Thursday, September 15, 2016

What They Don't Tell You: Breast Feeding

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Being a mom is hard. 
I absolutely love it with all my heart.  My baby completely lights up my life.  Every time I see her little face and her little feet and I hear her cry out when she's hungry I feel overwhelmed with emotion and happiness.
Before I was a mom myself, I learned a whole lot about motherhood from other mothers.  From mothers on the internet, from my own mom, from my Facebook group of moms, and from all the other moms in my life.  It was very helpful and when my baby came I felt prepared to be a mom. 

The one thing I was not prepared for at all was breastfeeding.  I knew that I wanted to do it, but I had no idea what kind of dedication it could require.  I think that for some people, it's completely natural.  Their baby latches on and eats like a champion.  In fact, maybe that's the norm.  But for me, breastfeeding has been the biggest challenge of motherhood.  

The Latch
I don't need to go into detail, but my little Clara had an extremely difficult time latching.  In the hospital I wanted to just burst into tears because I was having so much trouble just feeding my baby. I felt like a failure and I'd only just became a mother.  I felt guilty because feeding my baby should be natural, right?  Once we realized she just wasn't going to latch like she was suppose to, I got a Medela Nipple Shield.  That was a complete game changer, but still a challenge. 

The Pain
I swear no one tells you about these things before you have a baby.  They don't tell you that having a baby at your breast sort of feels like fire instead of a baby.  I recommend Palmers Nursing Butter to relieve the pain.  *Edit:  I'm not 2 months into my breast feeding journey and I have virtually no pain with feeding!*

The Leaking 
Have you ever woken up on the couch in a little puddle of milk? I use Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads and also LilyPadz Reusable Nursing Pads.  They do a pretty good job of preventing leakage serious embarrassment throughout the day. But sometimes your forget.  I drove all the way to work and realized I din't have any pads in.  I had to go to target first so that I could make it through the day.

The Pumping 
There's a science to pumping.  Which pump to use, ( I use Ameda Purely Yours) when to pump, how to increase supply, when to freeze your milk, how long the milk can stay out, where to store it in the freezer, manual pump or electric.  Waking up in the middle of the night to pump because I can't sleep.  
The Weight Gain
People say that breast feeding helps you lose weight.  Nope.  It does burn a ton of calories and it does help your uterus contract and get smaller, but it doesn't cause weight loss.  I've almost doubled my caloric intake, and I spend a good portion of my day just...sitting.  Nursing.

The Guilt
There are a lot of people out there who want to tell you and me and every momma out there how they should feed their child.  They make you feel like you're wrong if you don't do what's most natural and what's "best" for your baby.  And I feel their pressure every day. I work so hard to do what's best for me and for my child.  But it just feels like...guilt. 

For me, breastfeeding has truly been difficult.  It's still difficult.  I have a lower supply, I don't have a lot of time to pump at work, and Clara still requires a nipple shield for a easy and successful latch.  We supplement.  We cry.  We nurse. And we cry some more. 

What they don't tell you, is that your breastfeeding journey is not the same as your sister's or cousin's or bestfriend's sister's aunt.  Don't compare yourself.  Keep your chin up. Keep on nursing.  



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