After I got pregnant with my first daughter I had to make the decision of whether or not I was going to breastfeed. I read countless articles from doctors and nurses that all said breastfeeding had the most health benefits. I soon made the decision that I was going to breastfeed. Like every other expectant mom I went out and bought nursing bras and nursing tops. I of course bought a nursing cover and a nursing pillow. All I was missing was my baby and there was no other way to prepare my self.
To me I thought nursing should be no problem. I mean after all it is what nature intended and how our bodies are designed. Breastfeeding seemed pretty straight forward. Offer your boob, the baby will latch on and then start sucking to get the milk that they need. Unfortunately, I would soon find out that all I thought about breastfeeding would not be my case at all. In fact, I was unprepared for what was going to happen in the days after my daughter was born.
Soon after I had given birth to my daughter the nurses advised me that I should try nursing her. She latched on, or so I thought, and everything seemed to be going just fine. The nurses told me that my milk had not come in yet and it would take a couple of days for it to arrive. In the meantime my new born daughter would continue to nurse and get her nutrients from my colostrum. (This is the first milk your breasts produce during pregnancy.)
After being home from the hospital for 2 days my milk finally came in. I knew because my breasts were hard as a rock and they had grown 2 sizes! My bra barley fit and and my milk was leaking through my shirt. (That’s when I realized what nursing pads were for!) I nursed my daughter every few hours just as they told me in the hospital, but I was beginning to think that something was wrong.
My daughter didn’t seem all that interested in nursing. Every time I tried to nurse she would suck for a few seconds and then start crying hysterically. After I finally calmed her down she would just fall asleep. At that point my boobs felt like they were going to explode! I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong and why it wasn’t working. My baby was still hungry. I was so determined to breastfeed that I really didn’t consider any other option at that time.
The next day out of desperation I called a lactation consultant for help. Soon after she arrived she told me that I needed a breast pump to relieve my breasts from some of the milk. Of course I didn’t have one because I planned on nursing. My husband ran out to the store to pick one up and I was able to pump my first batch of milk. My breasts felt so much better! The consultant also noticed that my nursing bras were way too small! (Apparently when buying nursing bras you should buy 2 sizes larger than your pre-pregnancy size.) She spent hours with us trying to get my daughter to nurse, but it just wasn’t working. My daughter was frustrated and she was really hungry. She advised me to keep trying and to not give up. Eventually my baby would get the hang of breastfeeding.
We ended up giving my daughter the breast milk I pumped in a bottle so she would stop crying and finally feel full. She drank it with no problem and soon fell asleep. She slept for hours after that. It was clear to me that she was really hungry and she had no interest in my boob. It was extremely disappointing and a hard truth to accept. I somehow felt like a failure as her mother. My baby was starving and it was all my fault. I never really found out why she wouldn’t nurse other than the fact that she didn’t want to have to work so hard for food. We later found out that she nearly lost half her birth weight in those first few days.
I wanted to nurse her so bad, but I knew that the next best thing I could do was to continue to pump and feed her with a bottle. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy! Being on a strict pumping schedule while caring for a new born baby was exhausting. Not to mention the late night feedings and nursing sessions. Even after I went back to work I continued to pump for the next few months. My goal was to pump for the first 6 months and that was truly all I could handle. In the end I know that I did the best I could for her.
I know now that I should have had more realistic expectations. Every baby is different and breastfeeding might not work for everyone. It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. We all have different situations and circumstances. In my case I produced plenty of milk, but my baby had no interest in nursing. I know that some women do not produce enough milk and sometimes the baby just can’t latch properly. There might even be a problem with the size or shape of your breast. Whatever the case, if you can’t breastfeed it is not you fault! There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your baby a bottle or even formula if that’s what you have to do.
I want all of the “moms to be” to know that breastfeeding is not as easy as you may think. It takes work and lots and lots of practice. Now that I have my second daughter I know that I didn’t do anything wrong with my first daughter. My youngest daughter is still nursing 2 and a half years later! In the hospital she latched no problem and seemed to really enjoy it… probably a little too much. (Lanolin was my nipples best friend.)
I hope that my experience will help all of you “moms to be”. You should be able to better prepare yourself for any situation by having an open mind. I really wish I had known more before I had my first child. I may have had a different outcome. If you are already a mommy, did you have any breastfeeding obstacles? How did you overcome your obstacles? I would love to hear about your experience.