From the time I knew I wanted kids, I knew I wanted to breastfeed.
Maybe because I’m part hippie and love that it’s “natural” and all. But really, I just grew-up thinking that’s just what you do when you have a baby (my mom has always been a breastfeeding advocate, which has surely shaped this mentality).
Alas, when Little K was born, she had other plans. She arrived, they threw gently placed her on me and I pulled my hospital gown down, getting ready for the big moment: the latch.
Well, it didn’t happen. We chalked it up as she wasn’t hungry and I moved about my haze-filled day.
Then nighttime came. The nurse was adamant about making it work. I felt like screaming, “She’ll latch when she’s ready! Leave us alone!”
The 24-hour no food window was quickly approaching and something had to be done. I was not about to give up, so we started cup-feeding her. I’d pump a little and the hubby would literally feed the baby the milk (colostrum, the first “milk” to arrive) from his finger. She did well with it, but I freaked thinking this might be the way it goes forever.
Enter the lactation consultant. We tried the football hold. Then, the cradle hold. Nothing worked. She wasn’t interested and just wanted to sleep. Finally, I was told I had bad nipples for breastfeeding. They were too large for the baby (not something you want to hear when your hormones are dropping like mad). I no longer felt like a beautiful, glowing new mom. I was an ugly haggard with horrid nipples that couldn’t nourish my baby.
Frustrated, I tried using breast shells, as advised by the consultant. They were supposed to extract the nipple out more, making it easier for baby to latch. Didn’t work for me…and they made me look like a fembot from Austin Powers, embarrassing me to no end when visitors came to our hospital room.
It was the morning we were supposed to leave the hospital and she still was not latching. Finally, the lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield, which pretty much acts like a nipple prosthetic (for those of us with “faulty” nipples) and helps the baby to latch. Finally, something that worked….sort of.
We had to strip her down to her onesie so she wouldn’t fall asleep and I had to lay on my side, using the nipple shield, to get her to eat. But she finally ate!
I spent the next two days at home having to lie down to feed my baby. Yup, in the middle of the night, I’d spring out of bed, just to lie down on our living room floor again moments later.
Our breastfeeding journey hasn’t been easy – especially those first four very painful weeks. I definitely would’ve given up had it not been for the support of my pro-breastfeeding friends, mom and my #1 cheerleader, my husband.
I can honestly say now that I finally actually enjoy it (it took awhile). I don’t even have to lie down anymore. I’ve even mastered walking a few feet. But, we still use the nipple shield most times, which isn’t the greatest, but I don’t complain because I don’t have to hand wash bottles and my baby is happy, healthy and growing.
Breastfeeding is NOT for everyone and I am not here to talk crap about formula feeding your baby. It is a very personal issue and every woman has the right to choose. I am here to say if you do choose to breastfeed, please know it’s not easy and if you need any support, I’m here to offer encouragement after the whirlwind I went through.
To tie into my standard Fab5 Friday feature, I have five fabulous SELFISH reasons why I personally enjoy it now more than ever.
1. It gives you time to relax. How often do you actually smell the roses? Although it’s not always convenient, BF’ing and/or pumping allows for several breaks in your day. To me, that’s time to collect my thoughts and think about me.
2. You can catch up on reading or the news. Baby is occupied and you have your hands to use. Although you should just relish in the moment, many of us don’t have time for that. Get a two-fer – feed your baby and your brain.
3. It burns calories. Just sit and let baby go to town. You burn calories and shrink your uterus, the baby’s happy being close to you and you don’t even have to break a sweat. #winning
4. It’s easy on the pocketbook. Not spending money on formula means more bottles of wine for when baby’s finally sleeping through the night.
5. Scientific research shows it decreases the risk of ovarian, uterine and breast cancer. If I can help in the slightest to not get the c-word, it’s worth it.
Does anyone else have any encouraging stories to share about breastfeeding?