There has never been a question in my mind about how I wanted to feed my baby. I grew up (the oldest of nine kids) with a mother who was a huge (and very vocal) advocate for breastfeeding and all its benefits. When I got older I started studying health, and of course when it came to infant nutrition, we learned all about how wonderful breastfeeding is for babies. So with all that in my background it was never really anything that I had to think about; it seemed like the most natural thing in the world.
Then I had my very first baby.
She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen! Everything went really well, she was healthy and perfect; the only problem was that she didn’t want to eat. The nurses ended up giving her formula in the nursery because they were worried about her weight, and when the lactation consultant came to visit us, baby refused to even try nursing. That was the very first big stress of our breastfeeding journey. The lactation consultant gave us some basic tips and talked a little bit about technique, but that was about all she could do. When I finally did get my baby to try it she had a lot of difficulties latching on.
We took our beautiful baby home and I started the intimidating process of figuring out how to take care of this little one on my own.
It hurt every time I nursed her, but I knew that it was normal to be a little sore when you first start out, so I decided just to wait it out and hoped that it would get better… And so it took 2 weeks and getting to the point where I was actually crying out in pain every time she latched on (which was about every hour, on the hour!), before I finally decided to find help.
I felt like such a failure at that point. It was terrible! I mean, babies and mothers are designed to do this, so why on earth couldn’t we figure it out?? I just wanted to do what was best for my little one, and it wasn’t as simple or easy as I thought it would be.
We visited a lactation consultant who helped us solve a lot of our problems, and things started to get better. Unfortunately, we ended up needing to see the lactation consultant again when baby was about three months old with a whole new set of problems!
My sweet little girl is now five months old and (FINALLY!!) nursing like a pro! It took us a lot of pain and a LOT of hard work to get this whole breast feeding thing down, but we did it, and it was so very worth it! I truly do love nursing now (and I thought I never would); it is an amazing bonding time that I wouldn’t really get with her otherwise, and it’s good for her health too!
I’m not sharing my story to discourage those who are thinking about breastfeeding (our situation wasn’t typical!); I just want to let those out there who are struggling know that it is possible. It might seem like it’s never going to happen, but if you really want it, you can do it!
Here are some helpful hints I wish I had known when I started:
1. Find out as much as you can about how breastfeeding works (you can read more here).2. Talk to the lactation consultant before you leave the hospital, if an L.C. doesn’t come visit you, make sure you ask!
3. Find support. Talk to other mothers who have been successful, they can give you hints and be a support when things are tough.
4. If you have problems, get help ASAP! The longer you wait the harder it can be to correct problems, so don’t be afraid to get help. There are there are lots of resources for nursing mothers (here are a few!) so please don't feel like you have to struggle on your own!