Breastfeeding can have it’s challenges though. Even though this is our fourth child, I still find myself Googling questions at two in the morning with the same doubts and fears I had breastfeeding our first three children.
Is our newborn eating enough? Am I producing enough milk? Why does our baby cry after a feeding? Is he/she still hungry? Should I supplement with formula? Will supplementing with formula ruin my milk supply? Help me!!!!!
I’m here to share with you my breastfeeding struggles and what I learned along the way while raising our four children, to help you happily breastfeed your newborn for months and/or years to come.
(Note: I’m not a doctor or nurse, these are my personal opinions.)
Breastfeeding your newborn.
- Don’t Panic: Both of our term newborns latched perfectly the first day, struggled the second and latched great again on the third day and every day after. Breastfeeding is a learning experience for both of you, and every baby is different. Yes, it is difficult when your newborn is learning to feed. She may be rooting and crying as she’s trying to latch, but with a little patience you and your newborn can find a system that works perfectly for both of you.
- Don’t sweat the ‘rules’: I hate the ‘rules’ of breastfeeding. Don’t do this, don’t do that, it’s enough to make you want to quit. Yes, there are some iron-clad rules (if you don’t breastfeed regularly you will lessen your milk supply), but life happens and sometimes you need to adjust without the guilt or judgement of others. Any lactation consultant would cringe at how I breast feed our daughter, and how I breast-fed our three sons. None of my children have latched the way I was taught in the hospital, but that’s OK. All of our children have found their own comfortable way to latch and have thrived at my breast. As long as latching and breastfeeding is not painful for you, then I say keep doing what you are doing. You’re doing great!
- Be your own advocate: Our third child had difficulty latching in the hospital and the hospital wanted to give him formula, but I was not ready to quit. Turns out, he was just a lazy sucker. With the help of a nipple shield for the first few weeks, I happily and easily breast-fed him for months. I’m not against formula feeding, in fact all of our children have had formula at one time or another, but if you don’t want to give your newborn formula, don’t let someone else push it on you unless your newborns health is at risk.
- Is he/she really hungry or comfort nursing: The first couple of days our daughter was home from the hospital, she would cry every time I put her down after a feeding, which made me question my milk supply. I even gave her a bottle (or two) of formula after feeding her to see if she was still hungry or not. Turns out, she was comfort nursing on my breast. Comfort nursing is not a bad thing and is a great way to bond with your baby, plus the constant nursing can help stimulate your milk supply during the first few days.
- Yes, it is OK to supplement with formula, occasionally: I always fear my milk supply is not enough and yes, I have successfully supplemented with formula on more than one occasion without hurting my milk supply. On our daughter’s third night home, she would not go to sleep even at two in the morning. I had breast-fed her all night long and she was still crying, so I gave her a bottle of formula. Not only did this quell the guilt and question of if she was getting enough to eat, but it helped her sleep which gave me a few hours of much-needed sleep.
- Don’t fear the pacifier: All four of our children have used a pacifier. We were introduced to pacifiers when our twins were in the NICU as a tool to help them soothe themselves. Never have we had a problem with nipple confusion or our newborns refusing to nurse after using a pacifier. In fact, our two-week old daughter uses one now so she can soothe herself on something else besides mommy’s breast.
- If formula works for you, then do it: I can’t stand when people are villainized for not exclusively breastfeeding their babies. I believe breast is best, but I know breastfeeding is not for everyone. Our preemie twins never took to the breast because their mouths were too small. I pumped for three-months then switched them to formula so I could get out of the house more for my sanity. With our third child, I stopped breast-feeding at four-month because I knew breastfeeding him was making him sick. Turns out, he has multiple food allergies and for his own health needed to be put on specialized formula. Formula never hurt any of our children, instead they all thrived while on it.
Always remember, breastfeeding is supposed to be a beautiful and happy moment between mother and baby, and as long as your baby is thriving and getting the nutrition he/she needs, then you are doing awesome!
Did you breastfeed your children? Have you ever had to supplement with formula or successfully used a pacifier while breastfeeding?
Image courtesy of Flickr.