An ode to the challenges of breastfeeding
As a first-time-mom-to-be, I was ripe with the hope of new life and the excitement of meeting my daughter. I’d had a rough pregnancy, and was finally happy to have my “body back” after being sick or uncomfortable for so many months.
I naturally assumed that I’d have the baby (without a c-section, of course) and would then settle into new mom life. I was sure it had to be easier to have the baby on the outside than on the inside. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
Our daughter was born at 5lbs. 14 oz. and dropped down to 5lbs. 4oz. Before we left the hospital. She latched well immediately and I could already tell my milk was going to come in as we were getting ready to leave the hospital. Things seemed to be on track.
When things got harder…
After my milk came in on day 3 postpartum, and my daughter decided she wanted to nurse for 24 hours straight, I knew something had to be wrong. I was in toe-curling pain every single time she latched. Her latch was shallow, and she was ALWAYS hungry. I had multiple appointments with the lactation consultant. My nipples were so bruised I had to alternate sides while feeding just to get some relief.
I cried during our middle of the night feeds when it just hurt SO much to latch her on, and I knew I’d have to do it again in less than two hours. We got her lip tie clipped at four weeks. It didn’t really help. The pain and challenges with feeding went on for what felt like years, but was really only about eight weeks.
After a couple of months things got a lot better. My supply was regulated so I wasn’t engorged as much, my daughter’s mouth got bigger so she could get a more comfortable latch. I felt like we made it through the wars.
Of course, there was another transition
And then I had to go back to work. And my daughter STILL wasn’t sleeping. I had no idea how to add in pumping, build up a breast milk stash, or how often she should really be eating. I’d been using nursing as a tool to calm her down, so I didn’t even really know how much she was eating during feeds.
Luckily, I was able to muddle through after reading about a million blog posts. So then I created these awesome breastfeeding and pumping schedules and printable cheat sheets to help other moms who had the same questions I did.
I didn’t want to give up breastfeeding after all that hard work I put in during the early days, but I really wasn’t sure how to transition back to work and be away from my baby. All I was sure of was that I wasn’t giving up. Thanks to the breastfeeding and pumping schedules, I was able to make it back to work and keep feeding my baby.
Our breastfeeding happy ending
I ended up breastfeeding my daughter for 19 months, and pumping at work until she was 13 months old. If you’d told me we’d make it that far in the middle of the night when she was a month old, I’d have laughed at you.
It was the biggest accomplishment I had during her first year.
I’m now at 11 months nursing baby #2 and am hoping to go even longer this time. But, I’m not putting pressure on myself. As moms, we have enough to stress about, and the challenges of breastfeeding can add a lot to your plate.
If you’re a new mom who is struggling with breastfeeding or the challenges with making the transition to breastfeeding and pumping, know that you’re not alone. I’ve never spoken to a mom who said breastfeeding was a breeze — we all just face different challenges while feeding our babies.
I’ve also never talked to a mom who was able to push through and said that it wasn’t worth it. Hang in there, and do what you can to take care of yourself and your baby.