I am a proud breastfeeding momma. I nursed my son until he was a year old and my daughter is six months old and still going strong. I went back to work when my son was six weeks old, so I pumped milk for him and he got it through the bottle. Neither of my children have ever had a drop of formula. I'm not into playing "Mommy Wars" but I really feel like if you truly want to breastfeed your children, you can and will. I hate hearing "Oh, I really wanted to breastfeed, but my milk didn't come in" or "I breastfed for two weeks before I dried up." Sorry, I don't buy that. I'm going on 19 months in my breastfeeding career, if you will, and I've never had those concerns. There are very few health impairments that would cause a mother not to breastfeed their children. I have more respect for the women who choose not to breastfeed because it's just not for them than those who make up every excuse in the book about why it didn't work. In my opinion, it's more of a perceived convenience problem for those mothers. For some reason that I truly do not understand, people believe it is more convenient to bottle feed their child. I'm really not sure what is more convenient than breasts you have with you everywhere you go...
If you truly want to breastfeed your children whether it be for the health benefits of both you and your child, the bonding, the convenience of it, or all of the above, this post is for you.
Take a class. When I was pregnant with my son, a breastfeeding class was offered along with our childbirth classes. This class was given by a nurse who was also a lactation consultant. We watched videos, practiced different holds, and were given many valuable resources. Though you don't truly know what to expect until you are holding that little baby in your arms trying to teach her to nurse, it really helps to be prepared. My hospital also offered a class after the baby was born. I attended that as well, but the one I took prior to birth was more informative.
Seek the help of a lactation consultant. My firstborn was the toughest to nurse. We were both learning and I didn't know how to help him. My hospital is breastfeeding friendly and had lactation consultants on hand to support you in any way possible. She really helped me with proper positioning and latch. I didn't need the help with my daughter...she latched on right from the start...but the lactation consultant called my room three different times throughout our 8-day stay to see if I needed her. I felt so bad telling her no all the time, I almost had her come in anyways!
Have a supportive partner. My husband is pretty good about trusting my decision making, especially when it comes to the children. He never once doubted that breastfeeding was what was best. He never tried to convince me to "just give the baby a bottle." My baby girl doesn't take to bottles very well so we don't get out much without her, and that is perfectly ok with him. My husband attended the breastfeeding class with me, and I think that helped as well. In the beginning with both children, he would help me get situated with pillows, help position the baby, and bring me water and snacks. I've heard mothers say, "I want the dad to be able to bond with the baby too." There are plenty of other ways for a father to bond with his child. Nothing would ever compare a nursing baby's bond with his mother.
Where there's a will. I put it into my mind I was going to breastfeed, and I didn't look back. I never looked at formula as an option. In fact, I don't know that we've ever even kept formula in the house. Anytime my children and I were together, I was breastfeeding. Not 24/7 of course, but if I was with my children, they did not receive bottles. I believe that is why I was able to successfully pump for 11 months with my son. My milk supply was maintained by my child nursing in the evenings and on the weekends because the body responds better to a baby than to a breast pump.
My go-to website for anything breastfeeding related is www.kellymom.com. This is where I learned that I had a fast let-down and how to curb it. This site is where I go to check what medications are ok to take while breastfeeding. I also learned the best pumping techniques and how much milk I would need to pump while I was at work. Neat little factoid: Babies only need one ounce of breast milk for each hour they are away from you. Unlike formula, this never changes! My son took two four-ounce bottles of breast milk from the time he was an infant until he was a year old. Your milk changes to meet the baby's needs...so cool. There is also a directory of lactation consultants and a wealth of other information. I highly recommend you check them out!