I always knew I was going to breastfeed Ryan, no research needed. “Breast is best,” right? Steve and I had no desire whatsoever to feed formula. (Let me put this here now: I have absolutely nothing against parents who use formula.. I don’t even bat an eye at it. Breastfeeding works for us, I realize it doesn’t work for everyone!)
After Ryan was born and I came out of my drug-induced shakes and was allowed to hold him, I breastfed. The nurse in the room to help me was TERRIBLE. She kept grabbing the back of Ryan’s head and shoving him toward me–I was too timid to speak up, because what did I know? I had never done this before. But it seemed like she was inpatient, forceful, and not helping the situation at all. I thought… I’m his mom, I can do this! But she did finally get Ryan to latch on and he was awesome! They had me doing the football hold (which I never used again after leaving the hospital).
When Ryan lost over 10% of his body weight, a nurse came in with a look on her face like she had the worst news in the world to tell us. We were worried off the bat. Steve asked her what his weight was, exactly, and he figured out that he lost something like 10.7%… barely over 10!! Yet she made it sound so dangerous, that she convinced me I had to pump and supplement with formula. At the time I didn’t know any better. I was like- Oh yes! If he’s losing too much weight, we better fix that!- And when they had me pump and barely anything came out (my milk had not come in yet AND I had just finished feeding Ryan… so seriously, there was barely any in the bottle), they made me feel awful, like I couldn’t feed Ryan. They looked at the bottle and said “oohhhhh, that’s really not very much. That’s not enough. Hmmm….”
And so came the formula.
I’d breastfeed him and then give the formula after. We used a syringe thingy so he wouldn’t get nipple confusion. He seemed to chow down so I definitely thought (at the time) that he needed it.
And of course, his weight went back up. And we went home.
I’ve never had a problem with Ryan latching. But lots of problems with pain.
First – engorgement. Boobs hard as rocks and I felt like they were up to my chin. I did basically no research on breastfeeding while pregnant because I thought it was just one of those things you did… and knew how to do… no big deal. UH, wrong. There’s SO much to breastfeeding, I was now reading about it online every day and using the wonderful people on twitter to answer my questions.
The engorgement was… annoying. Yea it hurt, especially in the shower. They’d be so full, I’d have to empty them a bit before Ryan could even latch on. And even then, he’d cough and spit up because there was so much coming out so fast. I also didn’t know breastmilk could shoot out like a water gun and end up all over poor Ryan’s face (haha).
I slept with a towel on the bed underneath me… especially because we were co-sleeping and milk would definitely get everywhere when it was time for Ryan to eat (side-lying position).
Then came the pain. Yea, it took awhile for it to show up so I was thinking I was just rockin’ this breastfeeding thing. Nope, wrong. Holy hell. I dreaded nursing, my nipples were cracked and sometimes bleeding, I wanted to cry. I asked on twitter when this would end and the consensus was 6 weeks post-partum. 6 WEEKS?! That was a month away!!! That was an ETERNITY AWAY! Shoot me now, seriously.
Then came the growth spurt! Not only did nursing make me want to cry in pain, but Ryan started wanting to eat ALL.the.time. Not to mention the fact that he wouldn’t go to sleep unless also attached at the breast.
I did start pumping a little bit at 3-4 weeks and Steve started feeding Ryan with a bottle about once every other day. I loved it. I loved watching Steve able to feed Ryan and I loved the break it gave me. (Now? I wish I never had to pump and got to nurse Ryan for every feeding :))
I don’t want to scare anyone away from breastfeeding, I just want to be honest because I had NO idea what to expect when I was going through this. So don’t worry, I’ll get to the good stuff (really good stuff) pretty soon.
One night, when I was near the end of my rope, Steve asked if I wanted to give just a little bit of formula (we had those free samples that everyone gets in the mail). We even took it out of the closet and set it on the counter. Just in case. But no matter how much I was hating it, I wasn’t going to give up. There was never a single thought in my mind that I’d quit breastfeeding. Never. And I want to say it’s because I wanted to do what’s best for Ryan, and that’s definitely true, but I think I finally realized the reason…. I thought I failed at birth (by having a c-section) and I absolutely was not going to let myself fail at nursing. Whatever the reason, I made it. I made it to 6 weeks. It wasn’t an eternity, it was actually here before I knew it.
Besides, I think the pain started to go away before that.. probably closer to 4 weeks. And then the pain was only there when he first latched on… yes, still awful (I’d kick my feet and grimace for those first few seconds), but then it was gone.
And now? Totally gone. It’s like… I don’t even know he’s there, haha. And what’s more? I absolutely love it. I think especially because I’m back at work, when I get to nurse him it’s like our bonding time. He looks up at me while he’s feeding and sometimes he smiles – cutest freakin’ thing in the whole wide world. He’s so content, his eyes roll back in his head, he looks “milk drunk,” and he drifts off to sleep with a hand resting on me. And I just get to hold him and stroke his little head and stare. I don’t even mind getting up in the middle of the night for his 4am feeding. Steve has not fed him with a bottle once in the middle of the night (by my choice- it’s not that he’s not willing!)
*Relief from pain: I used ice packs… or the Booby Tubes from Earth Mama Angel Baby. Also nipple cream – my favorite is non-lanolin (like the Simplisse cream or the Earth Mama Angel Baby stuff).
So if you think you can’t do it, if you think it hurts too much or it’s too hard… don’t give up! It truly gets better and is SO worth it (not to mention the awesome benefits to baby AND mom). Plus, there’s tons of support out there… just search twitter. Use the hashtag #bfing – and now on Thursday nights at 9pm CST there’s a breastfeeding chat with the hashtag #bfcafe
And here is a great site I used daily (and still do on occasion) – it has everything you could possibly want to know about breastfeeding – kellymom.
Any awesome breastfeeding stories out there? How long did you/are you planning to nurse? (My goal is 1 year) Any bfing questions?? Oh, also.. there’s a website with a gallery of breastfeeding images and I have a picture on there. I’m posting a link to it instead of the actual picture because I think there are some people who read this who just don’t want to see that 😉 If you do, it’s here: babydickey (and this is the hand resting on me that I love oh-so-much!)