I am certainly FAR from being any expert. Truth, I’ve only been at this new gig for almost 4 months. I figured that if we (Sam and I) only make it 4 months in our breastfeeding journey, then that in itself is a huge accomplishment. It is certainly a lot farther then I ever thought we would get.
The OBGYN that I saw during my pregnancy is a huge breastfeeding advocate. One of the first questions he asked me during my first visit was if I planned on nursing. Of course I had PLANNED on nursing. I knew the statistics, I had read the books…it was what was “best”. The truth however, I was both scared and intimidated.
Like there aren’t enough pressures for a parent, they also throw breastfeeding into the mix. It is pounded in your head about how it is the best choice, the number 1 choice and how you are basically giving your child super food! I would have been so guilt ridden if I hadn’t succeeded in breastfeeding.
The thing they neglect to tell you, how hard it can be!
It was no secret that I didn’t absolutely love being pregnant. Labour and delivery went great for us and almost exactly how I wanted. Recovery was hard though. I was sore, tired and genuinely uncomfortable in my own skin. I had given my body to pregnancy and delivery and now it had to continue as I was the sole responsible one for keeping this baby nourished.
It all started in the hospital. As great as I found our hospital to be, not one professional come in to show to how to breastfeed. I did it how I “thought” it was suppose to happen, how I had seen in pictures. It wasn’t until a few hours before we were released that a nurse came to check me and kindly mentioned that I was holding the baby the wrong way!
Like any baby, Sam lost birth weight. But I was assured that my milk would be in around day 3 and he would re-gain his weight in no time.
On day 3, I assumed that my milk had come in. I had never experienced engorgement before but for some reason I wasn’t sore like the books suggested. Well, there was a very good reason for this. My milk didn’t come in.
The nurse came to weigh Sam at our home and noticed he had lost weight again. She looked at me with concern and then said she would be back in 2 more days. For the next two days I attempted to feed him every hour! Finally the day the nurse came back, my milk arrived! But again, he was down weight which made her want to come even more often to make sure he was growing.
It was smooth sailing for a while after I had milk. It was by far harder mentally then physically to nurse. I had to get up and feed Sam every 1 1/2- 2 hours, including at night! A session would take about 30 minutes. So pretty much, I would be running on 30 minute increments of sleep. I remember listening to Ryan snoring in our bedroom as I was nursing Sam and felt like smothering him with a pillow. I was so jealous of the freedom he had but to mention the sleep!
The nurse visits kept coming and she kept telling me “it shouldn’t hurt”. I felt like slapping her. I’m sorry but my nipples had never had this much “attention” before and they were SORE! I would tense up when Sam would latch on but within 30 seconds the pain would be gone. Thankfully, my Mom nursed her children and said that the soreness that I was feeling was normal, despite what the nurse said!
Everything was going smoothly when all the sudden Sam stopped nursing on one side. He would scream his head off and refuse to latch on that one side! I was frustrated and so was he. It was during this time that I SERIOUSLY considered quitting. I kept thinking was it worth the stress, the frustration and the tears? Was it really worth my lack of sleep? I asked the nurse and showed her how Sam wouldn’t latch. You know what she did? She took a book out of her bag and tried to read what could be wrong. She suggested I may have thrush as I had 2 of the 5 symptoms! Really? Geesh!
It took ALOT of Googling on my part and trial and error. Finally, I figured out the only thing that helped was putting a heating bag on the one side to help with the let down. Sam eventually learnt to suck harder to get the milk (lazy bum! Ha ha!).
Those first 6 weeks of parenthood was tough enough but adding in the stress of learning to breastfeed made it extra hard. Once 6 weeks was over? WOW! What a difference. All the sudden I had confidence and realized the ease nursing brought us. I would pump a little but learnt how much I hated the added chore of washing parts and bottles. I never needed a heat source to warm bottles and I was gaining comfort with nursing in public.
At almost 4 months into being the sole nourishment source for my son, I am now starting to imagine life when he starts to eat, a point where I can cut some calories (and hopefully a few pounds too) and where someone else can take the responsibility of feeding him. My ultimate goal is to make it to 6 months where Sam gets solely breastmilk.
Looking back on the last 4 months, I can’t say it hasn’t been very easy. In fact, I think breastfeeding has been one of the biggest challenges of my new parent life. Now that things have gotten comfortable and easy, I LOVE breastfeeding. I love those quiet moments with Sam, the pride I feel for my persistence and the awe that I feel knowing that I have been able to continue to nourish my baby with my own body. While I am SO glad that it has worked out for us, I have 100% understanding to those who formula feed and feel that it gets a bad rap…For those mom’s, I’m sorry.
If there is anything that I have learnt since becoming a Mommy, it is that everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own take on pregnancy, their own special labour experience and their own hurdles to overcome afterwards. We lucked out and I am so thankful that I have been able to be a breastfeeding Mom.