one of my girlfriends who is expecting a boy in december asked me the other day if i have ever done a post on breastfeeding. i was kind of shocked that i haven’t devoted anything on this blog to the one thing that has consumed most of my time since bastian was born. i am no expert, and i will tell you that it didn’t come easy for me, but i have stuck with it and thought maybe i could share some of my ups and downs of the whole process. there is just too much to write in one post, so i decided to split them up into a few milestones i had.
i always knew that i wanted to breastfeed – my mom did it, my girlfriends did it and hey, it saves you a ton of money. in all the research i did throughout my pregnancy it became clear that it was the right thing for me to do. i had heard horror stories about being sore, baby having a hard time latching, baby having allergies, but as a pregnant women you never think it will happen to you. i remember thinking, ‘hey it’s so natural, this is going to be a piece of cake!’ we went to a breastfeeding class where we learned about breastfeeding…but there is so so so much more to learn. breastfeeding to me is all about experience – you can spend hours in the class room, but that real world experience is what gets you in the know. i am not saying classes are bad, because i loved the class i went to and without it i would have been even more clueless, but until that baby gets here you can’t really know what it’s going to be like.
when bastian was born, we immediately tried to breastfeed. he seemed to be doing great! the nurses and lactation consultants all said he had a great latch. the hospital has you log all their feedings, peepee and poopy diapers. they said that if he fed for over 10 minutes that it was considered a “good feeding”. by the end of day one, i was sore. the next day his pediatrician said he had a short/tight frenulum (the little tendon that attaches your tongue to the bottom of your mouth), so when she did his weewee snip snip she said she was going to cut his frenulum a bit too. by the middle of day two i was scabbing. i kept asking the nurse, “is it supposed to hurt this bad? is this something i am just going to have to get used to?” it was a toe curling pain the second he latched on and started sucking. the nurses kind of looked at me like “honey, yep, get used to it”. so i sucked it up…i mean i just had a natural labor and i am going to sit here and whine about a little scab?
the day we left the hospital they weighed bastian and he had lost weight like all/most babies do. we were so full of joy, tired, excited, nervous to go home. that first night home my milk came in. everyone has told me, including the nurses at the hospital, what to expect. it feels like rocks in your boobs, hard rocks. the thing no one ever told me was that my baby didn’t want to nurse off a rock hard boob. he kept waking up at night and i remember struggling to get him latched on. he would cry, i was probably crying haha, and my boobs were so confused! the next morning we went to his first pediatrician appointment. we were so excited, first time parents, getting ready to take baby on his first trip to the doctor! they weighed bastian and they said he lost too much weight. well what does a hormonal tired mother do, she just starts crying. i felt awful! i felt like i was starving my baby. the pediatrician gave us an intensive feeding and pumping regimen to follow the whole day and i would have to bring bastian to the hospital (the ped office would be closed) the next day to make sure bastian began to gain weight. i spent the whole day crying, pumping, feeding all while i had cabbage leaves (yes, weird but it is suppose to help engorgement) and hot towls on my chest. i was literally a mess. i kept thinking ‘i want to stop this, i want to just stop breastfeeding’. it became so clear why some women stop, because in those moments i wanted to so badly.
when you are the one responsible for your child’s food, the level of stress and responsibility is like i have never experienced. despite all my hardships, i kept on truckin’. the next morning we went to the hospital and met with a lactation consultant who weighed bastian. he had gained 4 oz in one day. we passed with flying colors! so we made it through engorgement, and he began to gain weight, but after a week of continuous toe curling pain every time he latched on and a baby that was hungry all the time, i needed an expert opinion. we contacted a pediatrician who is also a lactation consultant and specializes in cutting frenulums.
when we met this doctor we immediately loved her. she looked at bastian’s mouth and knew right away that his tongue wasn’t able to extract milk efficiently. she told us she could cut it a little more right there and have it done. there was absolutely no hesitation on our end and after a couple of seconds it was done. she had him latch on and asked me what that felt like, i replied that i didn’t think he was eating, and she assured me he was, and that this is what it is suppose to feel like. i wanted to jump up for joy and scream hallelujah! i couldn’t believe the difference, night and day. we were so impressed with this doctor, we decided to switch pediatricians, and to this day we are so thankful we made that switch.
with all the initial difficulties out of the way, i figured it would be smooth sailing from then on out. well with kids, you realize it’s never smooth sailing, and as soon as you get one thing figured out another thing changes. bastian was extremely gassy and cried a lot. we tried gas drops (didn’t work) we tried colic calm (a homeopathic drop that didn’t work either) so the last thing i tried was my diet. i cut out dairy (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt) and gas producing foods like beans, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. it seemed to work! most babies have a hard time digesting milk protein. to this day i am not sure if he was really intolerant to dairy, but when feel like you find something that works, you won’t chance it.
now if you have made it this far in the post…thanks haha. after two months of breastfeeding, and a happy healthy baby i felt pretty comfortable. the time you spend feeding your child is so special. you have their full attention and the connection you make is priceless. if bastian had his way, he would have spent 23 out of the 24 hours of the day eating…wait i take that back, he wouldn’t be eating he would just be using me as a pacifier. bastian was a slow eater, very very slow. it took close to an hour during those first couple weeks to eat. morning, noon and night i was breastfeeding and getting about an 1-1.5 hour in between feedings. he would fall asleep and i would try every trick in the book to try to get him to stay awake, and in the end i just had to succumb to the hour long feedings. it did get quicker every week and now it takes him around 10 minutes to eat.
bottom line, breastfeeding was way harder than i could have ever imagined. i thought, ‘hey it’s natural, it should be easy!’ but for me it wasn’t. every mom is different, but if you stick with it and push through all the challenges, it’s so worth it. ask for help, don’t be afraid to go see a lactation consultant. talk to your family or friends when you feel worn down and ready to quit. although all those long nights seem like they will never end, they do. although you feel like you haven’t left the couch or the rocker in 10 days, you will. although you now feel like a milk machine and less like a human, you will look back on those moments and long for them. i promise. the feeling of being held down won’t last. cherish those times of having a sleeping baby on your chest, and most of all, relax.
i know this is extremely lengthy, but breastfeeding is such a huge part of my life and there is so much to say! my next journey was returning to work, which will be another post. i hope i didn’t bore any of you and most of all, i hope maybe i inspired at least one person to push through the hardships and find that happy place that breastfeeding brings you and your child 🙂