Anyone who was around the first few weeks after A was born knows that breastfeeding Andrew was anything but easy. It was challenging, to say the least. If you’re uneasy reading about the details of breastfeeding…you might want to stop now.
We all know that breastmilk is best for feeding babies. No doubt about it. If you have ever been pregnant, you have undoubtedly felt the pressure from family, friends, strangers and medical professionals to breastfeed.
I know I definitely felt the pressure when I was pregnant. If someone gave me a dollar for everytime someone questioned me on my feeding plans when I was pregnant I would probably have enough money to put A through university! While I wanted to, I was worried that I woudn’t be able to. Turns out my fears were not unfounded – I had problems with low milk supply and ended up working with a lactation consultant and a nurse practitioner to make it through.
I felt that it was important for me to share my own experience with breastfeeding to let other new moms and moms-to-be that it’s not always easy – but it can work. SO many people made it seem like the most natural thing in the world – as it turns out, it’s not. And after honestly talking about it with other moms, I’m not alone. I think the worst comment I received when telling someone I was having problems was “What kind of troubles can there be? You put the baby to your breast and you’re done.” I felt awful – like a failure. If it’s supposed to be that easy, what the heck was wrong with me?
Within a couple days, I wanted to cry everytime I fed A – which was every two to three hours. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. I relied heavily on Lansinoh and Medela lanolin. That was the first time I realized there was a problem – so in I went to see the first lactation consultant to work on A’s latch.
I started to realize over the next week or so that he didn’t seem full after feeds, he went to sleep but would wake up shortly after screaming. So, I went to see a nurse practitioner, who prescribed me Domperidone to boost my milk supply for a few days. I also started taking herbal supplements to boost my supply.
At the same time, I had a lactation consultant come to the house to work on my low milk supply. I ended up spending the next few weeks pumping after every feed and supplementing with a lactation aid and expressed milk.
The lactation aid looked like this:
What I had to do after feeding him was tape the tube part to my chest, filled with expressed breastmilk, and then get him to latch with the little tube in his mouth. This was done so he would get the extra milk he needed, while being latched allowed him to stimulate my milk supply. If I wasn’t so stressed out about feeding him I probably would have been laughing at the sight of me trying to get a squirmy baby latched while I had a tube of milk taped to my chest. I can laugh about it now thankfully.
I guess the overarching message to new moms and moms-to-be is that breastfeeding is not always easy. There is no shame in asking for help to make sure you succeed. It can take a lot of hard work, but for me personally, it was worth it. I successfully breastfed Andrew past a year and loved every minute of it.
The second time around, it was a whole different ballgame. I learned so much from my first. The biggest change that I made was relying less on the clock and more on my intuition. I CANNOT stress this enough for new moms. Some babies will not follow a schedule and feeding times will be all over the place – as was the case with both my kids. Try to rely on your momma intuition a little.
However – there are times when breastfeeding just isn’t going to happen. I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding. The benefits are overwhelming. However, sometimes it is just not possible for many reasons, and feeding your baby can look very different than how you thought it would. I will be sharing a few stories over the next little while about moms who were not able to exclusively breastfeed so other moms can learn a little about the challenges, benefits and experiences of others.
Amen. Looking back, breastfeeding is the one thing I felt so unprepared for. There is not a single mama I know who hasn’t experienced struggles with feeding and yet I only found out it was going to be hard when I was already in the thick of it.