I know, I know I am late with this post. I tried to get to it all of last week and just couldn’t find the time to give it the attention I felt it deserved. So here it is. Better late then never.
I have five children. I breast fed each of them. I was lucky enough that everything worked out. I wanted to nurse them (it was easier and more economical then bottle feeding), I did not have to go to work so I had the time, my milk came in and I had plenty to feed with, my kids latched well and ate well. I don’t take any of this for granted because I know that if any one of those things had not worked the way it did my decision to nurse may have been very different.
I nursed my kids until they were between 9 months and 15 months. I had very different experiences with each one and had reasons why I stopped when I did for each one.
What I want to share are my struggles.
I know many people who saw me after a few months thought that the nursing was so easy and natural for me and I want to share the falsehood of that. I believe that if we don’t share that we are all struggling with one thing or another we lead others to suffer trying to live up to false perfection. Perfection in anything is very difficult to achieve and sometimes out of our control.
I had a difficult time nursing my first son. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought he was sucking so I must be good. I figured my pain was normal. It wasn’t. He wasn’t latching properly and he was giving me blisters because he would have to suck so hard to get milk. Finally I went to a nursing clinic and the lactation consultant helped me learn the different positions and how to help him latch. It took a couple weeks to be comfortable to do that. I spent the first while only nursing in my room because I needed the space just to feel like I was getting it right. Then because he was such a frequent nurser I felt like I was living is my room and not able to get out to do anything. It took a while but I finally figured it all out.
I thought after the first that it would be a piece of cake. Like riding a bike…once you know what to do you’re good to go. NOT TRUE!
With my fifth kid I prepared myself. I knew after the last four that it wasn’t like riding a bike. I read up about positions and how to make sure your baby latches properly. In the hospital I was so careful to get the position the way I tought it should be. The nurse checked and thought he was eating well but three days later the pain started. I had cracks in the nipples that ended up getting an infection. It got so bad that when he would latch on I would literally sit in bed and bawl and want to just rip him off and never feed again. That pain was worse than contractions to me.
I felt like such a failure. How could I be on my fifth kid and still be having this problem? How could I not know what I was doing yet? Why couldn’t I get my kids to latch in a way that I wasn’t getting blisters and cuts?!
It took 8 days before the infection was diagnosed and I was put on antibiotics. Finally I visited the lactation nurse again. She helped me nurse, checked the latch and gave me a nipple shield until I healed. That nipple shield was a miricle sent to me at my lowest point post pregnancy. I truly don’t believe I would have kept nursing without it. It gave me time to heal. It gave me back some sanity. If I ever nurse a baby again I will use a nipple shield until my body is used to it. I don’t know why no one told me about this with the first four.
Now one year later and nursing is going pretty well. My son is a tough nurser. He bites down a lot. He like to punch me and scratch me while he feeds (thank goodness for Fabulousmommy chewlry to distract him). He tries to crawl away and take his food with him. But I am sticking with it as long as I can I love my bonding time with him. I love seeing his smiling eyes while he eats.
I just hope that all Fabulousmommys realize that we all struggle with things now and then. Finding a way to parent through these struggles and be the best we can for our children is what makes us the best prenats we can be.
Happy belated breastfeeding week.