Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Can Be Complicated

January 12, 2017
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We’ve all seen the photographs; mother and child locked in tender embrace, one nurturing the other from her own body. There’s nothing more magical or more natural. During my pregnancy, I would often gaze upon such scenes in happy anticipation. One day it would be my turn to have this moment with my own little one.

I figured it would be simple enough, because all the prenatal information I had digested seemed to reinforce this sentiment. Skin-to-skin, cradle (or football, cross cradle, side-lying) latch, and commence adorable, sigh-worthy bonding experience.  

Therefore, when the moment finally arrived, I held my lovely daughter in my arms, cued the sentimental theme music, and then… all hell broke loose; she wanted nothing to do with it!

The struggle continued, so I sought professional help. One lactation specialist told me that somewhere deep down I really didn’t want to breastfeed or it would have worked by now. In response I morphed into a maleficent dragon and incinerated her.  Not really, though my wounded heart wished irrationally that I could have. To be fair, it was her first week on the job, and she was feeling frustrated, as was I.

Here are a few things I learned from my odyssey:

  1. I’d Confused the Highlight Reel with Reality: After talking to lactation specialists and several other moms, I learned that breastfeeding issues are quite common in the beginning. It became clear that behind many (not every) of those adorable photos, are tries and failures, tears, chapped nipples and a list of other distressing experiences.
  2. Sometimes it’s Okay to Have a Plan B: In my mind, breastfeeding exclusively was the only worthy feeding option. To do any different would be “less-than”. Following this deluded belief, I had no backup plan. It wasn’t till one desperate night, with a wailing baby and a supportive husband nearing his wit’s end, that I was forced to make a mad dash for a breast pump and some formula. The time had come to let go and seek other options.  
  3. Success Can Look Different: My plan to breastfeed exclusively didn’t come to pass. Instead I pumped and supplemented with formula. Still, my daughter is healthy, a great eater, active, and growing like a brilliant little weed. It’s not how I planned, but all things considered, I’d still call the outcome a win.
  4. You Can Try Again: Just because things turned out the way they did with one baby, doesn’t mean that’s how it’ll always be. Should I someday be blessed with another little one, I’ll be more prepared and I will most certainly try exclusive breastfeeding again.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Aasia January 13, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Wow…to this day I still tear up thinking or talking about my breastfeeding experince or lack there of . I was shamed by people for not breastfeeding,I cried numerous nights, I paid large amounts of money for help, I took medication and pumped to the point if not even being able to leave the house and adding to the lack of sleep I was already getting.
    With #2 I again didn’t produce enough milk and was told my nipples were too small (wtf) .
    I can related to the disspointmentire. ..I didn’t feel like a failure however I was super pissed off at having big boobs that were always uncomfortable for nothing ! Also, I realized that I couldnt look outwardly for support because I now know that I that my babies are happy and healthy and that’s what matters most. Having my husband being able to bottle feed was super helpful but inside I still wanted nothing more than that experience of closeness.

    Thanks for writing an awesome and very relatable post; )

  • Nneka Gerstle
    Reply Nneka Gerstle February 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Aasia, (fabulous name by the way), I’m glad you found the post relatable. Thanks for sharing your own experience 🙂

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