After I had been home for about a week after giving birth to my baby girl, I commented to my mom who was staying with us to help out for a couple weeks, “Everything that I read made breastfeeding sound like it’s so difficult!!” She responded that when things are going well, what’s there to say? I just want to put my experience so far out there – not to brag, but to show that while there may be problems or difficulties, breastfeeding is very simple and natural. You might have to push through some pain or overcome certain obstacles, but breasts were made to nourish babies!
After a very difficult birth, baby Audrey was placed on my chest covered in blood and goo, and she immediately shit meconium all over me. I was flat on my back with my feet up in stirrups while the doctor stitched me up so I couldn’t even really see the baby on my chest, but Luke assured me that she was beautiful, awake, and aware! After a short rest, my midwife Judy moved the little baby on to my breast and helped her latch for the very first time! My memory is pretty fuzzy after all the intensity of childbirth so fast-forward to my recovery room.
We stayed in the recovery room at Morristown Memorial (lucky #39!) for two days, and Audrey spent much of her time with me in bed. We slept together, and she nursed heartily on colostrum for about a half hour at a time, every couple hours. Nurses came in and made sure everything was going well, and one told me that what I was doing was a perfect example of “laid-back breastfeeding.” Nursing this way uses gravity in your favor to minimize strain and keep both mother and baby comfortable. I think I started nursing this way just because I could barely move in the bed! Later a lactation consultant came by to give me her wisdom. Audrey had no trouble latching and eating, but I did learn that with the position she was in, she was actually pulling on my nipple causing some discomfort. I just moved her up a bit and the problem was solved!
There was also the problem of nipple pain. When Audrey latched, she latched HARD… The nurses called her “Barracuda Baby!” My nipples were also dry and had little scabs, so I was rubbing them with lanolin and breast milk between feedings. They hurt and stuck to my clothes for at least the first week, and whenever Audrey latched I had to take deep calming breaths for a good ten seconds before the initial pain eased up.
My milk came in after a couple days, around the time that we came home from the hospital. When we got back I remembered the LilyPadz I had purchased, which are silicone nursing pads. Unlike a bra or cloth nursing pads, they didn’t stick to my nipples and actually held moisture in! I really recommend these for the early days when your nipples are getting in shape!
When my milk came in, Audrey started nursing for much shorter periods of time but more often, presumably because of the size of her tiny tummy. I guess she got plenty to eat though, because she is gaining a good amount of weight and inches! She is now pretty efficient at eating and gets a lot from her short feeding sessions. The funny thing is she could practically feed without even sucking once the milk drops…
If I hear her milk cry, or sometimes even out of the blue, my boobs will just start tingling and if I don’t have nursing pads in, I know I’m getting wet and soon enough have milk running down my shirt. It just comes out! Then when I am nursing on one side, milk also shoots out the other boob. And if Audrey detaches for a minute, milk will literally spray her all over the face! And if she sleeps for a long time and I don’t pump, my breasts get really full and hard. At night I keep a washcloth by the bed to both catch the milk leaking from my “extra” boob, and to wipe up all the overflow from Audrey’s side that ends up dripping all over me and the bed!
Now that I am mostly recovered from the birth, we’ve been out of the house and I have successfully nursed Audrey in public! I have this Boppy nursing cover that I absolutely love – it’s big enough to cover up everything, and it has a little wire around the neck line that props it out a little bit so you can glance down and check on your baby, or easily see while you adjust her. I am so lucky that everyone in my life has been so supportive of breastfeeding… I’ve heard of people who got judged for it, but so far, I have not received any judgment. If anything, there has been more curiosity and family/friends watching her nurse (which can be a little awkward when she breaks her latch, but whatever haha…) and people ignoring it all together which is fine with me!
It just took a couple weeks for breastfeeding to become painless and the beautiful bonding experience you see in photos. When Audrey latches to my breast, I feel momentarily overcome by emotions and hormones, and I just want to squeeze her and love her and protect her. It is really incredible! In the last couple weeks she has really started making eye contact, so on top of all that, as she is suckling on me she will be looking at my face and in my eye, and I really feel like my little baby is telling me that she loves me. It is such an amazing feeling!!!
There are so many tangents I could take from here but I’ll leave them for another post, including a Link Love dedicated to breastfeeding articles!