I always tell people that nothing could have prepared me for motherhood, especially breastfeeding. It’s something I have had to battle for and still, mentally, fight for to this day.
I was so busy during pregnancy learning (and freaking out) about labor that I didn’t put much effort into preparing for breastfeeding. I took one virtual class with the hospital I would be delivering at, and that was not enough to get me ready for what was to come.
I was in labour for a long time
I labored for almost 48 hours. Whilst I progressed quickly, I got stuck at 9 centimeters. Baby boy was sunny side up and I had a cervical lip. I had intense back labor to where I was passing out. I so badly wanted an unmedicated birth but opted for the epidural when I was a 7. Still pretty darn proud of myself for that.
Being in labor for so long and being extremely exhausted, I asked for a c-section. I was crushed but wanted to be done with labor and hold my son. I didn’t get the immediate skin-to-skin like I dreamt of and was so drugged up that my first memories of breastfeeding Zion are a blur.
While in the hospital, I saw a few lactation consultants who helped get him to latch and showed me different techniques. But I was in so much pain from the surgery that everything just felt so overwhelming.
I didn’t get the immediate skin-to-skin like I dreamt of and was so drugged up that my first memories of breastfeeding Zion are a blur.
Once home, breastfeeding went downhill
When I got home, breastfeeding went downhill. My nipples were so sore, cracked, and bleeding. I used a nipple shield and that didn’t help. Not even one week into it and I was ready to give up. I dreaded every time my baby needed to feed and cried. I decided to introduce my son to a bottle to get some relief. Luckily, he took to it and I pumped. I began to ease my way back into breastfeeding, but it was still so painful.
At five weeks, we were told my son had a severe tongue and lip tie. I made the decision to get it released. I heard some moms get relief right away and I was hoping that would be my story, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. His latch was still shallow and I was dealing with vasospasms.
I was angry breastfeeding was not going as hoped
As a Christian, I asked God why this was happening to me. From my birth to breastfeeding, nothing had gone as planned. I was angry. Every night, I lay in bed awake questioning Him and pleading to let me be able to nurse my son. I even felt guilty for getting his releases and wanting to give up on nursing him.
One evening at my in-laws, my son was refusing to nurse. It broke me. My mother-in-law let me cry it out and vent. I was still pumping and breastfeeding half the time. She suggested I stop pumping and give breastfeeding my all for the next two weeks. That timeframe would put me at three months of nursing. She said if it didn’t work, then at least I know I tried. I decided I would commit to that.
One evening at my in-laws, my son was refusing to nurse. It broke me. My mother-in-law let me cry it out and vent.
Things began to get easier
The more I breastfed, the easier it became. I was still having some breast pain, but getting my son to the chiropractor, taking sunflower lecithin, and switching pumps to empty me at night helped relieve it.
Even while I got the hang of breastfeeding, I had to learn to trust my body. Because I wasn’t giving him a bottle as frequently as I used to, I wasn’t sure how much he was eating.
Five months on and we’re still breastfeeding
I am now five months into my breastfeeding journey. Every time Zion hits a month older, I not only celebrate his growth and milestones but secretly celebrate myself on making it another month of breastfeeding. I thank God for hearing my heart’s cry and answering my prayer.
I love breastfeeding because I know my body is making the nutrients my son needs when he needs it. For me, it’s one of the ways I show my baby just how much I love, care, and want to protect him. I still have my days, though, where I want to throw in the towel. My son still wakes up a few times a night to nurse so I don’t always sleep great.
I love breastfeeding because I know my body is making the nutrients my son needs when he needs it.
I’m motivated to keep going
I’ve also been intimidated to breastfeed in public so I stress about it. There are moments I think, I just want my body back, but I look at my son and he motivates me to keep pushing through a little longer. I remind myself that it’s not forever and to soak in these moments.
My husband has been my biggest supporter. I’m so thankful for his encouragement and listening ear. Pretty sure my boobs have been the most talked about thing since Zion’s birth.
I’ve realised exclusively breastfeeding can take time – and that’s ok
If there’s any advice I could give to expecting mamas or anyone out there who might be struggling to nurse as I did, it would be to give yourself grace. During pregnancy, I put a lot of expectations on myself that I became so disappointed when I was unable to meet them. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Take it day by day. I am now breastfeeding almost exclusively, but it didn’t happen overnight.
You don’t have to have it all figured out. Take it day by day.
It took months of re-adjusting (and still adjusting) to fit what worked best for my baby and me. Your breastfeeding journey does not have to look like everyone else’s. For me, it’s been a slow and steady race. My breastfeeding experience has been far from easy, but it’s only made me a stronger mama for my son.
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