My son is just over four months old now and exclusively breastfed. We’ve been through a lot in our breastfeeding journey, here are five things I’ve learned since we started:
- Breastfeeding will feel completely normal the moment your child is born. When I was pregnant I honestly wasn’t sure how I would feel about breastfeeding. For my entire life, my breasts belonged to me and only me, so I didn’t know how sharing them with a child would make me feel, and plus it seemed a little…awkward? But at soon as that baby boy was placed on my chest and I got to try to feed him for the first time, I never looked back. Breastfeeding, although difficult at times, was the most natural thing in the world.
- Breastfeeding is natural but not automatic. I think a lot of people say this, and that’s because it’s true. We place so much emphasis on the labor and delivery of a baby and don’t really think about what comes afterward when we are pregnant. Maybe we think that because our bodies know how to give birth, they also know how to breastfeed. Not true! (At least for me.) I went to one La Leche League meeting while pregnant and thought that was enough to prepare me. I could have done more research and watched more videos to prepare myself, but at the same time I think you really just have to go through the trials and tribulations yourself in order to learn what works best for your and baby.
- No one has a perfect, issue-free breastfeeding experience. Of all of my first time mom friends, every single one dealt with one or more of these issues with breastfeeding:
- Bruised or cracked nipples
- Lack of supply or oversupply
- Difficulty with latching
- Clogged ducts
- You will feed your baby anywhere and everywhere and in front of anyone. I’m sure this isn’t everyone, but I personally found that as soon as I started breastfeeding I really didn’t care if I did it in front of other people. I remember the first day we were home from the hospital one of our male friends came over to meet Asahi. I was in the bedroom nursing and talking to him at the same time without any worry. Since then I’ve nursed in front of male and female family members, friends, in restaurants, parks…basically anywhere! When baby needs to eat that’s your number one priority, not what other people think! As long as you and baby are relaxed and comfortable, that’s all that matters.
- Breastfeeding gets easier the longer you do it! This is for all of you who are struggling right now…don’t give up! I had very painful nipples for the first two weeks, then at three weeks I got mastitis and felt a dip in my supply which caused Asahi to cry himself to sleep one night. As I cried on my husband’s shoulder, I realized the weight of my role as a mother. Without me (and without access to formula), he would starve. Luckily, my supply normalized and I was able to give him a full feed a few hours later but the lesson stayed with me. I felt so grateful to have milk to feed my baby, but also to live in a place like Japan where I had access to formula if I needed it. Since then I’ve had more periods of painful nipples, poor latching, and clogged ducts, but for some reason those experiences have just made me more committed to continuing to breastfeed. Over the last four months, Asahi and I have worked continuously to build up our breastfeeding relationship, and it is one of the most precious things I have ever done in my life. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to breastfeed, and I hope to continue as long as it still works for us.
6 thoughts on “5 Things I’ve Learned About Breastfeeding in the First Four Months”
I’m with you on every point except number 3. Been lucky enough to have a 100% problem free breastfeeding experience (good karma for suffering from a shitty pregnancy lol).
I never knew breastfeeding would come so naturally to me. I thought I’d last a few months max and would probably supplement with formula.
I had so much milk (would sometimes have to pump and dump from leaking like crazy) and my son never took a bottle (of my own milk).
He turns 3 next Sunday and here we are, still nursing. I’m currently pregnant with n°2 and lost my milk supply in November but we still share those bonding moments that are so precious to the both of us.
Starting all over again from scratch is a bit daunting I must say as I miss having my body to myself at times (been either pregnant or nursing non stop for close to 4 years!) but still cherish the experience and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I totally agree that women focus more on the delivery wich just lasts a few hours. The worst part comes after! I was never warned the recovery process which is long and painful.
Most women think it’s normal to struggle with the delivery but not breastfeeding and give up quickly. We definitely aren’t prepared enough and it’s a shame because nothing comes close to that experience. We self sufficiently grow a human outside of our bodies! Now that’s a kick ass superpower!
Thanks for this Caroline! It’s good to know that your experience came without issues! It gives me hope for our baby #2 when it comes! Amazing you are still nursing after almost 4 years! I know several people who are doing that as well and I really admire them. I’m not sure what’s in the cards for Asahi and I but I feel like there will come a time when it feels natural to wean. I hope more women will feel empowered to plan to breastfeed and also supported to continue breastfeeding once their baby is born. It seems like it’s becoming more normalized and accepted (and sometimes pushed a little too hard in my opinion) so hopefully more women will choose to do it!
It was never my intention to breastfeed for so long. For me it’s a two person relationship that should be out to an end once one of the parties have had enough. My son is finally slowly weaning but he just wasn’t ready at all before. I just never put an end date to it as I was waiting for him to be ready. So yeah, natural weaning doesn’t come at the same time for everyone.
I agree that sometimes it’s pushed too much and some people guilt other women for not breastfeeding their babies. It’s hard and doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I totally understand that some women don’t even want to try it or just give up for the sake of their mental sanity (as they should).
Like everything, it’s a personal choice and every woman is free to do what she pleases with her own body without being shamed about it.
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