We all know that hindsight is 20/20, right?! The crazy thing about motherhood is that there is NO RULEBOOK. Babies don’t come with instructions. And learning how to be a new mom, especially the first time, can be super overwhelming. No one can tell you what to do or what is BEST for you and your baby other than YOU. And, if you’ve NEVER done it before, it can be hard to KNOW what is “best.” We’re all kind of faking it and hoping we make it, am I right?!
Well…knowing what I know now and preparing for baby number 2, there are THREE THINGS I wish I could go back in time to 2019 and tell my new mom self about breastfeeding. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m going to share these 3 things with you because I truly believe that these are super helpful tips that I desperately wish I knew…and, while I can’t ACTUALLY time travel, I CAN help you right now and I am lucky enough to get to try to implement them with baby number 2.
- ASK FOR HELP.
Breastfeeding is so freakin’ hard. It is the MOST natural thing that doesn’t just come naturally. YOU need to learn how to do it and your BABY needs to learn how to do it. And, my dear mama friends, that learning curve can be steep AF. If it is easy for you and your baby, that is AMAZING. But, for MOST of us, it’s HARD and we NEED to ask for help. Most hospitals will send the lactation consultant to round on you while you’re in the hospital, but I really believe you need a little more help than that. I saw a lactation consultant one additional time after leaving the hospital, and I WISH I saw her more often. I took her breastfeeding class while I was pregnant, but it was so beneficial to meet with her one-on-one once the baby was actually here. I didn’t go more than once because I thought I was supposed to handle it on my own after that. And that simply isn’t true. They don’t say it takes a village for nothing – and I wish I made my lactation consultant part of my village.
- DO NOT WASTE AN OUNCE OF LIQUID GOLD.
I am literally so embarrassed to even write this, but I wasted a lot of milk. I was really lucky that my supply was very robust while I was on maternity leave, so I took my supply for granted. There were multiple occasions where I may have had one glass of wine too many and then pumped and dumped (*gasp*). First of all, there were plenty of occasions where the amount of time passed between glasses of wine and pumping would have been COMPLETELY fine to keep, which I didn’t learn until a little bit later – I’ve talked about this quite a few times on Instagram already! Second of all, in the event that I was NOT comfortable with how many drinks I had, I still wish I did NOT dump the milk I pumped. It can be re-purposed for other things, like milk baths! When I started struggling with my supply when I went back to work and Mason got a little bit older, I watched my freezer stash dwindle and KICKED myself for the many ounces wasted by my own ignorance.
- ANY AMOUNT OF BREASTMILK IS BENEFICIAL.
For some reason, I thought it was an all or nothing kind of thing, but IT ISN’T! Even ONE DROP of breastmilk has about 1 million white blood cells that protect your baby from infections. There are SO many benefits of breast milk in ANY amount your baby gets. I thought my son HAD to get full feedings from me otherwise I wasn’t doing “my job.” When I started struggling with my supply, we started supplementing with formula and I thought that was an all or nothing kind of thing too – he either was formula-fed or breastfed. There was no in between. AND THAT’S JUST NOT TRUE! I thought by giving him formula, I HAD to wean from pumping. I WISH I would’ve kept pumping for longer, even if he wasn’t getting all his full feedings from the pumped milk. Not being able to give him breastmilk for ALL his feedings towards the end of our breastfeeding journey made me feel SO terrible and there was no room for compromise in my mind at that time – I was either a breastfeeding mama or I wasn’t. I would nurse/pump for all feedings or NOT AT ALL. Of course, I personally struggled with postpartum anxiety, so there’s a bit of that involved here for me. But, whether you’re just starting your breastfeeding journey or approaching the end, just know that any and all amounts of breastmilk given for any amount of time is beneficial to your baby and YOU ARE A GOOD MOM.