The first week after bringing the baby home was tough! My baby honestly nursed every hour, sometimes more often, for long stretches of time (30-40 minutes at a time). That means I had a 20 minute break sometimes before her next feeding. When crying tears of exhaustion and frustration during a 2 am feeding, those formula samples (which seem to arrive from all directions) are pretty tempting.
My plan is to nurse for 6 months with no supplementing until she is showing interest in table food. I don’t plan to use a lot of “baby food” to introduce solids. Key words, “plan”.
There are a million arguments “for” breastfeeding. There are also a million problems that can discourage a mother from breastfeeding. Two weeks into nursing my second child, I’m remembering all the reasons I chose this in the first place, and all the issues that led me to supplement with formula last time. Yes, it’s good for your baby. It’s actually probably the best for your baby (unless there is some health issue). But, when you’re frustrated and tired, when you feel like nothing but a food-providing slave, it’s nice to remember that you’re also benefiting yourself.
- It’s free!! There are a lot of ways that you can spend money because of breastfeeding: nursing clothes, nursing covers, nursing pads, breast pumps, creams and ointments… but breastfeeding itself costs nothing. Women did it long before they had access to any of the luxuries we have today.
- It makes you skinny. I gained 27 pounds during this pregnancy. After 15 days, I had already lost 26 pounds without even lifting a finger.. imagine what I’d be capable of doing if I tried exercising!!
- Again, it makes you skinny. Breastfeeding makes your uterus contract, which helps your belly go back down to a normal size faster. Fair warning: With my first baby, this felt like menstrual cramps. With my second, this felt like full-blown labor pain. Apparently, it’s called “after pains” and they tend to get worse with each subsequent pregnancy.
- You bleed less. Because your uterus contracts faster, your bleeding tends to stop sooner than it would without the extra contractions. Who wouldn’t want that?
- Again, you bleed less. Your period probably won’t come back until after you stop breastfeeding. Who wouldn’t want THAT? (Disclaimer: this does not mean you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding)
- Dibs. You automatically get dibs on holding and cuddling your newborn. There can be hoards of loving relative and friends lined up outside your hospital room waiting to hold your little one. And visitors are nice. But you, Mom, get to hold her and cuddle her every single time she’s hungry, no matter whose turn it is to visit.
- It saves water (and time). You don’t need to wash and sterilize bottles and nipples. You don’t need to buy a fancy dishwasher basket to hold all your bottle accessories. Breastmilk doesn’t stain clothing (or sheets, or burp cloths, or bibs) with the yellow staining that results from formula-spit-up. So, you don’t have to prewash or rewash anything that gets a spill on it. Breastfed-baby-bowel-movements wash right out of cloth diapers, so they do not need dunked or rinsed before you wash them.
- It makes packing a little easier. You never need to worry about whether or not you brought enough food for your babe. It gives you more freedom to worry about running out of diapers, or wipes, or clean clothes!