Not very far into my pregnancy, I decided to breastfeed. I’d read about the endless benefits, and so many encouraged me to at least give it a try. As my tummy grew, so did my knowledge about breastfeeding. I’d read about latches, and tongue ties, cluster feeding and growth spurts. All I needed was a baby.
And then I learned that you can read all you want, it’s the actual ‘doing’ that’s tough. The second they handed me this floppy, hungry newborn, all that I read went out the window. Now it was time to really learn.
1. Newborns don’t help. Like, at all.
I’ve seen those amazing videos of the babies, fresh out of the womb, crawling to their mother’s breast. It truly is an incredible act of nature, one that’s instinctual for both mom and baby.
I remember the first time I tried to feed little A. He was so squishy and warm and smelled so new. I curled my arm underneath his head, and grasped my breast in the other hand. It was a struggle to even get it up to his mouth, with his flopping head and my unsteady hands, but when I finally did, he didn’t open his mouth. You’re hungry, don’t you know I’m trying to feed you? I thought to myself. I pulled away, and he immediately began rooting, searching for food.
When I did finally get a successful latch, he’d fall asleep within seconds making for a very frustrated mommy.
2. The nose trick
In the very early days of nursing little A, I struggled in getting him to open his mouth. He would root, and fuss, and cry with milk literally inches from his mouth. When I would try to get him to latch, he would pull away, resulting in even more frustration.
One trick that really helped us get through was one a nurse told me in one of my first few nursing sessions. Run your nipple down his nose. She said. I tried, and he immediately opened wide. Sometimes it would take a few tries, but I really did save a lot of unneeded confusion.
3. The football hold
One of my biggest fears in the first few weeks and months of breastfeeding was that I was going to smother my son with my breasts. His head was just so small.
This fear, on top of my complete inexperience, resulted in a really awkward first few nursing sessions. Any latch that I got was broken within seconds, and I just couldn’t get my arms to hold him properly. It was difficult to say in the least.
And then the lactation consultant gently guided me on the football hold. Life. Saver.
I could only nurse using the football hold for the first 3 months or so, otherwise his latch was just awful. I was so happy and relieved when I realized a simple change in position could save so much heartache.
4. It hurts
It just does.
After all, a part of your body is getting use to constantly being sucked and tugged on, it takes a little getting used to. The first couple of days or weeks can be rough. Not only are your nipple adjusting, but your milk is coming in and you’re constantly trying to ward of engorgement.
In order to battle this pain, moisturizing is so important!
5. How sleepy they are
Have I mentioned how difficult it was to keep little A awake to nurse in the first few weeks? He was such a sleepy little guy when it came to nursing, it would put him out in an instant.
In order to counteract that, he always nursed in just a diaper. This prevented him from getting too warm and snuggly, and granted me access to tickle his little feet and poke his ribs.
Breastfeeding, though natural and instinctual, also comes with a learning curve for both mom and baby. But, if you stick with it, it does get easier! The days of a newborn are tough, and sometimes breastfeeding seems to only make them tougher. But, you are doing the best thing for your baby. Hang in there, momma!
Until next time,