Happy Black Breastfeeding Week Mamas!! I’m so excited that this week exists for us to come together, share knowledge, uplift one another and further educate our sisters as well as our communities about breastfeeding and all of the benefits surrounding it. In this post I’ll be sharing 4 major keys every pregnant mom should know before breastfeeding for the first time.
I remember so vividly being pregnant with my oldest, Ava, and knowing during pregnancy that I wanted to breastfeed… but my knowledge stopping there. I assumed that it would be a whole magical unicorn experience. The thing I didn’t realize, was that I had filled my mind with what I thought breastfeeding was supposed to be or look like based on what I saw on TV and on instagram. I made assumptions of the woman I saw nursing her baby under a cover in an amusement park or at the airport; and once my baby arrived that’s what I expected to happen.
What I didn’t fully understand are the four things I’m going to share with you below. The four things I wish I knew during pregnancy, before breastfeeding.
Everything your body needs to breastfeed your baby, it is producing right now.
Que the Unsolicited advice A lot of people are going to tell you that you need EXTRA stuff when it comes to breastfeeding. Stuff to “make sure you produce milk” as soon as your baby is born. Supplements to help you make more milk… pumps, magical drinks, teas… just a whole lot of stuff! And if I could tell you the truth you don’t NEED anything. You don’t need anything extra to breastfeed your baby. Just you + your baby!
Everything that you need to make sure that you baby has all that he/she needs is already inside of you. As soon as you became pregnant your body began developing everything it would need uniquely to nurse your baby. Your body turned on signals to your milk ducts that there is a baby on board and that soon it will need to produce enough milk for your baby. There are connections being fired off between your brain and your body that you don’t even know are happening and without giving you a whole anatomy and biology lesson, i just want you to know, you’ve got all the tools mama!!
The first two weeks of breastfeeding statistically are the hardest…
Okay get ready for the real and raw girl! And let me preface this by saying, this isn’t the case for EVERYONE but it has been the case for a lot of women, so incase you fall into the percentage of us that notice that your first two weeks of breastfeeding aren’t easy, I hope you can refer back here for some reassurance.
The first two weeks of breastfeeding come with a lot of adjustments. Not just adjustments for you, but adjustments for your baby as well. Your first two weeks will involve your milk actually coming in, learning what a proper latch looks and feels like. Adjusting to the new physical sensation of suckling, and a lot more. But be kind to yourself in this transition time! The key word to remember is that you are both LEARNING how to navigate this time together. And whatever you do, DO NOT QUIT!
IT WILL GET EASIER…
after this learning curve. But they part that most people get lost in is that assuming that things will always be this way. They will not but brace yourself in the meantime. Cracked Nipples are NORMAL! Engorgement HAPPENS. And not all babies come out knowing how to latch. To get good at breastfeeding, extend yourself grace and just know that this too shall pass.
To get through the first two weeks successfully:
- Keep coconut oil on hand. it is safe for you and baby and contains properties to help soothe sore and cracked nipples faster than any commercial nipple balm I’ve tried. not to mention a little can go a LONG way. Apply before and after nursing to keep nipple moisturized and to help heal an discomfort.
- Understand that Pediatricians don’t ALWAYS know whats best…so seek out resources that specialize in lactation before asking your pediatrician. Of course refer to your ped if there is a medical concern but keep in mind that not all pediatricians are up to date on all things lactation- this might also be something to ask before you choose yours. “What are your thoughts and practices surrounding breastfeeding.
- DITCH THE PUMP!!!!! I can’t say this enough! Pumping too early can really create more harm than good. So consider this when choosing a pump. Over production and engorgement happen. If this is the case I recommend a silicone pump like this one to catch any excess milk. These pumps do not actively express milk from the breast so they are less likely to cause oversupply.
- Take Care of Yourself! Seriously. Create a meal plan of simple healthy meals to make sure that you are staying nourished and hydrated! On top of all of the other factors that are at play with a brand new baby. your personal nutrition and health is super important when it comes to breastfeeding your new baby!
It looks different for everyone.
The beauty of your breastfeeding journey and your motherhood journey in general is that it will be uniquely yours. You are not entitled to fulfill the expectations of anyone else or follow anyone else’s journey. Give yourself grace in knowing that you and your baby will learn in due time what works and feels best for you. There are no time constraints or limits. Just trust each other and do what feels right.
You don’t need a Stash!
There i said it! Phew! And I’m sure there will be someone ready to chop me down for it. But let me say it louder for the people in the back! YOU DO NOT NEED A STASH!
This was a major point of anxiety for me…
in my earlier days of breastfeeding and as soon as my milk came in. I remember pumping as much as i could as often as I could to return back to work! Then it happened. I couldn’t figure out how to manage pumping and nursing (because both took equal time). I found myself reaching for refrigerated bottles on the way out the door because it was easier and would give our family members a chance to feed Ava.
I looked up 1 week before I was due back into the office and my stash… was GONE! 200+ oz of milk I had blown through in just 2 short months and here I was going back to work with NO STASH! But we did it.
And it was then that I realized, the stash thing was a MYTH! You Don’t ACTUALLY NEED ONE! You will store what baby needs while baby is away. And feed baby while you’re present. A really simple system that I overthought because of the freezer stashes I say on the gram! I’ll be the first to tell you, having a stash doesn’t make you a better or less mom, it simply means your body produces more milk than your baby actually needs. If you don’t produce extra? no problem, your baby can still be healthy and happy without a heaping milk freezer!
I hope this was helpful for you!! if so feel free to leave some love in the comments! I can’t wait to hear back from you!
For feeding tips for babies 6 months and older, feel free to check out my post on Baby Led Weaning here.