Honestly I don't remember thinking at all about breastfeeding before my first baby was born. He was born, they put him on my breast in the first half hour. He latched on immediately, and I never considered doing anything else.
I know I was fortunate to have such an easy experience. I didn’t have to make any difficult decisions about to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, because it happened so naturally. My last baby, Julian, who I am breastfeeding now didn’t figure out how to really latch on until he was two weeks old. The entire two weeks I was panicking, worried I was doing something wrong and worried that he would just never breastfeed.
I had to remind myself that I’d already nursed two children and I knew how to breastfeed. And sure enough one day he just did it! It’s good to remember that sometimes it takes time for a nursing relationship to become harmonious, because had Julian been my first baby, I might have wanted to give up.
Even though I was worried I still had an underlying trust that he would figure it out. I did reach out for support though when my daughter was 13 months and stopped nursing abruptly. I called several random La Leche ladies whose numbers I found on the internet, and I was so impressed by the support they gave me. They spent so much time talking with me and trying to come up with a solution that would work for my daughter and me. I remember being so grateful for those women, who didn't know me at all but seemed to really, truly care about what I was going through.
I have been lucky, I have never had any serious issues with nursing-- besides an occasional clogged duct or trying to navigate a difficult weaning process after my milk stopped when I was pregnant with my second.
My daughter who stopped nursing at 13 months never did start again, and that was hard emotionally since I had nursed my first child until two and a half years, and had expected to do the same. But the result of her stopping was that we both started sleeping much better and she became much more interested in food. (She was exclusively breastfed until she was almost 12 months old.) So I had to recognize that it was okay that she didn't need me in that way anymore, she was still just as healthy and happy without nursing.
I guess what surprised me the most was just the connection I felt with my children while I was nursing. It shouldn't be surprising, but there is no way to know what that feels like before it happens. It's not just about feeding, it's about love as well.
We have talked a lot about nursing in preparation of both new babies being born, and it is neat to see how my two older kids have accepted it and want to be a part of the bonding when he is nursing (especially when he was first born). They always want to be close to us and to watch him nurse. It's very sweet to witness.
Overall, I was pretty stubborn about what I believed was best for my baby.
I really didn't have any form of support or guidance with my first baby because we had just moved and I didn't have any community or many long-distance friends with babies. I was feeding my newborn on demand and receiving a lot of criticism from the older women in my family. But I just stuck with what I thought was right. I didn't ever really feel like I needed extra support. With my other two I had a lot of friends in my community that were also nursing, and I could always turn to a friend if I needed it. Now with this last baby I feel a lot of support from the online community as well, like the Bad-ass Breastfeeders of Denver facebook page.
My advice is to try to ignore all the different fears surrounding pregnancy and becoming a new mom. There are so many, and it is easy to become consumed in worry. Instead, trust yourself. Trust your body to do its job. Trust your intuition, what feels right and what doesn't. Don't worry so much about whether you are doing something right or not. There is no right or wrong, everyone parents differently, experiences pregnancy differently, and has a different experience with feeding and nurturing their baby. If you trust yourself, you will find that you know instinctually more than you thought you did.
Don't give up, don't lose hope when it seems like things aren't going the way you want them to with nursing or any other aspect of mothering. Things can change overnight, babies go through feeding and sleeping phases that can seem impossibly difficult, but remember, it will pass. The next week, or next month, that phase will have passed and your baby will be onto something new.
Try to enjoy it. Every part of it, the sleep-deprived chaos of the very beginning, and the way that everyday there is something new happening with your baby that has never happened before. It goes by very, very quickly, and you don't want to miss it.
Comment below with how your feeding journey is going. If you would like to share your story through photos and a blog (which I can write or you can) please contact Miracle Kisses here so we can get started.