So… last Sunday, I noticed that my breasts have started to leak a little. Happy 27 weeks’ anniversary and beginning of week 28!
We are planning to breastfeed our child. I do say “we” instead of “I” because our success depends greatly upon B’s support. I have spent a lot of time talking with other mamas who have been down this road, learning about their challenges and successes, as well as watching videos online that explain the correct and incorrect ways (read: baby gets nourished and mama doesn’t have to be in pain), and talking with my doula.
One thing I’m learning from other mamas is that the support of their families and communities really does help them with continuing the breastfeeding relationship with their children.
What will we need from you guys?
One, I know that Pud cannot be allergic to my milk, but he can potentially react to the foods I eat. I may end up learning that there are foods I cannot eat (peanuts tops the list until he’s older and we know for sure he doesn’t have his dad’s allergy) because they cause him to have rashes or an upset tummy. In the process of learning which foods are not comfortable for him, he and I may be miserable and it may seem like we need to give up. Please don’t encourage us to do so… giving him the best immunological advantages I can is extremely important to both B and me. My hope is that he has fewer allergies than I do, fewer ear infections than I had growing up, and the most nutritious food he can possibly eat early on, so that he outgrows his great-uncle D. Kinda kidding about the last part, but this is Kentucky, so it has to be mentioned.
Two, I have been told there will be days ever so often that it seems like all Pud wants to do is nurse for 24 hours (or so). Those are days that I won’t get much else done, but it’s important to let him indulge because it means he’s getting ready to grow quickly and he needs my body to make more milk for him to feel satisfied. Those are times that might be absolutely exhausting for me, and it might be a great time to offer to cook extra food for the freezer for us or understand if a visit needs to be rescheduled or changed to hanging out at my house.
Three, we are planning to nurse exclusively for the first 6 months. Please don’t offer my baby anything to eat or drink, or tell us that we need to feed him food before he’s 6 months old. I’d prefer to take the process more slowly and carefully, and trust that God knew what He was doing when He designed women’s bodies to nourish their young. There are some indications that introducing foods too early can potentially cause the child to have reactions to those foods, which we want to avoid. With that said, if it ends up that there ends up being some unforeseeable medical reason that Pud needs formula instead of nursing, we will do that and we still won’t be feeding him food until about 6 months, because recent research is showing that many babies’ digestive systems just don’t handle food very well in the first 6 months. The only way I’d change my mind on this is if his doctor has a valid reason for us to start foods a little earlier.
Four, I’m still debating the breast pump and bottles thing. If I’m home all the time, which is looking more like a potential reality than a dream, it seems silly to spend the money on them. On the other hand, I considered, as I was with a friend yesterday, that perhaps expressing milk for Daddy (or aunties, uncles, and grandparents) to feed to Pud might not be such a bad idea. Having to prepare and warm a bottle for a hungry baby requires the baby to learn to be a little bit more patient; feeding him from my breasts is a little more instantaneous, providing I’m not out running an errand while he’s with his daddy. Learning that sometimes one must wait to get what one wants is a good life skill that wouldn’t hurt for him to start learning in his early years.
Five, I know I’m no small girl. I will do what I can to be discreet, because I realize that having a baby nursing nearby may be uncomfortable for some of you. Please be patient with me and with Pud as we figure things out. One way we are hoping to practice discretion in public is through the use of a soft baby carrier called a wrap (like the Moby or the Sleepy Wrap), which can allow me to carry him and nurse him in the carrier.
For my friends who have been there, done that: what would you add? What advice would you share with a first-time mama?