When I was about 30 weeks pregnant, I took it upon myself to go to a La Leche League meeting. I was already reading several breastfeeding books, watching videos online on how to nurse a newborn, and techniques on helping your baby latch. Therefore, I wanted to attend a meeting to get a better look and gain some knowledge from mothers who were currently nursing their babies. Plus, I had never seen breastfeeding firsthand, live and in action before.
Walking into the meeting, I was all ready to take in all the breastfeeding information I could get. I even had a notepad on hand. We gathered in a circle with all the moms and their babies. I was a bit nervous since I was the only pregnant woman there who didn’t have a baby with her yet. It didn’t matter once I thought to myself, “that will be me soon.”
I sat by a mother who had a 6 weeks old baby and was really struggling in having her little one latch. Her baby cried and fussed once she tried to nurse him. She told us her story and all I could see was the exhaustion in her eyes. She looked drained and fed up. There was no ounce of joy on her face, as she tried to rock her inconsolable crying baby. A part of me felt sorry for her, yet at the same time admired her determination. Even when her baby didn’t latch, she had a bottle right on her other hand ready to feed. Most importantly, she was not struggling in the confines of her home, she was out in broad daylight seeking help.
I walked out of that meeting with a new set of eyes, but more so fearful that I was going to be that mother. I could only prepare myself so much.
When it came time and I had given birth to my little girl. I cherished every moment of that one on one, and skin to skin contact. She was so precious, tiny, and quietly breathing on my chest. That first night when she started to cry, I immediately gave her my breast and….she latched!
“Hurray! She latched! I was nursing my baby!” My inner dialogue was screaming with enthusiasm.
My excitement was all over my face. I was smiling and I couldn’t believe it, I was doing it. I was feeding my baby and all she needed was me. She fell asleep as I nursed her for the first time.
The second day and night was whole different story. My baby did not latch again so easily like the day before. She wailed and her cries were painful to my ears and heart.
The nurses saw my struggle and confusion, as I asked them, “What am I doing wrong? She latched yesterday.”
I would call on them countless times for help and they would give me one on one consultation. My husband and I did not get any sleep that night nor did we for the upcoming weeks. The doctor even allowed me to go home on the second day, but since the nurses saw that I couldn’t properly feed my baby, they insisted I stayed an extra day. I felt defeated and it didn’t get any better. The lactation nurses suggested a nipple shield and pumping, in order to nurse with a bottle. When they mentioned bottle, a part of me broke down. My worst fear had come true, nursing with a bottle went against all the breastfeeding books I had read. My baby girl was only three days old and I did not want to nurse her with a bottle. In all honesty, I tried my best to recall how she was able to latch the first time, but it didn’t work. Baby girl seemed to have forgotten and we had to feed her with a bottle of my breast milk.
I could not do it. I cried. I urged my husband to do it and he did.
After that brutal hit of reality, I promised myself that I would not give up on breastfeeding my baby again. The bottle will be my demise. That last day we were in the hospital, I continued to buzz for help. My baby was able to latch on and off with assistance from the nurses. She took to one side better than the other and I would use the nipple shield as tool, whenever I could.
I’d love to tell you when I arrived home it got better, but it felt like it didn’t the first week. Even though she was able to latch. It was only on one side and every time she latched it was extremely painful.
I would like to think I had a high pain tolerance before I was a mother, since I have several tattoos and enjoyed getting them. I’d look forward to the needle rhythmically, piercing, and humming on my skin. Learning to breastfeed a newborn was way more painful compared to a 4 hour tattoo session.
Whoever told me breastfeeding wasn’t painful was a freaking liar. Nursing my baby the first couple weeks was a bitch! That shit was painful.
Then again every woman is different and may not have felt much pain in the beginning weeks of their breastfeeding journey. However, with me, breastfeeding my newborn was just pain, severely agonizing pain. Each time my baby latched onto me, it felt like a rusty needle was slowly piercing straight to the center of my nipple. I would bang my head on the wall, bite my lip, do anything I could to not think of the pain, as I nursed her. My nipples were raw, sore, and I was exhausted. I dreaded it at times, when I knew she was hungry and needed to nurse. Still, I didn’t care and stuck with it. I was so thankful for whomever invented the nipple cream, it healed my tender and cracked nipples.
During those first couple weeks, even though I was in pain every time I nursed my little one, I continued to stay connected with my midwife, the lactation nurses from the hospital, and the La Leche League. I confided to my husband, family, and friends my struggle. I didn’t want to suppress any of my emotions regarding my breastfeeding struggle. I needed to vent to keep my sanity, and it helped a whole lot.
Sometime around the second week, my baby began to adapt and my breasts had toughened up. She was able to latch on both sides of me with the help of a nipple shield. Also, one morning I didn’t feel the pain anymore! It was an incredible feeling. I can’t explain it, but I was nursing my baby and there was absolutely no pain! I silently cried with joy as I nursed her peacefully. Closing my eyes, I inhaled, and was bonding with my baby. I loved it.
“This was the breastfeeding high they talked about.” I thought to myself. “About time I felt the Oxytocins kick in.”
It was wonderful! From then on it was smooth sailing, my baby no longer needed the help of a nipple shield, and when she did it was only once in awhile. By the fourth week, I was able to attend a La Leche League meeting and I was able to nurse my baby in public. She no longer needed the nipple shield and all she needed was me.
My baby girl is almost 5 months old now, and I am so proud to say… I am STILL exclusively breastfeeding her. She doesn’t take a bottle or a pacifier, just me!
I can nurse her in my wrap, standing up, walking, and even as I type this blog.
I nurse her when she cries, when she’s sucking profusely on her hand while someone else is holding her, I’ll grab her and nurse her because I know she needs me. I nurse her to sleep, and I do it whenever she wants to because I can!
I am a multi-tasking mama! My bond with her is so strong because she and I have come so far. I know she loves it, because after every feeding, she has that face of drunken satisfaction.
So to all the struggling new mammas out there breastfeeding, just keep at it! If I can do it you can too! Every moment of pain is worth the joy you will feel in the end! Your bond with baby will be unbreakable 🙂