As soon as you pee on a stick and get a + sign, people start pouring out advice on your pregnancy, delivery, and what life is going to be like once the baby is here. Somehow, in all of that advice, there are still things that surprise us in each of these stages. In this series of blog posts, we are going to talk about postpartum perspectives of things moms, just like you, didn't expect and were surprised by. In this first blog, we are going to cover nursing.
Breastfeeding is probably one of the most unique things to a first time mom. Prior to delivery, your breasts were never used for nourishment and our culture doesn't talk too much about it. So, there is a bit of a learning curve.
I had taken a class and thought I was prepared for nursing, but what I didn't expect was for my son not to latch and I would have to pump and syringe feed him for 2 weeks. I didn't realize how extremely not normal this all was being a first time mom. Looking back, I would have taken him to a private IBCLC, like For Babies' Sake (http://www.forbabiessake.com), much earlier on than I did. I learned a lot from that experience.
One of my best friends planned to breastfeed, but definitely didn't plan for her baby to spend a few days in NICU and end up having a feeding tube while he was in there. It definitely threw a loop in her breastfeeding plans but she also sought out help and was able to overcome it and successfully nurse her baby.
Asking for help with nursing is one of the best things you can do. See the Lactation Consultant in the hospital, have your doula help you at your postpartum visit, ask other moms who have nursed, and see an IBCLC. Don't be ashamed if nursing doesn't come naturally to you and your baby. It really is more of an uphill battle than many people are led to believe before baby comes.
I think one of the best ways to learn and grow is to realize that you are not alone. You really are part of a sisterhood. Turn to your tribe for help. That is the point of this blog post, hope you can learn a couple of things from these amazing moms who shared their story and their hearts.
*some of these strong moms have their own sites, you can click on their names to check them out*
Here are a few words from other moms about their surprises with nursing:
With your first baby, no one tells you that breastfeeding is going to hurt. It's not designed to hurt, but no one has ever sucked on your nipples that forcefully/for nutrition before. I was shocked at that. And one bad latch is all it takes for pain, bloody nipples, etc to set in. - Erica L.
No one tells you how hard it is to breast feed and cluster feeding was a huge surprise. - Stfni S.
Nothing went as I expected. What surprised me is that I survived and functioned on practically no sleep for the first few weeks. I learned to side nurse on week 3. Until then, I nursed all night in a sitting up position as my newborn insisted on being latched on all the time. I'm surprised I didn't lose my sanity although it came close! - Victoriya F.
I didn't expect how much I would appreciate snacks. I would get so hungry keeping up with nursing that when a friend dropped by with veggie chips and animal crackers I just about cried. I try to take snack foods to friends who have time babies now. - Emily Byford (http://www.thenestbirthservices.com)
I vaguely remember hearing about breastfeeding stimulating your uterus to contract back to its regular size. What no one told me is that during those first couple of weeks of breastfeeding, while I breastfed and my uterus was doing its thing contracting, it felt like someone kicked me in the ovaries. Owww! - Sharon Jared (http://www.sharonisamom.wordpress.com)
I had heard so many stories that breastfeeding was painful so when that turned out to be true, I assumed it was normal, when in fact, my daughter had a terrible latch and gave her lips and my nipples blisters for the first month of her life! It was miserable. Once I learned it shouldn't be like that, I went to support groups and got help and it was much easier after that! - Cameo Sherman (http://www.mamanamaste.com)
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE ALL OR NOTHING.
Breastfeeding isn't just about nutrition. It is about a relationship. It is about love and comfort. Here is what a few moms who supplemented had to say:
Breastfeeding is a journey but it's easy to become focused on the destination, that you miss all the beautiful peaks and valleys along the way.
For me, knowing that taking good care of myself meant I was taking the best care of my baby was so important to remember. That meant letting go and NOT stressing myself out over pumping. I went out of town for a week and instead of stressing trying to figure out how I was going to pump 200+ oz of milk, I bought a can of formula and made peace with it. - Barbara Davis (http://www.doulabarb.com)
The first time I gave my baby formula I cried my eyes out. It's not what I wanted for us. I felt like a failure, like I was "poisoning" my baby, like it was a one way ticket away from breastfeeding. That was not the case. I continued to breastfeed for many months after, and once the pressure was off I started to enjoy breastfeeding the way I had always wanted to. -Julia M.
I really struggled when I started to lose my milk supply while I was nursing my fourth baby. I had a lot of guilt. I felt like I was failing him and that I was forcing him to "grow up" too quickly. When I was no longer able to provide enough milk for him, I went to donor milk. It gave me peace to know that even though I was no longer giving him my milk, he was getting milk from another loving mom. - Andrea Brannock (http://www.adorebirthservices.com)
The first time I realized I couldn't pump enough for daycare, I felt so much guilt. Guilt because I knew this wouldn't be a concern if I could stay at home; guilt because there's a part of me that feels called to work outside the home. When our first milk donor came through, I even felt guilty because surely there was a family who needed breastmilk more than us. But the 5 women who have graciously donated milk to us gave me something invaluable- the energy to fight for our breastfeeding relationship to continue despite odds weren't always in our favor. It took a village to get our sweet baby into this world, and it has taken a village to feed her. It will never cease to amaze me that our breastfeeding journey that caused so much strain and tension is the same journey that took a turn that allowed me to bond with my baby and fall in love with breastfeeding. -Emily M.
What are some surprises you had with nursing your little one?