Baby Girl the day she turned one month old
Feeding Babies (part 1)
Do you have a baby at home? If yes, congratulations! Were you able to breastfeed your baby for a few days? a few weeks? a few months? Congratulations! No matter how long you were able to breastfeed, your baby reaped some great rewards.
I had heard while I was pregnant that breastfeeding can be tough. I didn't listen to these gentle warnings. I thought it would be easy for me. I guess I was pretty full of myself because I felt like I was doing everything "right" and it would pay off. I walked for at least 40 minutes per day, I took prenatal yoga once per week, I ate well, and had natural child birth. That confidence came back to bite me. I had the hardest time breastfeeding! When I was struggling, I looked on the internet to find accounts of people with similar experiences and I couldn't find one. So I thought I would share my experiences with you. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, you are not alone. If you decided to give it up, I understand. No judgement.
When pregnant women tell me that they are nervous about labor, I jump right in to give them a pep talk. I tell them that I had 34 hours of labor, and delivered a 9.5 pound baby without any drugs. They can do it! It hurts, but the pain is manageable. I highly endorse staying active, taking a birthing class and prenatal yoga class. If you stay calm, work on breathing, and doing your pain coping techniques - you can do it!
If a pregnant woman tells me that she is nervous about breastfeeding (this is much more rare), I hem and haw and try to decide what to say. Usually I land on something like - it was really hard for me, but I'm glad I stuck with it.
Baby Girl had a strong personality from the start. When she was only 12 hours old, I could look ahead and see the battles we would have when she became a teenager. She woke up starving, screaming and upset, but she wouldn't open her mouth wide enough to latch on and she locked her arms to keep her distance from me. By the time I got home from the hospital, both of my nipples were infected and I dreaded each time I had to feed her. When she was four days old, we called in an expert. Freda Rosenfeld is famous in Brooklyn. (I discovered later that she had even been written up in the NY Times.) I told Freda that she was really strong willed and described all of our issues. Freda didn't like the term strong willed, but she did admit that Baby Girl was stubborn. Freda said that she was one of the most stubborn babies she had ever seen, but reassured me that "stubborn people get things done." (that phrase has become a joke in our family) I was both reassured and disappointed by this. I was glad that it wasn't my imagination, but I was hoping Freda would be able to instantly make things better.
There was no quick fix (like so many things in life). My body took its mission of making food for Baby Girl very seriously - it seemed to think it needed to produce milk for a whole village. My nipples took a long time to heal, I developed mastitis, had blocked ducts, and was engorged from over milk production. Luckily through it all Baby Girl was healthy and growing like a weed.
The biggest problem of all for me was that it hurt each time she latched on. Really hurt! I had to do the breathing exercises I used in labor to help me work through the pain! I think it was partly due to the engorgement and partly due to me being very sensitive. I read that it would get better somewhere between 3 and 12 weeks. My pain and engorgement started to subside after 13 weeks. Right when things started getting better thrush set in (read about our saga with thrush here). By six months it was finally easy and problem free. Am I glad I stuck with it? Yes. I think it is best for her health. But it was hard! For me it was worse than 34 hours of labor.
What about you? Did you breastfeed your baby? How did it go? Did your baby latch right on? Was it smooth sailing right from the start? or was it worse than labor for you too?
This post is part of Fight Back Friday, Monday Mania., Gratituesday, and Real Food Wednesday.