I am not going to lie; I was 100% against formula, bottles and pacifiers while I was pregnant with my daughter. I decided ‘breast was best’ and was not taking NO for an answer. I actually had a small distaste, due to uneducated assumptions on my part, for those that would not breastfeed. If you follow our blog, you already know that after a traumatic cesarean section my daughter, Bean, ended up in the NICU, on formula because I could not get her to latch for the first three weeks of her life.
So let’s start from there. She latched! I thought my long nights of pumping and bottle feeding were over! Well, they were, but now my daughter was eating every two hours, around the clock and it took her about 20 minutes each side….so lets add that up for fun; 12:00am feed daughter till 12:40 and sleep 1 hour and 20 minutes before I had to wake and do it all over again. It was almost worse then pumping because my husband couldn’t help this time!
A side note, and yes I am very good at tangents. For the ladies who have had babies and had their milk come in…..H-E-L-L-O? I went from an A cup to a D cup overnight?!?!?!? There were times I found myself trying to tuck the extra skin on my stomach, into my pants just to see what my body would look like with a D cup….and without the Buddha belly. Sorry – I digress.
Back to breastfeeding.
What shocked me most about breastfeeding, was how unnatural the whole process was for me. I mean, just because Bean latched the first time, we actually had to practice the ‘lift & tuck’ technique every time she fed. Sometimes it would take me 10 minutes to get her on a good latch before she ever started feeding! This made for a frustrated little baby as well as a mother. But I learned something amongst all the struggling; we were learning about more then just a good latch, but how to trust one another and about one another’s needs. The entire week, after that first latch was exhausting and long, but eventually, with many around-the-clock feedings we mastered the technique and she needed almost no help to latch and feed successfully.
Unfortunately, with a good latch, comes some really amazing pain. Yeh, I said it. The hidden secrets about breastfeeding that no one tells you and then you are way to busy to think about. PAIN! Not just the pain of a stubbed toe, but P-A-I-N like you have never felt before on a part of your body that has NEVER seen this much action. Seriously! I remember one time I sat into a huge comfy recliner assuming this feeding would be pain free and when she latched I actually had to catch my daughter in mid air because when my body felt that first suck I threw her. No joke. (she was fine – and only upset due to hunger).
Why does no one tell you about this pain? Do you think people are afraid it will discourage you from nursing? (Likely actually). I asked my mother one time about whether or not she went through such pain and she snubbed it off with a casual ‘oh, I don’t remember.’ WHAT?!?!?!? My daughter is now 3 years old and I have a very vivid memory of the pain.
Like I am sure many mothers have, in their silent suffering, developed a coping technique that I link to call “sour puss.” It is when you take a very deep breath in, just before your child latches, and when you get the first suck you squeeze. No, not your child, but everything else you have control over; your eyes closed, your lips pursed, your fingers and finger nails into the palm of your hands, your toes into the floor and your rear end cheeks so tight you could hold a quarter. Now count to 10……and it is over. The pain is short but fierce.
Thank God I am Irish, Scottish and Stubborn or I never would have been as successful as I was. We developed a wonderful bond which we still thrive off of today. I understood and now still understand my daughter in a way no one else ever could or would. I know her fears, what makes her anxious and I know how to calm her in the midst of a fit. It may not have been the easy route to take, looking back, but breastfeeding my child was the only natural thing about her entire arrival into my world!
I mean seriously – look at that sweet little face.