5 -: Ten Breastfeeding Battles That Will Push You to the Limits
Breastfeeding is a gift to every mother. It is beautiful. A woman’s body is naturally designed to be able to feed her children through her own body. This is what nature intended for you to do. That your body should be enough to provide for what your baby needs to survive, at least in its first year of life (the longer, the better too!)
Breast is Best
The milk from your breast is BEST. Hospitals are trying to urge mothers to breastfeed their child as soon as the baby is born. If you are having any doubts, just know that the bond that is forged through breastfeeding will be forever priceless. That should be enough motivation and encouragement for you to commit to it and survive it.
Ten Breastfeeding Battles You Will Face
Let me tell you now. Breastfeeding is not easy. It is not just about sticking out your breast, making your baby suckle and that’s that.
There are so many aspects of breastfeeding that you have to learn. It is a journey you have to go through. This is what makes breastfeeding so fulfilling. After all, if you want to give your baby the best, you have to put in your best effort. Without further ado, here are the ten battles you must prepare for:
1. The Battle of Pain
I don’t mean to scare you, but breastfeeding has its moments of terrible pain. The first stage is the first time the baby suckles. Lactation experts will teach you how to get the right latch. This should help prevent cracked and sore nipples. For some, getting the right latch was the answer. For many, it was not enough.
The first month was the worst for me. I would literally shout and cry once my baby latches. And mind you, my baby was a great latcher! He had the right latch since day 1. But still, I felt so much pain, so much that it made me think twice about continuing my breastfeeding endeavor.
For me personally, the right latch wasn’t enough. I just had to face the reality that my nipples will get sore, simply because my nipples weren’t used to the vigorous sucking. Nipples are very sensitive and when you have a baby sucking every hour and staying latched for at least half an hour, your nipples are bound to be painful. For me, this made total sense, regardless of what others reiterated about the “perfect latch.”
Anyhow, with commitment and perseverance, the pain went away by the second and third month. It will be a breeze from there, at least until your baby has teeth. Nonetheless, I will go through it all over again in a heartbeat. The pain was worth it!
2. The Battle of Doubt
When you were pregnant, the hormonal changes made you very emotional. It is quite the same case after you’ve given birth. Your body is again having hormonal changes, which can make you feel overwhelming emotions.
The emotional and mental battle has a lot to do with breastfeeding, even more than the physical battles you will suffer from. The battle of doubt is one that will plague you in the early months of breastfeeding. Do you have milk? Are you producing enough milk? Is your baby getting the benefits of your milk?
The unsupportive people around you (trust me, there will be a lot of them) will continue asking you the same question, which doesn’t really help at all. They’ll make you feel inadequate, like you are making the wrong decision to breastfeed your child.
The truth behind milk production and milk supply is that as long as your baby demands it, your body will produce it. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. As long as your baby latches, the body will get the hint that your baby needs more, thus, producing more milk.
You really have to stop doubting because it is proven that milk supply decreases if you are emotionally or mentally stressed. So stand your ground, be confident in your own body and don’t mind what others say.
4 -: Breastfeeding Battles That Will Push You To The Limits
3. The Battle of Pumping
For working moms, they will have to face the battle of pumping sooner or later. However, there are cases when moms have to start pumping immediately after giving a birth. To be frank, I hate pumping. It is so inconvenient and time-consuming. However, it is part of the process.
Direct latching is always the priority, but, you can’t be 100 percent that you’ll be at home all the time, especially if you have to return to work. So, you need to build your stash. The problem is, when you’re at home, you have to do direct latching and pumping at the same time. And experts say that the best time to pump is while the baby is latched on the other breast. Just imagine, baby nursing on one boob and pumping on another. Wow!
And that’s not all, the amount of milk you pump will not always equate to the milk you really produce. It will always be less and often, this dishearten mothers who are trying to build a big stash. Further, there’s the case of not being compatible with the pump itself (manual vs electric), having to clean and sterilize every part of the pump and of course, pumping while you’re at the office too.
4. The Battle of Blisters
At one point in your breastfeeding journey, you will have blisters on your nipple. This is called milk blebs. And oh my goodness! Milk blebs are so painful, I personally think it’s the worse thing of all.
Milk blebs are formed when the milk in the breasts isn’t completely drained. The thing is, the pump doesn’t completely drain the breast, only your baby can do that. So if the milk isn’t drained properly, this
results to plugged or clogged ducts. When the baby suckles, it hurts like hell and you’d also feel a small lump where the plug took place.
The only solution is to break the blister. As long as it is there, the pain will continue to torment you. There’s a long process to try and break the blister and unfortunately, you have to keep repeating the process too.
It starts with massaging the lump and doing warm compress. Some say that dipping the blister in warm water should soften the skin. And after that, let the baby latch on the breast with the blister. If this doesn’t work, do it again when the baby nurses. Again, offer the breast with the blister because your baby’s vigorous sucking is the best way to break the blister. It is a lot of work!
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5. The Battle of Oversupply
If you are blessed by the heavens and have an abundance of milk supply, congratulations to you. However, not every mother is happy to deal with oversupply. It is very ironic since mothers who have a low supply wish to produce more liquid gold, while those who do are having a hard time managing it.
The first problem with oversupply is the high risk of mastitis, which is an infection caused by plugged milk ducts. As mentioned, this is caused by improper draining of the breast. Mastitis is very painful. The infection will also cause the mother to suffer from fever and chills. In such a case, antibiotics are prescribed by a physician.
The next problem is the constant leaking. After taking a shower, the milk drips like crazy. This is because the body is relaxed during a warm shower. Moreover, the leaking doesn’t really stop until your milk stabilizes. The nipples continue to leak milk, which will definitely wet your bra and top, an embarrassing ordeal when you’re not at home.
So, moms use nursing pads to absorb the milk. They also insert breast shells inside the bra to catch the dripping milk. And while we’re on the subject, I’m telling you to buy a whole new set of brassiere because your bra size will significantly increase and a tight bra just worsens plugged ducts.
6. The Battle of Sleep
There is a huge battle you will face when it comes to sleep. Sleep is almost non-existent in the first month and then after that, you’re lucky to snooze for 2 hours straight, 4 hours at the most.
Breastfed babies get hungry faster. This is because breastmilk is easily digested, given that 70 percent of it is water. Hence, your baby will want to nurse more frequently. How frequent? One to two hours in the first month, then slightly increasing the gap in the coming months.
“What, you’re hungry again?” This is what moms always ask in their heads. While they are always hungry in the beginning, it isn’t always the case too.
This is a part I really want to explain to you well. Babies are always scared. They stayed in your tummy for nine months. It was their home. They were so comfortable and secure in it. They can hear your heartbeat from the inside and know that you are always there.
When you gave birth to your baby, suddenly, the environment changes. The silence turned to noise. The warmth turned to cold. They used to be close to you, now, there’s a distance. And because of this, they are very scared. So when they stay on your breast without really nursing, know that it is their comfort zone. They feel safe that way and they also want to be close to your chest all the time.
Let it be. Comfort them. Make them feel safe. Sacrifice your sleep.
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7. The Battle of Attachment
Breastfed babies are VERY attached to their mothers. This is the most concrete evidence of the bond that develops between mom and baby.
When a baby nurses from his mother, he gets used to the mother’s warm body, the smell and the voice. Since babies are still very scared, they’d want to be close to you as much as possible.
The battle of attachment can be taken to extremes. Like for instance, the baby doesn’t want to be put down in the cot as he always wants to be held. It can also go as far as not being able to use a stroller because he just wants to be carried. Often, being close to each other does not suffice. What he wants is to feel your skin.
I had difficulty dealing with this in the beginning. When I wanted to sleep, I slept while holding him. When I wanted to pee, I will bring him with me. When I worked on my laptop, he’d sleep on my lap. When we go out, I had to wear him.
Admittedly, it was a bit of an annoyance at first since I was practically not allowed to do anything else. But eventually, I realized the beauty of this attachment and I’ve welcomed it whole-heartedly ever since. After all, he will only be a baby once. When he is older, he’ll prefer toy cars or maybe girls over me (this gets me emotional!).
8. The Battle of the Huge Appetite
Breastfeeding makes you hungry and thirsty. It is common sense. You’re feeding your baby from the inside of you and if your baby nurses a lot, you’ll eventually need to stock up again.
You’ll hear many people tell you that “Breastfeeding will make you lose pregnancy weight faster.” This is true to some extent. I know mothers who had successfully lost weight faster when they breastfed. On the other hand, I knew more moms who put on more weight.
You see, breastfeeding moms are allowed 3,000 calories a day. The regular calorie intake is 2,000. Breastfeeding moms have an extra thousand calorie to make up for what they are losing. But despite the extra calories, the hunger is just insatiable.
I always wondered why this was the case for me. I weighed more when breastfeeding than when I was pregnant. Putting everything together, I realize that it wasn’t just the nursing that was making me eat more. It was the stress. I lacked sleep, I lacked the freedom to do whatever I want, I was in constant worry with my milk supply and so on.
The insatiable hunger resulted to stress eating. I know not many breastfeeding mothers would realize this early on and still wonder why they’re not losing weight as fast as they hoped. Well, try destressing and see if your appetite balances out. That worked for me.
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9. The Battle of Judgement
Choosing to breastfeed is a daily battle. The fact of the matter is, the lack of information and knowledge about breastfeeding makes people judge your choice. The other fact is that breastfeeding has not been normalized.
I’ve always heard stories from breastfeeding moms who felt insulted when they were out in a public place. There were people who would stare at them, making them feel uncomfortable. Some would even be grossed out at the sight of breastfeeding babies.
In addition, there is that constant debate about the need to wear a nursing cover or not. There is also the contention that openly breastfeeding in public attracts perverts and that mothers should not complain if they are insulted or harassed.
From one breastfeeding mother to another, I ask you to exercise patience. There is nothing wrong with your choice. It is also not their mistake for being uninformed. It is the society we live in., understand that.
Remain steadfast. Keep your heart calm and your mind still. Those words should not pierce you. As they say “Mind over matter, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Because ultimately, what really matters here is nourishing your baby the best way possible, regardless of what others think and say.
10. The Battle of Keeping It Together
You are a mother, a wife, a daughter and a sister now. You have an additional role to play and it is a role that requires a major responsibility. There is constant pressure and it will not stop whether you like it or not.
As a breastfeeding mother, you have an additional obligation and that is to feed your baby the perfect food. You have to survive all the battles because your baby ONLY deserves the best.
Keep it together. It will be an emotional roller coaster. It will be one of the toughest challenges you’ll face. But for your baby, overcome the challenges and persevere.
I will be honest with you. There were times I felt like giving enough. I couldn’t juggle being a wife, taking care of the house, caring for my toddler and caring for my newborn. I wanted life to just stop. I wanted
to care for myself for a change. But you know, as days pass by, as I see my baby grow into a happy, smart and healthy baby, it empowered me.
I was fulfilled knowing that I alone and my body alone was enough to make my baby thrive while he was in my tummy. Now that he is out, my body alone is still enough to feed him what he needs. It was so empowering. Whenever he cries or shouts for me, I loved the feeling of being needed like that. When he stares at me while nursing, I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world. When he smiles at me, it was a job well done for me. And all these are priceless to me.
Ladies, it will be a war, but this is a war you are destined to win. Stick through it. Your baby will only be a baby once. Persevere...because it is so damn worth it!