Dear New Breastfeeding Mom,
Imagine I’m sitting next to you on a comfy couch right now. I’m nursing my baby, and you’re nursing yours. Maybe we’re drinking tea, and we are definitely eating chocolate cake.
Congratulations on your new addition! Your life has changed a ton, but let me try to make it a little easier. Your biggest concern will be what every new mom wants to know: is my baby is eating enough? Did your baby poop once on day one? Twice on day two? Three times on day three? At least three times day four and beyond? Yes? Then they are most likely getting enough. Wet diapers, nice plump skin, and lots of poops are all signs of a well-fed baby. See this article for more info.
Let me guess. You’re tired. You’re tired of sharing your body with this little person that you have been sharing with for nine months. You’re tired of feeling like you’re the only person who can comfort your baby. And you’re tired of dealing with everyone telling you how to breastfeed your child when half of them never even breastfed! I get it. I’m tired too, but I will openly admit that I breastfeed because I am lazy.
No really, breastfeeding is the lazy mom’s way of feeling her baby the best food the world has ever seen. Of course, I am sure you read all the statistics and benefits about illness and I.Q., but there are so many more hidden benefits! After the steep learning curve of those first couple weeks (sometimes it takes 6-8 weeks to really get comfortable), you will soon realize how easy it is. One night, I realized I put less effort into feeding my baby than I put into brushing my teeth, and I don’t even have to get out of bed. Now we’re talking!
But what about sleep, you say. Don’t moms who formula feed get more sleep? No, they really don’t. Here’s the proof. No matter what you’re feeding your baby, you will be up in the middle of the night because your baby will be up in the middle of the night, and your baby wants YOU. Learn more about infant sleep patterns here. However, don’t be surprised when your significant other insists to you he was up with the baby all night and got no sleep. You will spend the rest of the night cursing your significant other for snoring when you are trying to sleep in between feedings. At least you know that every new mother in Chicagoland is cursing their partner at the same time.
As baby gets older, baby will sleep longer, but not right away. Until then, take naps with the baby and find ways to minimize the time you are awake at night. Keep baby in your bedroom, learn to side-lie nurse, and keep the lights low when you are awake. Reducing coffee intake will actually help you sleep better (crazy, I know).
The nice thing about breastfeeding is that when your new baby does wake, there is no padding blindly into the kitchen and heating a bottle while settling a starving baby without waking the rest of the house, sitting up to feed the baby, burping the baby (which inevitably wakes him back up), and then resettling him to go back to sleep. By this time, you will be wide awake, and the next day, you have to wash and sterilize the bottles, go to the store to get more formula, and prepare for the next feeding. Whew! A breastfeeding mom does not even have to get out of bed. Most of the time, I am feeding my baby before he even knows he is awake! You will also have a free hand to surf Facebook (the Breastfeed, Chicago! group, of course) or check e-mails on your smart phone while your baby is getting his midnight snacks. Breastfed babies have healthy sleep patterns because they are following their natural instincts. Trust that your baby is doing what he needs to do. Many breastfeeding moms also report feeling better rested and mentally healthier than formula-feeding moms.
Remember that “lazy mom” idea? Well, it continues well past the infant stage. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, diabetes, allergies, infection, and obesity. Yay for fewer doctor visits and medications! Your child is constantly getting antibodies from your milk so you may also be able to avoid giving him antibiotics, especially when everyone else in the house is sick. Moms get long-term benefits too with lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and faster post-partum weight loss. Another lazy bonus: 500 plus calories burned a day and NO exercise needed!
Oh, what’s that you say? Your hubby/partner/mother-in-law/best friend is dying to feed the baby, and what’s the harm in a little formula? You think you might get a little extra sleep in, right? Get the ‘ole MIL off your back? Don’t do it. You need to build up your milk supply right now. You need to “teach” your breasts to produce enough milk for your baby. “Supply and demand” is not just for Economics 101.
Speaking of money, let’s talk about the money you’re going to save by breastfeeding. Breastfeeding your baby means less time working to pay for formula. Think of yourself as a cash cow… literally. My son has a dairy and soy intolerance. If he were on formula, it would surely be the very expensive elemental type that is triple a regular can of formula. Since breastfed babies get sick less often, we are save $$ on co-pays and medications, too. If you really want to get into pennies and cents, you are saving money on electricity by not using the microwave, lights in the middle of the night, dishwasher, dish soap, water, and drying racks. You don’t need a $200 pump, specials bras, and special clothes to breastfeed!
Setting aside all these great reasons to breastfeed, the most important benefit to breastfeeding is that bond I have with my child. We both look forward to our time together. I always have a reason to take my son and say, “He must be hungry!” No one can argue with you – after all, a baby needs to eat! I have an excuse to lay down with my baby several times a day and enjoy him as he is. He will not be this way forever, but for now I have the perfect excuse to be “lazy”.
A Fellow Breastfeeding Mom
Melissa Nordwall is a first time mom to a baby boy born August 10, 2011. After struggles with newborn weight loss, jaundice, cow milk protein intolerance and elimination diet, and reflux, my son and I are exclusively breastfeeding. As an RN and breastfeeding mom, I have found a new passion to encourage others to breastfeed.