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.
I always knew I would breastfeed. I have said that on here before. It was never a question for me. The number one reason was to provide my baby with the best vitamins and nutrients. The second was to lose the baby weight. And fast!
All the experts will tell you that by breastfeeding you’ll lose the baby weight quickly. Even all the mothers that had breastfed assured me that the weight would just melt off. One of my best girlfriends described the weight loss so great that she was in her skinny jeans a few weeks later. I even remember looking at a photo of my mother a month after she gave birth to me and she was even skinnier than before she was pregnant. She blamed it on the breastfeeding.
Well, I’m here to call their bluff. It’s been three months since I had Richie and I’m still holding to more weight than I would like to share. And I’m not the only one. I have spoken with other mothers that have said that they did not completely lose the baby weight until they weaned from nursing.
I gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy and at my first doctor’s appointment a few weeks after giving birth I had dropped 15 of it. Awesome! But even with a healthy diet and moderate exercise, not a single pound has been shed since then. Not ONE!
When I stop to think about it, it makes sense. Why wouldn’t my body hold onto to fat – the quickest, most energy efficient source available? Wouldn’t it make sense for our bodies to hold onto it so that we could feed our babies even if we couldn’t get the proper nutrients?
Or maybe it’s the fact that I have zero energy to hit the gym as often as I would like because I’m feeding another human being and I’m up all night doing it. Or maybe it’s the cookies that I sneak at night because I have major cravings from these darn breastfeeding hormones. BUT aren’t those extra 500 calories that the experts assure you will burn while breastfeeding supposed to take care of that?
My point is, not everyone loses the baby weight from breastfeeding. So if you are going into it for that reason only then re-think your decision.
Regardless of the weight loss, breastfeeding has been super rewarding for me. I genuinely love the bond it provides me with Richie. I love that fact that I’m able to feed him such great nutrients. I feel proud when I look at his little rolls and at every doctor’s visit when I learn how big he is getting and how healthy he is. So for now, I will hold onto this breastfeeding weight and with pride. I’m feeding another human being and if my body needs to hold onto this weight so be it.
Once the baby has weaned, I will get back in shape. Right now, it’s just not about me. It’s about providing my baby with what he needs.
I want to start by saying I'm no expert on the topic of breastfeeding. I can only tell you what has worked for me. Believe it or not, I dreamt of breastfeeding since I was a little girl. It's just incredible that our bodies are able to feed another human being and I was determined to nurse my baby long before I even got pregnant. I took a breastfeeding class, asked friends questions about their breastfeeding journeys, purchased a breast pump and was just very prepared mentally.
I think that determination allowed me to nurse my baby within 30 minutes of him being born. Since then, I have managed to feed him every two hours and during some growth spurts, every hour. I'm proud to say that he is in the 50 percentile in terms of weight gain and I've never had to supplement with formula. I'm also able to pump 4 ounces out of each breast in 20 - 30 minutes every other day. In fact, this morning I was able to get 5 ounces out of each breast in 30 minutes. If I pumped every day and for longer, I may be able to get more but there is no need since I'm able to fed him exactly what he needs. He is satisfied and growing. That alone makes me happy.
In addition to patience, determination and education that nursing your baby requires, I do believe you need to eat the right foods to keep up your milk supply. I'm including some foods that have worked for me.
Oatmeal is considered a super food for breastfeeding moms. The best thing about oatmeal is that there are plenty of ways to mix it up – you can add nuts, seeds, fruits, syrups, sugar, to name a few. The Food Network has some fantastic recipes. My favorite is to add agave syrup and blueberries (another breastfeeding super food). I make sure to have a bowl every morning for breakfast.
I’m a green juice connoisseur. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are fantastic for your milk supply. I love all types but my absolute favorite combination of vegetables and fruits to throw in my juicer are kale, spinach, apple and ginger. Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is great for digestion. Recipe below.
2 cups of spinach, tightly packed
4 cups of kale, tightly packed
2 red apples, quartered
Half a piece of ginger (or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
My personal favorite is Harmless Harvest because its 100 percent raw and organic thai coconut water. It's the best way to stay hydrated since nursing can making you very thirsty. It has tons of potassium in it to help replace what you lose.
Raw Almonds are a great source of protein and calcium, which is good for you and your baby. They make for such a quick and easy snack too. Almond Milk is also a great replacement for Whole Milk.
natalie ferro aurigema
Sharing all the things that make me happy through this blog.
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