The best thing about breastfeeding, you ask? Those eyes! I could drown in them… and I do. So much of my days are now consumed by those gorgeous baby blues. We’ll just stare at one another for what feels like hours and I often wonder what she’s thinking as we share those moments. I never want to forget this sweet, sweet time I have with her. Because, I know it is fleeting. I would be a big fat liar if I stopped here. For as many of those moments that I love, there were (and sometimes still are) moments that will eventually float to the back of my brain and be forgotten with time. This, I believe, happens for a reason. Otherwise, women would never choose to breastfeed again. I think one of the hardest parts of becoming a new mother is the lack of hearing about what it is like in the first few weeks that baby arrives. Generally, when I spoke with friends about motherhood, our conversations would be all about pregnancy and birth and the amazing little human that we now tend to. Then it would wander off into coos and the oooohhhss and aaaahhhhs we dote on our precious little ones. Rarely would difficult times be mentioned. Perhaps for lack of time during our conversations or maybe just because it is simply more fun to talk about the good times. In a world of perfectly posed pictures and well-edited instagrams, real can seem well — not real. Am I rambling? Perhaps.
So, let’s get down to it. Breastfeeding is really really hard! Now I completely understand why so many women choose formula over breastfeeding. I can’t even tell you how many times I broke down in the first few weeks crying to my husband that I just can’t do it anymore. I’m lucky that I have a kick-*ss hubby. We talked about it before Sydney arrived and I told my husband that no matter what, I wanted him to support me and not tell me that I should just give up and switch to formula. And that is what he did. He held me when I cried and told me I was doing an amazing job and told me that whatever I wanted to do would be ok. That my friends may just be the key to sticking it out. Getting a proper latch is also key. It took me some time to really get it right. And I read soooo many things. Books, blogs, baby sites, la leech league (highly recommended). I watched videos and pretty much obsessed over how much milk she was getting and was I doing it right? All on very little sleep, of course. But, as much advice as you’ll get (or find on the inter web) I’m not really sure you can avoid the physical pain that comes with the start of breastfeeding. It HURTS! I’m wincing just thinking about it. Your nipples need time to get used to feeding. Babies have a strong little suck in them and if you make it through without cracked and bleeding nipples then you are a lucky duck! Lanolin and gel pads will be your life saver!! Also, these. Beyond the physical pain, in the beginning I found breastfeeding to be really lonely and I felt trapped by it. I was lucky because my husband or Mom were with me most of the time but, because you are feeding on demand, it still felt like I could never escape. I used to call my breastfeeding pillow my pillow prison. Even if I wanted to run to the store, I couldn’t because she would be due to feed again. It was hard. But, as with most things, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The trick to breastfeeding, you ask? Time. It gets better with time. And, every baby is different. Sydney is a dream when it comes to breastfeeding while some babies just won’t take the breast. I think regardless of your experience you just have to remind yourself that it is your life and your baby and you need to stand behind whatever decisions you make and be happy with them. Lastly, I would highly highly recommend visiting with a lactation consultant. They will come to you and they’ll help with whatever issues you may be having. This was a turning point for me because it reassured me that everything was ok. There will always be ups and downs but you and your baby will find that rhythm and the next thing you know you’ll be staring into one another’s eyes and drinking it all in. Pun intended. Insert heart eyes here because it really is special.