11 Things Breastfeeding Mommas Want You To Know

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Baby wearing, car seats, solids, education, vaccinations, cry it out, etc. from the moment you get a positive pregnancy test (and even before you think about trying) people start throwing opinions on everything parenthood at you (whether you ask for them or not). If you’re a first-time parent, it’s overwhelming and exhausting. You get loads of conflicting information and find yourself doubting what you are doing and not knowing who to believe or what to do. 

The popularity of breastfeeding has been like a roller coaster. When my grandma’s generation (and even my MIL) were having us babes, hospitals gave them pills to dry up their milk, and they were pushed to use formula. Thankfully, breastfeeding is making a comeback and since many of these women are now watching us raise our kids and pursue breastfeeding; they are learning some new things as well.

Today, I’d like to give you the 11 things breastfeeding (and pumping) mommas want you to know:

  1. It’s not disgusting or sexual, and to compare it to such is disturbing. Humans need to eat + women’s bodies were designed to feed babies = nursing in public. There may be the occasional “nip slip” but it will be ok. Guaranteed: a nursing mom is more uncomfortable than anyone watching her.
  2. It’s natural, but it doesn’t necessarily come naturally to many. It’s a lot of work and without support, many women give up. Others meet with lactation consultants, reach out to friends or neighbors for help or even take classes ahead of time to get a better idea of what to expect. All moms (even formula feeders) deal with engorgement, blood, sweat, and tears trying to figure how to best feed their little one.  
  3. We sacrifice a lot – happy hours, meetings, SLEEP. Meals are often cold, reheated multiple times or eaten over our little ones. This can be a very lonely time – leaving to pump or nurse can be quite isolating.
  4. It’s on your mind 100% of the time; everything you do revolves around when the baby needs to eat or when you need to pump. The fear of leaking is always lurking. You feel as though you are a ticking time bomb before he/she needs to eat next or you need to grab your pump. Time seems to fly and you often feel as though the only thing you got done was feeding the baby.
  5. It’s mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. There are days, especially on cluster feeding days, when you feel like you live in your rocker. You’re exhausted from not sleeping, someone is always on you, you haven’t eaten and you need to pee. It all adds up to what seems like an empty fuel tank. In the beginning, when they don’t smile or laugh you feel as though you just give, give, give.
  6. We LOVE it – it’s such a gift to give your child. The bond you form is unlike anything I’ve ever known. Now, I’ll be honest, it can be a yo-yo effect when you are battling sore nipples, cluster feeding, and the pressure that’s on only you to come up with food for the baby all day everyday – but most breastfeeding mom’s will agree, it’s worth it.
  7. It’s a journey – Many moms set goals like 6 months or 1 year for breastfeeding. There’s no “correct” amount of time you need to nurse for. Whatever you can give them is a gift. Getting comments like “you’re still nursing him?” or “why don’t you just give formula?” or even “just start them on solids, that should help” can be hard to take and just adds pressure. While unsolicited advice comes often and may seem helpful, it’s not always wanted.
  8. The size of your breasts doesn’t = how much milk you make. Many women struggle to produce enough and use things such as brewers yeast, mothers milk tea, lactation cookies, power pumping, drinking massive amounts of water, etc to try and boost their supply. As a large busted woman, many people assume I don’t have issues producing. In reality, I struggle and stress over every .25 ounce I can get for my babe. The opposite is true as well, many women are blessed with enough milk or even more than necessary, some even donate to help struggling moms or babies in the NICU! While this may seem like a better situation, these moms may face their own set of issues including clogged ducts and mastitis.
  9. It’s OK to have a drink (or 2, gasp!) while nursing. “Pump and dump” is not necessary (that’s not how it works!). I feel bad for the poor nursing moms who try to enjoy a beverage without judgement being thrown their way. There are many misconceptions about drinking and nursing. A drink doesn’t affect your milk, and if moms are worried about it, many will mix it with other milk to dilute it or use it for babies’ baths – so please don’t advise women to “pump and dump” unless they shouldn’t drive. There are limits!
  10. “Eating for two” still applies. Our appetites are crazy huge, “hangry” is our middle name, and the weight doesn’t always “just fall off”. 
  11. Even asking a mom “are you nursing?” can bring up feelings of failure for many women that tried really hard to make it work, but for whatever reason it didn’t. There are so many factors that go into a successful breastfeeding relationship. latch, supply, patience, etc. Breastfeeding isn’t all or none, many moms will use donor milk or formula to supplement and nurse at night – or some combination that works for them.  

Ultimately, ALL moms have 1 thing in common: whether it’s breast or bottle, expressed or formula – they are doing the best they can to get their little one what he/she needs.

We're All Doing the Best We Can

Ultimately, ALL moms have 1 thing in common: whether it’s breast or bottle, expressed or formula – they are doing the best they can to get their little one what he/she needs.

If this list makes you wonder, “why do they go to the hassle?” let me provide you with a (small) list of reasons:

  • mom’s body creates antibodies for baby when they or mom are sick
  • it’s easiest for their little tummies to digest
  • skin to skin contact builds emotional support
  • it’s convenient
  • baby is in control of how much and how fast they eat so they can’t be overfed
  • each time they eat provides different flavors and nutrients based on what mom ate
  • and many more!

So, the next time you see a mom grab her pump bag to sneak away or her little one needs fed and you see her start to sweat; you can help her by trying some of these tips:

  • Be supportive – Who do you know that’s breastfeeding or pumping? How can you better help them? Some ideas: bring meals, come over to help clean, watch the baby so mom can take a nap – mom and babe get way less visitors and help after the baby is born but they are still dealing with a lot of things: regulating their supply, sleep regression, teething…
  • Be inclusive – Can you schedule meetings around her pump schedule so she doesn’t always play catch up? Is your employer accommodating her needs and giving her enough time to pump? How can you help advocate for her and other moms? 
  • Be understanding – Moms already feel guilty enough not being able to be with their little one. Trust me, these aren’t “breaks” we are taking – we are very much on making all the meals our little ones need for the next day. Too much stress can, and does, affect supply. So, give us a smile, nod, or high five as we go off to the little supply closet to pump. 
  • Give grace – Maybe offer to catch her up on what she missed, or save her a cookie if they were handing out snacks (we need our calories!)
  • Don’t shame – Please, no judging or side comments – trying to function on no sleep is hard enough!

If you are a breastfeeding mom or are thinking “been there, done that” I hope you know that you are among many other mommas that understand what you are going through. There are many different resources you can utilize for support, encouragement, and tips:

  • Facebook groups
  • Breastfeeding support groups
  • Lactation Consultants
  • KellyMom.com
  • Breastfeeding friends, family members, neighbors

I'm only 6 months into my nursing journey with my daughter, but it is no doubt one of the most rewarding and difficult things I've ever done. I am overwhelmed with pride when I watch her nurse and catch her smile while I stroke her beautiful hair and fingers thinking "how incredible is my body?!? I am and have been helping her grow since she was just an egg. Unbelievable!" It's funny when people see my baby and think she's so little, all I see is my chunky milk monkey.

Nurse on mommas!!! And, GOOD JOB (I know you don’t hear that enough).

Contributing Sister Site and Author

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About {Mandy}

Mandy welcomed her Rainbow Baby, Brooke Lynn, October 2016 and has been enjoying all that motherhood has to offer since.

A North Liberty native, Mandy has spent almost her entire life in the Corridor. She took a brief hiatus and lived in Chicago for 5 years where she met her fun-loving husband, Tom.

For work, Mandy is building a Corporate Innovation program to give Iowa businesses the tools they need to digest and implement new concepts.

She recently named her passion for helping others by founding Huddle Line, a side hustle consulting company that works with local businesses to create unique game plans to achieve their goals.

Mandy loves to spend time with loved ones, play and watch sports, hours of euchre, crochet, and bonfires. 2 things that will always win Mandy over? Cupcakes & corny jokes

Mandy is a contributor for Iowa City Moms Blog, one of our Sister Sites.

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