I am thankful for the down-to-earth explanation of how to breastfeed that my Childbirth Education teacher gave our class. Place baby belly to belly. Hold your boob in one hand with your nipple pointed up at the baby's nose. Place your other arm behind the baby with your hand supporting the back, neck and head. Smash the baby into your boob. Remember, baby to boob. Not boob to baby.
Minutes after the birth of my baby, around 3am on a Friday, we attempted to breastfeed. With that simple explanation in mind, we were naturals! It didn't hurt at all and she seemed to instinctively know how to latch.
The pediatrician came around 8am to examine my baby and asked me how breastfeeding was going. I thought we were managing wonderfully! It didn't hurt at all. I suppose that was the wrong answer because he decided I needed a visit from the lactation consultants.
The first LC came some time after lunch. My baby and I nursed at LEAST six times between her birth and their visit. Things seemed to be progressing well. When the lactation consultant came, I learned that I was having many problems. Something was wrong with the way she was sucking, and I don't remember what that was. She tried using a nipple shield. She poked, prodded, adjusted my baby, unlatched, relatched, and finally called in backup. They worked with us for over an hour, until they finally gave up and left me with an exercise to do with her tongue with no explanation of why. They took all of the confidence I had in my ability to breastfeed my daughter right out the door with them. I still had no idea what in the world I was doing wrong! How could I do it right then?
The hours dragged on until it was finally time to go home. Once home, I was able to attempt this adventure on my own. Seven months later, with all its accompanying challenges and joys, we are still at it!
Challenge #1: Confidence issues. I could probably give an hour by hour account of the confidence issues I faced and still continue to face on a daily basis. When I first came home I worried about her latch. Was it deep enough? Was it correct? Why does it hurt so much now? When I stopped worrying about her latch it was, is she getting enough milk? Is she gaining enough weight?
Challenge #2: Ouchie things and other bobos. Cracked, sore nipples. Mastitis. Recurrent clogged milk ducts. Milk blisters. Most recent ouchie? My baby has two teeth and she likes to USE them.
Challenge #3: Sleep deprivation. I suppose that just comes with the territory of being a parent, but even now my baby wakes up several times during the night to eat. At first she had no regular, predictable pattern which left me feeling pretty zombified. Now she has a pretty regular sleeping pattern, and I have adapted to the broken sleep.
Challenge #4: My baby LOVES her ninnies. Breastfeeding was extremely time consuming in the beginning. She was a LONG nurser and and nursed often. I probably spent at least half the day nursing my baby. Now, she does not take as long to nurse, but she still loves her ninnies. I have to be ready at the drop of a hat to nurse because she is VERY demanding. I do not have many opportunities to have what I've started calling, "two-handed time."
Joy #1: My baby LOVES her ninnies. I love that I am her favorite person because I have the goods. (Sorry Robbie-I promise it won't last forever) I love the little songs that the hubs has made up about how much she loves her "titty milk." I love that look on her face when she pulls away, smiles with that little dribble of yummy milk down her chin, and proceeds to nurse.
Joy #2: Cuddles! I love the built in cuddle time that comes with breastfeeding. I love when she "makes biscuits" and scratches my side gently while she nurses. I love how she curls up in a little ball like she feels safe, and I love when she acts possessive and sprawls out, taking up as much space as possible.
Joy #3: Prolactin. Prolactin. Prolactin. When I start to feel stressed out, I can nurse. Those wonderful breastfeeding hormones take all the stress away and I feel all lovey dovey. They should bottle that stuff.
Joy #4: Milk comas. When Lily was a tiny baby, she would slowly fall off the breast when she finished her meal. Her little head would leeeaan back and rest into the bend in my arm. When she did this, her little chin looked flat on the bottom which made me start calling it her "Little E.T. face." Since she is a big girl now, she has a more grown up looking chin. She still still falls asleep at the breast and her milk coma face is one of the sweetest faces she makes.
Joy #5: Knowing that I am giving her my very best. There is plenty written on the benefits of breastfeeding for both Mom and Baby. I was determined to make it at least a year before I started weaning her, but that was before I knew how challenging it was. I count my blessings that we have been able to make it this far, with support and encouragement from my midwives, mom, visiting teacher, several friends of mine and Robbie's, attendance at La Leche League meetings, and most of all, my dear sweet husband. He has been with me every step of the way, and though he may not believe it, we could not have made it this far without him. So a big shout out and thank you to my husband! Thank you so very much for all you do. We could not have done this without you!