I find it wildly inappropriate when strangers on the street ask me if I’m nursing. It blows me away! I was never expecting it. More people do this than ever asking if I was “about to pop” or rubbing my belly without consent.
Feeding a newborn is an enormous responsibility. It’s our only way of knowing we are helping them grow and thrive. And the vehicle by which we choose to do this, be it breast or formula, shouldn’t be open to discussion.
As moms, we can’t win. If we try to breastfeed in public we’re made to feel embarrassed and indecent. As if breastfeeding weren’t challenging enough, I then have to throw a sheet over my head so no one else is made uncomfortable. BUT if I take out some formula and prepare it in a bottle for baby, I’m met with a firing squad of judgemental side eyes and harassed with pseudoscience articles about how I’m endangering my kid.
So my advice is to ignore everyone else. Even some doctors will pressure you about breastfeeding. Don’t listen. Your only job is to get baby fed. However that makes the most sense for you and your baby. Period.
I knew going into it that breastfeeding would come with its challenges. I had done a lot of research and also spoke to friends about their experiences. I set myself up to know that it might not happen and I was okay with that.
Thankfully baby has been doing great from the very beginning. There was a learning curve for sure, for both of us. But we were learning together and that helped keep me patient.
My nips got ripped up at first. Super chapped and cracked. But I just kept lathering them with coconut oil and earth mama nipple butter and eventually they grew calloused and were able to withstand the constant sucking.
The first few days I was ordered to supplement with formula because she was jaundiced and my milk hadn’t come in yet. They wanted to make sure she was eating enough and pooping enough because that’s how the jaundice goes away. I didn’t think twice about supplementing because I knew it’s what she needed right then. She took to the bottle without issue and didn’t experience any nipple confusion. She gobbled up the formula same as the boob. This kid loves to eat.
I gave her formula once more during what seemed to be her first growth spurt. She just didn’t stop eating all day to the point that I didn’t have anything left. So I gave her some formula at night and she slept six straight hours!
Since she eats so much, I get concerned about my supply. I’ve been making and eating recipes with brewers yeast, flax and oats because they’re supposed to boost supply. I eat so much oat meal. I try to drink a ton of water but I never feel like it’s enough. I pump once every morning and fill a medela storage bag for the freezer. I was pumping twice a day, but I was noticing that in the afternoon she never seemed to get satisfied. I figured it was because I was pumping and my afternoon supply wasn’t as full and fatty as in the morning. I also give her 2oz of pumped milk every night as the last feeding before bed. I’ve seen that sucking on the bottle tires her out and that extra 2oz keeps her satisfied longer. So she’ll sleep four, sometimes even six, hours straight! (Or sometimes she’ll wake up every hour).
I recently got mastits, which I’ll go into in another post. But it wasn’t pleasant. I’m still getting used to breastfeeding in public. My back is a wreck from not using proper posture. These growth spurts make it almost impossible to predict when she’ll be hungry. Sometimes it feels like she’s never satisfied. But I will say that 6 weeks in, I feel more confident about the whole thing. I’m learning her cues, I’m quicker at getting her to latch, and it’s way more comfortable. Sometimes I don’t even use the Boppy pillow (but only if I’m on the other side of the house and baby is screaming. Otherwise, get me the Boppy!)
Remember, you’re learning to feed right along with baby learning to eat. You’re both figuring it out together. Have some patience and a sense of humor about it, and it’ll become second nature in no time.