I had every intention of breastfeeding my twins. I bought a manual pump (it was ten years ago!), nursing bras, and some storage bags. My twenty-year-old self thought it would be a walk in the park. It was not, and I threw in the towel a mere 24 hours after they were born. Now, I’m over a year into my breastfeeding journey with my youngest. This was not my first rodeo, but I knew I could do things differently. I’m not a medical expert and I don’t have any secrets to “making it work”. I’m just a mama who has struggled through the craziness that comes with feeding another human with your body.
First Things First
The cost-saving benefits of breastfeeding entranced me. After formula-feeding two babies and spending a small fortune, I wanted to relieve our family of that financial crisis. I spent hours scouring the internet during my pregnancy learning about the different holds, best nursing bras, recipes to increase milk supply, etc. My brain was overflowing with information for this next chapter. But lo and behold, she arrived, I forgot everything, and thus began my journey with breastfeeding.
From the nurses to the lactation consultant, I always heard that “if the latch is correct, it won’t hurt”.
But it did hurt. It hurt in ways I’d never imagined.
I had a newborn with a bottomless pit for a stomach who cluster-fed like it was her job. I was sore, bleeding, chapped and just downright uncomfortable. Whether it was my uterus contracting with every letdown or the fact that I wanted to scream when anything came remotely close to my chest…the first 6-8 weeks were a nightmare. Then, on top of the general pain of learning what worked for us, I had clogged ducts. Just when I’d finally relieve one, its twin sister would appear on the other side.
This pain sure didn’t seem like a “natural” occurrence by any means.
There should be a special place in heaven for breastfeeding mamas of teething babies. The first time they use you for a teether sends pain from the source, straight through your toes. I had friends recommend things from a strict “no” to a boop on the nose…but my child just laughed, ate, and gave me another bite at the end for good measure. This is the baby with fourteen teeth by age one! Let’s just say that the pain I mentioned before never really went away; it’s just more intentional now.
Breastfeeding babies LOVE their mamas, like obsessively want to be in your arms at all times. Day or night. They can smell you from a mile away and demand your presence at all costs. At least my child does. She is a stage 5 clinger by every definition and has nursed on demand for the past 12+ months. I’m not telling you this in an effort to receive unsolicited advice. I’m telling you this because having a child constantly attached to your body for 12 months is not natural, and is just downright exhausting. But then she stops nursing, looks up and smiles at you with milk dripping out of her mouth, and you instantly forget how tired and over-touched you are.
Why I Keep Going
I think the main reason I fight through the hard days is because of the post partum depression and anxiety battles I have dealt with during the past year. Sometimes as mamas, we need a good challenge to prove to ourselves we’re still strong and able to overcome obstacles. For me, this was breastfeeding. We fought through jaundice and daily blood tests, all of the pain, the teething, the sleepless nights (seriously, she is a terrible sleeper), the uncomfortable stares, the pumping, spilled milk, the leaking, bathroom nursing sessions, turning regular tops into nursing accessible, drinking obscene amounts of water, and more. The list goes on for days.
Sometimes our parenting plans come from learning on the go instead of reading out of a book. Each baby is different and fortunately, there is plenty of support out there for whichever path you choose!
I’m just here to remind you that you can make it through, even if breastfeeding isn’t natural for you.
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