Haha yes, the breastfeeding post is here! Disclaimer: There are photos of my baby eating, if that sort of thing freaks you out, you are excused from reading this post!
Second disclaimer: I believe every woman and baby is an individual. Though breastfeeding worked for me, I realize that is not always the case for others. Everyone’s circumstances are different and I in no way judge! I was a 100% formula fed baby and I think I’m doing ok in life so far! 😉 Okay, now on with the boob talk…
It’s kind of funny how things end up working out. If you would have asked me 4 months ago if I would be writing a post all about breastfeeding, I likely would have said, “um yeah, not likely.” My how things have changed! 😀
So like any first time mom to be, I was freaked out about a lot of things…would I be a good mom? Would I get any sleep? Am I ready for this kind of change? What if my daughter doesn’t like me? Will I miss my old life? Will I know what to do? But the one thing that freaked me out the most was…breastfeeding. Looking back now, it seems like the most ridiculous thing to be worried about, but this was coming from a 20-something girl who (lets be real here) had only ever used her boobs to make that top/dress/bathing suit look nice. That’s what boobs are for, right?! So, the thought of having a baby need my fashion accessories for nourishment terrified me. As a lover of science, I logically knew that breastmilk was life’s most perfect food for new babies. Nothing compares to nature’s super food and I had read tons of articles that time and again show how beneficial colostrum and breastmilk are for the developing human. Man made formula doesn’t even come close to offering the same benefits that breastmilk does. So why then did feeding my baby from my boobs seem like the most alien thing in the world to me?! I’ll admit, I often had nightmares about breastfeeding, yes nightmares. Like multiple nightmares. Yes I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but hey it was my truth!
I constantly vented my fears to friends with babies, and they all reassured me that it would be fine. They all told me that when the baby came, it would be the most natural thing in the world, that I would actually WANT to breastfeed my baby. Um ok. To this, I would politely smile and respond with a “you’re probably right” all the while getting even more anxious in my head. Why was this such a hard concept for me to grasp?? Ugh. I literally spent hours upon hours being anxious about this. I even went to a breastfeeding class hoping it would help…yeah not really. I left the class feeling even more anxious and more freaked out about a baby getting food from my body (I’m totally mental slapping the heck out of myself right now haha). How could something that is supposed to be so natural feel so foreign and strange and make me feel icky inside??
So like any normal person would do (heehee) I gave myself pep talks almost daily and began mentally preparing myself for one of two scenarios. One, breastfeeding is awesome, I love it, my baby loves it, all is right with the world. Two, breastfeeding sucks, I hate it, my baby hates it, we buy formula and all is right with the world. I even went so far as to start setting aside some money in the likely event we would need to start purchasing formula. I even had friends volunteer to give me any and all formula samples they had on hand to help me out.
Here’s where the story gets interesting, fascinating even. Okay maybe only fascinating to me…
On October 28th, 2011 at 10:38pm, my daughter was born. In that moment, I pulled her from my own body and placed her on my chest for the very first time. You know, its funny sometimes how your life can literally change in an instant. In that instant every maternal gene in my body snapped to life (and I was convinced I didn’t have any maternal genes!) and any lame fear I had about being inadequate as a mother, fell by the wayside. It’s amazing how biology works. It’s so primal, and natural…I was a mother and somehow I instinctively knew what to do. As my daughter lay on my chest I instinctively wrapped my arms around her and wanted to give her everything she needed and to protect her with the ferocity of a lion…this included nourishing her. Within one hour of her birth, she had also followed her own instincts. My baby latched on to me, like a champ, like she had been doing it for years! And you know what? It didn’t feel icky, or strange, or alien, or weird. It felt like The.Most.Natural.Thing. Amazing. Not only did it feel natural, it felt right. I WANTED to nourish her. Huh, guess the mama friends in my life were right! 😉
Now I’m not going to lie and say after her birth, breastfeeding was easy peasy and we all lived happily ever after. No, after she latched like a champ was when it got difficult. See, my nipples (that’s a scientific term and totally legit, so no laughing!) had never gotten so much…ahem…attention. And to put it mildly, after two days of nursing every two hours I thought they were on fire and going to fall off! Now every lactation consultant in the world will tell you “breastfeeding doesn’t hurt. If you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt.” Liars. Truth is, it DOES hurt. Even if your baby latches perfectly from day one (which mine did), it will hurt! You’re welcome for the honesty. 🙂 It just makes sense. Your nipples have to get used to all that attention!
I’d say the first 2-4 weeks were the hardest, pain wise. It hurt. A lot a lot a lot. Many times I would cry as she latched on because it hurt so badly. My saving grace was using nipple shields every other feeding to give my poor nips a break. It really helped. And at some point after the 4 week mark, it didn’t hurt anymore! Woohoo! I’m so glad we pushed through the uncomfortable pain because here we are on the other side. Almost 4 months later and my daughter has been exclusively breastfed every 2-4 hours, everyday of her life. Wow! That makes me feel so proud. And, what’s more, I’m loving it! I love the bond it has given me with my daughter…it’s a special and nurturing time for both of us and so empowering to know that my body is still sustaining hers!
Breastfeeding is also the ultimate comfort tool. Whenever she is sad, scared, tired etc. breastfeeding provides her with a sense of security and a sense of love and comfort. It’s amazing to watch my screaming baby calm down in an instant when she feels my body next to hers as she latches on. It’s a beautiful thing people!
At the hospital as a newborn:
Her breakfast and mine ha!:
As a new mom, learning to multitask. Baby in sling and nursing allowed me to brush my teeth that morning:
Completely milk drunk 🙂
Ahhh, the early days:
Feeling oh so comfy and loved:
My perfect angel, staring into my eyes:
So there you have it. My update on breastfeeding and my thoughts about the process. I never thought I would love it like I do. And I’m so glad that my daughter was so expert at it from the beginning because I’m not sure I would have pushed through the pain to keep at it. But I was lucky, knowing how much she loved it and needed it kept me going. Plus the perks of breastfeeding are pretty nice…back in pre prego clothes at 10 days post partum AND I am now 2 lbs lighter than I was when I got pregnant all while still eating like a cow. Woo! 😀 And lastly, it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying formula…which is downright expensive!
So, the next question is, how long will we breastfeed for? My goal was 6 months at first, but I’m thinking of pushing that up to 1 year…if she still wants it of course. Something tells me this one is going to love food, so when she gets serious about solids she may not want to. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see what she decides!