Getting ready for a baby is no joke. Really. From dream filled, undisturbed nights and having complete indepth conversations over dinner, we tend to forget how amazing those things are…well until baby arrives. Then sh** gets real. You’re just happy to eat a hot meal, take a shower (dry shampoo is my friend), and maybe, just maybe, go to the bathroom by yourself.
One of the most transitional moments for me was nursing. I can’t tell you how much I saw all these ads and posts raving about how beautiful nursing is. I thought, hey, there’s a reason why I have breasts, and I guess I might as well use them for what they were intended for. It can’t be that hard. It’s a “natural” process. Your body knows what to do.
Let me begin with my initial experience with nursing. Obviously, with my first daughter EVERYTHING was new. From understanding what the heck was going on with my postpartum body to figuring out how to be a mom in the first place. You mean I can’t set her down and take nap? Eating and showering aren’t a priority? Awesome.
With nursing, so many more things happened. MANY MORE. At the hospital, I’m holding my baby, and it was time to nurse for the first time. Here comes that moment that all these beautiful ads and stories write about. Well it wasn’t like it at all. The days to follow were PAINFUL. Why would something so “sweet” and “natural” feel like someone was trying to test my pain tolerance. I swear my toes curled every time or even the thought of her latching. Lanolin was being used as if it were a camisole.
Everyone kept saying, “it’ll get better” or “you’ll get the hang of it”. The kicker was when the nurses kept saying my milk won’t even come out until 3-7 days…really?! THEN WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE SHE’S EATING AT A BUFFET? Why am I doing this then? If it’s not benefiting my daughter or myself at this very moment, why continue? Give me the formula people! Save my boobs and my sanity. I was a formula baby, and I turned out great. Well, I kept going until she was 6 months, and then had to supplement. Yeah, this momma didn’t make enough for her growing baby.
So, when my second little girl was born (four years later), I thought, “You’ve got this momma! You’ve faced this before, you’ve conquered it, and you will rock those ugly nursing bras with grace.” I thought that whole element of surprise (or pain) was gone since I had endured it before. WRONG…again.
I swear, I am not trying to discourage nursing (this story gets better, I promise), but it happens. It’s not sunshine and rainbows. There may have been hallucinations, during the moments of discomfort. Just kidding, it wasn’t that bad. I was struggling for two weeks with pain and frustration. I pushed through the pain, and even pushed through the ugly “M” word. Yup, I endured the ugly old mastitis. Seriously, at this point my poor mom was begging me to stop. I was in tears, but I wanted to give my second daughter the same thing I was able to give my first. I looked crazy walking around with frozen bags of peas on my breasts. Yeah, I was a vision of postpartum sexiness. The difference this time around and the upside of this madness…I was producing A LOT of milk. So I think that is what kept me nursing (and still doing so 13 months later).
After this really motivating story of nursing, you’ve probably already blacklisted my posts by now. I’m so sorry to not be the positive voice, but yes, I’ll be that person and say, IT DOES GET BETTER.
I had some pretty hilarious and MANY amazing moments. Even with the pain, even with the ups and downs of nursing…it has taught me a lot.
These 5 points really got me through the day/week/month with nursing:
- Don’t beat yourself up. We all go through it in one way or another. I’ve never heard one woman say nursing was “easy” at the beginning. Is it worth it…absolutely. Should you be shunned if you don’t move forward…NO. If for whatever reason you can’t nurse, and have to provide formula…THAT IS OK. Don’t let anyone ever discourage you from supplementing or taking that route. As long as your baby is fed and healthy, that’s all that matters. We all have our reasons, and no one should ever make a mother feel inferior for the decision they make for their child. We should advocate for one another.
- Don’t forget the breast pads. I repeat, DON’T FORGET THE BREAST PADS. You may end up like I did… running through the grocery store like I was on Supermarket Sweep. I felt myself reaching that point of no return. You know, that moment you realize you are competing in a wet t-shirt contest…by yourself…with a baby in tow. Keeping it classy my friends. So as I hightail it to the baby aisle to grab the much needed lifesavers/breast pads, it began. Yup, I was sitting at the register looking like Mary Katherine Gallagher, from Saturday Night Live, except my hands weren’t under my armpits, but over my milk machines. Sorry Ms. HEB cashier, but when my daughter begins to cry, I become Niagara Falls. I should have be given some buddy bucks for that, right? *buddy bucks are what they hand out to kids for prizes or points*
- Embrace the gear. Yes, most nursing gear looks like your breasts are about to rob a boob bank, especially looking like they are wearing a ski mask of some sort. The great thing is that that nursing gear has come a long way in terms of being more fashionable. I was using the the bland beige, black, or white cross over bras that were far from flattering. They did their job, but they were NOT making me feel very confident in my now very voluptuous state. I was thrilled that the second time around they made nursing bras, camisoles, and other items much more fun, flirty, and functional. Make sure to find things that make you happy. I felt so blah the first time around. It was a lot the first time around, not only because I was trying to understand my “new” body, and felt I had to sacrifice the pretty things I loved to wear beforehand. Make it fun for you, find the pretty things that still allow you to nurse effectively. My faves were always camisoles. They were so easy to use, comfy, and didn’t expose my belly. They have reasonable and cute items now at Target. Mix it up, and Pinterest always has some cute ideas too.
- Be comfortable. Let me say that the hardest part about nursing, was nursing in public. The first time around, they hadn’t really campaigned as much for breastfeeding. Nursing in public was a big deal for me. So I was already stressing HOW to nurse, and I also had to figure out how to do it comfortably in public. I am not the type to just bust out in front of everyone to feed my baby. It’s completely natural to do so, especially since you’re feeding your baby, but I just wasn’t that comfortable being that exposed. I ended up going to the car every time to nurse. So the second time around, I found the most amazing nursing cover ever. It was the ultimate trifecta…scarf, nursing cover, and baby seat cover. I was so much more at ease with nursing. No more trips to the car. Thank you Covered Goods for making my life that much easier!
- Nursing buddies. Not the, “here hold this, while I do this.” type of buddy. More so having a network of mommas who’ve gone through it. We all need that momma network (friends, family, momma groups, Austin Moms Blog) to help us through the times that we feel we just can’t anymore. It’s in the moments we feel lost, defeated, or insane. I’ve learned a lot of nursing tips/tricks from my network. I couldn’t have asked for better support. Their physical or interactive hugs make this journey that much more obtainable.
I will say it again…nursing does get better. Yes, it may beat you up at first, and even bring you to tears (both from pain and joy). At the end of the day, we do the most amazing things for our littles. We sacrifice ourselves to provide our babies with every single thing we can (both physically & emotionally). Just remember to be kind to yourself. You’re amazing for giving this little baby life. You have housed, loved, and nurtured this little being.
Whether you nurse or not…YOU, my dear, are a champion.