Motherhood Mondays. To Breast or Not to Breast.

When I first found out I was pregnant with our first child you can imagine all the things that go through your head. One of the many random thoughts was, how do women breast feed? Not like how do they actually do it but Ewww! Gross! Weird! This was my initial thought – mind you.  It wasn’t until about the fifth month into pregnancy then something changed. My baby, my little roo, kicking and we were starting to bond. I wanted to do this now, really badly! I had four months to read, research and see what this breastfeeding was all about.  So that’s what I did.

I talked to other women including my mom who breastfed us to get their take, opinion, experience and put it in the back of my mind. My mom warned me about the stress. She said it would be tough, but if I stuck with it- it would be great. She said I would indeed bleed.

I downloaded Le Leche League’s “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and it became my bedside buddy at night. I would read and skip around to see what I was and wasn’t supposed to do. I would begin to form my own new opinion of breastfeeding. I could do this.

The day our Roo/Zuzu/Zoey was born was a rude awakening for me and what my threshold for pain was. Aside from the c-section drama (read more about that here) the moment I saw her, I attempted to put her to the breast. It was a no go. I was sort of still drugged up, and she was so small and my stupid boobs were SOOOOO big. Her little mouth was like a dime and my nipples which apparently were normal were the size of half dollars. Of course, I felt like an immediate failure and burst into tears. I can reflect now rationally and know that I was not a failure. At this time though there was no other sadness I knew except that I could not feed my starving baby.

Over the next few hours, I tried and tried again. Still no dice for a latch. I was able to squeeze it into her mouth and feed her some that way, but my breasts didn’t like being treated this way and throbbed from pain and engorgement. At one point I think she was screaming so loud I could not hear my own thoughts. It’s a terrible memory, mainly  because nurses were forcing her to my breast so hard she  was choking. I have blurred this partof the memory out as much as possible. It was at this moment I thought, maybe breastfeeding is not for me.

So in came lactation and the specialists that deal with teaching new moms how to nurse.They helped me understand more that it was less about a natural latch and more about me needing to pop my boob in her mouth – way back and then she should latch down – past the nipple, almost to where you couldn’t see any aureole. So this was now what I practiced doing. After about 8 hrs of trying to get the latch we had success and she finally did it and was  getting some colostrum.

I went home thinking it would all stay the same, that she would continue to latch great and we would get her full each feeding, but then something happened… that pacifier issued by my nurse was creating issues with the latch.

Once home and hungry, it was like the first moment we met- I tried all over again. No latch, crying, her and I, pain… Extreme pain. I felt failure again and wished she would just open her mouth, it seemed so easy.

I broke down and called lactation. They said the pacifier was more than likely the issue. Take it away and don’t give it to her until she was at least 4 weeks old. Lactation and my handy book, other moms, google searches and my own mom- helped me over the next few weeks to get more comfortable, relaxed and to get the latch to work. Even though I had bleeding nipples, was up at all hours and my body was in constant demand, I would do it again. The bond and the health of the baby has made all the difference.

And so I come to the next baby- Lola, one year and a half later I gave birth to another daughter and she latched instantly. Because of the struggle and challenge I had with Zoey, Lola was completely different. I took the pacifiers out of my room and gave them back to the nurses and I declined lactation. I got this. And I did and do now 6 months later I am still feeding her breast on demand. We have both been healthy and happy. So whatever you choose, it’s the right choice for you. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

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