These past few weeks have been the most amazing of my life. I have given birth to my beautiful daughter two weeks ago, and yes, all cliches are true – it is the most beautiful, transformative period in ones life! It is a busy time, but the sweetest busyness I could ever imagine. Everything is so new, and after passing the initial intimidation and constant (understandable) questioning of whether I am able to take care of a newborn, the motherly instincts kicked in and everything now seems much easier and more straightforward.
Giving birth is probably one of the most empowering things that have ever happened to me. It was an unforgettable experience and it made me realise that there is nothing that I cannot do, and that I am capable of so much more than I have ever imagined. I have spent a lot of time during my pregnancy in preparation for the birth – I read tons of books, took birthing classes and also a Hypno-birthing course. I would really recommend the hypno-birthing classes, they made such a difference for me and I believe my birthing experience was so positive mainly because of the techniques I learned there. I took the classes in Luxembourg with www.hypnobirthing.lu and would highly recommend them!
I also read a lot about breastfeeding, but this one turned out to be more tricky than I initially imagined. So I have decided to write this post, and share with you my experience, in order to encourage you and maybe give you some additional insights that you might not find in the traditional reads.
Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned and mastered. It is not always something that comes effortlessly and easy. At least it wasn’t the case for me. My milk didn’t come in until my third day postpartum, and those three days were stressful as I was starting to wonder if I will be able to nurse my baby. I used those days to get to know my baby, cuddle her and learn how to breastfeed. We both had some learning to do. Initially she wouldn’t properly latch on, and then once she learned how to do this, she would’t suckle. It was difficult. My breasts were in pain and I suffered. It didn’t help that I was also getting stressed out, as stress can actually hinder the milk production. Thankfully I was surrounded by nice and skilful midwifes that gave me lots of tips, and assured me that what I was going through was completely normal. Then there was one sleepless night, my baby wouldn’t stop crying, she was hungry and my milk was still not there. One thing I learned is just how energy intensive this can be for a newborn baby. The midwife suggested I give her formula so that she could eat something to gain the strength to be able to suckle for long enough. I was devastated, I did not want to feed my baby formula. But then I was faced with two choices – leave my baby hungry and crying, or be flexible on my views for the sake of getting everything going and allowing my baby and me to have enough time until my milk comes in. So I opted for the second option, as it seemed the most reasonable one. She had formula that night and I spent the entire time pumping for milk. I pumped all night and not a drop of milk came out. I was crying but then was also happy because she seemed satiated and could finally sleep soundly. Eventually from all the exhaustion of pumping I fell asleep too. We slept for about 7 hours. And when I woke up – hallelujah! – my breast were full and heavy and I felt like I needed to nurse her. And I did! I cried with happiness and relief! She was energetic and latched straight to the breast and fed for a long time. We still had some learning to do to get the best latch, but the hardest part was over!
Now I can safely say that I have plenty of milk, she is nursing really well, and breastfeeding has become this incredibly soothing and relaxing time, where me and my baby bond and get to know each other.
What I want to say with my story is this – breastfeeding is hard in the beginning. It hurts. You might suffer from cracked nipples and it takes time until you and your baby learn how to properly nurse. But as difficult as it might seem (especially after some sleepless nights and all kinds of other emotions going through your body), do not give up and don’t get discouraged. With more practice and mostly persistence you and your baby will get the hang of it. Try your best to not stress out about it, and trust in the process. 😉
The second point I want to make with this post is to have an open mind. I have always imagined myself breastfeeding my baby, but when she was hungry and my milk was not there I made the decision to give her formula. I admit, it did not make me happy, but I feel it was the right thing to do for me and for my baby. The world is not all black and white, and I knew this decision was needed in order to get things going with breastfeeding. In the end this one night does not make a long-term difference for my baby, but what it did was that it allowed me the time to relax (baby was not crying) and for my milk to come in. And it also gave my baby the strength to suckle the next day. Now we are exclusively breastfeeding, and this incident taught me how being flexible is important to achieve your goals and continue to work toward the direction you desire.
We are now learning together, and I am paying close attention to the foods I eat and the reactions of my baby. So far so good! She is one little happy girl, and I am a proud and (for the most part) rested mama! 🙂
If you would like more posts about breastfeeding, baby food or general baby-related topics let me know in the comments below.
2 Thoughts on “What nobody tells you about breastfeeding”
I think what motherhood has taught me is beside having an open mind, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves. I had very idealistic views on how I wanted to have a baby, breastfeeding etc. However when I learnt that my baby would need oxygen support after birth I knew that breastfeeding was the least of our worries. He was given formula from the beginning, we weren’t even asked what brand. He needed to be fed. As you go long the way you do so many things you said you’d never do. It’s not always going to go as planned, and I think we the parents really need to listen to outr baby and its needs instead of being carried away by our ideas. And you did just that.
Good luck with it all.
So well said Athena!! Thanks for sharing your story and I wish you and your baby all the best! Sending lots of love!