It’s the end of August which means National Breastfeeding Awareness Month is coming to an end. To wrap up the month I wanted to get a little personal and share my story with you.
At the bottom I have some tips and things I wish I had known to share with you!
When I was pregnant with my son I always envisioned breastfeeding as being this beautiful, natural thing that should just come easy. I was adopted so my mom didn’t breastfeed and my mother in law didn’t either. After talking to my grandma she shared with me that she got the flu when my mom was young and she stopped breastfeeding as well (although it is perfectly ok to breastfeed while you are sick...they just didn’t know that back then).
So as you can see, the women in my life didn’t have much to tell me about what to expect in terms of breastfeeding. I just went by all these beautiful pictures on websites, facebook and instagram that made breastfeeding look so easy and natural. I was beyond excited for that special bonding time with my son once he arrived.
Well my due date, May 21st 2017, came around and my son decided to stay put. He finally showed up on May 31st (after a very miserable 10 days) and it was go time! I was ready to breastfeed my baby! Well….let me tell you what it was really like. To sum it up, I told my husband that I wanted to go through labor again instead of breastfeed. My nipples were cracked and even bled at times. It hurt to breastfeed and my son wanted to nurse all the time. Those perfect pictures on instagram had lied to me and I felt so lost! The nurse at the hospital gave me a nipple shield right away and I accepted it since I was willing to try anything that would help.
Once we got home my milk came in and that was a whole other experience. Imagine your boobs being filled up with rocks. The feeling doesn’t last more than a day but my gosh it hurt! I immediately started contacting lactation consultants and reached out for help. I just kept thinking ‘There was no way breastfeeding should feel like this.’
I ended up meeting with two lactation consultants. The first one used a device called the SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) and that had me in tears after she left. I would go into more detail but I don’t even know how to explain the device through words! I then reached out to another consultant that helped me get rid of the nipple shield which also cut down on the pain and made breastfeeding a little easier.
Both consultants and my son’s pediatrician checked for lip and tongue ties (another thing no one told me about before giving birth!) and my son was just fine. However our pediatrician did diagnose our son with a dairy allergy and so then I had to cut out dairy. Try telling a new mom to cut ALL dairy out of her diet, along with gluten (since I have celiac disease). It was very hard but I had come so far already and was not about to give up.
After getting through all of that I ended up pumping on top of nursing because I had such a low supply. I ate oatmeal for breakfast every day, drank special teas, made lactation bites, drank a ton of water, took supplements and everything else people recommended to me. I must have gone a little overboard because then had an oversupply! I was able to keep up my oversupply until I got pregnant in March 2018 with our little girl. I was able to donate 1600 oz of breastmilk to my other moms in the area. Although it was quite a rough journey I am so glad I got through it and was able to give back to other moms in need.
I tell you all of these not so fun details not to scare you away from breastfeeding but to tell you what I wish someone had told me. Breastfeeding is NOT easy. It IS beautiful. It might hurt (possibly like hell at times) but it is worth it!
*Now I know that not everyone can breastfeed so when I say it is worth it please know that there are certain circumstances where it may not be worth it. Fed is truly best!
If you are in the Austin area, you can see a lactation consultant for FREE through Mom’s Place. You do have to go to them but it is worth it! They are wonderful!
Have a bin on snacks and liquids next to you when you breastfeed. Here is a great post about what to include. The feeling of pure thirst when you breastfeed (especially at the beginning) is no joke!
Know that you can breastfeed in public if you feel comfortable. This is one thing I didn’t think I would do but when your baby needs to eat you’ve gotta feed them (and it doesn’t have to be while sitting on a toilet in a restroom!) You can also grab a nursing cover for some added privacy.
Have your husband attend a breastfeeding class WITH YOU! It helped so much for my husband to understand the benefits of breastfeeding and how it all worked before my son arrived. (Austin Baby Guru has a great breastfeeding class!)
Have something to do while you breastfeed. I ended up spending way to much time on amazon and Facebook while I breastfeed so this time around I got a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader that has a dimming light on it so I can read books while I feed my baby!
Reach out to other mamas to talk about your feelings! Breastfeeding and being a mom in general is rough! It takes a toll on you emotionally and please know that you are not alone! Join a mom Facebook group or reach out to a friend or family member. I am always here to chat as well (even if I don’t know you!)