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My nursing story

When I found out I was pregnant, I never really thought very much about breastfeeding my baby. I knew my mom didn't breastfeed. When I asked her why, she said since I was jaundiced and she went home without me, they told her to pump at home and that just didn't happen. I never knew anyone who breastfed or had ever even seen someone breastfeed a baby. I'm embarrassed to even say it now, but the thought of it honestly kind of weirded me out. So, I knew I had to make a choice as to whether or not I would breastfeed. As I do with all questions I have in life, I Googled it. I began reading about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding on the internet and in books and I decided I would "try" it. I wasn't putting a time frame on it, because it was so unfamiliar to me, and I had no idea what I was in store for. My husband said he would support me and was just concerned with whatever was "best for the baby". So, after my daughter arrived by an unplanned C-section, there we were, getting ready to embark on our breastfeeding journey. A nurse brought her to me  after she was cleaned up and said, "Do you want to try breastfeeding her?" and as we were wheeled to the recovery room, she latched her on. I remember looking up at my husband and saying, "She's eating!!' I was in a fuzzy state, but I knew something pretty awesome was going on.

The beginning of our breastfeeding relationship was weird and scary and amazing because, no matter how much stuff I had read about nursing a baby, I truly knew nothing. That baby cluster fed like an animal until my milk came in. And did it. I actually had a doctor ask me if a nursing student could touch my engorged breasts and commented that I was "made to breastfeed". My breasts were huge and painful and hard. They were like boulders on my chest and I wondered if they would ever stop hurting. I leaked everywhere and I wondered if I was normal and if my baby, who ate around the clock, was normal. No one tells you how much nursing is actually normal for a newborn. The hospital wants to know how long she ate, what side did she eat from.... I was so confused. And my nipples were in so much pain. They were simply red and raw, no matter how great my daughter's latch was (which it was). So, the hospital gave us a nipple shield to use. Even though I had to wean my daughter off the shield (which happened around 4 weeks), I think it saved us. I was in so much pain, I was sure I had thrush or some kind of infection. The shield allowed us to nurse through the pain. And I never seemed to be able to get comfortable, no matter what position I nursed in.

But, things weren't all bad. I discovered side-lying nursing. I began to find ways to get comfy. The nipple shield went in the trash and we were able to go out for longer than a half hour without the baby needing to stop and nurse. There was no pain. There was no pain! And most of all, there was no formula. Somehow, I had managed to push through and not quit, even though I really wanted to at times. It seemed easier to go to formula at times, I really thought. But, holding my daughter close, seeing her face, so calm and happy while nursing, and waking up next to her after a nap or night of sleep - it was and is all worth it. I was able to finish graduate school and start a new job, all while nursing a baby. It can be done and it is wonderful.

Now I'm nursing a one year old. My daughter gets all excited to nurse, and when I've been gone to work for the day, I love sitting or laying down with her and just relaxing and nursing. I'm so happy I stuck with it through the ups and down and plan to nurse for as long as she'd like to.

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