Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why I breastfeed??

I'm going to answer the questions I am asked most often about breastfeeding. Then, I'm going to tell you why I choose to breastfeed. My honest reasons. If you do not want to know about my boobs... Well skip this post!

Does it hurt?
Yes. But only at first. With both of my kids it took roughly two weeks before breastfeeding was totally comfortable for me. The second child was harder than the first. At points it was so bad that I would cry out each time Hunter would latch on. Matt would even have a pained look on his face when he would bring the baby to me to nurse because he understood that I was in pain... There are many products available to soothe your breasts if you are experiencing discomfort and I promise, it goes away.

How long do you have to breastfeed?
It's recommended that you breastfeed your infant for at least six months but most pediatricians and organizations stress that a year or longer is better. Honestly, it is up to you. I breastfed Emma exclusively for 6 months and did a mixture of formula/breast milk until 12 months. With Hunter at 10 months (just last week) we had to add 2 oz of formula to his bottles while I'm at work. My production is failing me. (more about that later)

Are my boobs going to sag afterward?
Most likely. Your breasts become larger with pregnancy and engorged with milk after delivery. When they return to their normal size when your milk dries up, you lose all that glorious fullness and breast tissue is lost. 

What does it feel like to breastfeed?
Honestly? It feels like relief. When your milk comes in, your breasts get swollen and can actually ache. It isn't necessarily painful but it can be uncomfortable. After you get used to your baby nursing, it feels really good. It's soothing and there really is an amazing bonding moment.

Will it make me lose the baby weight?
It depends on your body. You burn a lot of calories when you breastfeed but I honestly think it varies woman to woman. I've seen women breastfeed and pounds just melt off of them. But there are many who say it didn't help them at all.

Do they really leak?
Yep. If you are able to feed on demand and aren't having to pump a lot, you may leak less. I leaked more the first time around than the second. I have no idea why. Perhaps I wasn't completely emptying my breasts at each feeding. I liked using washable breast pads. Here is a tip: If you start to leak and the baby isn't awake or around to breastfeed either pump or self express. I've self expressed plenty of times into bathroom sinks, toilets, and cups. Yep, I said it.

What if my baby bites me?
It will hurt. You just have to be firm with him or her and take your breast away at each bite. Tell the baby "no." Babies understand more than we give them credit for. They aren't biting to be mean. They are exploring and maybe they aren't hungry.

What if I'm doing it wrong?
If your baby is growing according to his/her pediatrician's liking, you are doing it right. If you have any questions about pain, see a lactation consultant. Actually, make SURE you see one in the hospital and find out if there is one on staff at the pediatrician's office. That's the best advice I can give you about the whole subject.

How do I increase my milk supply?
This is a BIG one for me because my milk supply recently plummeted... So I have done a LOT of research onto this. 

A good diet is key to a good milk supply. There are also herbs such as fenugreek that can help. Try Mother's Milk tea or I used Mother's Milk Plus drops. You can buy them at Whole Foods Market. Drink PLENTY of water. That's one of the main culprits of a low milk supply. Avoid antibiotics and antihistamines when possible, they can dry up your milk quickly. Note: if you are pregnant and nursing you should NOT use the fenugreek or Mother's Milk supplements. At that point you should continue with a healthy diet and drink lots of water.
How do I dry up my milk?
So your boobs don't know you are done breastfeeding. You can dry up your milk naturally by slowly weaning your baby or slowly backing off of pumping. With Emma it took about 3 weeks for me to dry up completely after I had finished breastfeeding her. You can also try an antihistamine or ask your doctor for something stronger. If you decided to forgo breastfeeding, I've heard cabbage leaves are great. Just be careful not to get a clogged duct which can lead to mastitis. Try to dry up your milk slowly.
Do I have to breastfeed?
Nope. Whether or not you breastfeed is completely up to you. Try it out for three weeks and if you find you just can't do it, try pumping. If you try pumping and still hate it, just stop. Don't do something that will make you unhappy and stress you out. The baby feels your tension.


Alright, you have my answers to the questions that I get asked most. Now I'm going to let you in on the simply and honest reasons as to why I choose to do it.

Health. It's amazingly good for the baby. There are more nutrients in breast milk than formula. It's easier on your baby's tummy, it's bonding, it's been proven to be more beneficial than formula alone. It's like taking a daily multi vitamin on top of an already balanced, healthy diet. It gives the baby more and does wonders for his/her health. Just google the facts.

Cost. Formula can be very expensive. You could easily spend $100 per month on formula, especially when the baby starts taking up to 8 oz per feeding. Also, Emma would only drink the liquid formula which was SUPER expensive. Mom's milk is free. Even buying an expensive pump is going to cost less in the long run.

Convenience. I love having the ability to breastfeed whenever the baby needs me. I'm also comfortable breastfeeding in public at the drop of a hat. No bottles, no measuring, no mixing, no clean up. All I have to include in my diaper bag for feedings is a nursing cover and a burp cloth.

Boobs. Boobs look great with milk in them. Just ask Matt. If you are a small chested woman who desires a larger rack, then breastfeed. I went from a B to a D with Hunter in the beginning. Too bad it doesn't stay that way forever!!

Bonding. I actually LOVE the moments when I feed in the middle of the night. Just rocking back an forth in the dark with your little one. I also love the way that my kiddos had looked up at me while feeding or how they hold my finger sometimes. ehhh the list goes on and on! 


Later today I will post my breastfeeding favorite things!

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