I was lucky enough to nurse my baby just 30 minutes after he was born. I’ll never forget it. They laid Richie on my chest and my husband and I stared at him for a good while then he ran out to get all of our family members in the waiting room. While he was gone, Richie kept moving his way up my chest and to my breast. I looked at the nurse and said, “Oh my God, I think he is trying to nurse.” Then BOOM, all the things I learned in my breastfeeding class popped into my head. I was like, “I got this. I’m going to feed this baby right now.” And I did, just like that. It was a gift for it to happen so natural and easy for me.
My goal was to nurse for an entire year. That didn’t work out. Welcome to #momlife. Things don’t always go as planned. Fine. I did however; nurse Richie exclusively for 9 and a half months then slowly introduced formula before completely stopping at 11 months when I started him with whole milk. I’m so super proud of that but I will likely do a few things differently the next time around. Here’s what I learned that I think will help me to nurse for a year and maybe even beyond with my next baby.
For more on breastfeeding, check out my posts on The Biggest Breastfeeding Myth and My Favorite Breastfeeding Foods.
Handle one day at a time
Something about that 9 month mark made me feel like I just couldn’t take anymore. I needed a break. It was then that I also took my first short trip away from Richie and my husband for my sister’s bachelorette party. While I was gone, my husband had to use my entire stash of frozen breast milk. It was gut wrenching. The thought of having to pump again to build it back up was nauseating. I enjoyed nursing but loathed pumping. Had I just relaxed and took one day at a time, I would have recovered from that feeling but instead, I went out and bought the formula.
Find ways to introduce Dad
I didn’t do this – at all – which is why I was so exhausted and run down and over it. When you nurse, you are solely responsible for feeding your baby. What I should have done was use my stored breast milk and have my husband feed him one bottle a day (probably best to have done at night) so that I would have had a break and got some well deserved rest. It was a total rookie mistake. I wanted to take it all on and the truth is, I loved nursing him and I’m also a control freak but after awhile, I was just worn out. Had I let my husband help earlier, I probably wouldn’t have burned out so quickly.
Wait until 6 months to introduce solids
Unless your doctor advises otherwise, I would suggest waiting until 6 months to introduce solids. I was so excited, because Richie is my first, to introduce him to purees and cereal. I couldn’t wait to see his reaction to different foods, sit him in his new highchair, and prepare food for him. What I didn’t realize was that he would nurse less because of it and in return, my supply would drop. I was able to continue to nurse him but it was harder to get extra milk from pumping. Prior to solids, I was making so much extra.
I also didn’t realize how much more work I was adding to my already busy schedule. If your baby is gaining appropriately and it is safe, my suggestion is to wait so that you can nurse longer.
Different women may have different reactions to dieting and exercising when nursing but for me (and a bunch of other Moms I have spoken to), it completely affected my supply. I was still making milk but not nearly as much as when I ate more calorie packed foods. For example, I was dieting then one night I cheated and had pizza. That night, I woke up completely engorged. Calories helped with my supply. Big time.
Also, as a very personal side note, that was another reason I wanted to be done with it. I was vain and hated the fact that I couldn’t drop the last 10 pounds because of nursing. I regret that now. The weight doesn’t matter. I won’t care about this next time around. You are lucky to be able to go through this phase at all – having a baby and nursing them is a gift. My vanity got in the way.
I enjoyed it very much. I was good at it. I loved the bond we shared but what I didn’t know was how fast it all goes even though everyone was saying it. When you are exhausted and can’t see straight, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is an end and the newborn phase goes FAST (just not while you are in it). For my next, it will easier because I now know that the first year flies by and you inevitably miss those sweet tender (and insanely exhausting) moments when you have breast milk all over you, haven’t showered, and are a walking zombie. Trust me. You will.
natalie ferro aurigema
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