Things I’ve Learned on my Breastfeeding Journey

BFJWhen I got pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I am lucky that everything worked out and my little girl and I have been going strong for six months.  Although it hasn’t been an easy journey, I am glad I’ve gone on it with her and I’m hoping to continue as long as she wants. I had no idea how much I would learn in these few short months of breastfeeding, but here it is.

Everyone’s Journey is Different 

There are tons of ways to feed your baby. When my baby was born I decided that I wanted to breastfeed. I was lucky enough that she was given to me in the first hour to latch, she latched well, my nipples did their jobs properly and we survived the hardest few weeks. Some people try tirelessly to make breastfeeding work, others don’t try at all. I don’t judge.We are all doing what’s best for our families. So other mommies, I want you to know that I support and  love you right where you are.

I am Forced to Slow Down

I  often fancy myself some 1950’s housewife who has it all together. I picture myself in a cute red dress with my hair curled, the baby happily playing, dinner on the table and a pie in the oven. Except I work from home and take care of a baby all day, so my reality looks much different than that. Still, in my endless quest for perfection, I find myself running around most of the day. Then my baby cries and everything stops. I drop what I am doing, pick her up, cuddle into our spot on the couch, cover her with blankets and stop for  a minute. In that moment, everything else melts away. It’s just me and her on this crazy journey and I am forced to slow down and cherish the precious baby in my arms.

Supplementing is Okay

I am a very “all or nothing” kind of girl. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s awful. When my daughter was born I was told that colostrum would be enough to keep her little belly full until my milk came in. Only it wasn’t, not for her. I was given pre-mixed formula for her to eat after breastfeeding. My baby went from screaming her lungs out to a happy, content baby after the first supplement. I figured I had ruined our chances at breastfeeding, but two days later my milk came in and that was the last time we had to supplement. It’s okay if you don’t meet some arbitrary standard of perfection, especially when it means keeping your sanity.

Covering Up is Controversial

I would really love to have an extremely well-formed and controversial opinion on this, but I don’t. I have always felt comfortable breastfeeding in public and I choose to cover up on most occasions. I have also decided to not cover up when I’ve forgotten my cover, or when it’s too hot or when I just don’t want to. I always try to be respectful of the people around me and be discreet. I know that it makes some people uncomfortable. Here’s the thing though, I’ve never gotten a negative comment. People have always said very positive things or nothing at all. I try to balance making my baby comfortable and making myself (and others) comfortable and so far it seems to be working out for me.

Breastfeeding + Babywearing = Win

You should seriously try it. My husband bought me a Tula for mother’s day and it was seriously the best gift ever. I wear my baby all the time. When she’s fussy, when we’re out, when we’re going on a walk, when I am trying to get stuff done. The best part is she can breastfeed discreetly while I have both hands free. In fact, she’s eating right now while I type. I am also sipping a coffee and texting my mom…because doing one thing would be too easy, right? Anyways, this has made my breastfeeding journey much easier. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a hungry baby, but also a life.

Support Systems Matter

My husband supported me breastfeeding 110%. While he would have supported me if I couldn’t do it, he knew it was really important to me. He was a key player in those early days when my nipples were cracked and bleeding, when it hurt to walk and when people were telling me just giving her formula would be so much easier. I didn’t want to give up, but I might have had he not been there. He was up with me during the late-night feedings, even though he didn’t have to be. He was always at the ready with water, a magazine or a snack while I fed her. When I felt like giving up he encouraged me to press on. He is my biggest supporter and constantly tells me what a good job I’m doing. I don’t think I could have survived without him. A support system is everything.

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5 Ways We Save Money As New Parents

5WaysTake a seat, grab a drink (probably alcoholic) and let’s begin. Okay, so the arbitrarily decided upon cost per month of having a baby is $1,000/month for the first year. Since we’re just talking about new parents I’ll stop there. Plus, we don’t have enough time or alcohol to go beyond a year right now.

Friends, we could have had one sweet ass car for that price, but we choose the family track in the game of life. If you have a spare $1,000 laying around in your monthly budget, good on ya. Take your drink, click X in the upper-right hand corner of your screen and head out to the pool, there’s nothing here for you. If not, hang tight, because my 5 months of parenting have obviously made me a child-rearing financial expert.

1. Breastfeed 

Dude, before we start some obnoxious mommy war, let me be clear. These are the things my husband and I are doing that help us save money. I totally get not everyone can breastfeed. There are TONS of ways to save money on formula, too. Anywho we haven’t noticed an increase in our monthly food bill, my pump was free through our insurance and I haven’t needed to buy more milk storage bags yet, so our net cost so far has been $0. It’s great for mom, it’s great for baby and ladies, you have an excuse to chill on the couch looking at Instagram like 100 times a day. Win.

2. Cloth Diapers

Again, not for everyone, but it does save money in the long run. There are some startup costs, but you can even minimize those by buying diapers on sites like clothdiapertrader.com. Start-up costs can range from $60-300+, but from birth to potty training you could save up to $2,500 using cloth diapers. It cost us about $300 to get started and we bought one-size diapers that will last until she’s potty trained. Our water bill went up $0.14/month, so that hasn’t been a huge factor. We also haven’t needed diaper rash cream or baby powder since we started cloth. Now blow-outs either, and if you’re going to be washing shit either way, at least save some money.

3. Homemade Baby Wipes

Let’s all agree that wipes are one of the cheaper expenses associated with having a baby. You can buy in bulk and get coupons to save yourself some money. But, you’re usually little chemical laden squares to wipe on your child’s ass. My daughter got one hell of a chemical burn from Huggie’s. Not cool. Making homemade wipes costs about $2/month and takes about 5 minutes. You’ll save about $20/month and that adds up over time. (Unless you spend that $20 on Starbucks. Which I definitely don’t do…)

4. Consignment Shops

Here’s how it works: bring all the stuff you don’t use anymore to a consignment shop (make sure it’s in decent condition) and sell it for cash or store credit. Then use that money to buy cheaper (but still awesome) baby stuff and clothes. On our last transaction we brought in a bunch of clothes and random things and got $44, we bought her a bunch of clothes and ended up still making back $12. We were literally paid to shop. What we couldn’t sell we donated to a local pregnancy shelter. Everyone wins.

5. Baby Toys/Gear

Babies come with a lot of stuff. Our small apartment looks like the baby section at Target, but our small space makes us truly consider what we buy. We aren’t getting a jumperoo, a walker or an activity yard. We haven’t bought her every baby toy that struck our fancy. As much as I want to spend gobs of money on my baby, we are trying to use money where it counts. Rather than buy our daughter expensive things she won’t use in the span of months we take her to do fun things or save that money for something better down the road. She will literally play with anything, so I prefer to give her interesting household items to explore rather than a mountain of $40 plastic toys.