I know breastfeeding is not for everyone, every family makes their own decisions. Breastfeeding was my choice, it was the best way I knew to feed my babies.
I studied breastfeeding, went to La Leche meetings, took a great prenatal class offered by my midwives. I was ready. I was also ready to push that baby out all natural style, it didn’t work quite like that. I should of known then…
If you are lucky, getting the right latch will happen right away. It will hurt for a few days but it will go away and you will happily nurse your baby into a food comas.
If you are not lucky-
There’s going to be pumps and tube feeders and lactation consultants and nasty nurses who should really keep their 2 cents to themselves and midwives and every one of them will have their hands on your breasts to help you get that baby latched on and you won’t even mind. You are thankful that they are all manhandling your breasts because your nipples are the size of dinner plates and your baby’s mouth is… Well, you don’t really know because you can’t see for all the hands.
Then someone brings the shield.
In desperate, you agree to try the nipple shield. It works. You nurse your baby into a food coma. All is right with the world.
Until your baby wakes up and you realize you are going to have to do it all over again. That baby has to latch onto your cracked, chewed and bleeding nipples. You start thinking about finding a wet nurse.
But you do it again. The C-Section medication dulls some of the pain. Your baby is full and sleeping. I AM MOTHER AND I LACTATE.
You go home.
Your nipples become a wasted war zone. You are thankful for the nipple shield because it offers a little protection. You try different positions, sometimes they work, sometimes they make the pain worse. You go to the remedial latch and suck. The lactation consultants tell you lovely things “Your baby is gaining weight” “You have lots of milk”. But it still hurts.
There’s appointments, chiropractors for your 3 week old baby, thrush, pumps, pills, ointments, Raynaud’s syndrome, specialists, more thrush. And always pain.
You fear that you are hating your baby because she is hurting you. You fear that your baby is hating you because you are always crying and screaming when she’s hungry. Midwives and lactation consultants start telling you “It’s ok if you give up” You ignore them. Soon mother-in-law’s and husbands start saying it. You are tired, you are in pain in the worst places and feeling like no one is on your side.
One day as you cry to a kindly lactation consultant she says “This is going to be hard work for you, it might be a month or 6 months, but it will be beautiful”. She was right.
By 7 weeks I didn’t have to take pain killers to nurse. By 8 weeks we didn’t need the nipple shield. By 10 weeks we could nurse in public without a support pillow. By 4 months the pain was gone. I nursed for 2 years, beautifully. Twice.
The moral of the story: Something can suck 600 ways to Thursday and still be the right thing to do. Persevere. And for Heaven’s sake don’t tell me you CAN’T breastfeed, I don’t buy it. Give me your honest answer.
Feels good to get that off my chest.
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