Breastfeeding Advice: the Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous


My Breastfeeding Journey

It was my second morning back at work post maternity leave, and, so far, the day was tear-free (unlike the day before). As I sat down in my company’s lactation room for my first morning pumping session, I congratulated myself for feeling strong. But then, lo and behold, right when the sensation of letdown started, the office fire alarm went off.

Instantly, a mental debate raged in my head. Do I stop my pump and recover myself and perhaps stuff a few extra napkins in my bra to prevent a huge milk stain on my shirt? Or do I finish this pump session and plead ignorance that I didn’t hear the alarm? Surely this isn’t an actual fire, right? But what if it is a fire? Ugh! Why in heavens is this happening now and not five minutes sooner or later?

I decided that since I was on the top floor of the building and we had not been warned of a drill that perhaps this was the real deal, and I needed to get my milk-filled uncomfortable self-outside. Turns out somebody burned something in the microwave a few floors down. The nerve! It took almost twenty minutes to get the “all-clear” and be able to return to my pumping session.

While there is a wealth of information on the internet and other sources about pumping, nursing, breastfeeding and how to successfully aim a squirt to hit your husband in the face when he isn’t looking (what?), that day taught me that there will always be surprises.

Motherhood, from the beginning, has constantly surprised me. Learning to breastfeed and then pumping taught me some valuable lessons that perhaps might provide some insight, comfort, or at least some laughs to those who are about to start their own journeys, who are in the middle of theirs, or who have retired their pumps forever and can now reminisce on times gone by.

  1. It’s Really Down to the Baby

No one told me this! I always heard that every woman, except a small percentage, can breastfeed.

You just need to hold your baby in this position, and if that isn’t working, try this football position, people would say. Or, if it is painful, make sure you are doing this or that to fix it. One of my favorites was, make sure the baby’s mouth is fully covering your areola and not just your nipple.

Are you kidding me? Have you seen what pregnancy has done to my areolas?!

I couldn’t fit my mouth around that; how is my teeny tiny infant going to do that?

I’ve had friends who struggled to get their baby to latch properly for weeks and sometimes months resulting in some of them to switch to formula; whereas, my daughter had no issues whatsoever. Was it because I held her in the best position, ate the right lactation cookies, and made sure her little mouth was completely over my areola?

Nope! I struggled to find a comfortable position at first and those cookies are gross. I was not a natural at this breastfeeding thing and didn’t (couldn’t!) follow ALL the blogs. But I didn’t need to. That kiddo came out with the fiercest need to suckle. Our nursing sessions were literally less than five minutes for both sides. I never had pain or cracked nipples because my kid was just great at nursing — not because I was. She had no issues switching from my breast, to a bottle, to a pacifier, and finally her thumb. If I could give just one piece advice to women about breastfeeding, it is is that you can do everything in the world “right” about breastfeeding, but really it’s down to your baby.

  1. Pumping Points

My Sarah Wells Pump Bag!

Just because you can nurse successfully, doesn’t mean you can pump successfully — or that your baby will be content with taking a bottle. I have friends whose babies would not eat for hours because they refused to take a bottle and would only nurse. Some women just don’t respond to a pump and that’s OK. I could pump just enough each day for my daughter, but pumping sessions took at least four times longer than nursing sessions, and I could never really create the surplus of stored milk I was told I needed to have “as a backup.” It drove me a bit crazy in the beginning because it took so much longer to let down than when my daughter nursed.

Even so, I had a few things that helped me tremendously with returning to work and having to pump. My company has a lactation room complete with a nice chair, table, mini fridge, and sink. I know most women aren’t afforded that when they return to work, and I am so beyond thankful that I had that resource. It made pumping comfortable, especially since I didn’t have to put my breastmilk in the community shared fridge. I’d encourage everyone to look up their company’s pumping polices and to demand the best available resources. I also had a great pumping bag that made traveling with my pump, laptop, bottles, and purse items extremely convenient and also very subtle. I used a Sarah Wells breast pump bag, which I would highly recommend all pumping/working moms to buy. You can even put pictures of your baby in the side pockets! It was stress-free walking into work with just one bag that didn’t scream, “I’m lactating!”

  1. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

After my daughter was born, I remember thinking that I was always doing something wrong. I constantly wondered if my daughter was getting enough milk because my breastfeeding journey didn’t match my sister’s or mom’s or some of my friends. I had a few people tell me that because our nursing sessions were so short, she probably wasn’t receiving enough and that I needed to make her nurse longer. In fact, she was gaining weight right on track.I had doubts again when I started pumping and it took me so much longer to let down. Was I pumping enough to actually meet her needs? Oh no! I pumped two ounces less today! Is my supply drying up? What cookies or herbs can I eat to boost it back up? I had to keep telling myself that it was all good, no matter what.

My worth as a mother wasn’t in my ability to pump exactly six ounces each session, and just because my journey looked different than my friends’ journeys didn’t mean I was doing something wrong.

I honestly rejoiced after my daughter turned a year old and I, along with her doctor, decided it was time to put the pump aside. I continued to nurse her twice a day, then just in the morning until she weaned herself, but I wasn’t sad when our journey was over. I was thankful that I was able to provide for her nutritional needs for her first year of life (and our budget was thankful, too). I was grateful for all the support from my husband, family, friends, and company that wished me success in the journey. Most of all, I was — and am — fiercely in love with the little girl who made it all possible. As I look forward to starting again with her baby brother, I remind myself that love is the ONLY constant in breastfeeding, and it’s BY FAR the most important part.


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Sarah Muzio
Sarah’s military experience began at her birth on Hill AFB, Utah, to a young airman and his wife. The Air Force eventually brought her family to Montgomery, Alabama, where her father retired as an Air Force Master Sergeant. It was there she met her husband, Cody, a preacher’s kid at the family church. Sarah graduated from The University of Alabama to become an accountant for a national healthcare company in Birmingham, Alabama, where she lives with her Army National Guard husband, their daughter Wilda, and their faithful labradoodle, Tolkien. They are expecting a son, Augusto, later in the year. Sarah enjoys history, a good book, and most of all, play days with her husband and daughter.