Breastfeeding has been a struggle for me, since the beginning. Several unsuccessful attempts at a proper latch left me cracked, broken, blistered, and sore. When my milk came in (with a seeming vengeance), I found myself with a plugged duct, and mastitis. I had severe chills, swollen breasts, and a fever of 104.4. And now? Baby and I have thrush, which has brought about the return of sore nipples, and the new sensation of shooting, burning pain at random times.
Now, to those of you reading this, I’m sure this sounds like some type of “Woe is Me, Breastfeeding is Too Hard, Break out the Formula, I Give Up” type of post. It’s not, I promise! It is, however, born out of a frustration that I’m sure is being experienced by plenty of new mothers across the nation.
Why wasn’t I given a REALISTIC expectation of breastfeeding?
When I decided that I wanted to breastfeed my baby, I dove headfirst into the research on why “Breast is Best”. It gave me great confidence that breastfeeding was one of the best decisions I would ever make for my daughter. Websites, books, other moms, videos, they ALL told me that breastfeeding was wonderful! They drove home the idea that it was the most natural thing for my baby, that it was what my body, my breasts, were MADE to do. POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE.
But….it didn’t come naturally for me. Even with all the reading, research, memorizing I had done about proper latch, and positioning, and preventing infections…..things weren’t looking so good, at least not from I stood! I had done all of this planning in my head, but when it came time to put it into action, things just weren’t working right, and my baby was screaming, and hungry, and I didn’t know what to do. My breasts were hurting, and I couldn’t get her to latch right, and I couldn’t position her right, and she was so frantic, and
“I JUST CAN”T HANDLE THIS. Maybe I should just give her some formula.”
And that, I think, is where it starts. That’s where people give up. I wasn’t expecting to struggle. I thought Izzy was going to pop on my boob, drink her colustrum, get full, and go to sleep, satisfied. All with no pain on my part. Breastfeeding is natural, right?
Luckily for me, my husband was there, supporting me, and assuring me that things would get better. The hospital had a wonderful Lactation Consultant that was able to come and work with me .( Labor and Delivery was so packed the night I had Izzy that they didn’t even have any beds available. She wasn’t able to see me until Izzy was a day old.) She made a tremendous difference. On twitter, I was able to connect with wonderful people, who have been in my shoes, and stuck with it, and were able to pass on valuable information to me, to help me.
But what about the ladies who don’t have any support from their families? All hospitals don’t have Lactation Consultants, and she may not have yet connected with people on twitter who could help. Do they have to just fall through the cracks?
I really, really wish that someone had just been frank with me, before hand, and said “Hey. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, and it’s invaluable for your baby. But you’re going to run into some roadblocks. It doesn’t come easy for everyone. But you can do it, you can make it through.” Just be real about it. Mental preparation is everything, and I fully believe that if you know obstacles are ahead, it gives you a chance to build up your strength, and determination to be able to them.
If you know women who are breastfeeding, or thinking about breastfeeding, please offer them support. But by all means, be realistic about it. Don’t let them walk blindly into such an important situation. Let them know that even though every day won’t be a cake walk, THEY CAN DO IT. They can make it. Recommend books, email them resources, do whatever you can to help them be prepared. It can make all the difference.
Im still working on my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter. She is still a frantic nurser, at all times. She flails, and punches, and kicks. She pinches my nipples when im trying to get her to latch. She sticks her fingers in her mouth while she’s nursing. And Dear God, this child doesnt want to do anything but EAT! But it’s ok! It gets better, every day. We have a good latch, and good positioning. I can even do things while she’s nursing, im learning to multitask!
Im definitely no expert on breastfeeding, I BARELY made it through the first week, lol. But we’re working on it, and we’re gonna be ok. And if not? I will prepare my daugther a nice bottle of formula, knowing that I did my very best, and worked as hard as could through stress, and pain, and uncertainty to do what was best for her.