Breastfeeding is one of those things that seems deceptively simple…until you do it. Exhibit A: baby. Exhibit B: boob. Exhibit A, meet Exhibit B.
I knew that I was equipped with boobs and that somehow, they were functional. Women generations before me had figured it out without the Internet. Why would I need a lactation consultant? I wasn’t that special.
My son was born and latched as the very first thing he did. The lactation consultant at the hospital peeked her head into the delivery room and said, “Good for you. It seems to be going well.”
And there was my advice.
Turns out she was visiting the women who were having more problems, which did not mean I was set up to have “no” problems. Just less, and that was enough to be left alone, making horrible mistake after horrible mistake until I found myself with a lactation consultant one month in. This time, I brought a pen and notepad because I had eaten my slice of humble pie.
Here are the top four mistakes I made when breastfeeding (but this list could be SO much longer).
1) I made massive assumptions about how it would go. This is definitely the first mistake, whether you are assuming success, failure, or even that your experience will go exactly the same as the first kid. Your body is a wonderland and it is also unpredictable. It is best to “go with the flow” and not to make it a mental game. Nature works sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t. You are no less woman either way.
2) I pumped, when I didn’t know anything about pumping. I was given a pretty good pump through my insurance. I practiced turning it on before my baby was born and my eyes widened at the sucking motions. When he was born, I figured it would help me get my supply up. I pumped and since I didn’t have much time, I did so on the highest setting. More milk in less time. Obviously, I was a genius. Weeks later, my nipples had seen way better days and I had a massive oversupply issue. Do your homework first. Ask your friends. Ask a fellow lactating mama. Ask a lactation consultant. A pump can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
3) I didn’t check for clogs or overfilling. When you have a new baby, every spare moment is spent wondering how you should fill that spare moment productively. Should you sleep? Should you give a f$%k about the fact that you have poo all over your pants? It is hard to add anything else to the list of overwhelm…so I didn’t. Sometimes I woke up with breasts so full I literally couldn’t roll over in bed. Check to see where you are at and if you need to get rid of some milk before you hit the hay. Clear out those milk ducts in weird and wild ways (the Internet is chock full of ideas and I tried all of them). You are saving yourself precious sleep (and deep discomfort) in the long run.
4) I let my baby latch improperly for months. “Get a good latch,” everyone says. Baby’s mouth wide, etc., etc. You think you are doing it right the first 100 times. But then it becomes 101 and it is 2am and you are tired and who the hell cares how the baby gets on? The baby is EATING. The latch is not only for milk, it is for you, mama. If you see your baby has a shallow latch, unhook them and start them again. You deserve time without blisters, for gosh sakes.