First I want to say that breastfeeding is not for everyone, and I firmly believe that a happy mom equals a happy baby. Mothers should never feel shamed for not breastfeeding or for breastfeeding.
As you probably already know, I am the mom to three beautiful boys (6, 4, 1). I have exclusively breastfed each of them until they were roughly 1 years old. My mom breastfed me and my two sisters, and I knew that I would as well. When I was pregnant with my first son Joey, my husband and I took a breastfeeding class, which went over the basics. We definitely found it helpful and I would recommend it to any moms expecting their first. We found the class through the hospital in which I was delivering at.
Each of my boys I fed on demand, whenever they seemed hungry. In the first few months I didn't have any kind of a schedule. After they were a few months old I would "try" and feed them at certain times to establish a routine and plan the feedings around nap times. I didn't really have any issues with latching or milk flow, each of my boys took to it right away which was amazing. I was sure to see the lactation specialist in the hospital with each birth. I got really lucky with my first born Joey, the lactation specialist was the same woman who taught the nursing class. She was absolutely incredible. In the beginning its hard AF, because it can be painful as they learn to latch properly. You're sleep deprived and emotional and sore everywhere. I've found that it gets much easier after about a week. Once you get used to the feeling of breastfeeding its such a wonderful way to bond with your baby. I really enjoyed that one on one time with each of my boys.
With each baby I have become more comfortable and confident with breastfeeding. I've always started by exclusively breastfeeding my boys, then we introduced bottle feeding (w/ breast milk) when they were a month or so old. I felt it was important for my boys to get used to breastfeeding before I started pumping and introducing a bottle to them, as its easier for them to get milk out of a bottle. With Jack I started pumping almost immediately, because my supply was pretty heavy. I wish I had done that with Joey and Tommy, but I was still learning then. For storing the milk, I usually keep it in the fridge in bottles for a day or so, then I freeze in milk storage bags. I like the Medela or Target brand bags best.
Breast pump & accessories:
I used both the Medela Freestyle Deluxe and the Spectra 2 (this one was free through insurance). As far as pumping goes, I think I get about the same amount of milk from each pump. One didn't seem to give me more than the other. The Medela that I have does come in its own carrying case, which is really handy. It also can be powered by battery, or in the car with an AC adapter. In my opinion they are both annoying to clean, but that's just me. I will say that I dropped one of the plastic backflow adapter pieces on the counter (for the Spectra) and it snapped off inside another piece. This was right after I started using it which was pretty annoying, and I had to order a replacement from Amazon. It wasn't expensive, just irritating that I had to pay for it. As far as nursing goes, I used a boppy pillow with each baby, which was comfortable for them and myself.
I have consistently been pumping first thing in the morning and at least once in the afternoon, then right before I go to bed. When I pump in the morning I usually get about 10 ounces of milk, which I split into two bottles for Jack. One I give him right away, and then I leave the other one out for his morning nap. When I'm at work I typically pump twice throughout the day. Then when I get home from work about 5, I breast feed Jack. I used to always breastfeed Jack before bed, but it seemed like he wasn't getting as much milk as he wanted and he would wake up hungry about 11 or 12. So I started thawing one of my frozen (5 or 6 oz.) milks for him, and then breast feeding him if he still seemed hungry. That has been working for several months now, and he sleeps through the night about 95% of the time. Update: Jack is now 14 months old and he's been sleeping through the night for several months.
Benefits of Breastfeeding:
- Breast milk contains antibodies that can help baby fight off viruses and bacteria.
- It may reduce the risk of many diseases, including a reduced risk of common colds and inner ear infections.
- It can help promote a healthy weight for your baby. Babies that are breast fed have more leptin in their systems, which is a hormone responsible for regulating fat storage and appetite.
- Breastfeeding helps contract and shrink your uterus back down after delivery.
- It can aid in weight loss. I dropped about 75% of the weight I gained during pregnancy pretty quickly after each of my boys were born. I did tend to hang onto 5-10 pounds until I was completely finished breastfeeding each of them.
- Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop postpartum depression.
- Breastfeeding for longer than one year can reduce your risk of breast or ovarian cancer by 25%.
- For many it is known to prevent menstruation. This was the case for me with each of my boys. I didn't start menstruating again until I was completely finished breastfeeding.
- Its also very convenient, and you don't have to carry anything around with you.
- Last but not least, its practically free!!
This information was summarized from the following website:
I would also like to reiterate that while I chose to breastfeed, its certainly not for every mom. Its important to do what is best for YOU and your baby. A happy mom and baby is above all what's the most important factor.
If there's anything that I didn't address or that you would like clarification on, please comment below.