Breastfeeding is hard.
There, I said it.
It is this process that everyone thinks just comes about naturally. Without work. Without a fight. Without pain.
It is natural but, let me just tell you...
...it takes a ton of work.
...you have to fight for it.
...and, pain? ummm...yes. like toe-curling pain that I can't even begin to describe. You can only understand when you've actually been through it.
But, is it worth it?
There are so many benefits for you baby(ies). To get lots of details, you can look here.
But, here is the quick list from their website:
1. Protects against infection.
2. Protects against illness.
3. Protects from allergies.
4. Enhances Development and Intelligence.
5. Long term benefits (Dental Health, Toddler Health, Diabetes, Childhood Cancer, Chron's, etc.).
Okay, so we can all agree it's tough, right?
But we can also agree it's worth it, right?
So where does this leave us?
In need of help. In need of support.
And my advice?
Find it any way you can.
You will experience opposition. Especially first-time moms. And especially twin moms. People will scoff at your "idealistic and naive" plan to exclusively breastfeed. Many times it's the same reaction you will get if you tell people that you plan to cloth diaper. And, I understand. There is a reason many of these seasoned moms scoff, or just smirk while thinking, "I'll give her three weeks before she's out buying pampers and enfamil". It's because motherhood is humbling. You do things you said you never would. And you eat your words. And I get that - because three months in? I've already done that.
But for me? Breastfeeding was a non-negotiable. And it can be for you as well.
Commit to it.
And then get some support.
Thankfully, my family is pro-breastfeeding. And, I married in to a family that is pro-breastfeeding. So this made everything a lot easier. My sister-in-laws are willing to answer any questions I have. My family is willing to work around our schedule. Sometimes it's inconvenient. But, it's our "normal". Giving up is not an option. My family has never once suggested that I stop breastfeeding. And I am so thankful for this. I had my mind made up that we would do this. We. Yes, I am the one actually breastfeeding every three hours. But, Jordan and our families have had to support me in this.
[Let me stop here and say, I had my mind made up that I would breastfeed as long as my milk supply would allow. I know there are many women who have wanted to breastfeed so badly only to find out that their milk didn't come in. I know this is a sensitive issue. And while I was pregnant, I worried that I might struggle with this. Thankfully - after puking for four months straight, being on bed-rest for two months, going in to labor at 25 weeks and then delivering at 32 weeks - my milk supply is one thing that actually went really well. I am so incredibly thankful that this was not an issue for me and I would never want this series to make someone feel any kind of "mom-guilt" because they are unable to breastfeed. This entire series is strongly encouraging the women who are physically able to breastfeed to commit to it even though there are many reasons you may find you want to quit.]
So, allllll of that to say....family support is super helpful.
And my secret weapon?
A fabulous lactation consultant.
Robin has been just that for me. She is one of my mother-in-law's best friends. She came to visit for a long weekend about a week after the boys came home from the hospital. She stayed with my mother-in-law and came to help me during the days. They even spent the night at our house one night to let me get a little rest!
Typically you have access to a lactation consultant while you are in the hospital. They come and help you get started after you deliver. Ask them questions! Ask for them to come back and talk to you again before you get discharged if you still have questions. Take advantage of having a professional who can answer your questions. Who can show you how to get your baby(ies) to latch on. Who can watch you nurse and give you tips on what would make it easier.
And, once you get home, if you start having problems or you're concerned that things aren't going well, or your becoming discouraged...find a lactation consultant. Set up a home visit. It is worth the money. Or see if your pediatrician's office has a lactation consultant you can meet with. Don't give up before you talk with them. They will definitely be able to give you helpful tips!
Okay - so I might have painted a dreary picture to kick off the series. And that was not my intent at all! Breastfeeding is an incredible thing. But it is difficult for many. And you will have to commit to it. And you will need support. Just want you to be prepared :)