Breastfeeding

Our breastfeeding journey

My family has always been opposed to breastfeeding. Not because of what it is but because of how some women have portrayed it and because of the lack of knowledge they have about it.

When I was pregnant, breastfeeding never crossed my mind. I knew I was going to formula feed my baby no matter what anyone told me because that’s what the ladies in my family did.

I knew absolutely nothing about breastfeeding. I thought it was gross, immodest and too much work. I especially thought it was ridiculous that toddlers were breastfed.

I had, however, heard that breastfeeding makes your chest saggy, leathery, and beat up..

you also can’t eat certain foods, and you have to do it in public when your baby gets hungry! how ABSURD!

No one ever told me anything about it and I really didn’t care to learn.

As we entered the 20 week mark, I came to my “check up” appointment and ladies were wearing badges supporting breastfeeding and there were pamphlets for it all over the office.

My nurse asked me “are you planning on breastfeeding?” I said “Nope.” and that was the “wrong” answer.

I was then asked a million questions as to why I chose NOT to breastfeed. Back to my ridiculously clueless mind I said, “I can barely gain weight as it is” and something along the lines of not being able to eat certain foods or how having to find out what foods gave my baby a reaction scared me.

I wanted nothing to do with it! I didn’t want to chance making the baby sick from something I ate and I most definitely didn’t want or need to get thinner. I gained 37 lbs with my pregnancy and wanted to keep at least 30 of those pounds!

My mom was with me during that appointment and we both thought it was ridiculous that I was being pressured to breast feed. That night I talked to my husband about it and he agreed that we could formula feed. I wanted him to be able to feed the baby as well as our family. ( I obviously didn’t know about pumping either)

I later found out that his mom breast fed him and his two brothers and he actually wanted me to do the same because he felt it would be better for the baby. But he wanted to be supportive in my decision since I would be the one breast feeding, if anything.

It seemed as though after every doctor appointment I went to, I was asked the same question. I’m not sure when it happened but I finally just said “I’ll try it.”

My doctor and nurse were so happy. I was told that I needed to try to make it to two weeks so that the baby could atleast get the “liquid gold” then I could stop. If I did make it to two weeks then four months would be the next goal.

I said “alright” and that was that. I never researched or asked questions but I bought 2 “stay at home” nursing bras. You know- the comfy ones without padding… and one box of nursing pads for the hospital and the two weeks after.

When E was born we immediately did skin to skin and we tried nursing a bit. I don’t remember much of what happened that night.

I was told that my milk would come in around day 3 and that she wouldn’t be eating much until the end of the week.

Thru the night and the next day at the hospital, E was hungry but couldn’t seem to get anything out. It was SO painful and I didn’t know how to really hold a newborn much less feed her. I was so flustered.

My mom finally got a hold of a lactation consultant and she told me to put her in the “football position” and to squeeze my chest. I still couldn’t get the hang of it but that seemed to help for the time being.

My (oh, I hate this word) nipples began to crack and were very sore. I was given lanolin to help soothe them and this helped tremendously.

By day 3 my chest became engorged and it was so painful! Just that was an experience in itself. I never knew that milk could completely fill up your chest and make you rock solid. I couldn’t really move or even pick up E. I tried to nurse E from one side and the other side started leaking. Like full on spraying all over the place. I had no idea what to do with the milk so I placed a towel on the opposite side when I fed her. I also noticed that my chest made this crazy tightening feeling after E latched on for a bit and I later learned that was called a “let down”

By this point I wish I wouldn’t have been SO ignorant.

I knew I was wasting milk by placing a towel over my chest while I nursed but I didn’t realize how much I was actually wasting or how badly E needed that milk.

I was still extremely exhausted from labor so my parents helped watch the baby while Isaac and I rested. Everything seemed to be a blur for the first few days and the only thing I remember happening was being told that E was hungry.

Each time she latched on, or tried to latch on, I would cry. It was the type of pain that made your toes curl. Sometimes I would cry before I even began to nurse her. I was tired and scared but I just wanted to make it to the two week mark.

I’m not exactly sure how old E was when this happened but it had to of been within the first week of her birth. She became VERY hungry and was screaming the most terrible and sad sound I have ever heard. I couldn’t get any milk out because I was stressed and tired (I learned that if you don’t sleep, you can’t produce milk and the baby can’t eat) so this made everything worse. I couldn’t feed my baby! I had a panic attack and cried. My husband left to the store for baby water and formula and my sister helped me express milk. It was HARD work and painful. Also probably extremely awkward for her but I am so thankful she helped. I remember only being able to get an ounce into a milk baggie made for pumping that I had gotten from a sample pack. My mom also had a hand pump that we tried using. It was torture.. and comic relief for a good couple of minutes.

We soon (seemed like an eternity because of her cries. When she cried, I cried. Her screams broke my heart) made E a bottle with formula and within a few minutes she was full and back to normal. E was a mellow baby so seeing this side of her made me so sad.

For some reason, giving her formula broke my heart! I wanted to be able to feed my baby. I don’t know what changed in me but I never wanted to give her formula again. I wanted to give her my milk and I wanted to do anything I could so that she would be able to have it. I knew something needed to change and I needed help.

I learned that Breastfeeding your baby is not a selfish thing and not something to take lightly. Little did I know, the pain of feeding my child was actually making me stronger physically and mentally. I was becoming less selfish and more like a mother. Breastfeeding helped me realize very quickly that I would do ANYTHING for this baby. For my baby.

Those first few days were scary and rough and we somehow finally ended up getting a pump! A real, plug in pump! I never thought to get one and I guess it was because I didn’t plan to breastfeed.

I also don’t think anyone but my mom told me about pumping and she didn’t exactly know anything about it either.

If I could go back, I would of planned better. Or atleast researched. Or most of all.. I would’ve prayed about the whole situation. God taught me so much that week.

I wish I could remember all the details of the beginning of this breastfeeding journey but it was mostly filled with terror and tears for several reasons.

Once I got the pump I tried to use it every couple of hours, right before E would eat. I stopped trying to breastfeed her because she just didn’t seem to like it. She could never wait for the let down and would get SO angry which left me flustered and made my let down come much later.

My family helped me feed her from bottles of milk I would store and freeze. Though I was thankful for that help it made me sort of sad that she had so many people feeding her, oh the irony.

I also felt bad for her when she had to have colder milk since she would be screaming before we could warm it completely (she didn’t seem to mind) She loved it anyway she could have it.

Pumping was extremely time consuming, exhausting and difficult, especially on the days that it was just me and E. I always had to make sure and wake up before she did and pump more often than she ate and cleaning those pumps were heck. Along with pumping before she ate I also had to wake up to pump an extra time when I became too “full” and I didn’t have one of those bras that attached to the pump so I was holding onto them so tightly that sometimes my arms would turn purple. I didn’t want any milk to leak out.

I remember being extremely exhausted after pumping and getting super hungry. At this point I started to lose weight but it didn’t bother me too much because I was just concerned about E. During nightly pumping sessions I found that playing candy crush helped me stay awake but All I could focus on was eating a huge meal, which I never did.

If I didn’t eat or sleep enough, there was no milk. This happened 5 times. 5 TERRIBLE, AWFUL times. We gave E formula and she threw up 4 out of those 5 times. Watching a baby throw up like that was terrifying! And sad! I quickly realized spit up and throw up are two VERY different things. I also learned which foods E was sensitive to and I was totally fine with staying away from them.

Pre-pregnancy I wore an A cup bra, during pregnancy I wore a B and I quickly made it to a C once my milk came in. I was stuffed into my old bras and I needed a nursing one so I could pump more easily. Once I found the right bra I realized that I hated wasting so many nursing pads each day I decided to use cloth ones. I ended up not liking the cloth because they stuck to my chest and became hard once the milk dried.

As the weeks passed I read more and more about breastfeeding and I read that sometimes babies will latch on and breastfeed if you keep trying. I began to HATE pumping because of how much time it took me and how sore and raw it left my chest. Getting bottles ready, cleaning them, storing milk, making sure I had an ice bag wiith me and lots of milk when we went places, making sure I had enough milk, making sure it wasn’t expired yet.. waking up all hours of the night… All of those things were getting to be SO much for me. I knew I wanted to try and breastfeed again so everyday I tried until E would get too mad and I would give her a bottle.

One day, E decided to latch on and she stayed on! I was ecstatic. She nursed to sleep and that was that. I remember being so happy and proud of the both of us. Each day I counted, 1 day without a bottle.. 3 days.. 1 week.. 2 months..

That day was the last time E ever had a bottle. I believe she was about 2, almost 3 months old. We got into a groove and she started a schedule. I learned more about my body and I got the hang of breastfeeding. My body knew when it was time to feed E and everything began to get easier. All of my old thoughts and fears disappeared and I became completely amazed at God. Before E, I never realized that God made breasts for a reason. Growing up it was just something you didn’t speak of, something I was ashamed of. In middle school I wanted to wear sports bras to flatten my chest and I would cover myself with my arms almost constantly because I was so embarrassed of having breasts. I’ve always seen them as a nuisance and I guess a part of me hated them, I had no respect for them. I know that probably sounds weird but I just didn’t understand why God gave women these “things”

Now I see things in a completely different light and I hope to teach my children all that God has shown me. It’s crazy to think how much the devil affects your life until a light is shown. I am no longer in the dark with this part of my self and I never really even knew I was in the dark or that I could be in a bad place with something so normal and natural. Your body was given to you to take care of from God. It was made by God and it was made BEAUTIFUL.

My family was actually more supportive of breastfeeding than I imagined they would be. My dad especially, was more understanding than I realized. I know it had to be awkward for my sisters each time I fed E or had to pump in front of them but they were all so helpful and made me laugh when things seemed to be weird.

E is now 11 months old. When it is just the two of us she nurses almost constantly (back and forth on each side, over and over again) and when I pick her up she sticks her hand in my shirt and she gently holds onto my chest. E knows to pull down my shirt and often looks inside and starts smacking her lips. Her newest thing is to smash her face into me while blowing and she makes the sound we make when we blow on her tummy. When she was about 8 months or so, she would poke at me and giggle, it was so unexpected and made me laugh every time. Now she likes to poke at me and study my chest, it’s so neat to see how much she has grown and how much we have learned together. I stopped leaking from the opposite side by 6 months or so and I never had let down problems once I learned to be calm and relax. E did start to bite when her teeth came in but she quickly learned to control her mouth and now she only bites me when she’s finished as if to say “thank you” or when she’s being silly. The bites are always gentle and sometimes make me laugh because it shows her personality. Around 6 mo E also learned to keep her paci near her so when she finished nursing she would plop it right in. She still does this but it’s so flawless now and it makes me realize what a big girl she is! E also knows that her dad doesn’t produce milk but she makes us laugh by blowing on his chest and sniffing it. E will also stand and try to take off while nursing but most of the time she does really well and stays so relaxed.

I did end up losing all of my pregnancy weight. some days it bothers me and some days it doesn’t. I think it’s just another step in learning to love and care for my body. I’ve always been small and I need to accept that once and for all.

Feeding E in public doesn’t bother me at all anymore, I actually don’t think of anyone else but her during that time. She hates to be covered but I like to be modest. she doesn’t understand that because of her sweet innocence and pure heart but I find it funny when she peaks out like “what the heck mom?” Or when she pulls down my shirt ( or my sisters shirt ) in public.

Im so thankful and blessed that God gave me this experience with E. I’m also so thankful he changed my heart and my mind. What a wonderful God I serve

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2 thoughts on “Our breastfeeding journey

  1. As moms, all of our breastfeeding stories are so different! I dream of being so successful at breastfeeding and having such a wonderful result as you did. Sadly, it just isn’t in the cards for me. You and E are both very lucky! You are a great mommy!!

    Like

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