Just when you think you’re a breastfeeding expert? You, uh, might be totally freaking ABSOLUTELY wrong.
As you may or may not know, I breastfed our son, D, for 13 months. One year had been my goal, and when I reached it, I used the next month to gradually wind down — reducing feedings here and there — until we were officially done at the 13-month mark.
Our breastfeeding experience was a really positive one, but it had a rough start. D was a voracious eater from birth, and nursed constantly during our three-day hospital stay. And I do mean CONSTANTLY.
He had a great latch, but he was so … agressive! … that my poor nipples were scabbed and painful from his ravaging.
The nurses pitied me, but couldn’t do anything.
My baby was a baracuda.
After the first couple of weeks, my nips healed and breastfeeding got SO much better. It didn’t hurt, it was super-easy, yadda yadda. Oh, and did I mention how I adored my big, beautiful boobs? ADORED.
As I neared the end of my pregnancy with our little girl, C, I began to think about breastfeeding a lot. Would it be easier for me this time, since I knew what I was doing? Would she be a total shark like her big brother? Would my poor nips be torn apart again? Oh, please no. Not that.
I was very surprised that my experience nursing C has been COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than it was with my son, D. Different kids = different personalities and nursing styles, I guess, Um, should have seen that coming.
C was a little peanut compared to her brother — she was 7 lbs. 12 oz. at birth, and D was 8 lbs. 8 oz. Being a smaller baby, she also had a smaller mouth. Smaller mouths = OW for the breastfeeding mama. Seriously. OW.
C had a crappy latch, and had trouble getting her mouth open all the way. It was just this teeny tiny little mouth that barely seemed big enough to fit a finger inside.
But I was determined! I buzzed the nurses constantly and asked them to come help me latch. They tried their best, and some were able to help, and some weren’t. They all agreed she didn’t have a good latch, and tried different suggestions. I tried various positions. I took all of their advice until I figured out what worked.
Oh, and did I mention it was FRUSTRATING AS HELL?
Because it was.
I was exhausted, sore from my C-section, hormonal, emotional about missing my sweet boy (who was staying with my mom and sister while we were in the hospital). I just wanted breastfeeding to WORK, but it was SO HARD OMG *cry cry cry*
The only positive thing was that my milk started to come in within 48 hours (sort of a milk/colostrum mix situation). It took 72 hours with my first baby, so I was thrilled to have it earlier, since it made everything a bit easier. The nurses told me that because I’d nursed my son for 13 months, my body “remembered” and it came in earlier. Sweet!
But oh, the latching.
Latching continued to be a bitch.
I kept at it, and eventually it started to get better. The morning we left the hospital, I was feeling pretty good about it. I had to work HARD to get her on properly — careful positioning, squeezing, finger placements, angles, etc.
The first few days at home, I had horrible moments of frustration when it JUST. WOULD. NOT. WORK. But again, it continued to get better, very slowly.
Now baby C is 2 1/2 weeks old, and doing much, much better with the latching. It’s still a struggle to get her mouth open wide enough, but I’m getting more skilled at it. When her latch is bad, I break it and start over again. No bad habits for you, baby girl!
One of my friends had her second baby girl on Friday, and Best Friend is having her first baby girl in a couple of weeks — so exciting! — so I hope this post helps them. I told both of them already to just be prepared for it to be hard at first, but know that it gets SO MUCH BETTER after a week or so.
It’s actually the same thing I blogged about almost two years ago, after having my son. See?
If I had to sum up breastfeeding to a mommy-to-be, I’d say HOLY HELL, AT FIRST IT’S PAINFUL/DIFFICULT/NO SLEEP/AUGHHH but then WAIT, HANG IN THERE AND IT GETS SO MUCH BETTER! JUST SOLDIER IT OUT FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYS!
So hang in there, ladies! It does get better — I promise!
You're so right about it being worth it in the end. Great job, Mama!