This article is about breastfeeding, the joys, the difficulties and the wonders of it. First and foremost, it should be understood that breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally, but it can be done.
When I had my first child, I truly thought that it would all come naturally. I had seen several videos and TV programs that made the art of breastfeeding look so easy. You bring your child to your breast and they latch on, 1-2-3. I had no idea there were mothers who hadn’t had it so easy when it came to breastfeeding, so my idea of what it would be like when my first child was born was fairly “wonderful.”
What I didn’t know caused eight weeks of heartache and stress both to my newborn and myself. I was and am still of the school of thought where I would prefer breastfeeding 100% over formula feeding. “Breast is best” is what they say, isn’t it? So, after my son was born, as soon as I had the chance, I brought him to my breast, but he just didn’t care for what I had to offer, or so I thought at the time. The truth was that he just didn’t know how to feed from the breast and I didn’t know how to teach him.
First, he wouldn’t latch on at all and then when he would latch on, it was painful because he wasn’t latched on properly. Boy was I in for a lot of stress. I say to myself now, why didn’t I ask for help? Why did I put my son and myself through all of that? Well I did eventually ask for help, but by then I had figured most of how to breastfeed out on my own.
It took eight weeks for my little sweetheart and I to get the point that we didn’t have to fight each other. It took a lot of patience, hard work and persistence to get it right, but we finally understood each other. I learned that I had to hold him that certain way that he would like (you will know what way that is with your newborn) and then I actually had to physically hold my breast to his mouth and make sure he had most of the areola covered when he suckled. By doing this, it would not hurt me and he would stimulate the breast so the milk would come more freely.
What I didn’t know was that the more he ate, the more I would produce. I also learned that if I was feeling a little tight (meaning my breast were full of milk) that I hadn’t fed him on time and therefore, nature was working, but I wasn’t hearing its call. What I had to do in that situation was put a hot towel on my breast to bring down the milk. I would also have to express some of the milk so that the area around the nipple would be easier for my baby to get into his mouth. Sometimes it was easier to just take a quick hot shower which would loosen the milk. I would then massage the breast to bring down and express the milk right into the shower, not too much, just enough to soften the breast.
After this I would immediately feed him and all would be well with the world again. After eight weeks of persisting, I was rewarded with a happy baby and an even happier me. My son breastfed until he was a year and a half. That was when I got pregnant again and my body was having a reaction to being pregnant and breastfeeding at the same time. But that’s for another article.
I still believe that breastfeeding is best and am still breastfeeding my second child who is now almost 20 months old. If you find are finding it difficult to breastfeed, but you don’t want to give up, take heart! It can be done. I did it and you can too. Just be patient; make the feeding times as stress free as possible and find what works for you. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask, whether it be the obstetrician, your mother, anyone. Just don’t do it alone like I did. Trust me, you will be happier you asked!