I think it’s safe to say that most mothers-to-be have similar expectations about breastfeeding. Baby comes out, they lay on our bellies, the natural act of breastfeeding happens, and all is right in the world. Ha! I was naive once too.
Boob size, nipple placement, and when your milk comes in didn’t play into my fantasies. Oh I heard the challenging stories and was well aware of how hard breastfeeding could be, or so I thought. But I moved on when my boobies were inspected and deemed that all looked well and a lactation consultant wasn’t necessary.
It was on day 2 I learned that going forward I had to throw out all expectations I had about anything baby related (trust me, this can save your sanity later). My milk was late, apparently the thyroid medication I was on affected when my milk came in. Thanks for telling me NOW! No one said anything about how my medication could potentially affect breastfeeding. Sure it’s logical to think about now, but as a scared shitless first time mum, you don’t think about that stuff. Second, I had these tig ol bitties before getting pregnant, so you can imagine how humongous they got post baby. I didn’t even have a letter assigned to my breasts, they fit into a range of letters I didn’t know existed with boobs.
Right, back to day 2. I thank my lucky stars for the midwife that did my home visits. (I will also never forget the midwives who delivered my munchkin, but that’s a story for another day). The munchkin was so hungry, I could see it affecting her physically, but I didn’t know way to do. The midwife looked at her and simply said, why don’t you give her a little bit of formula. Some mothers, from what I hear anyway, would have freaked it. For me, it was like all this weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I needed permission to feed my child (again, a stupid thought, but again, new mum fears). When she had her first full drink of milk, her lips and face got it’s colour back, she wasn’t fussy, and you could tell she was a happy baby. It was in that exact moment that it hit me, it wasn’t about me and what I wanted, it was about this little bundle of joy and keeping her happy and healthy.
My milk came in at like… Day 4, and for 6 weeks I did mixed feeds between breastfeeding and formula. It was a STRESSFUL 6 weeks! Wondering if the munchkin was getting enough milk, spending hours a day on the electronic breast pump to constantly stimulate my milk supply, and trying to not feel horrible about myself whilst listening to EVERYONE ELSE’S opinion. I kept persevering with breastfeeding because of the whole mum guilt thing, that I should be able to provide the most basic function of living for my baby. I never looked back when we moved to the bottle full time.
I met a mum yesterday who had the complete opposite issue as me, her milk came in excess and she admitted that she didn’t always eat the proper foods to pass onto bub. For her, she felt better knowing that her baby was getting the proper nutrients from formula.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding OR formula feeds. When baby number 2 comes, I’ll be going through the whole process again, minus the mum guilt, and we’ll see what happens. My point is this, you can’t go into having a baby with the expectation that your expectations will happen. That’s just asking to be kicked in the vajayjay over and over again.
What I can safely guarantee is that shit will hit the fan, you will constantly be on your toes, and you’ll become amazing at problem solving. At the end of the day, I say trust your instincts. You’re a mother now and only you know what’s best for yourself and bub.
When people give you advice (almost always unsolicited… But that’s also another story), nod your head and smile, but focus on you, your situation, your unique circumstances, and go with what works for you and your child. This is when you need to start being her, and your, strongest advocate, no one else is going to be.