That’s an eye catching title! But really, these past few months as a mother have broken down so many privacy barriers. You have no idea! Talking about my boobs is just a non-issue and plenty of people have seen them too, which is a little weird to type out… But you get the point!
Before Jack was born breastfeeding was this big mysterious thing that I didn’t read up on at all. It was like checking a box on a questionnaire without knowing what it truly meant.
Would you like to give your baby a nutritious meal every two hours that will help him grow and give him immunities to all of the illnesses you’ve contracted? Check! Sounds like an awesome plan.
But boy is it harder than it looks.
Jack wasn’t an expert latcher so the first few weeks were exhausting and difficult. There was crying, some bleeding nipples, and a lot of googling. Not to mention the vulnerability of it all. Here there was this beautiful new life that we created, and it needed to suck on my body to stay alive? Isn’t that called vampirism? I wasn’t prepared for the act of breastfeeding as a whole and it was an emotional rollercoaster, even if it was also a positive bonding experience.
After some practice and the use of a nipple guard for a short time, Jack got the picture and we were in business. I wish I had some miracle advice to share on how it all worked out, but eventually, both Jack and myself just learned how to mesh together properly with patience and hand-holding. There were plenty of times when I felt like giving up, but thankfully I had a great support system that encouraged me. I was told to keep trying but not to worry if it didn’t work out because we have bottles ready to go just in case. Eventually, everything did run its course and Jack figured out what to do.
But then my maternity leave from work was running out and I had to come up with another plan… So I told myself, I’ll just pump! As if it were the easiest thing in the world to feed your baby and then pump afterward. Surprise, I was wrong. After the life is sucked out of you, do you want to do it again with a machine? Nope.
Quickly I came to realize that there was no way for me to stay sane while also breastfeeding and pumping, so I stuck to breastfeeding and didn’t start pumping again until I returned to work.
Then once I started up at my job again, pumping in the workplace made me feel very uncomfortable. There wasn’t an ideal pumping area that was completely private, and the makeshift situation we came up with made me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Did I mention my dog’s hair broke multiple pumping machines? So I stopped pumping cold turkey and Jack had formula while I was gone and I breastfeed him when I got home and overnight.
But without pumping at work, my supply started to dip and soon I had to give him a bottle after breastfeeding as my body thought it was time to stop producing milk, given it’s lack of use. Are you noticing a pattern here? I think I’ve got it all together and then I realize I don’t at all. I felt the end was near on my breastfeeding journey after only four months and that made me sad, as my goal was always to try for a year.
A few weeks later I took an opportunity at a larger company and I picked up pumping again. My milk supply bounced back just in time (it’s amazing how that supply and demand thing works) and now I’m able to pump comfortably twice a day in a room designated for that use. We even have a schedule! I felt supported to continue my breastfeeding journey.
So now Jack gets all three, he gets one or two bottles a day of my pumped breast milk while I’m away, milk “fresh from the source” after work and on weekends, then is supplemented with formula for all scenarios in between. And you know what? I’m totally cool with that.
Parenting has taught me a lot about flexibility and the beauty of sacrifice. I mean that in a good way, not as dreary as it sounds. I sacrifice my time, energy, and body on the daily for this child so that I can provide financially and physically to him. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s worth my attention. I’m honored to go-with-the-flow and help little Jack, however and whenever I can.
So, here are a few little practical tips:
- You need some sort of nipple cream, at least in the beginning. I used Honest’s Healing Balm often and Lanolin when I could afford it.
- If you pump, you absolutely need a pumping bra. It’s impossible without one. Here’s the one I use and highly recommend.
- Not everyone recommends them, but nipple guards helped me gain confidence without cringing every time the baby approached my nipples.
- Drink water constantly. Breastfeeding takes a lot out of you, including your water.
But overall, just be willing to accept your journey. No one can predict how breastfeeding will work for you, so just do what you can with what situation you’ve been given. I’m glad I gave everything a shot and now have a happy and healthy boy. We’ll see what happens from here.