10 Real Things New & Expecting Moms Should Know About Breastfeeding

Currently on Round 3 of breastfeeding in the past two years. And boy, has it been a journey! Three babies and three years in, I love that I’ve been able to nourish my babies and have a custom supply of milk to fit their needs, all from my own body.

I remember being pregnant with my first child, Leilani, and wanting to breastfeed, but my knowledge of breastfeeding and its many benefits being completely surface level. I mean, I could feed my baby at no monetary costs, and breastmilk being really good for baby was as far as my knowledge went. 

However, there were a number of thing I wish I truly knew before it all began, and I know it will help some of my black breastfeeding moms out there! Here are 10 real things new and expectant moms should know about breastfeeding. 

Commitment // The most important thing new and expecting moms should know about breastfeeding is that it is a HUGE commitment. No, seriously. It’s no easy job. It really is a lot of work nursing a child around the clock. Add pumping to the equation and it’s literally like another full time job. There’s late nights, early mornings. Literally, your body is not your own even after pregnancy because you still give so much of yourself even after the baby is here. Breastfeeding takes a toll on your body, your sleep, your time, and you're freedom. Make sure you’re committed to the process— the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

Your success  is as good as your latch // Latching your baby to the breast can make or break your breastfeeding experience. You and baby both need to learn the best positions to breastfeed but most importantly, baby has to learn how to latch properly so he/she can remove milk from the breast effectively. The keyword here is learn! Both you and baby are teaching each other through this journey - you teach baby to latch properly and baby teaches you which positions they like to nurse in. If baby isn't emptying the breast efficiently that sends a signal to your brain to stop producing the amount of milk baby needs! Take your time in teaching this. Don't quit mama! 

That Ish Hurts // With commitment comes pain. Well, not all the time, but in this instance, it does. Breastfeeding hurts. From a shallow latch to engorement and clogged milk ducts, breastfeeding can hurt like a mother the first few weeks as you and baby are getting adjusted. The things mothers do for our babies! With every baby, I had to relearn how to do things - to latch them correctly, how to properly empty my breasts after feedings. But, it gets better! These are things that natural happen. Not all babies come out knowing how to nurse. Remember to extend yourself grace because this too shall pass.  Push through if you can mama! 

Invest in a Good Pump // I knew I needed a good breast pump because I was due to return back to work in 12 weeks. These days, you can get a free breast pump through your insurance, so be sure to research the breast pumps your insurance has to offer to determine which one would be a perfect fit for you. I had the Spectra S2 both times and loved it. Also, be sure to replace your pump parts every 2-3 months, as they can lose their suction, not removing milk from the breast effectively and causing a dip in your supply. 

Pump realistically // Another thing, if not one of the most important things breastfeeding mamas should know is to pump realistically. There seems to be this thing with moms being obsessed with pumping ounces upon ounces of milk, and other moms worrying that they're not producing enough milk because they're not pumping 10 ounces per breast in one sitting. Whatever you are producing for your baby is more than enough, so long as you are putting baby to the breast on demand, you're eating enough throughout the day, and staying hydrated. How much you pump is not an indication of low milk supply. 

Also, trust me when I say, you do not need a freezer full of milk when going back to work.  

I said what I said. 

I remember with my first child feeling bummed that I didn't have a freezer full of 200 ounces of milk like the moms I saw online. Whether you have a freezer stash or not is no indicator of how good of a mother you are. Some women naturally have an oversupply of milk, and that's okay.

I've never had an oversupply of milk. I’ve always produced just enough for what my babies needed. I am finally okay with that! Riley is still eating, chunking up and living her absolute best life with what she gets. 

Teach caregivers how to bottle feed // This one is for my mamas who have to return to work. Feeding baby from the bottle is completely different than feeding from the breast. Baby can easily overfeed from a bottle, making breastfeeding mothers feel like they need to increase their milk supply to keep up with the demand. The latter is furthest from the truth! 

At no point will you ever need to give your breastfed baby 8+ ounces of milk. Both of my children drank 3-4 ounce bottles THE ENTIRE YEAR they were breastfed. Yes, the entire year. 

You see, the beauty in breastmilk is that it's metabolized much differently from formula. Research shows that formula fed babies use the nutrients in formula less efficiently, so they'll need more milk to meet their nutritional needs. Breastmilk changes in composition to meet baby growing needs. How's that for some good ole' liquid gold!

So, how do you bottle-feed a breastfed baby? Make sure you're using the slowest flow nipple, as the fast consistent flow of milk makes overfeeding more likely as baby will eat more aggressively than normal. You ever eat a meal so fast, it feels like you ate nothing at all? Then you go back to eat some more and you're completely stuffed? Same concept here. 

Also, try feeding baby in an upright position while also taking short breaks in between. These three methods will help baby realize that they're full, as they'll consume a volume of breastmilk appropriate for their size and age. Supports us working and pumping moms so much better, allowing us to pump in alignment with baby's actual demands. 

Insatiable Appetite // What does every woman want to do after they’ve had a baby? Snap back. Good news is, breastfeeding does help you lose weight in the very beginning. What they don't tell you about breast-feeding is that breastfeeding gives you the appetite of a whole football team, so it’s impossible to diet while breastfeeding. One, if you diet and eliminate too many calories, you risk a dip in your supply. And two, you literally want to eat all the things all the time. Snacking throughout the day definitely helps with the increased appetite, but try to make sure you're snacking on healthy foods like fruits, nuts, etc... Baby will get all the nutrients they need from your breastmilk, but you don't want to be depleted. 

Lop Sided Sistas // You may notice that your baby takes to one side more than the other. For whatever reason, all of my babies favored the left side more, making my right side the slacker. Uneven production of milk means your breasts won’t be the same size! What I try to do is offer the slacker boob first, that way that side is still getting some stimulation during the day versus none at all. Not so pretty cosmetic wise, but most times, people won't notice unless they're all up in your stuff for real for real. 

Free the Nipple // I've breastfed publicly both covered and uncovered. There seems to be this thing where people are super freaked out about us moms using our breasts to do what they were made for - nourishing our babies! I digress. But, by a certain age babies just didn't want to be covered, and there wasn't always a discreet place to nurse. It is what it is!

Take Care Of Yourself // More than anything, take care of yourself mama. Trust me, I know what it's like to have the whole day gone by and you haven't eaten or drank much of anything. While the main thing a mother need to breastfeed is nursing baby on demand, not taking in enough calories during the day or fluids can affect your supply as well. While your diet does not have to be perfect by any means, remember, you have to eat to feed! 

Breastfeeding is hard work, but breastfeeding as a working mother is even harder. Why do I stay the course? Because I know it’s the best thing for my children. My children haven’t had any major illnesses, and I’m grateful that they have pretty strong immune systems because of it. Don’t give up!
There’s tons of support groups out there to help you. And while I do understand that most women are not able to breastfeed, or some women supplement (like I have in the past), you’re still an awesome mother. 

What have your breastfeeding experiences been like? Let’s talk in the comments!

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