Okay We’re Home – Now What?

That is the FIRST thing I thought after settling in with Christian, my first night home from the hospital. I immediately forgot EVERYTHING I’d researched throughout my pregnancy; all the help and advice I’d just received for the last 2.5 days from – Gone. Taking deep breaths, I looked down at my 2 day old son, seven pounds of wonder – and I asked my husband – “Now What?”

I must have had a fearful look in my eyes, because he quickly reassured me of all I’d been through the last couple of days:

  • Learning to latch on properly;
  • Suffering through engorgement, cracked sore nipples;
  • Getting used to feeling letdown; and
  • Depressed, thinking my milk would NEVER come in, while Christian received colostrum for 2 days.

It had been the longest two days I’d ever experienced, waiting for my milk to come in – but it was FINALLY here – and now – my support system, the nurses and on-call lactation consultant, were no longer there to reassure me.

Well Mommies – I’m here to tell you, if you recognized yourself in the first few paragraphs, that you WILL get through it! My two longest days quickly turned into 2 weeks ? then two months – and now 2 years later – he’s slowly beginning to wean.

I made it through that initial nursing journey by taking things one day at a time. I didn’t look ahead and I didn’t keep looking back either. I kept reminding myself it was a LEARNING process, not a race.

Here are some simple things to keep in mind:

Know When Your Baby Is Hungry!

This is important, because every infant is different – and it’s up to YOU to recognize when your baby is hungry. If you’re going by your watch – DON’T! Throw that watch away! Trying to set your baby’s nursing schedule by the clock just puts unnecessary pressure on yourself. What most new Moms don’t realize, is that babies give us signs WAY before that first hunger cry.

Fussy behavior, moving the head from side to side, sucking the fingers and/or hands – and the one my son did – rooting, pursing his lips and mouth – are ALL signs that your baby is hungry. SO when you MISS all the hunger signs, THAT is when you hear the cry, which has galvanized even the most weary Mom.

Finding Your Groove

It took about 3 weeks for me to really feel comfortable, and to recognize Christians behaviors and patterns. The best advice I ever received was to feed on demand. It was normal, at that stage, for Christian to nurse every hour and a half – and looking at a clock isn’t the way to breastfeed your newborn.

Contrary to the belief that regulating their nursing schedules will help the newborn – feeding on demand teaches your child how to satisfy their own hunger. To this day, my son will only eat when he is truly hungry – NOT when it’s a specific time of the day – and I’d like to believe it’s because I allowed him, through nursing, to feed on demand and satisfy his own hunger.

Now don’t get me wrong, problems arise, signals are read wrong – but it’s not the end of the world if there IS a problem. This is all a learning process, and no one is perfect.

The Best Advice

The best advice I can ever give, is to learn the basics, and incorporate what you have learned abut breastfeeding into what you learn about your baby. Your nursing experience, except for a few similarities, will not mirror anyone else’s. It will be as special and unique as you and your baby.

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