3.13.2014

Journey Into Motherhood: Breastfeeding in the Beginning

I have wanted, for awhile now, to write about our breastfeeding journey.  I have actually sat down several times and I just couldn't put it into words.  Each time I started to write about it - it came out sounding negative.  And though we really had a rocky start - I don't think about the overall experience as negative at all.  Quite the opposite really. Out of everything that I have learned and done as a new mom, by far, breastfeeding has been the toughest but the most joyful. That said, I plan to cover this topic over a few posts (otherwise it will be a novel). So for now - I just want to hammer out some thoughts and then I'll move on to how we made it through the craziness. 

I remember when I was pregnant reading about breastfeeding.  I learned about the bond it creates between the mother and child.  All the amazing benefits it has, again, for mother and child.  I would see pictures on my instagram feed, of moms breast feeding their babies, and everything about it looked so peaceful, enjoyable - it looked like pure bliss.  I assumed that since I had done my homework - that breastfeeding would be just something that came naturally.  I thought I would just latch Eila on, she'd eat and we would both be drunk in an Oxytocin high.  Oh man, I was in for a rude awakening. Because no one really talked about their struggles. 

I didn't read about all the challenges of establishing breastfeeding - or if I had - I didn't remember any of it.  I was hit with a reality shock - just hours after having Eila - after the midwives left and I heard her first hunger cry.  I had no idea what to do.  And I was devastated because breastfeeding wasn't coming naturally for me.  I couldn't latch Eila on myself - or if I did it took me so long and in the process she would have an epic meltdown and in which case I would too have an epic meltdown.  I had to get the nurse to help me latch her - every time.  She made it look so easy - so natural.  What was I doing wrong?

Well in the span of 24 hours - Eila damaged both my nipples. She had such a strong sucking reflex that if I didn't get her latched correctly - she'd just go to town.  They were so cracked and raw.  I didn't remember reading about that.  It was excruciating to latch her on - to the point that each time she would cue she was hungry I would stall.  Then finally try to get her on.  And then cry.   I felt so frustrated.  So defeated.  I felt like a failure.  Why was breastfeeding so easy for everyone else?  Why couldn't we figure it out.  I am just going to say it - those first few days were horrible.  So horrible that I had a really hard time enjoying Eila.  This made me so sad and made it really hard for me to bond with her right away.

I must give props to Steve.  He was a champion through this.  I would never would have continued breastfeeding (8 months later) if it weren't for him encouraging me. Sitting with me during every painful latch those first two weeks. Calling the midwives (without me knowing) to have them come over to help me work on positions and latching.  Also, thank goodness for midwives, what an invaluable support for women in the postpartum period.  I constantly worried if she was getting enough milk, was she losing weight, was she getting enough hind milk? It was an endless cycle.

It wasn't until Eila was 4 months until I was fully healed and I started to enjoy our breastfeeding relationship.  Seriously those were the longest, toughest 4 months of my life.  It took every ounce of willpower and energy to get through it.  Honestly I am surprised that I stuck with it - but it might be one of those cases that my stubbornness came in handy.  But I had moments, in those 4 months, when we'd have a great feed and Eila would pass out milk drunk when it all seemed worth it. 


Journey Into Motherhood Series // Introduction // The Fourth Trimester Essentials

3 comments:

  1. Breastfeeding is hard but it's so rewarding and I wish I had been as determined as you with my first. I'm proud of you for sticking with it! And she's just beautiful!
    xo

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  2. I'm so happy that you stuck with it and now have a really positive breastfeeding relationship with Eila. Kale and I had a lot of challenges too and I learned so much from my experiences that things have been amazing with Bea from the very first latch.

    You are so lucky to have Steve and your midwives. They are invaluable supports and what every woman needs to make it through those first few weeks. The other invaluable support comes from our government (in terms of maternity leave). Can you imagine trying to figure out breastfeeding and then having to go back to work at 6 weeks??

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  3. Hey, I have a question I wanted to ask you regarding your blog. If you could send me an email when you get this, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!
    -Tiffany
    tpham(at)dropcam(dot)com

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