So, you are having a baby and you’ve been told what the rest of us have been told: “Breast is best!” You believe them. We all do. We all did. I remember when I was 8.5 mos pregnant with my first and my husband and I signed up for a ‘Breastfeeding 101’ class at the hospital where I was to give birth. Turns out, it was more of a soft porn viewing party than a lesson in nursing and I left more grossed out than informed. Yes, I was grossed out. Sue me. Fast forward amonthhandahalf (pregnancy is 10 months afterall, is it not?) and I’d given birth to my beautiful baby girl. All was going well and life was grand, until the nurse came in and told me I had to start trying to breastfeed. I remember looking at her 6-ways sideways wondering how the F she expected me to know how to do that? She grabbed some gloves, then grabbed my impish newborn and smashed her face into my boobs. Nothing. No latching. No milk. I started to cry. Not only had I failed nature by having a c-section (emergency), I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed. Nurse Crazy assured me we’d try again in the morning and I nodded, defeated. The next morning, my mom came in to see me and looked me dead in the eye and said “I see your milk has come in!” I asked her how she knew and she tilted her head downwards. I looked down and for the first time in my life, I had massive boobs. It was time to try feeding again. Oh, but wait?! My baby wouldn’t latch. She was lazy and screaming. Meanwhile, those Dolly Parton’s I’d sprouted started pulsating, indicating an impending explosion if I didn’t handle them one way or another. Enter the breast pump. A machine that sounds like a cow dying a slow death. Womp, womp, womp, womp. And the cones. And the straps and tubes and shit. What the f*ck. Who invented that? I mean, sure, it gets the job done, but come on now. It’s a form of torture. Finally, my little one learned how to feed on the breast and we headed home. To reality. Without nurses or nurseries. But she could nurse! I even made a comment to my mom that it wasn’t a sexual experience at all. Weird? Yes. People had told me it was. It’s not. Here’s something no one talks about. The first time you take a shower with sore, raw nipples. Or when you are in the shower and your milk comes in and you spray everywhere. I have two older sisters. Neither of them warned me of these, but both nodded in amusement when I informed them of my experience. And the leaking. You hear another baby cry and BAM! milk is coming in and god forbid you have a white shirt on. Breast pads (for most) are a must. I even wore them when I worked out because even friction can cause the letdown. No one needs to leak at the gym. No one. I continued nursing my daughter, never on a schedule but more on an ‘as needed’ schedule until it eventually became a schedule for an entire 12 months. Weaning her was a cake walk. And when I was done, even though I was down to one feeding per day for a while, it felt like someone had removed a leash from around my neck and I found my freedom again. I missed the alone time with my daughter and that relaxing time when you nurse. But I felt good about my accomplishment and happy I’d stuck with it. So much so, that when my second daughter was born 2 years later (and 5.5 weeks early, without a suck reflex and had to use nipple shields, which I called boob sombreros), I did it again, for an entire year. Hers was a major struggle and she was more difficult, but my guilt (which btw is so overrated) kept me going. And before I knew it, it was time to wean her, too, but that one was a bit more difficult. I went cold turkey on her and ended up wearing two sports bras per day for two weeks to soften those suckers. Thankful I never had mastitis. As I look back reflecting, I can honestly say that breastfeeding was great for me and for my girls. But I never make anyone feel bad if they can’t, won’t or don’t want to do it. We are all trying to survive our day to day, why let someone’s judgment cloud our choices? I have friends who are grossed out by breastfeeding. Shoot, I may have been once upon a time. But I did it and I hope to do it again. On a final note, not everyone loses their pregnancy weight while nursing. I know I didn’t until I was done. This phenomenon is reserved for the lucky
-Lansinoh lanolin cream (fine to use even when a baby is suckling, use also before a shower in the beginning!)
-Boppy or My Breast Friend (your arm will thank you!)
-Breast pads (a boob maxi pad, if you will.)
-Nursing tanks (my fave are at Target, hands down.)
-A pump – both an electric and for quick, a hand pump. You can rent pumps from the hospital if you don’t want to buy one. Also, check out all of the bottle cleaning bags, wipes, etc, to keep in your pump bag.
-A rec for a good lactation consultant (one not from the hospital, ask a friend or Google for one in your area.)
-If you are scheduler, have a notebook to write down feeding times (I didn’t.)
-Your phone, ipad or a book – some babies take longer to feed and it’s quiet time, so why not?
-Nipple shields (when necessary – there are diff sizes, make sure it fits properly.)
So, that’s what I’ve got. Give it a go. If it works for you, great! If it doesn’t, that’s great, too! No matter what, the kids grow up and are happy and healthy. There’s research on both sides of the argument. I say, as I often do in any situation that involves mothering, do what works for you. And Godspeed.