It’s about to get real. Like really real so this is your warning. I’m about to talk about breastfeeding and I’m going to be as open and honest as I possibly can be. This is why I’m giving you a warning. Alright, this is your final warning to step away if need be.
So let me start where all good stories start, at the beginning. J
Before I was pregnant I knew I was going to breastfeed. I didn’t know a lot about it except for its great health benefits for your baby. That’s it. I also knew I was down with nursing in public, or as us breastfeeding moms call it, NIP. It just made me uncomfortable to see a woman feeding her child in public. Not that she didn’t have every right to do it, but because I was embarrassed. Embarrassed because how can you see a nursing woman and not stare for a few seconds. I also thought, how will I, one day, tell my child what she’s doing. Now, don’t get fired up just yet, stay with me here.
After I got pregnant I knew I had to sign up for a breastfeeding class if for nothing else because I literally knew one thing about it, which is what most of the rest of us know about. I contacted my OB’s office since they have a lactation consultant on site who offers classes for women to learn more about it. I asked them the basic question, like when is the class offered, how long should I expect to feel really uncomfortable talking about boobs and the milk they produce. I also asked, ‘Should my husband come to this class with me?’. The lady on the other end says, ‘Absolutely, it’d be great for him to learn how he can help when you’re nursing.’ Great. So I sign us up.
Several weeks later, at 29 weeks, Rick and I show up for the class. As we round the corner, I immediately notice the other 3 women in the room with the lactation consultant. Missing from the room are the 3 men who knocked up these women. My first thought, ‘S#*t, Rick is going to kill me’. I turn to Rick and sure enough, he’s giving me some serious evil eyes. He’s the only guy in the class, talk about awkward. Fortunately for him, the LC and the other ladies were mighty impressed he was there to support me. Haha!
During this class we learned a lot. We learned about milk, mastitis, massaging the boob, letdown, positions to nurse, how often to nurse, pumping, storage of milk, drinking while nursing, etc. The list goes on and on. There are a lot of things to learn which can feel overwhelming. I walked out of the class still unclear of what to do. I think breastfeeding is just one of those things you just have to try to learn how to do it. You pick it up as you go and the more often you do it.
When Adalyn was born that Friday morning in January, the last thing I was thinking about was breastfeeding. Once I was moved from the operating room to recovery, the nurse immediately asked me if I was breastfeeding. Without hesitation I said yes and she quickly picked up Adds, told me whip it out (not in those exact words) and start trying. The sooner the better she said. Luckily, Adds knew what she was doing. You see, this is one of those things I didn’t know about breastfeeding. Some babies have a terribly hard time latching and mothers often feel overwhelmed and give up. Obviously I cannot speak from experience since my little one was a leech, but this is where I will tell you to contact a LC immediately. They are very helpful and have helped hundreds of mothers through the process.
Those first few days in the hospital were rough. After going 36 hours without sleep, 18 of those hours in labor, to suddenly being woken up every 3 hours to nurse is exhausting. I had lovely blisters on the nips, bleeding, followed quickly by very full breasts and constant leaking. Nothing at all could have prepared me for those first several days. What I didn’t know was that the next several weeks would be harder than those first few days. Attempting to keep a sleepy baby awake long enough to eat when I myself couldn’t stay awake while nursing her was draining.
I had read, prior to delivering, that nursing develops a special bond between mother and child. I can tell you this is 100% true. Those first few days when Addie was nursing I stared at her completely mesmerized. It’s an intense feeling I cannot describe. It’s also nice when have visitors holding your little one to use as an excuse to get some quiet time to yourself when you’re having some baby withdraws! It doesn’t hurt that Aunt Flo hasn’t visited in nearly 2 years or that nursing burns a lot of calories so I have some freedom to eat what I want without worrying about gaining weight.
Nursing isn’t for everyone. From what I’ve read, a lot of people have a lot of latching issues, supply issues, mastitis issues, etc. I’ve been really very lucky that I have not had any of those problems to deal with along the way. It has been a great experience for Addie and me. I plan to breastfeed until she turns 1 and I’m already preparing myself for a meltdown when the last nursing session comes because of how much I’ve grown to love that special bonding time. I don’t have much advice to offer you but I would offer this, give it a shot. It is absolutely worth trying. If you have trouble, contact a lactation consultant. They’re there to help and know what to do to help you. Stick through those first several weeks at home. After that, it’s smooth sailing. Who knows, you may enjoy it so much you find yourself breastfeeding your 48 month old son like Maria Bello’s character, Sally Lamonsoff, did in Grown Ups.