Day Three | The Honest Truth from a New Breastfeeder
What made you decide you wanted to breastfeed?
Honestly, I wasn't really sure that I did want to breastfeed. Women would constantly ask me while pregnant if I planned on it but I sort of felt indifferent most of the time. I would say, "Yes! Of course! It's the best for them right?!" but inside depending on the day or the phase in the pregnancy, I would think... there is nothing I want less in this world than anyone or anything touching my nipples. I think there's a lot of women who are probably like that and feel pressured into saying something different. There are so many blogs, social media posts, and pressure from the outside world that somehow if you don't want to or can't that you are somehow less than... a lesser quality caregiver or mother. Which really isn't true, breastfeeding is hard, but I can address that in another question below. After having a c-section in the hospital with Henry the first nurse we had just sort of set him up on my chest and he went for it. I would say that he sort of chose it, he showed interest so I tried. The nurse described feeding him as a new relationship and that we would learn how to do it together which made me feel much better. She was really kind in encouraging me.
How did you prepare for breastfeeding?
I didn't really prepare at all, I knew it was an option but I didn't really look into it beyond that.
What were you nervous about to start breastfeeding?
I was nervous that I wouldn't know what to do, that somehow I would be bad at it or that I would do it wrong. I had no idea what the right latch was or the wrong latch or what positions to hold him in. I think I was surprised at how much we instinctually know and how much we doubt ourselves when it comes to just letting nature do the work. My son knew exactly where to find food, it was me who wasn't sure. Between the nurse and my son, they led and I followed.
Has anything been difficult so far? If so what?
I asked for extra help from the lactation specialist every day that I was in the hospital. Henry wasn't latching correctly and it really really hurt. Whenever the L.S. would come in to help me, it never hurt so I had some hope. She was great at getting him to latch back farther than I could. I still don't feel confident at getting his mouth open wide enough to latch the way she showed me, but Henry and I found a new way at home to make sure it's right. Just like the nurse said, it's a new relationship and it takes time to work together and learn. I also had to get creative with how to hold my breast while feeding him and hold his hands back. He loves to have his hands by his face so it made it really difficult in the beginning to get them out of the way so he could eat. If he ever gets overly hungry after a nap, etc I have to work harder to get his hands in a good position so he can latch to me and not just put his fingers in his mouth and cry because it's not what he's wanting.
How do you feel about breastfeeding so far?
I would be the first to tell you that I love how my body is capable of growing and now fueling this wonderful, funny, sweet little person.... but I would also tell you that breastfeeding is a lot of responsibility. We aren't using bottles yet so sometimes if I get into my own head I can add extra pressure that I am his only source of food. Selfishly, I also cherish this responsibility. There is no one else on earth that could ever be his mother. There is no one else who knows every part of him the way that I do. No one gets to see his sweet little face staring at me every hour and a half and bond in this unique and special way. He is mine and sometimes when we feed together I can't help but cry at what an awesome responsibility and life change this all is.
Is there any little quirks Henry already does while he nurses?
He's a really big fan of smacking his gums on me when he thinks he's being funny. He then will often shake his head back and forth with his mouth semi-open and break into a huge smile before going back to eating. I wonder what he is thinking when he does this, but it always makes me laugh. He doesn't do it often, but when he puts his little hand on my breast while we are feeding it melts my heart.
Anything you want to tell other new or expecting mamas?
Breastfeeding isn't always easy, being a mom is the best and hardest job and I'm only a few weeks in. I think the best encouragement I had was from other members of my "mama tribe." Every mom has her own experiences and solutions and many of them just flat out aren't helpful and don't apply to you. I'm by no means an expert... I'm a rookie and will probably feel this way for a while, so rather than giving anyone advice, I'll say that I think you should always trust your gut. You know you best, you know your baby best, seek out help from people who will help you feel empowered and educated when you have a problem. Forget all of the other fluff that is from people who just want to side-line judge your choices. You won't have time for them anyways.... you'll be feeding every two hours and trying to sleep when you can and still clean your house in-between. (Nesting doesn't go away after the baby is born, ha!)
Do or did you have feelings like Corey did about feeling like if you didn't or couldn't nurse you were less than? Or did you just know from the beginning that you were going to breastfeed? Did you know that I love to share stories of mamas who don't breastfeed as well? Every story matters! I would love to hear all about your own story and even share it if you are interested. Send me a note and we can chat about what memories you want to hold on to when your littles are grown.