The Art of Breastfeeding – the early days

6a0133f2021451970b0133f2cb1e5c970b-320piDuring my pregnancy I had the romantic idea that breastfeeding was going to be a sublime experience; beautiful, intimate and above all easy. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and didn’t explore any other options – I was actually excited about breastfeeding my child. I attended meetings about breastfeeding, excitedly purchased my nursing bras, nursing pads and a tiny tube of lanolin ointment (just in case I needed it) and I was all set to fulfil that ideal in my mind of being the next Madonna and child. All my preconceptions were shattered the day my baby was born.

The moment my daughter came into this world she was sucking, hard. She latched on to my breast like a pro and sucked for hours. I was so elated at having given birth to a foodie (like her parents) that I failed to notice that she was destroying my nipples because of improper latch.  In the early days each feed got harder than the last. I’d cry when she cried because I was so terrified of having my tiny baby, who fed like a barracuda, back on my breast but I had to feed her. I would grit my teeth and wrestle my newborn baby into all sorts of bizarre positions in an attempt to ease the pain and give her the milk she needed. Before and after every feed I would cover my nipples in lanolin – they were ugly, deformed, cracked and very, very sore – I spent the first weeks of my daughter’s life topless and it was far, far from anything sexy – how could this be normal?
Some people told me it was not normal. That breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt especially after 2 weeks. I felt I had failed. I was miserable. It DID hurt. I turned to friends and family for their advice and support to only realise that they too, had forgotten the pain or obviously took to breastfeeding like a duck to water.  I was lucky enough to have one friend who told me to ignore everyone, yes it hurts and pain has no time limit – as long as the baby was gaining weight my pain was secondary and it was only temporary.  The day my tiny baby threw up pink (because I was so cracked and sore she had swallowed blood with my milk) I realised why so many women give up breastfeeding.

However, I was determined not to give up. I found that as my daughter got bigger the feeding got easier – I am not sure if its because we managed to find better feeding positions, or her latch improved allowing me to heal or it was a combination of those things.  For me, it took a good 2 months to be able to say that breastfeeding no longer hurts and its actually become enjoyable. I can assure you that I never thought I’d ever be able to say that.
I tried pumping so I could give myself a break and a chance to heal but my daughter would never accept the bottle despite all our efforts. It was back to me, and only me to feed her which was time consuming and hard especially when you are tired, hungry, need the bathroom (and sometimes all 3 at the same time)
Now when an expectant mother asks me what they can do to get themselves ready for breastfeeding I encourage them to read up on it. Usually they have the same notion that I did. Only thing that may have helped me with feeding my little barracuda baby would have been to take the Dyson and attach it to my breasts for 6+ hours a day!

Today I look at my healthy baby girl with her delicious chubby cheeks and that is all the motivation I needed to persevere and get through the pain. Whilst I do not liken myself to a 21st century Madonna with child, my romantic notion that I had pre-baby as far as breastfeeding was concerned aren’t as far fetched as I thought when I first started. As cliché as it sounds, the phrase “no pain, no gain” certainly rings true for me and my milk monkey!

 

11 Responses to The Art of Breastfeeding – the early days

  1. Thanks for sharing! ;o) I’ll learn soon enough what kind of breastfeeding baby we’ll have!

    • mummyinprovence says:

      Yay! Not long now. I felt it was important that I share my story because I honestly felt like a freak when things didn’t go as I’d expected.
      Fingers crossed you have a champion nurser … 🙂

  2. For us it was six weeks and I always tell new moms to give it at least that long. Before that I would cry at every latch, not just because it hurt but because I knew that in two hours or less I would have to latch him again.

    I still say it’s good not to even consider other options though. We had formula in the house when he was born (and still do! We donate what we are sent in the mail from those pushy bastards) but I never gave it so much as a thought. I am truly lucky that I grew up seeing my own mother breastfeed.

    • mummyinprovence says:

      6 weeks is a good amount of time – saying that after 6 weeks I still hadn’t got the hang of it! I cried for MONTHS.
      Weird how it’s the most natural thing yet it is so difficult for many of us. I didn’t get any formula as I never wanted to be tempted, I am glad I persevered as I know that if we had it DH would have mixed some up and given it to BiP as he couldn’t stand seeing me struggling and suffering.
      Thanks for sharing Janine 🙂

  3. I’m 7 weeks in and have good days and bad days with feeding my little barracuda. I’m just getting over mastitis and my cracked nipple is slowly healing thanks to great advice from my health visitor. She confirmed my suspicion that the latch is everything. My little muncher wasn’t opening his mouth wide enough. She told me when the latch is correct the nipple shouldn’t even touch the inside of the baby’s mouth which helped me understand the importance of getting as much of the areola in as possible. Good to hear it gets easier with time! X

    • mummyinprovence says:

      Well done you! Great you have support and advice. It makes all the difference – making sure you have the right latch is so important – BiP always had a bad latch so when her teeth came in, well, it hurt – a LOT. It’s not easy but it is worth it!

  4. Oh my goodness, I thought I was the only one who cringed every time her LO cried to be fed. My first 6 days were dreadful. I had an emergency c-section and felt as if my body failed me. When I took her to her first pediatric appointment and the doctor told me I may have to supplement since she wasn’t gaining weight, I KNEW that I failed as a mother and I was only 5 days in. I immediately made an appointment to see a lactation consultant the next day and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. DD had a tight frenulum and therefore had a lazy latch. Since that appointment its been 16 months of smooth sailing. I love nursing my daughter and look forward to that time with her.

    • Ameena Falchetto says:

      Thanks for sharing Vee – it’s important that we support each other – I remember people looking at me like there was something wrong because I was in so much pain after 3 weeks. Great you got help! I still have problems now but the benefits outweigh my discomfort.

  5. Your first weeks of experience is scaring the hell out of me but breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby on his/her first weeks so a mother should always endure the pain. Kodus!

    Teresa Collins

    • Teresa, I don’t know many mothers who went through the same issues I did – if it’s any consolation BiP is now 21m and still breastfeeding – she’s never taken a bottle either.
      It passes – this post was never meant to scare anyone!!!

  6. My 19month is still nursing and this is the longest any of my kids have nursed. The only support I get is from my hubby. Everyone else has their 2cents of worthless advice! Makes me feel down so I recluse from everyone. The latest that was told to me by a friend was ‘Rachel you need to stop! Your baby already got the best part of your milk when he was a newborn! You just want to keep nursing because he’s your last and you can’t let go!’ I was hurt and felt myself believing her!! But that was not the reason at all! I want to give my baby all the best nutrients he can get. He is a kissable chubby happy boy! He heals fast from all viral colds, tummy issues, and well anything that comes in our home from having 4other siblings. Because I have no woman friends that have done what I’m doing for this long, i get no outside support. I believe in breastfeeding and guess what? IT is MY choice! My kids are proud of me and are a blessing. My hubby totally supports and encourages me like when a stupid friend says hurtful things, like the one above I had mentioned. Friends come and go and a lot have went. Sad really when it’s my life not theirs and over my choice to breastfeed. So much needs to change in this country on how breastfeeding is viewed!
    I’ve lasted this long because I have my husband and my children’s love and support. Breastfeeding is hard and each baby is different. I thought it would be a piece of cake, my fifth baby I’ve got this! Nope I don’t! He is different and a high need little one. I didn’t get my cracks until he was older just because of the demands put on my breasts. I’ve had mastitis and now I can tell the beginning signs and I get warm compresses on immediately & start massaging! I use organic coconut oil, I get it in a jar at TJmax cause it’s cheaper then the grocery store or Wholefoods. And I put that on my sore cracks, it heals my nipples faster than lanolin because of its antibacterial properties and its moisturising. Ya where was this info with my first!!
    But no matter your first, second or fifth, breastfeeding moms need support and love. It is so demanding and with all of my other responsibilities I get tired. The benefits of breastmilk to your babies through all stages is priceless! I looked up what was in breast milk in each growing stage of your baby and let me tell you it is mind blowing! Enough to push me to keep nursing because the health benefits for your baby far out way the ‘stupid comments’ out there.
    This is my first time sharing anything on a web group discussion but I was able to relate to all of your experiences and I say bravo to you all for your courage and endurance! Thank you for sharing because it does help others when they read your stories, it helped me! So I hope my story will help others too.

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