As someone who spent countless hours nursing my kids, I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about all things breastfeeding. There are so many things I wish I knew when I was breastfeeding for the first time, though, and if I could go back in time man, oh man, would new-mom me benefit from the information I have gained after feeding my two kids a million times over the course of four years.
As a brand new parent I studied up on breastfeeding, and the hospital where I gave birth held a 30-minute hands-on (boobs-on?) lactation session for the new moms in the maternity ward. But none of that made me feel totally confident about nursing once I was home with my new baby. In those first few days, especially, it was hard to know if anything was coming out of me, if my newborn was crying because she was hungry or had too much to eat, and if she was going to thrive off breast milk alone.
All turned out OK, until it didn’t. At about three weeks, my daughter would suddenly break out into a hysterical fit when I would try to breastfeed her. My partner and I had no clue what it was and I was nearly apoplectic that she wasn’t eating. Her weird behavior lasted just a day, but I swear it was the longest day of my life. And then she went back to breastfeeding like nothing had happened. For days I watched her like a hawk, trying to pick up on any clues that may signal another nursing strike. Luckily, it was a one-time thing.
By the time my daughter's little brother was born, I was a bit more relaxed about the whole breastfeeding situation. But then I encountered an issue I didn’t have with my first baby: I had oversupply. It was really rough and messy and frustrating for those first six weeks of his life, and until my body found its rhythm and didn’t shoot milk in his face like a geyser every time he settled in to nurse. Just when I thought I had this whole breastfeeding thing handled, new road blocks emerged that made the entire journey anything but effortless. I am sure that would have been the case if I breastfed subsequent children, but my partner and I were done procreating after having two.
I’ve never stopped learning how to be a parent as my children grow older. And even when I think I know something, one of my kids reminds me that I am still not an expert. Here are some things I wish I knew when I was breastfeeding for the first time, now that I’ve done it twice.