This is what I learned about extended breastfeeding.
I wanted to share with you all the benefits of extended breastfeeding I experienced. As a new Mama, making the decision between formula and breastfeeding is your own! There are also some reasons why new Mamas can’t breastfeed. My number one recommendation is do what’s best for you and your family.
Here is my story and what I learned nearing my 1 year mark.
Commit early on to extended breastfeeding
I knew from early on I wanted to commit to extended breastfeeding. When I put my mind to something, I normally don’t let it go. If you read my birth story, you know how important mindset is to me. I truly believe that what energy you put out, you will receive. So from early on, I knew that I needed to commit to extended breastfeeding no matter the challenges from the start. There are so many benefits of extended breastfeeding, that I knew it was the best for me and my son. The full benefits are here, but below are some quick highlights:
- Protects baby from illnesses through mothers antibodies
- Protects baby from SIDS
- Creates a strong bond between mother and baby
- Helps the mother recover quicker after birth
- Helps the mother loose baby weight
- Saves time and money
What to do on day 1 of breastfeeding
The hardest part about breastfeeding is making it through the beginning. There will no doubt be challenging times with sore nipples, swollen breasts, clogged milk ducts (or worse mastitis), latching, and figuring out optimal nursing positions. You need to be aware going into breastfeeding that there will be challenges. The key is to stick with it, and know that it will all pass.
*Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, this article contains affiliate links where I may receive a small commission for any purchases. I only review products that I use myself.
I am sure most of you Mamas know this, but if possible immediate breastfeeding after your baby is born is an important start. I know some Mamas may have a c-section, so the earliest we can initiate breastfeeding the best. The hospital that I delivered at had great lactation consultants that helped me maneuver in different positions for optimal comfort. I found the side laying position, and the cradle to be the best for me and my son. They also gave me these nipple shields to help protect against blisters and cracked nipples. This was a life saver later on! After we left the hospital, I didn’t receive any further lactation consulting. The rest is what I learned on my own about benefits of extending breastfeeding, now nearing my 1 year mark.
Powering through the early weeks when breastfeeding
For me, the first week was toughest (but manageable). After I returned home from the hospital I nursed on demand as recommended by most doctors and lactation consultants. I finally felt my milk come in close to day 2 of being home. Around that time, my nipples were cracked and bloody from breastfeeding so frequently. It was very painful! In addition to using the nipple shields, I also researched other ways to help heel the wounds.
I found great relief in mixing warm water and salt, and dipping in it immediately after breastfeeding. I would stay uncovered until I dried, and then I would use this organic nipple butter by Earth Mama. (This cream is great because it is Lanolin free and non GMO.) After I applied the cream, I would slide the nipple shields under these super comfy and stretchy nursing tanks, and I was ready to go! As I was heeling, I was still continuing to nurse. I would just follow the above steps. Within a week, I was no longer sore from breastfeeding. After I got through this hardest part, I knew I would be able to reap the benefits of extended breastfeeding.
Oversupply of milk
This may sound ridiculous, but being small chested, I never thought I would have an oversupply of milk! I have a super fast letdown, and an abundant supply. From a bigger picture standpoint, this is good as I was able to store a lot of milk early on (I would pump at least 5 oz before bed every night). However, for a newborn baby it is harder to eat when you can’t drink that quick! The trick for me was to switch my position from cradle and side laying that I used early on, to sitting upright in a chair and leaning back. This helped my supply slow down so my son could enjoy his meal a bit more!
Since I had an oversupply, I did need to pump in between feedings to help alleviate the engorged feeling. There were times when I thought I let enough out, but actually didn’t. The unfortunate side effect was clogged milk ducts. The first time I had it (4 times total), I thought I had a cold! You feel achy and hot. I realized it was a clogged milk duct when my breast was in extreme pain. I had to soak in a bath tub, massage it with a hot compress, and pump frequently to remove the clogged duct. Within 24 hours, the clogged duct was gone. Clogged ducts normally go away in 24 hours, and only effect one side. After I learned how to properly manage my supply (within 2 months). I was off to the races!
So, are there really benefits of extended breastfeeding?
YES YES YES! After I made it through those few challenges (I would go through it all over again if I had to), the rest is actually a breeze. I think it is easier than doing formula and a bottle. Here is a list of what I learned from my experience, and my benefits of extended breastfeeding (nearing 1 year):
- I unfortunately got the flu, and had a fever for almost 4 days. I still nursed my son, and he never got sick. Keep in mind that he was home with me all day every day. This was proof to me that my milk is protecting him from any illness.
- Weight loss. For me, I am thinner than I was before. For many nursing mothers a main benefit of extended breastfeeding is burning an extra 500 calories a day.
- I didn’t have to worry about packing a bottle. I used this nursing cover (that doubles as a car seat/stroller cover) whenever we went out. It was super simple! I could nurse virtually anywhere.
- The biggest benefit of extended breastfeeding is our bond. It is my favorite time of day. This is our time. We cuddle and stare into each others eyes. I know this isn’t forever, but I want to enjoy every moment I can for when he is my baby, and is tiny as he is.
You got this Warrior Mama
If you commit early on, and take the necessary steps to overcome some minor challenges, I promise you will experience the benefits of extended breastfeeding. The bond itself is remarkable. The weight loss and convenience are just some extra benefits! Once you get going, you will stick with it. Eventually, this time too shall pass!