My mom works at a home for homeless pregnant women – Mary’s Mantle. These women are my sisters, right? My sisters in Christ. And when I visit them, we chat just like sisters.
They see me walk in with my entourage of kids, and they are curious. They are traveling this road to motherhood and want to know what they are in for. And they want to hear it honestly from a friend. So that’s what I try to do for them.
I’m no expert, but I have three kids. And I never want to scare anyone or “just wait” anyone. Nope. I just want to tell the good with the hard so that these moms are prepared for things that took me by surprise. Motherhood is THE BEST. But is it not surprising? Let me answer that: it’s surprising.
One of the questions I get most often from these women is, “Is breastfeeding difficult?” And, my honest answer? Yes. It is. But isn’t everything that is worth doing a bit difficult?
Ellen nursed for 14 months, Sam for 13 and Theo is going strong at three so far. I’ve learned a little along the way. So, I want to tell you everything I wish I had known about breastfeeding before I began.
And, I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I will: writing a post about a subject does not mean that I look down upon the alternatives. It’s what we chose and it’s what I know. Simple as that.
© doble.d / Dollar Photo Club
- I never have to worry about bringing supplies to feed my babies while we’re out. I always have the equipment at the ready.
- Breastfeeding is free. It can save you up to $4k annually.
- Breastfed babies receive immunities from mom and tend to be sick infrequently.
- You can apply breastmilk to cuts and infections to clear them up quickly.
- The longer you breastfeed, the less risk you have of breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding triggers your uterus to contract and shrink. It also helps you lose baby weight quickly (demanding up to 1000 calories a day). So, your body can recover quickly from childbirth.
- I have a large supply, so I was able to pump and donate milk to a mom who was having trouble breastfeeding her child. You can actually share your milk with other babies.
- You can pump and freeze your milk so other people can feed your baby while you take a break.
- When you start a nursing session, your body releases chemicals that calm you. It’s so incredibly relaxing.
- You don’t need to worry about how much to feed your baby because she will eat as much as she needs until she is full and then stop. If you think she’s not getting enough because she eats a lot, that’s so normal. Just feed her extra. She’s probably going through a growth spurt (they do that a lot!).
- Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to a lot of women. There is a learning curve. And if you can stick it out for three months, I just KNOW that you’ll have it down by then. Be patient with yourself. Ask for help.
- While most lactation consultants will tell you it shouldn’t hurt, it will hurt a bit in the beginning. Your nipples need to get used to all of the use. But after a couple of weeks, it gets better. Try using your milk and lansinoh cream to help yourself heal quickly. Also try a nipple shield for extra protection while you get comfortable.
- Pumping is a commitment. It may sound easy to just pump a bottle, but it’s time you take in addition to feeding your baby. But, it’s so nice to have a stock of milk in the freezer in case you want to leave the house for a longer period of time.
- You’ll need to take your baby with you places if you don’t pump. But, that’s ok. They’re cute company!
- Breastfed babies tend to eat more frequently. You might be getting up every two hours in the middle of the night. It’s because breastmilk is metabolized quickly. But, you’re going to be tired anyway (you knew that!) and the sleepy nighttime baby snuggles help.
- People *might* give you weird looks. Might. I’ve never had anyone ever say anything to me about breastfeeding. I think the world is coming to its senses and realizing that breasts are for feeding babies. But, you may get an occasional old person or weirdo telling you to cover up or something. But, you can just smile and laugh and shake your head and their poor, uninformed brains.
- People will try to suck you into being militant about it. “Breast is best!!” Ok, I know there are a lot of studies out there about the health benefits of breastmilk. And I believe them. BUT, those studies don’t take into account many other factors that might make formula a better choice for some families. So, you breastfeed and do what is best for your family, and let other mamas do what is best for theirs.
- You will probably be super thirsty and hungry, but, um, more food!
What else would you add to these lists? What do you want your sister-moms-to-be to know about choosing to breastfeed?
More on Mary’s Mantle
And, if you want to help me in supporting the women of Mary’s Mantle, you can find out more about their home here. In short, it’s a Catholic home for homeless pregnant women. All faiths are welcome. This house is not just a place to crash either. It’s a program where women learn life and mothering skills, are helped in the job and house hunt, and receive life-long assistance in the after-care program.
In recent Mary’s Mantle news, they have a new house to better serve these life-choosing women! If you would like to directly support that project, they have set up a Go Fund Me page.
Help support their general mission by using their donation page.
And, I am always very careful about where my money goes. If you are like me, please check out this full, second party disclosure of all of Mary’s Mantle’s funds and expenses.