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Breast is Best

March 8, 2012

There are a lot of choices involved in having a child – some of them are made for you, but others you get to make yourself.  One thing I knew without a doubt from before I ever got pregnant, was that I intended to exclusively breastfeed my child.  After all, it’s natural and free and easy, right?

No.  Not easy.  Not at all at all at all.

Sure I had heard stories about women who tried breastfeeding and gave up after a few weeks or months because it was just too hard.  I didn’t think to question why that was, I just figured it didn’t fit in with their lifestyles or they never learned to do it right or something.  But now that I’m here, one of the many truths of mommyhood has reared its ugly head – breastfeeding is HARD.

Some day it will be easy.  I keep telling myself that.  Some day I’ll be one of those moms who can just discreetly lift her shirt and clip open her nursing bra and slide her child onto her nipple in one swift movement.  No tears, not from mother or from child, and no pain, and no nip slips.  Some day that has to be the way it is, right?  Well right now it is far from that.

Breastfeeding is a production around here.  Thanks to my C section, I generally have to have my son handed to me for feeding, since I can’t bend and twist and maneuver to pick him up and put him on the breast.  I am not confident enough to do it without my Brest Friend pillow, and my child cries hysterically before many feedings, and I often cry a bit too.  He has trouble latching, but we always get it eventually (though it took a week or two to get to that point), and it hurts when he first latches on, and I invariably have to correct his position a little bit.  My breasts are overproducing, so he often gets flooded and chokes and gags on the milk that gushes into his mouth.  As a result he is afraid of the flood and clamps down on my nipples with his gums, which causes an indescribable pain.  I end up sitting with at least one naked boob exposed for a very long time before and after the feeding – before because my husband and I often have to take turns soothing our crying child before he will latch on, and after because my nipples hurt so badly that I need to air them out a bit before I can dress myself again.  Add to all this the fact that our child currently requires a meal every hour or two, and you can imagine that my days are not all that dreamy right now.

Glamorous, no?

Don’t get me wrong, breastfeeding has actually improved greatly from the earliest days, when my nips were scabbed over and constantly in incredible pain because we hadn’t figured the whole latch thing out yet.  My husband tried to convince me to give it up and just pump and give our baby bottles exclusively, but I stuck with it.  We finally introduced bottles of expressed milk this week, and once we got him to actually take the damn thing I foresaw a future with less sore nipples.  Though I still intend to give him the breast at least half the time, and for now we’re only doing one bottle a day.

And no, I don’t want to give it up and go for formula.  I know a lot of moms have and would, and I don’t judge them for it.  But this is something that is really important to me, and unless I end up with (god forbid) some kind of serious infection or a permanent injury that makes breastfeeding impossible, I am going to stick with it.  It has already improved so much, and I know that trend will continue.  It’s just so hard to remember that sometimes, when it feels like we keep taking huge strides forward and then slipping right back to the difficult phase.

So for now I have to breastfeed in privacy, or at least only in front of loved ones who aren’t too uncomfortable around my naked boobs.  One day I’ll be the Discreet Mom who can do this in public.  I can’t wait for that day.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2012 1:08 pm

    Those first weeks can be so hard! Good for you for keeping on! You know what you want and you’re sticking to it. Be proud of yourself. Know you are doing amazing things for your son. D had a slight latch problem and I’m so grateful for our childbirth class teacher. She was also trained as a LC and she came out, did a half hour drive to offer her time and knowledge. I would never have know what was causing so much pain or what to do about it, if it hadn’t been for her.
    It got so much easier after that. At least until he started doing occasional nursing strikes. Those can be so frustrating too. I knew he was hungry and wanted milk, but he refused to nurse! I ended up in tears feeling like a failure at not being able to meet my baby’s most basic need. Each strike took trying several different positions before to “trick” him into nursing, and then eventually he would just go back to normal. Frustrating times, but it felt so worth it.
    Anyway… my point is to encourage you, let you know you’re not alone, and to cheer you on. You’re doing great.

    • Laura permalink
      March 13, 2012 9:41 am

      thanks for the encouragement, it is always needed and appreciated! i do plan to attend a support group very soon. some aspects of nursing have gotten easier but new challenges keep presenting themselves. it is definitely the hardest thing i have ever done.

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