When I found out I was pregnant, I just "knew" I would breastfeed. I didn't really consider not trying to do it. I read things that said it might be hard, but that it would be an amazing bonding experience with my baby. I wanted that amazing bonding experience! I also wanted to give my baby the best thing that I could - and I knew that was my breast milk. That being said, there are a few things that I wish I had known. I decided to write this post today after one of my dearest friends asked me for advice on her breast pump and accessories for her baby registry. I will work on that post tomorrow. I would have appreciated this information, so I hope someone else does too!
Please keep in mind that this is all based on my personal experience. Everyone has a different story and different reasonings when they decide how to nourish their baby. I would never, ever look down upon or judge another mother for making choices different than my own. I don't know what's right or best, I just know what I felt comfortable with and what I felt was best for my family.
Let's start with the truth that no one really tells you -
* It was not natural for me.
It was very important to me to try to breastfeed Jaxson as soon as I could after he was born. I remember thinking that it was taking them so long to get him to me. Then they made me wait until after the doctor was done with the after birth and my repairs before I could breastfeed. I think it was about 45 minutes, but it felt like forever. I imagined this beautiful moment of me holding my new son and feeding him for the first time. Kind of like a post card. This did not happen. Turns out I was so drugged up that I had trouble figuring out exactly what was going on, and I was a little clumsy. And, he was really, really tired from his traumatic journey.
* I needed lots of help.
I ended up using a shield that one of the nurses gave me. Jaxson had a ton of trouble latching on, and when he did, he would move his tongue around and break the latch. I was really upset about not being able to do it naturally, but I still use the shield each and every time I nurse him. I felt lazy at first for not working harder to get the latch right, but I decided that it was more important that I make the experience easier on both of us for fear that I would give up. Now, I'm fine with it. I also needed lots of help from my night nurse. They have you feed the baby every 3 hours those first few weeks, and when the nurse would wake him up in the middle of the night and bring him to me, he wouldn't work for the milk! We tried everything, and it was a little humiliating having her messing with my boobs and squirting formula on them to try to peak his interest, and even worse looking over at my poor husband that was scared to death...but it is just part of the process. It's okay to need help and it's okay be feel uncomfortable. You'll get it.
* A little formula won't hurt the baby.
I remember Cyndi, my sweet nurse saying, "If you can get him to eat for 10 minutes total, I won't have to give him any formula". I could not get through one of the night time feedings for 10 minutes. I could get 5 or 6 at best - and this was after trying for about 30 minutes. So, I cried the first couple of times that she had to supplement. It broke my heart and I was convinced that I was never going to be able to only breastfeed because he had been "ruined" with formula. Yeah, that didn't happen. On day 3 my milk came in full force and he didn't need any more formula. And, he was just fine.
* It's okay to need a break.
There were times that I just needed a break. I needed to be alone for a little while and I did not want to feel like Bessie the cow covered in milk. It's okay. My Mom or Hubby would feed Jaxson pumped milk from a bottle and he was just fine. No nipple confusion, no emotional scars...just a full baby and a happier Mommy. That equals success in my book! And, there are times still where I feed him a pumped bottle. Sometimes I would just rather pump. Judge away...I can take it. It works best for us, and that's okay.
* It hurts, at first.
It took me weeks and weeks for it to stop physically hurting. My nipples were in pain and bled every time he nursed. The worst part was when he would spit up after and it was bloody :( It made me feel so terrible. But, after my body got used to him and the process, some time during month 2, it got much, much better. It doesn't feel great, but it doesn't hurt anymore either. I'll take that.
I can't think of anything else right now...but if I do I'll come back and revise.
What can you share from your experiences? Or do you have any questions?