As soon as Charlotte was born, cleaned up and placed on my chest for skin-to-skin, the nurse asked me if I had planned on breastfeeding (something I felt I was asked several times) and I told her I did.
The nurse went on to help Charlotte latch onto me and the whole time, I scrunched my face up because I had two new people on my boob. The feeling was so weird and my face definitely showed my discomfort, thankfully those moments weren’t captured on camera (*enter praise dance here*).
For the first few days, there isn’t the explosion of milk I thought I would have. Instead, there was colostrum and I learned that was the most important thing for Charlotte to have and although it wasn’t a lot, it was good enough for her. The nurse strongly encouraged me to go to the breastfeeding class that would be hosted the next morning bright and early. She also booked me for an appointment at the Mom and Baby clinic on the Friday and Saturday of that week to receive additional breastfeeding support.
Before we were released the next day, Keith and I attended a breastfeeding class hosted by a phenomenal lactation consultant (LC) with other new parents. It was informative, organized and very clear without being insulting. Thankfully, the lactation consultant came to see us after the class was finished (and before I got my last free hospital lunch) to see what was going on. She suggested that I do the “football hold” as opposed to the generic hold that most mothers do. From the time the LC suggested it, it has worked like a charm. Personally, there is no better way for me to breastfeed than to hold my little babe like she’s a football under my arm!
So we went home and every 2-3 hours, I would feed Charlotte the way I was taught. It was tricky for the first couple of days and I was worried that I wasn’t doing it properly because I didn’t feel like she was latched on as well as she did when we were at the hospital. Needless to say, Keith supported me the best way he could. He reminded me not to hunch my back and let the babe come to me and not bring myself to her.
We attended our appointment on the Friday and again on the Saturday and I’m thankful to the nurse who encouraged me to go. By the end of Saturday’s visit, I felt more confident than I had in the first hour of trying to breastfeed. Whenever I would feel discouraged or frustrated as my chest would feel like it was literally on fire and my babe would STILL want to nurse regardless of how painful it was for me (because those days came), my darling mommy friend, C, reminded me that as much as I was learning how to breastfeed, Charlotte was doing the same thing. It wasn’t a matter of her not wanting me or my milk, we just had to find our own groove and when we did, we would hit the ground running.
My babe turned four months this past weekend and I am proud to say that we are still exclusively breastfeeding (I pump as well). It was true, we hit the ground running (taking nipple balm with me of course) and we haven’t looked back since. This thing that felt so weird initially is now something I genuinely look forward to. Charlotte is getting chunkier and chunkier and she’s a happy and healthy baby, we couldn’t be happier!
A special shout-out to the mamas who have been able to breastfeed and are still going strong even when you have felt like quitting. God knows, nursing in the wee hours of the morning when all you want to do is sleep and be left alone is not an easy feat. Not to mention, the pain of cracked and sore nipples that will make you want to toss out the baby with the bath water (kidding!). I promise, it gets better. Take it from someone who was hopping around in a circle and trying not to cry during the first eight weeks of breastfeeding! Seriously, there were many nights that I wanted to scream all kinds of obscenities. Life just doesn’t make sense at 3am with sore boobs and a hungry newborn that’s crying as though you haven’t fed him/her for the past two weeks.
And to the mamas who have wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t for whatever reason, it doesn’t make your role any less important. As long as your child is well-taken care of, that’s all that matters. The love you have for your baby or babies will trump everything else any day! Remember, you are always enough.
***Photo pulled from @mahoganymilk Instagram Account***