Several years ago, pre-baby, pre-relationship, I had a completely different outlook on breastfeeding. I didn't see a point. I didn't want to. I didn't want some little baby "ruining" my beloved boobs. I was the cleavage queen. I looked down on someone I saw still breastfeeding her baby at one year old!
Then I got pregnant. Everything changed and breastfeeding became a non-issue. I wanted it. It was exciting and nerve-racking. A lot of time was spent wondering if I could do it, if it would be hard, what would happen. I decided to have a home birth and cloth diaper too. All of a sudden this selfish, slightly shallow girl turned into a crunchified woman. It was definitely strange and probably eye-opening for those around me who know me so well. (Even now I'm pretty much only "crunchy" when it comes to the baby... small, gradual changes!)
My breastfeeding experience started directly after Jilly was born. I reached down and pulled her into my arms and held her. None of the blood or pain or anything else mattered. She was mine and I was in love, there was nothing else other than that. Shortly afterward we tried latching. It didn't work. We didn't try very long and I very much wish now that we had worked harder at it that first time. I know she had a strong sucking reflex since she was born sucking on her hand and took my finger her first minute to soothe.
We tried for 2 days with nothing. I was crying and upset and worried I was hurting my baby. She wasn't even crying wanting anything but to suck. No matter what people said about babies not needing much in the first few days, it didn't matter. We finally called the lactation consultant and she ok'd us to give Jilly 10-20mls of formula just to make sure she didn't get dehydrated. We did and it broke my heart. I felt like there was something wrong with me.
The next day we went to the pediatrician for the first time and the nurse practitioner spent over an hour with us to help get her latched. (It turns out I have flat nipples.) She still had a lot of trouble getting on and staying on. It took 3 people, a syringe, and a boppy to get it to happen. Still she fed for 20 minutes total, 10 on each side. Then we got home and couldn't do it. We went back to the pediatrician again. More help, she fed there. Back home, we still couldn't do it on our own.
Finally we resorted to a nipple shield. I didn't want to make the decision since I felt like it was a cop out and I was upset and unhappy that we were having so much trouble. Kodiak made the decision for me and ran out and got a nipple shield.
Best. Decision. Ever.
She latched. She fed. I didn't care that there was something plastic between us. She was feeding!
For the next six weeks we used the nipple shield religiously and Kodiak started to worry that she was getting dependent on it. To be honest, I didn't particularly care as long as my baby was getting what she needed. With him insisting, I made an appointment with the lactation consultant to get help weaning her off the shield. We spent over and hour there and made progress but not much. The most important, relevant things I heard were this:
- Don't make breastfeeding a battle
- She may not be ready
- All babies latch
I took those little pieces of wisdom home and continued feeding her. We would try once a day or once every other day to get her to latch without the shield but she had a lot of trouble. I wasn't going to push it.
Then, as if by magic, about a week ago, I was preparing to feed her and she was in my lap with my breast out in front of her face. I turned to Kodiak to ask for a burp cloth and she just latched. On her own. She grabbed on. I was shocked. She went from needing help and soothing to even latch let alone make it through a whole feeding to latching on her own and feeding for a whole session with no issues. My little girl turned it around all on her own.
Now we aren't fully off the shield yet. When she is worked up too much or if she is too sleepy we still use it, but for the most part she just latches without any issue. I don't regret any part of that journey. I wish I had reminded myself as I went through it that "this too will pass" and "there are no perfect moms".
No one ever said breastfeeding was easy, just natural. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, please don't give up. Get help. It may be frustrating, it may be upsetting, depressing, painful, but someone out there has had the same problem. Google, scout forums, look for your local La Leche League chapter. That's how I found this blog hop and it has definitely helped me
♥ Rissa (and Jilly Bean)