If you follow me on Instagram stories, I shared a little breastfeeding update with you guys on how things were going with Austin. I had major difficulty breastfeeding Landon which resulted in exclusively pumping, and I was very successful (much to my surprise) breastfeeding Noelle. I went into this third time with a positive attitude knowing fed is best, and decided to not get stressed if things didn’t work out. I’m happy to say things are going well, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Today I’m sharing The Truth About Breastfeeding with you mamas in case some of you are in the throes of those early weeks too.
With Landon, I had zero breastfeeding help from the nurses in the hospital. In fact, they told me they were “too busy to help right now,” and instructed me to feed him hand expressed colostrum with a syringe. I obviously knew nothing about breastfeeding back then, and I didn’t have anyone with me who did either. I was evaluated by multiple lactation consultants who told me it “shouldn’t hurt,” and who tried shoving Landon on my boob in a variety of really awkward and uncomfortable (and unnatural) positions. I was overwhelmed, in pain, stressed beyond belief…and looking back, most likely had some PPD as a result. It was brutal, and as I previously said, I ended up pumping exclusively.
With Noelle, and now Austin, I’m happy to say my experience has been entirely different. But here’s what I’ve learned during this entire process, which I’m sure some of you can relate to.
Breastfeeding DOES hurt.
It hurts a LOT. And YES, this is due to a poor latch. But here’s the thing…it’s rare babies come out latching perfectly. It takes a bit of time to get the hang of it and LEARN each other. Babies mouths are all different sizes, and our boobs are all different shapes and sizes. And once engorgement hits, it changes things up again (which usually happens when we get home from the hospital with no help!). But until we figure it out together, we will most like experience some pain from the process. My nipples are SIGNIFICANTLY better 4 weeks into breastfeeding Austin because 1. he’s bigger which means his mouth is a little bigger, and 2. we’ve figured it out together.
It’s NOT easy.
I’ll never understand when people say breastfeeding is easy. If it comes easy to you, that’s amazing! But it surely hasn’t for me or many other mamas I know. And this is what NO ONE tells you going into it. I feel like if I knew it was going to be hard and has realistic expectations, I might not have been as stressed. If breastfeeding is what you’re choosing to do, get help from lactations consultants (I prefer to have them come to my home to evaluate the spots I’m nursing in and to help get baby in the best position!), La Leche League support groups, and other resources available to you!
Hormones are ablazin’ with breastfeeding, and emotions can run wild. This week I was incredibly and irrationally pissed off at my husband because his nipples are basically worthless while I’m the one feeding all day. Again…irrational. But that’s what happens when you’re sleep deprived with raging hormones! There are many emotions that come with breastfeeding, especially the weaning process. No one tells us this!
It’s okay if you choose not to for any of these reasons. Or can’t at all.
Fed is best. Fed is best. Fed is best. We do not drive this home enough to new moms. It’s okay if you give breastfeeding a shot and decide it’s not for you. It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to try at all. Some moms deal with low milk production and aren’t able to breastfeed, and some babies end up in the NICU with mom unable to breastfeed. Whatever the situation, as long as your baby is fed, that’s all that matters. And we need to stop judging moms on the decisions they make to care for their babies.
At 4 weeks, Austin and I are doing great. His latch has significantly improved, my pain is next to nothing (only occasionally when he narrows his latch..something he does from time to time when he’s getting tired), and little man is packing on the weight! This has been the easiest breastfeeding experience by far, and hopefully it continues to move in the right direction. I feel like I’ve learned so much from my experiences, and I can only hope that one day I can obtain my IBCLC to help other mamas as well (a plan I have for the future when the kids are all in school!).