Breastfeeding FAQs: World Breastfeeding Week!
It’s World Breastfeeding Week, y’all! This week, designated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), is all about informing, supporting, promoting, and protecting mothers and their children on the journey of nursing. My son and I are eight months into breastfeeding, and I can say it is easily one of the most challenging, beautiful, difficult, amazing things I have ever done. Breastfeeding did not come to us without its challenges, but we’ve powered through every obstacle and made it this far through this incredibly rewarding experience. In the spirit of celebrating the beauty of nursing and World Breastfeeding Week, I thought it would be fun to answer some of the most frequently asked questions I get whenever friends, family or strangers come across us when we’re feeding.
Doesn’t it hurt?
I won’t give the PC answer, ‘If you’re doing it right, it doesn’t hurt’ because in a lot of ways it does; just probably not in the way you’re thinking. It shouldn’t feel like a milk monster is tugging and yanking your tatas right off of you, that’s for sure. But some women have painful contractions while nursing, or a tingly, uncomfortable letdown; I struggled with the latter while my supply came in and the weeks that followed until it leveled off. And if you ever get engorged, or dry out and get a tear, peace be with you. So does it hurt your nipples? No, it really doesn’t, and if your baby is latched properly, it shouldn’t. But do other parts of nursing hurt a little? For some, absolutely.
How do you know how much he’s drinking?
Honestly, I don’t! With the exception of when I pump to leave my baby with sitters, I have no idea how much milk he’s having. In the early days, before pumping into measurable bottles, there was the good ol’ diaper count system (6-8 wet, 2-5 soiled in the first 6 weeks) to keep me in the loop and know Noah was getting enough to fill his belly and keep him hydrated. If it’s comin’ out, it’s going in! Also, listening to hear him swallow was helpful.
He’s eating again?!
Newsflash: Babies don’t just nurse to eat. My son nurses for comfort, to feel close to me, when he’s tired, fussy, not feeling well, when he missed me, and sometimes even when he’s feeling silly. And honestly? My baby smiling up at me with a mouthful of booby is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, and I don’t care if that seems weird to you. And I know Noah and I aren't the only ones! So yes, my baby is at the breast again. We love boobies!
What made you decide to breastfeed?
I'm so glad you asked! There are so many fabulous reasons, I'll probably take the time to do an entirely separate post at some point. But to give you a quick answer, we did it because it came pretty easily to us from the hospital to home, and because cutting the expense of oh so costly formula while I was out on extended unpaid maternity leave was a priority for me! We found a million more reasons to love it along the way.
How long are you going to nurse?
Another great question, but one I don't honestly know the answer to just yet! My original breastfeeding goal was 6 months, because I thought it would be a lot harder and more uncomfortable for us (or at least for me) than it has been. But here we are, 8 months strong with no foreseeable plans to stop! My guess is Noah will slowly wean himself once he starts walking. Even now that he's just crawling, especially with solids, he'll go longer stretches between nursing. My new goal is to make it to a year. My hopes are that after then, he'll wean himself off daytime feedings (because this lazy mama doesn't want to keep pumping at work). I'm happy to nurse him to sleep as long as he wants, since it's already so rare these days, anyway (he's a binky boy). When he nurses to sleep, I get some life-giving snuggles and get to feel like my baby is still a baby. But in reality, these are all just desires, and desires change. For now, I'm a bit more blasé than I expected to be, and leaving the end of our breastfeeding journey up to my baby!
Doesn't it feel weird being so exposed?
This one really makes me laugh out loud, only because this part of nursing has been so different than I expected. I had always intended to use a cover all day, every day except when home with just my husband and I, for the sake of decency. Enter fussy, grumpy, sweaty baby that was not having this whole "blanket draped over your chest is also draped over my face" idea. So once Noah was old enough to wiggle out of a cover, we stopped bothering to use one. I thought I'd feel most uncomfortable with this while out in public, but funny enough, it's where I care the least. I'm a lot less worried about my boob making an unexpected appearance around strangers I'll never see again, as opposed to in front of my best guy friends, my pastor, or my brother. In summary, I definitely find the level of discomfort directly proportionate to the likelihood of having to look into a bro's eyes again once they've accidentally seen the goods haha. 😆
So there you have it, friends. Breastfeeding has come with its challenges for us. I had mastitis twice, we dealt with some serious oversupply, forceful letdown, and foremilk/hindmilk imbalance issues as we got the hang of things, but all worth the while and thankfully all things that resolved here at home with my attention and my little milk man hard at work. Nursing is easily one of the most rewarding things I've ever done and I've so enjoyed. If you & your baby are on or recently ended a breastfeeding journey, we'd love to hear about it! If you breastfed your babies 20 years ago, I'd still love you to tell me about it! Comment below or find us on Instagram @dumpydiapersblog and share with us. Happy World Breastfeeding Week to all!