My whole pregnancy, I envisioned how perfect breastfeeding would be…natural, easy, and fun. But after two weeks, I was at my breaking point. I almost gave up.
I’m not here today to paint a rosy picture of how “perfect” breastfeeding is. I am here to be honest with you, as I wish someone had done for me.
The first few hours after our son was born are very hazy. I’m sure a nurse helped me figure out how to latch him shortly after he was born. It was so overwhelming. The nurse handed me a piece of paper and pencil and instructed me to keep track of the times he nursed. If I could find that log, it would be proof that those first few days (weeks, months) he nursed ALL.THE.TIME.
The hospital lactation consultant made a few stops in to visit, the first time we had guests so she left a pile of handouts for me to read at my leisure. What leisure? I was juggling life with a newborn. We finally connected, and she checked our latch, showed me a couple different positions and assured me that my ginormous boobs wouldn’t suffocate him, and then off she went. I was now on my own.
Those first two weeks were some of the hardest and most demanding of my life. I never realized how much time I would spend sitting on the couch breastfeeding. Newborns take FOREVER to nurse, or at least mine did. From start to finish, I spent almost an hour nursing. I would have a short “break” and then he was hungry again. This constant feeding took a toll on my nipples.
I had ample amount of lanolin creams but it NEVER ONCE occurred to me that I should be using it. Because of that, I developed an extremely painful cracked nipple. Whenever I knew I had to nurse off that side again, I was in tears. This was not how I had expected it to be. It was at this point that I almost gave up. I couldn’t take it anymore. After some encouraging conversations, I chose to continue on and after a week or so of caking on the lanolin, the crack healed.
While the pain went away (mostly), anxiety was my new companion. I hated leaving the house for more than an hour because any more time than that and I would need to nurse again. I am a big advocate for normalizing breastfeeding in public but it was something I avoided. Not because of modesty, but logistically it was HARD for me to nurse without my couch and Boppy. I have larger breasts that don’t sit nicely up on my chest. This resulted in me needing a free hand to hold my breast up and having a Boppy made that much easier. I planned my day around when he may need to nurse again and made sure I could make it home in time.
Not only did I have anxiety about where I’d be when the baby got hungry, I became paranoid that my milk supply would drop and I wouldn’t be able to produce enough to feed my son. My husband offered time and time again to give the baby a bottle so I could sleep or do something for myself, but instead of accepting his sincere help, I would get upset. How did he not understand that I couldn’t just skip a feeding? I would then need to pump and clean parts and bottles!
Thankfully, my anxiety did subside over time and I was able to enjoy nursing my son.
I am proud to say that I successfully breastfeed my son until his first birthday and even beyond periodically. It was hard in the beginning because this was new to both of us. It took some time to get it all figured out, but once we did, we were a great team. I was able to bond with my son like no one else could, and for that I wouldn’t trade any of the difficulties we faced in creating our perfect breastfeeding story.
If you find yourself in a position where you need some help, guidance, or just someone who understands what you’re going through, check out the La Leche League website and find the group closest to you. They have an amazing group of ladies who can offer support or advice.