After I got pregnant with my first child the plan was to breastfeed. It looked simple and natural. I figured it would work itself out after the baby came. Besides what more would you need than a baby and a breast? Well there is a lot more to it and are things you need to prepare for. Here is what I learned from my breast feeding experience.

First and foremost, have a backup plan. It might not work out. It never occurred to me that I would not be able to or not want to breast feed. My first child had an adverted suck and would press her tongue over the nipple instead of under. After weeks of tongue exercises, cracked and bleeding nipples, extra hours pumping and supplementing with formula we finally went straight to bottles. It was hard because I felt like a failure. So, prepare yourself mentally and have a backup plan in case you can’t or don’t breastfeed. Don’t let yourself feel like a failure or a bad mother if you decide not to breastfeed. There is nothing wrong with formula. In fact, it’s great. With my second baby I actually had no desire to breast feed. I was use to bottles and found them convenient. My husband was able to help and I could leave the baby with anyone for any amount of time. The only down fall was the money and the need for warm water. I found myself asking people to warm up a bottle on several occasions. Formula is a wonderful alternative and both my formula feed children and happy and healthy. What it really boils down to is what is best for the mother and baby.

Second, it may not come so natural.
Learning to hold and position a baby is an acquired skill. With my third baby, I tried breastfeeding again and found it a challenge teaching my baby to latch on correctly. I have small breasts and have to hold my babies up. The tendency for me was to lean forward and bring the nipple to the baby instead of bringing the baby to the nipple. It was hard holding the baby up for a long extended amount of time. That’s were some kind of bobby pillow would have come in handy. I actually had a body pillow that I used during my pregnancy and was able to wrap it around me and use it as a nursing pillow. It gave me just the support I needed to hold my baby in the right position. I also learned the effects that diet can have on producing milk. For some reason it was difficult for me to produce a lot of milk. I had to drink large amounts of water, eat a ton of fruits and vegetables and take supplements. It definitely did not feel natural and was not simple.

Third, for most women it takes more than a baby and a breast to successfully breast feed. I had to use a nipple shield for the first couple weeks because my nipples cracked and bleed. No fun. The shield allowed my nipples to heal and the baby to continue nursing. The other necessity is some kind of nipple cream for sore nipples and nursing pads for those annoying leaks. On top of that, you may need to invest in a good breast pump. It is always good to have some extra milk on hand. I’d also suggest purchasing some kind of support pillow to aid in nursing and support your body. My third baby would suck for 20 minutes per side and if you are going to be sitting for 40 minutes 10 times a day you’ll want to be comfortable.

Breastfeeding can be a wonderfully experience but be prepared and have a backup plan. It may look simple but there is more to it. Remember, if you find yourself in situation where you can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, that okay. Do what is best for you and your baby. That’s what is important.