I did not grow up seeing relatives breastfeed their babies. I had only heard about it in comments like:
“A bottle is so much easier.”
“I can leave the baby whenever I want.”
“It’s too hard to breastfeed.”
“I can’t make enough milk.”
And so on…but I always thought that breastfeeding was the best food babies because it’s seemed natural. So as early as high school, I decided that whenever I had children (Yahuah willing) that I would breastfeed.
When we told our parents we were pregnant with our first child, they started telling me all about formula and bottles. I quietly said I would breastfeed and then the phone went silent.
In the black community in the U.S., breastfeeding is not viewed as the best way to feed babies. So I did not receive support from any family members at the time. Still I was determined to do it.
The first time, I nursed our first daughter, it was a bit of a challenge but with the help of the nurses and some nursing rings they gave me, it became easier while in the hospital. But at home…it was down right hard!
I became engorged and our first daughter had a very hard time latching on, so she cried-no screamed a lot. One day, a relative came to check on me and decided that I needed some help, so they brought me some formula.
I will admit that I did try it once, in sheer frustration but I called the nursing line of our insurance provider, the nurse told me, “If you really want to breastfeed, throw the formula away, relax and just do it. Avoid things like broccoli, onions, cabbage and garlic and try to nurse on demand.”
After I hung up with the nurse, I felt much better. I did exactly what she said and threw away all of the formula away and went back through all the breastfeeding books. Within 24 hours, my milk was coming in good, my engorgement was down (milk was spraying everywhere though) and our daughter stopped crying as much.
I am now in the final months of nursing our fifth child and looking back on the first year that I nursed the children, has been a wonderful time of remembrance. Nursing became so easy and I never really had that many problems.
With our first daughter I did work overnight so I did have to pump at work. With our fourth child and first son, he was in the hospital for a few days so I had to use a pump again. I breastfed while moving to a different state. Breastfed and was pregnant four times. Breastfed through a miscarriage.
Our first daughter was breastfed for 16 months,
Our second daughter was breastfed for 12 months – to the day.
Our third daughter was breastfed for 14 months.
Our fourth child and first son was breastfed for 15 months.
Our fifth child and second son is still nursing and will be for another 2-4 months.
I am thankful of my husband’s support while breastfeeding because it would be a challenge to do alone. He makes sure I am eating enough and encourages me to enjoy this time (which I really need the reminders now).
In hindsight I believe our oldest daughter had some problems due to the cow’s milk that I was drinking at that time. Had I known what I know now, I would have avoided it all together as I did with our fifth child.
Today I read an article that is very encouraging to any mother-to-be. Part of it said that:
“Depending on which type of formula you choose, it can cost upwards of $1,500 to $3,000 a year to purchase enough formula to feed an infant.”
Wow, at the minimum of $1500 a year times 5 equals $7500!!!! That’s way more than all the delivery costs we were responsible for!
There are many benefits to breastfeeding and you can read them in the same article here, Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding – World’s Fastest Growing Functional Food
The bonding time the I have with each baby cannot be measured. One time after the delivery of our second child a nurse said to me “All women should do that.”
“Do what?” I replied.
“Sleep with their babies. If they slept with their babies, they would be able to nurse better.”
While nursing it is very hard for me to sleep without the baby very near me and I have been able to nurse very well. With the baby near I am able to hear them sleeping and feel them moving.
Suggestions for successful nursing:
- Nurse on demand-this will help you and the baby
- Drink Water-lots of it
- Eat – not over do it, but you do need to eat
- Try not to stress before or during breastfeeding-when problems arise while I am nursing I try to focus on the baby and not the problem because stress will affect your milk
- I have nursed while being pregnant, but be careful. You will need to eat and watch for any cramping that may occur.
- Buy a few nursing tanks instead of bras – I used to wear nursing bras but nursing tanks are way better and more comfortable/
- Nursing pillow – get one and use it! It will save your back from hurting. I didn’t get one until our fifth child and it made a big difference.
- If you do have to pump, buy and invest in a good one. I went through 3-4 pumps which would have been nearly equal to the more expensive ones.
- Nursing Cover – Breastfeeding in public is a legal right but we should not be exposing our nakedness to others, so please cover.
- Don’t worry about the size of the baby as he/she grows, the baby fat will come off later.
- Read as much as you can about breastfeeding
- Don’t rush foods on the baby. For the first two babies, I did try to add cereal and baby foods during the first year but it was really a waste of time, a lot of stress and a waste of money. Right now our fifth child, tastes small bites of food whenever he wants (he is currently 11 months) but I do not make him eat. He is starting to show interest in a cup because his older brother (age 2) uses a cup but I am not pushing it on him.
- Enjoy it – these times won’t last always. Don’t be in a rush to wean. Nurse as long as you can, at least 6 months but I think a year is best because the babies receive comfort for teething through nursing.