I thought breastfeeding was going to be easy. To be honest I didn’t give it much thought. To be really honest, it never even crossed my mind.
Then my daughter arrived. Hungry. Okay, no problem. Here you go. Here we go. Good cry, mouth is open. Perfect. Here it comes… No?
Congratulations. It was day one. How was she going to eat?
I wish someone told me when I was taking my hypnobirthing class that there’s no breathing exercise to induce a nice “latch.”
I wish when I was stressing out over which wall decal to choose for the nursery, someone would have mentioned I needed to figure out how my boob was going to transfer the milk into my child’s body—because I can’t squirt it in.
I wish someone told me I would be obsessing forever over how much she ate and how much milk I was producing.
(Oh, and by the way, your body won’t produce a single drop of milk for a couple days after delivery. Don’t worry, you’ll make little dribbles of colostrum that are more than enough nourishment for your newborn.)
I wish someone warned me how vulnerable I would feel needing my husband to help latch and unlatch, as I breathed through the tears.
(Actually, it was nice discovering him taking care of me, protecting my nipples from our little baby shark.)
I wish someone told me that I would look back on that initial pain and smile—that it would be the first thing we would figure out together.
Just because you have a set of breasts doesn’t mean you will know how to use them to feed your baby. It’s okay to ask for help.
I was terrified that my daughter wasn’t eating enough and gaining enough weight. I spoke and met with lactation consultants weekly. I literally would walk into their office, weigh my child, feed my child, and then weigh her again to learn how much milk she was able to transfer.
Those ladies got right in those milk makers and showed me what’s up. I remember being told it should be like my daughter was taking a big bite of a hamburger and putting her whole mouth over my areola. Well, that explained why each nipple was cracked… she was trying to suck the milk out like it was a straw.
Even with the inside info, it still took about a month for my daughter to latch like a champ and for us to get into our groove. Learning from the lactation experts, removing some of the pressure I put on myself, and practicing every few hours with my little teammate is what helped us find our rhythm.
Looking back, I wish I didn’t put so many expectations on myself. Instead of just being present with my baby, I would worry about why I wasn’t better at this, why my left boob seemed less full, or how many bags of breast milk I had stockpiled in the freezer. It became a mini obsession.
Breastfeeding is such a brief window, whether you do it for two weeks or two years. Embrace your journey because the next thing you know, the page will turn and eventually breastfeeding will be just a memory.
Looking back, I would tell myself it’s okay to feel a little (lot) lost, to not be good at this. I would say: You’re not alone. You are learning. In real time. No practice rounds. So please be kind to yourself.