Updated: Sep 15, 2021
Someone recently posted a story about guilting moms when they are using formula rather than breastfeeding and how fed is best. Naturally, I was intrigued and shared my comments on the subject which started a phenomenal discussion. I’m such a birth and breastfeeding nerd that I really just enjoyed hearing the individual stories and was so grateful to those who shared with me. It helps me in my profession, but what I also realized is that I have never really shared the beginning of my breastfeeding journey much, you all have read about me just in the thick of it, when it is mostly happy and easy…and my never ending weaning journey.
I, like many other lactating people, thought breast/chestfeeding was going to be so easy, that it was natural. I had never really witnessed breastfeeding growing up, but I have this distinct memory of watching my aunt nurse one of her sons on the living room floor at my grandparents house one time, that’s it. Oh, and that woman feeding her baby at the Minnesota Twins game in front of
Then I’m in the hospital and just delivered it’s really kind of a blur and there is maybe 2 pictures from the whole ordeal. I had a great nurse who helped me get him latched, but the next nurse looked at me like I had leprosy when I asked for help and said, “oh, I don’t know how to do that” and left my room. I looked at my husband with a dropped jaw like what the heck just happened. The lactation consultant came in the next day and shoved my baby on my breast, not super helpful. Bottom line? I left the hospital with bleeding, scabbed, cracked, painful nipples. No one said a thing or helped improve my baby’s latch. Everyone just kept saying, “it shouldn’t hurt.”
By the time my colostrum left and the regular stuff came in my breasts were so engorged I wanted to cry. I had to break out the pump to empty them out because my baby couldn’t even get latched. The water in the shower hurt my breasts. I had to put my hands over my nipples or a towel, but even the towel could be too much pressure. It was terrible, but I kept on keeping on. I slathered on the nipple cream and took a lot of Tylenol. I used my own breastmilk to help heal my cracked nipples.
Our second day back from the hospital (I think) someone came to our home, and she was great! She taught me some tricks and to listen for the “ka” sound to know baby was actually drinking. It probably changed my journey, at least it served as an ah-ha moment. When our son was born, he was 6 lb 9oz. When we left the hospital I believe he was under 6 lb (but I can’t find it recorded anywhere). At the in home appointment I believe he was at about 5 lb 9 oz (again, not recorded anywhere I have immediate access to) 4 days later, he was 6 lb 2 oz by March 2nd, he was only 6 lbs 2.5 oz by March 9th he was finally up to 6 lbs 10.5 oz. At 1 month old he weighed in at 10 lb 2 oz. He had lost 10% of his birth weight, so we were still allowed to go home at our in home visit she was slightly concerned but help me with signs on knowing he was feeding so I would know when the latch was wrong. Our pediatrician wasn’t concerned at his visit, because he was gaining slowly but surely. The recommendation of giving a bottle of pumped milk was suggested.
Eventually, we figured it out. It’s a learning process, but WTF? That was a miserable two weeks of figuring it out. I believe around 6 months old people started asking how long I was planning to breastfeed for. Fast forward to 1 year old and it became even more frequent… fast forward to 3 months short of 3 and it seems never ending sometimes.
The reality? Breast is best, it is the optimal way to feed your baby, but we don’t help new moms succeed! Lactation consultants are not always covered by insurance, and nurses and doctors most often have surface level education on breast/chestfeeding. New moms have questions and are met with uncertainty or 27 different opinions on ways to hold her baby to nurse him, and are shown to practically smash their baby’s face onto her breast, this is not the way nature intended. Checkout this video to see how breastfeeding should be initiated after birth, it’s beautiful.