me how hard and painful it was but that I should try it because it was best for the baby. Great set up, they should go into sales. While I think “keeping it real” is important, I was lucky I wasn’t scared away.

    In the end all 3 of my babies latched on at first try, I maybe had to use Lanolin one time because I had no pain or cracking, and I was able to introduce a pacifier on night two with no nipple confusion. And that pacifier SAVED MY LIFE. Cause the hysterical tears I was crying was from a baby who wouldn’t stop crying until I gave her a pacifier. But then I cried and cried because all the breast feeding nazis had told me I was a horrible mom for using a pacifier and that she would never be able to nurse again. Thankfully a loving night nurse talked me down.

    In other words, breastfeeding needs to be presented with a whole lot less “this will be so hard” and a whole lot more “this will be the most amazing experience with your baby”.

    P.S. I am not remotely implying that your post presents it as hard and scary, just giving my two cents about how sometimes the pro-breastfeeding movement as a whole is getting it a tiny bit wrong ;)

  7. I loved this post. I whole-heartedly agree about the lactation consultant! I had a hard time getting started nursing but the lactation consultant straightened me right now. When I had my 2nd child I thought it would be easier, but it wasn’t, so I saw a consultant right away and it was smooth sailing after that.

    I used to nurse my baby while my toddler sat in my lap with a book. He’d turn the pages; I’d read.

    Love the memories this brings back. I loved nursing my babies, once I got it all figured out!

  8. Good post to get me geared up….:) I think I need to borrow your nursing shawl…

  9. I struggle with breastfeeding in public. Even as a BF mom, I get weirded out when I see other moms doing it (unless it’s just all ladies in the room). I always preferred to find a quiet secluded spot to nurse.

  10. Yay for breastfeeding support! Knowledge is power! I saw a pro-breastfeeding commercial on TV last night and actually applauded right there on my living room couch :) Props to God Almighty for giving us everything we need!

  11. Amanda, I love that you admit you were a reluctant breastfeeder!! If I’d had the chance to nurse, I would have been reluctant, too. I certainly was before delivery! Because Annalyn came 7 weeks early, I never had milk. But if and when a second child comes around, I will need your top ten tips!! :)

  12. Woo hoo! I couldn’t agree more — especially with getting help from a lactation consultant. Frankly I thought I had it down, but the lactation consultant at the hospital shared some advice that helped make things even easier. When you look at the cost of formula, it’s unfortunate that breastfeeding has a weird stigma in some communities.

  13. Excellent! I especially love 8, 9 and 10.

    Yes, there can be rough spots in nursing. But over all, it is seriously the easiest way to go. No cleaning bottles, no buying formula, no running out, no mixing….I could go on an on.

  14. Such a great, empowering post! I can completely relate to not wanting to start solids… I was so proud! :) And she was so healthy and thriving… that seemed AMAZING to me! I know Mary mentioned above that, since her baby was born 7 weeks early, she didn’t have milk (and I do not know her story, nor do I walk in her shoes, so I’m not questioning that…) but I can remember being AMAZED that my body knew to produce milk when my second baby arrived sixteen weeks before her due date. Not only that, but learning that my milk was so, so different from that of full-term moms. It was specially formulated, if you will, for my teeny, tiny 1 lb baby. That is just awesome. We are, no doubt, fearfully and wonderfully made!

    • That reply totally gave me chills! We ARE fearfully and wonderfully made. We produce JUST what our babies need. Isn’t God an incredible designer?!

    • Oh, beautiful! Were you on a hike? You’re reimnding me to keep snapping nursing pictures!Lauren @ HoboMama s last [type] ..[]Melodie Reply:October 21st, 2010 at 1:26 pmWe were actually on Hurricane Ridge outside of Port Angeles when this was taken! Have you ever been there?[] Reply:October 21st, 2010 at 3:24 pmI have! With both sets of parents. Which means I’ve almost certainly breastfed up there, too. Lauren @ HoboMama s last [type] ..[]

  15. Awesome post! I am still breastfeeding my ten-month-old, which is surprising in some ways because he was my most reluctant nurser as a newborn…we struggled SO hard to establish breastfeeding, and you’d have thought that by this third baby it would’ve been easy. I never cease being amazed at how my body was designed to provide the perfect food for him.

    And I second the tip to use lanolin. That is some good stuff! :)

    • This review is from: Community/Public Health Nursing Practice: Health for Families and Populations (Paperback) This book is hilghy contradictory and badly written. The book has 24 different authors (even though it says only two on the cover), usually one for each chapter, and I don’t believe the chapters were reviewed for consistency and possible discrepancies before the chapters were thrown together. I had to have this book for nursing school and this book did not help me at all. A waste of money- all it’s really good for is toilet paper when you’re out

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  16. LOVE this post! :) I was a stubborn I WILL DO THIS AND IT WILL WORK! breastfeeder. I nursed 22 weeks into my pregnancy with Nin, 16 weeks into my pregnancy with Annie. Annie weaned before Harrison was conceived. He’ll be 30 months (yes, 2 and a half years old) next week – and he’s still nursing! :) I make KoolAid, so he’s not in a hurry to stop, apparently. LOL Seriously – he TOLD me I make KoolAid. :) I loved bf’ing my kids – and yeah, it was hard at first. The only one it wasn’t hard for me was Katherine. All the others – totally different from one another and we all had to learn. As for NIP – I did it center court, front row of a nationally televised college basketball game. Can’t get much more public than ESPN! ;)

  17. For a variety of reasons, I’ve found myself in a place where I can’t breastfeed, and while I pumped as much as I could, I’m in the process of stopping pumping too. It’s funny, because even though I worked with lactation and took a breastfeeding class, I was surprised to find soo many people who admitted how difficult breastfeeding was for them, but only when I admitted what a difficult time I had. Thanks for sharing your experience, and how it wasn’t always easy – I wish I heard more of this before I had Colton. Even though I’ve had a difficult and unsuccessful time this time, I’ve learned a lot, and I’m hoping my knowledge and a more cooperative baby will make nursing baby number two a success!

    • Oh! There is one other thing I would add to your top ten. One thing that helped me make it as far as I was able to was something a friend of mine who was in a similar position as me with her first child and is now successfully breastfeeding her second child told me. Set small goals. Her first goal was to nurse every two hours, then it was to make it to two weeks, four weeks, six weeks. Some days, my goal was just to make it through the next pumping session, but breaking it down like that really helped me get through some rough times, and I made it to six weeks, my ultimate goal.

  18. Loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing. I didn’t breastfeed my first two babies, for many reasons, but was determined to nurse my third. Boy, do I wish I had done it the first two times! Once we got the hang of it, it was SO much easier than messing with the bottles and formula. I definitely remember that sore and teary middle of the night feeling. Then one day like magic it all went smoothly. I didn’t even realize it until my hubby walked in and noticed that my toes didn’t curl when the baby latched on. Luckily, we didn’t have any major problems to deal with. We just needed time to figure it out. Your comment about “nobody is expert at anything in just ten days” is exactly right. I still regret not trying harder with my older kids, but am so happy that it worked out this last time. I had such obnoxious pride in the baby fat rolls!

  19. Your advice for second-time breastfeeders is really helpful. With a baby due in November, I’ll have to remember to start fresh! :)

  20. PS Your nursing picture is SUPER cute. :)

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  23. Stay clear of foods that relax the cardiac sphincter from the stomach including alcohol, peppermint, garlic, and chocolate.Don’t lie down immediately after eating to stop the food from the stomach flowing back into your esophagus causing pregnancy heartburn.

    • This book is highly conaotdictrry and badly written. The book has 24 different authors (even though it says only two on the cover), usually one for each chapter, and I don’t believe the chapters were reviewed for consistency and possible discrepancies before the chapters were thrown together. I had to have this book for nursing school and this book did not help me at all. A waste of money- all it’s really good for is toilet paper when you’re out

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  24. Numerous newlyweds do not want youngsters right away. But soon after a couple of happy years of marriage they usually know the time has come and they are ready for a infant. Sometimes, finding pregnant happens really fast, but normally it becomes a problem, especially when a woman is in her late 30′s or 40′s.

  25. The core of your writing whilst appearing reasonable originally, did not settle perfectly with me personally after some time. Someplace within the paragraphs you were able to make me a believer but only for a short while. I still have a problem with your leaps in assumptions and one might do well to help fill in all those breaks. In the event that you actually can accomplish that, I will surely be impressed.

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    • When they hold onto your breast dnriug nursing thats when its time to stop even if no one is around. That is just wrong. Do you nurse your children when they have friends around. I can just see a 4 year old telling their friend that they have to go have milk and that friend waiting to see a glass but none apears.[] Reply:October 29th, 2010 at 9:19 pmMy (almost) five-month-old holds onto my breast with both hands when we nurse. I guess we have to wean now. =/Amy s last [type] ..[] Reply:October 31st, 2010 at 2:17 pmI was just thinking that even infants hold onto their mother’s breast. And no I don’t nurse her around her friends because she doesn’t nurse very often anymore but I would if she really needed me to. And I would tell them why I was doing it. Luckily all of her friends moms know what I am doing and are supportive. Most of them have nursed until at least age 2.5 if not 4.Melodie s last [type] ..[]

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  34. I don’t leave many responses, but i did a few searching and wound up here The Reluctant Breastfeeder: Top Ten {Tuesday} | ohamanda.com. And I do have some questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or does it look like some of the responses come across like coming from brain dead people? :-P And, if you are writing at other online social sites, I’d like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Could you list of all of all your community sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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  1. [...] close I’m starting to focus on what I want to get from this event. So for Oh Amanda‘s Top 10 Tuesday blog post I’m putting together a list of the Top 10 Things I Hope I Accomplish at [...]

  2. [...] Linked to OhAmanda’s Top 10 Tuesday! [...]

  3. [...] Top 10 Breastfeeding Tips from a Former Reluctant Breastfeeder …Nursing With Other Kids Around. Having a second child rocked my world. The hardest part of all was not having a quiet time in which to nurse. Lydia wanted to be entertained the entire time. Although I’m pretty super, it’s hard playing Candy Land while nursing a newborn. I finally got into the groove of preparing activities for my toddler while I nursed. And she finally got a clue about quiet and the necessity of this time. Here’s a vlog I did called Entertaining a Toddler While Nursing a Newborn…. [...]

  4. [...] more bloggers’ takes on breastfeeding, check out The Reluctant Breastfeeder and World Breastfeeding Week [...]

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