My best friend gave birth to her first baby this past Sunday (what a wonderful Happy Mother’s Day gift) and our recent conversations brought back a lot of memories of my first couple of weeks as a first time breastfeeding mom. Last night I decided I would share with you my breastfeeding journey; the hard times, the good times, and some tips and things I have picked up along the way.
You see out of my two girls I only breastfed one. Why? Well a lot contributed to not breastfeeding Zoey, for starters I was only twenty years old and a single mom. I did not have the support to breastfeed nor was I educated on its benefits. Zoey was also born via c-section and the first couple of days I was full of medication to help with the pain. I spent the majority of my hospital stay drowsy if memory serves correct. Do I regret the decision? Zoey grew up healthy and as happy as can be so I did not feel like I failed her in any way. What I did feel was more like I had failed myself. The more I saw everyone around me breastfeeding because “breast is best”, the more I felt like a failure. It was something that lingered in the back of my head until the day Lia was born. When we found out we were expecting Lia I knew I had to breastfeed her-for myself, to be able to prove to myself that I could do it.
It has definitely been full of struggles. There were days I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore. It felt like for the first two months all I did was nurse her. The most difficult thing for me was to get used to not being able to take off easily because of needing to feed her. I was bound to her 24/7 and that was breaking me down. About three weeks in Lia sort of took a bite out of my left breast and left me with an open wound-yes an OPEN WOUND! Saying it hurt is an understatement! I would cry every single time I had to nurse her on the left. I went to the doctor three different times and each time I got told I had to let it heal on its own. I found that rubbing lanolin on it kept the wound moist and prevented its healing process so I stopped. After 6 weeks it healed and I was back to business as usual. I also developed mastitis within the first month. Basically, it was a painful first month. But no matter how much it hurt and how much I wanted to stop I kept going.
With each month it got easier and her feedings spread further apart leaving me with more time to do other things and feel like I could do more than just feed her all day. It was mentally and physically exhausting, but I got such joy out of watching her grow each month and knowing my body had made that happen. With time I learned a couple of skills along the way such as learning to nurse Lia in our ergo & boba wrap which is pretty cool leaving my hands free to go about. I learned to take breaks for myself. Finding even 15 minutes of time to myself gave me time to breath and clear my mind. It can feel like you loose yourself at times. I know it did and some times still does at times. Before I knew it I had been nursing her for 6 months and was half way to my goal of 1 year. The days of pain and crying were long behind. Now we are close to 8 months into our breastfeeding journey and love to share my experiences and lend a hand and support to my friends and family who are starting their journey.
Here are a 5 things I did to prepare myself:
1.I got educated on the topic:
I took a breastfeeding class at my local hospital, read articles, browsed over the La Leche League & Kelly Mom websites endless times
2.I spoke to friends and family who had breastfed:
I joined a few groups on Facebook meant for Mamma Bears. I highly recommend these two groups: Expressions! Lactation services and Mama’s Support & Chat Forum.
3.I researched products:
My baby registry included all of the products I had read would be needed and that would help me with my journey. I shared a few of my favorite here.
4.I got my partner on board:
I knew that in order for myself not to give up this time I needed someone who could tell me not to. I needed him to support my decision to breastfeed and that would cheer me on and keep pushing me. He was up every feeding telling me I could do it. Every time I cried or said I didn’t want to he told me not to give up.
5.I believed in myself:
I needed to believe that I could do it! After some time I felt prepared and read to embark on my journey
The most important thing I learned is that you need to be happy with whatever your decision is and to do what is right for YOU and YOUR BABY. My first time as a mom formula is what worked best for us. This time around it was breastfeeding. Either way my girls were fed and happy and both continue to thrive! Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for your choice- remember you are doing wonderful Mamma! Happy Mamma = Happy Baby!