Congratulations! You are pregnant! After the overwhelming mix of emotions come bursting out of you- the joy, the panic, the worry, the wonder- the next step in your new journey begins- informing friends and loved ones of your newest oncoming arrival.
After learning of that tiny, beautiful life growing inside of you, the questions start flowing.
When are you due?
Do you have a name picked out?
Are you finding out the sex of the baby?
Have you had any cravings?
How are you feeling?
Do you have a Doctor?
Are you planning on breastfeeding?
Are you planning on breastfeeding?
Its a difficult answer. How will you know if you will have any success at it? You have most likely heard of or read the amazing benefits to both you and baby. The convenience. The savings to your pocketbook! Undoubtedly, you have also heard the struggles.
If I can, I am going to try…
It is an answer I have heard many new mothers give, an answer I have given myself, while lovingly rubbing my belly and the growing life inside of me. It made sense for me, with the wonder that is pregnancy, the life that I sustained within me, to continue to feed and sustain with my body once she is no longer in my womb, but in my arms. If there was one thing I knew in all my experiences, research, and reading, it was that breastfeeding is natural.
What I didn’t know was that breastfeeding struggles are real.
Early Breastfeeding Struggles; What to Expect and Hot to Overcome them
When my children were born, the hospitals where I gave birth both encouraged a golden hour, time just for my baby, my husband and I, free of any medical interference, where we could practice skin to skin, bond, and nurse for the very first time. In the hospital, I was determined to make it work. Every time I went to latch my Daughter, every time, I called in a nurse to supervise. I wanted that latch to be perfect. I was determined to give my girl the best. With the help of a lactation consultant, a nipple shield, and my boppy, I was wheeled out of the hospital feeling confident.
As ready as I thought I was, I was not prepared for the breastfeeding struggles we encountered those first few weeks and months. I was not prepared for the sore nipples that curled my toes with every latch. I was not prepared for blood from cracked nipples in my breast pad. (My Lactation consultant assured me, keep applying Lanolin, pump that side to let it heal, and my baby girl would not turn into a tiny vampire with a taste for blood.) Most of all, I did not expect how constantly my daughter would need the comfort and sustenance that only I could give. In the hospital with my daughter, the lactation consultant told me, “Now do not be concerned if she only nurses for ten minutes. Ten minutes counts as a feeding.”
Ten Minutes my foot!
My little girl wanted to nurse for forty-five minutes, every hour and a half. That is taking into account that a nursing session is timed from the beginning of the feeding, meaning I had forty-five minutes between each feeding before my husband was bringing her to me “She’s hungry again. She needs a boob.” Six weeks Post Partum, I went back to work. I was lucky enough to be working as a nanny at the time, with a family with whom I consider my second family, and they allowed me to bring my girl to nurse. For all their compassion and understanding, even my second family didn’t understand my girl’s need to constantly suckle.
She is Still Nursing?”
Yes. Still nursing. Still hungry. Still Eating. Still. Still. Still.
Its overwhelming, being a new parent. Whether it be hormones or exhaustion, the incredible flux of emotion that goes through a new parents heart and body- the joy and incredible, consuming love- the pain and exhaustion, feeling completely touched out and depleted and guilty and at the same time incredibly strong and because somehow, through the constant feedings and nipple pain, wanting to give in to the ease of the bottle, waking up in puddles of milk from engorged breasts, somehow, you find that reserve of strength deep within you that can only be the strength of a mother and you Just. Keep. Going.
You keep going because as time moves on, as each growth spurt passes, your nipples get tougher, your feedings get more spaced apart, you hit a sweet spot. The moment where you realize that it was all worth it. where you don’t cringe when your baby needs to latch. Where you look forward to those peaceful , bonding moments between your child and yourself. Where you realize that all those early breastfeeding struggles were worth it. Where all those benefits you read of, the money saved, watching your baby plump up and knowing its because of you, all the reasons you chose to breastfeed don t even matter compared to the bond that you discover, that only you can provide this perfect sustenance to this perfect being- the lazy, milk dribbled smiles your baby gives you in the middle of a feeding, nothing compares to the bond, the love between a mother and child- and it makes all those breastfeeding struggles worthwhile.
So keep trying, new mamas, don’t give up. Find a support group, whether at a meeting or online. Find a fellow nursing friend to reach out to. Read blogs, books, and reputable nursing sites. Talk to a lactation consultant (your insurance covers more than you think). You will get there, it will get easier, you will reach that sweet spot where everything will suddenly feel as natural as you thought it should of been all along. Soon it will be as if all those early breawstfeeding struggles never existed. You CAN do this, momma, you are not alone.
Share with us! What was your nursing relationship like with your newborn? What were some things that you struggled with in those early weeks of your breastfeeding relationship? Were you expecting breastfeeding to be easy? What tools did you utilize that helped make it better?
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