I am all for nursing a child. I think the benefits of the boob are fantastic. I had exclusively breastfed Ariyana for the first 5 months of her life and thought I would do the same with Arian.
Ok let’s get this straight from the onset – I am all for the benefits of the boob juice, but I am not one of those who can go for years just offering the boob. I do my level best to do what is best for the child, but I am human and I am one of those mums who believes that if the child needs more than what I can offer then by all means let them receive it, and a happy mum means a happy child.So, when I sought out to exclusively breastfeed the newborn I was not prepared for the following;
Breastfeeding is time consuming and it can be hard to give the time to the little one when you have a demanding preschooler who does not quite understand why her sibling has taken over all of mamas time.
Boys spend way too much time on the breast. Yes, so the obsession with breasts begins from day one of life with men. Sometimes he is not feeding himself, he is just hanging out there.
The knock on effect of the above point is that I would have sat there an hour assuming the boy is feeding and once he is full, put him to bed only to have him wake 20 minutes later looking for more food.
And the knock on effect of the above two is that breastfeeding is exhausting. I became cranky, moody and felt that it was unfair on child number one and everyone around me.
If you are one of those mothers who can do it – hats off to you! I don’t say do not do it. The benefits of breast milk are amazing for baby and the benefits of breastfeeding are something you can reap too. We all know the reason breastfeeding is so exhausting is because the amount of calories you burn every time you produce milk – the more calories you burn, the more weight you lose! Also breastfeeding helps to shrink that uterus – and with me, it was something I needed!
So, bubba is still enjoying his boob juice, but the difference now is that I am expressing. At least with this I can say that I am a mum who is happy because I know that he is feeding and how much he is having. I am not one to deny him the pleasure of hanging out boob-side, but I really do not have the time for that. It definitely has to be a boy thing because every mum I have spoken to who has boys, says the same thing – they are comfortable there and sometimes caress and play more than they actually feed! I know with my daughter, she was in and out and the only thing she was interested in was to fill up her tummy.
On the flipside, I have a lot of new mothers who tell me that they just could not breastfeed. They said their milk never came in or they found it too painful and so on. We live in a very judgmental society. Some people make you feel inferior because you cannot or did not breastfeed. I say – your body, your child, do what pleases you. However, the first 3 days after birth are quite key in regards to your baby getting the nourishment. Colostrum, which is the thick yellowish milk that comes in when baby is born, is full of nourishment for your child. There are benefits of breast milk the longer you feed. I would say, if you want to breastfeed – do the following;
- Buy a good breast pump – engorgement is not fun and it helps when you want to get baby started on the bottle.
- Buy a nursing cover. I have said this before. It is the most natural thing to breast feed but sometimes not everyone is comfortable with you popping the boob out. A friend of mine just gave me the most fab nursing cover – check it out on facebook – mama flamingo Kenya.
- Toughen your nipples in the last month before giving birth – Nipples cracking and sore nipples is a valid reason to just stop breast feeding. The pain is beyond! I was given this advice before Ariyana was born. By this I mean just use Vaseline on them every day until baby is born – this makes them well moisturized and ready for feeding.
- Buy a good nipple cream – try and find the ones that you need not wash off before you feed. Medela has a great one. Use this after you have started feeding.
- Get good maternity tops and bras – you know the ones that are easy to just snap off so it’s not cumbersome.
- Get a nursing pillow – you need to be comfortable when you feed – as you have seen sometimes babies like to hang out there.
- Read as much as you can on breastfeeding – how to get baby to latch, what to expect, how to burp baby and about let down, engorged breasts and so on. By the way, frozen cabbage leaves also help with engorgement – but they smell, be warned!
- There is plenty of information available thanks to our best friend Google. Read up on it as much as possible. If you have low milk supply, do not panic – ask your mum and all those aunties to make you the porridges or the concoctions of nuts and almonds, etc in order for your milk to come through. It will – the key is keep calm!
About the aunties who give you all sorts of things to eat – eat them. There is a reason we are fed so much – it helps our body heal as well and makes us stronger as well as gives us energy to just get through the initial part of having a new born.
My tips on breast feeding;
- It is thirsty work – keep a large bottle of water with you.
- It does make you crave food – in my case chocolates and cakes! I am convinced that breastfeeding is just as bad as pregnancy when it comes to craving. I think the extra sugar also helps because of the amount of energy you are using. I say indulge, but as you cut your feeds, watch your diet – this is where the extra weight comes in and what we find hardest to lose.
- Same with all the foods that our grandmas and aunts give us to eat – am not saying make huge meals out of them – everything in moderation – but watch how much you consume so you do not become a lump of lard.
- Use the time to watch your baby and fall in love. I find is super special to bond with baby during breastfeeding. Also because of the oxytocin that breastfeeding creates, you are bound to feel all lovey dovey – savor the moment. But if it does get long and boring, nap or watch some TV!
- If you cannot do it, do not feel guilty – formula has the same amounts of nutrients as breast milk. Do not be afraid to ask for help – to get your phone, a book, a remote, a snack.
- Look after your boobies! After baby is done with them you want them back and you do not want them resting on your belly. Get the right bra and wear it all the time – I mean all day and all night! You need the girls to look as smoking as you do when baby is done.
Always remember you are doing a great job!Until the next blog….. stay perky and enjoy it – remember when you are going through the motions it may feel like this is going to last forever, it doesn’t – so soak it all up!