Let me preface this by saying: if you fed/feed your baby formula I do NOT think your baby is not smart. Nor do I think that you are wrong/lazy/stupid/failure....blah blah blah! This is one of those issues that divides mamas so thoroughly when we should be supporting each other and realizing: "different strokes..."
Now. That said, so that I don't hurt any feelings. ;) I have truly loved nursing all 4 of my babies. I was putting Nathan to bed tonight and watched him nursing and a bittersweet feeling gripped my heart. He is most likely my last baby (which I'm okay with). This is the last time I will nurse a baby. Grandbabies are a treasure I'm sure and I will truly enjoy being a grandma (in about 15 years ;) ) but there is nothing like holding your own baby. The moment the doctor placed my babies on my tummy and then shortly thereafter I placed them to my breast. **melting heart**
I have been so very blessed to have an easy time with nursing. I have had very little trouble (I really, truly think that God saw my infertility struggles and knew that I neeeeeded my body to do something that it was "supposed" to do naturally and without help so that I could have some faith in it--kind of falls under "God won't give you more than you can handle") and I'm sad to see this part of my life winding down. My baby is 13 months old and eating food like a champ. I will have to start the weaning process soon (I'm still doing it on demand pretty much at this point-so by cutting down I'm not talking stopping yet)
After a total of about 5 1/2 years of nursing (woah!) here are some tips:
nurse your baby on demand-the baby knows how to increase your supply when needed. I've known so many women who swear by scheduling but then they complain that their milk supply drops and they have to stop nursing or supplement. I spent some time as a pacifier. Do I regret that? NO! Because it's not forever. And you need to sit down just as often as your baby needs to eat-for healing. I often think of how "easy" it would be if someone else could feed the baby in the early days so I could get something done...but usually I needed that time to sit and relax. Grab a book and keep it handy. Or watch your favorite show that you have recorded...or just look at your baby!
sleep with your baby if you feel safe doing so. It's really a great thing-even if you don't breastfeed! They're only little that one time! And the one I chose to sleep with (Nathan) is not a bad sleeper. The one I tried to make sleep in her own bed...notsomuch. So, I think that's more about temperament.
don't worry about losing your weight. It's a year. And it will come off. I'm really working at it now, but I don't have to worry about my supply at this stage...so what if you're a little fluffy while your baby is little? It makes you softer for your baby to lay on. There will be plenty of time to count calories and work out like a fiend. Walk when you can, eat what you need and enjoy!
trust your body. I know there are some women whose bodies don't make the milk their baby needs. But, it's not that common. If you allow your baby to nurse on demand and don't give him or her anything else, most likely your body will do it's job. Count your wet and dirty diapers, go for the weight checks. Your breasts will feel fuller at times than others-when they don't feel full that doesn't necessarily mean that there's no milk. Leave the formula alone (unless you realize that once you begin to introduce formula on a regular basis you will probably need it and that's okay with you...).
be calm. If you are calm your baby will be calmer. And your milk will come in and let down easier.
nurse where you feel comfortable doing so. I'm one that feels very comfortable nursing in public. I rarely use a blanket (the baby hates it usually and tries to flail it off-which just draws more attention) and most people don't realize I'm nursing unless I draw attention to it. You can be discreet. It's about feeding your baby, not flaunting your "parts". And if you don't feel comfortable doing it in public? Don't! There are nursing lounges and dressing rooms in so many places. I have also used my car if I know it's a safe area to sit in my car. My older kids? They don't even bat an eye. (I have known some that are anxious about how their older kids will react to seeing their mother's breast-but I think if you make it very casual/nonchalant...they will see it that way too!) In fact, Lindsay and Haley have both nursed their babies! I *heart* that!
and most of all: DON'T GIVE UP. Talk to a lactation consultant-even if they charge, it's cheaper than formula. If it's important to you...keep at it! And if it doesn't work out for you? If you're one of that .9% (or whatever) of women who can't do it?? Or if you really hate the idea and don't want to nurse-never have? Give your baby the bottle and know that you love him or her just as much and he or she will be FINE! I know so many babies that are healthier and happier than anything...and they were *gasp* formula fed! My mom didn't nurse...and my twitch is barely noticeable! (Just kidding!)
P.S. I do have some dear friends who were unable-despite every effort (beer drinking, oatmeal eating, fenugreek taking, mother's cookies eating....you name it, they tried it!) and my kudos go out to them! I don't know that I would have had the tenacity to keep at all that at a time when you are tired and worn down anyway! You deserve a HUGE pat on the back!