6 Lessons I Learned Breastfeeding My First Baby - Baby Chick
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6 Lessons I Learned Breastfeeding My First Baby

Breastfeeding for the first time may not be as easy as a mom hopes. Here, one mom shares the 6 lessons she learned nursing her first baby.

Published December 30, 2020 Opinion

It was a nightmare the first time I attempted to latch my first son. Many moms, myself included, may expect that moment to feel like “it was beautiful” or it was “meant to be.” But it wasn’t. I learned many lessons from breastfeeding my first baby that taught me so much about myself, my baby, and my overall willpower. I want to share these lessons with you, hoping you can learn from them, too!

Lessons I Learned Breastfeeding My First Baby

These breastfeeding lessons I’m about to share are dear to my heart. I had a somewhat rough breastfeeding journey from birth. Horribly low supply was such a struggle for me that my son would avoid even trying to latch onto my breast. He cried often, and he struggled with bottles. Everything and anything surrounding breastfeeding felt so hard for us.

I had read the pamphlets the hospital gave us and followed the instructions the hospital’s lactation consultant directed me to do. Still, I felt like I was failing. I felt like there was nobody there to listen or help. And I almost gave up. Week 11 is when things finally changed for the better. I want to share with you these lessons I learned breastfeeding as I reflect on a memorable breastfeeding experience with my firstborn son.

1. Breastfeeding for beginners won’t always feel so natural.

It’s true, breastfeeding for beginners may not feel like it was meant to be. I’ve talked to countless moms repeatedly and found out they shared a similar experience. It took time, sometimes weeks before it felt “natural” to them. After giving birth, a mom can be easily (and understandably) overwhelmed by her postpartum body image, fluctuating postpartum hormones, physical recovery from birth, lack of support, and the list can go on and on.

Most moms probably received hand-outs explaining WHY breastfeeding is so important. But nobody took the time to show them how or help them actively work through some of the daily challenges like:

Again, this is another long list of things moms get sent home to figure out on their own. It’s overwhelming! You’re learning as you go, just trying to survive. Hopefully, you can be more aware of these challenges and feel more inclined to get help when needed so you CAN feel like this journey was meant for you.

With my 2nd baby, challenges, and all, I felt 100 times more confident going into our breastfeeding journey. I was excited because I truly knew what to expect and how to handle the challenges that blindsided me the first time.

2. If your baby wants to breastfeed constantly, it’s okay. Let them!

Did you know breast milk production is based on supply and demand? The more you nurse, the more milk you produce. When your baby wants to nurse more often, it’s their way of letting your body know it needs to ramp up the milk production. Pretty neat, right?

You’ll hear the term “cluster feeding” used often, and it’s normal. It feels like the days will never end. Instead of fighting them, try to embrace them. Gather your favorite snacks, watch a movie, and enjoy those snuggles.

Sometimes, cluster feeding can indicate that maybe you have a low supply or other issues — and in those instances of concern, you should always bring those concerns up to your doctor or lactation consultant. Babies are smart. Your body is smart. Together, they make a darn unique team!

3. Don’t ignore lip and tongue ties in baby, please.

Lip ties and tongue ties in infants are far too overlooked. As a mom with two boys who had them and struggled to breastfeed or take a bottle, you can see why I have such a stance to fix them.

The lip and tongue ties (sometimes just one or the other or both) can prevent the baby from latching and/or suckling milk efficiently. This can lead to not only lots of discomfort for mom but also for baby! Your baby may have difficulty gaining weight as they can’t effectively empty your breast. And you may end up with mastitis or clogged milk ducts because you’re not being emptied. It is no fun to deal with.

The key takeaway from this lesson is that if you feel like your baby’s lip and/or tongue tie is causing a problem, do not settle for a generic “they’ll grow out of it” answer. Trust your gut and get a second opinion.

4. ‘Breastfeeding hunger’ is normal.

The hunger is REAL for breastfeeding moms! Our bodies are working hard to make that precious milk for our baby. If you remember pregnancy hunger in the third trimester, your body will kick it up a notch while breastfeeding.

I was not prepared for this little curve ball with my first and found myself underprepared for the late-night hunger pains that would come on sporadically. Eventually, I made myself a little basket with all of my breastfeeding essentials, and I filled it with a water bottle and easy snacks to munch on while nursing my son. I did this immediately with my 2nd baby, and it helped curve the intense hunger so much.

5. It’s normal NOT to lose weight while breastfeeding.

I remember reading and having so many people tell me, “You’ll lose all your pregnancy weight when you breastfeed.” Color me surprised when I didn’t lose ANY weight while breastfeeding! In fact, in the early days, I GAINED WEIGHT.

Breastfeeding indeed causes your body to burn slightly more calories.1 Chances are, you’re going to be consuming the difference. Not that it matters because weight loss should be the last thing on your mind amongst all your other pressing issues. But I won’t lie. I was a tad disappointed. If you want to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight, there are some ways to burn fat without dropping your breast milk supply.

The truth is that breastfeeding makes us hungry. We may eat more and move less. But you know what? I’m glad I learned this lesson the “hard way.” It opened my eyes to shift my focus to things that mattered more than just the number on the scale.

6. Every breastfeeding journey is unique.

The most important lesson I learned from breastfeeding is that, just like childbirth and postpartum, it is also a unique journey all on its own. It would be filled with ups and downs. The BEST thing we, as moms, can do to stay the course without being discouraged is to prepare for it the best we can. This means taking a legitimate breastfeeding course, meeting with a lactation consultant, and having a supportive support system at home with you and your baby.

Ultimately, knowledge is power. You deserve a fair shot to breastfeed your baby while feeling confident in your abilities to tackle breastfeeding issues that may arise, even when it’s for the first time. I hope these lessons I learned breastfeeding my first baby will help you get a leg up on the process!

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Karissa is a boy mama who resides in sunny San Diego, California with her family - including their two big doggies! After facing many postpartum struggles with minimal support after… Read more

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