While being a mom is hard, there’s a close second that comes to mind: breastfeeding. You want to do what’s natural and the utmost best for your baby, but it comes with practice. And lots of it.
The first hurdle is making it out of the hospital with the confidence that you’ll make it on your own. I tried to rack up my knowledge bin with any and all info that the nurses were willing to give me. And it was great because all of them had a different approach to breastfeeding. Bailee had a great latch, but she was lazy. She didn’t want to put forth the effort to get the colostrum out. Plus, it didn’t help that I have flat/inverted nipples, so we had to use nipple shields. And that made it difficult to feed her. We had to supplement with a formula drip to get her to suck. And because they were afraid she wasn’t getting enough and the hang of feeding, we had to stay an extra day in the hospital.
I remember going home and being scared that we weren’t going to be able to get in a rhythm of feeding. My milk came in the day after we got home and it was rough. I drowned her in milk because I had such a forceful letdown and an oversupply. But we started getting it. Until the pain came.
I can’t tell you how many Google searches I did or questions I asked in an LLL group on why this hurt, or how to pump, or why she was doing this to my boobs. That first month was by far the roughest. My nipples stung in pain and I had sharp pains shooting through my boobs. I remember hearing horror stories about other women’s breastfeeding journeys.
I felt like giving up. The pain was too intense. I had to stop nursing my right side because I cried every time. People kept telling me it was okay to stop. But I didn’t want to feel like a failure. I didn’t want to deny my baby of breast milk because it hurt me. I spent countless hours crying over what to do. Breastfeeding wasn’t fun for me. I wasn’t feeling that “bond” they always talk about. It felt like more of a task. Telling my husband I couldn’t do it anymore, that maybe I should just pump exclusively. He was so supportive of whatever decision I was going to make.
I ended up nursing on my left side and pumping my right for about 3 weeks before I decided to try nursing my right again. It was still tender, but we got back to nursing both sides equally. I told Matt, I just want to make it to 3 months. If I can do that, then I’ll decide what to do next. We decided to start supplementing at 2.5 months with formula at her bedtime feeding.
Here we are at 4 months, and I’m still breastfeeding 95% of the time. We occasionally give formula on outings because I’m not 100% comfortable breastfeeding in public (even with a cover). I haven’t pumped since she was 6 weeks old, seeing as how I’m home all the time with her and I’m usually never gone somewhere without her. My nipples are still sensitive and we still use the nipple shields most of the time. But she’s starting to be able to latch without them, so we should be off them here soon. We will be starting solids shortly, with breast milk as her main food source still.
Our next goal is 6 months because of some female things going on with me. If at that point, whatever is happening with me hasn’t gotten better, we will wean off breast and onto formula full time. While we all know “breast is best”, other circumstances exnay that idea.
I’m proud of myself for making it this long and hope to continue on with it for a while. But for now, we’ll take it one feeding at a time.