When I knew I was going to get to bring home my long-awaited rainbow baby, I immediately started to daydream about the awesome breastfeeding relationship we were going to have. Baby was going to immediately go to the breast and take to it in a bath of golden light.
It was going to be stupendous.
Then, reality happened. My 42 hour labor was complication after complication. I didn’t get to see my son after he was born for almost 3 hours, and didn’t know that I should have been pumping (at least once) during that time. When he did latch, it was lazily and he only took a suckle or two before popping off. The nurses told me it was normal and not to worry. They didn’t tell me that I should be pumping after those feeds to help bring in my supply. No one offered to have a lactation consultant come see me since it was not only the weekend, but only 5 days before Christmas. I was released from the hospital thinking that his latch and feedings would only get better and we would be fine.
It didn’t. And we weren’t.
I ended up beating myself up by pumping 8-12 times a day. I was trying to build a supply that would be enough to get him off of formula and solely on breastmilk. Finally, I got to the point that it was enough and I was able to start freezing milk. Then, we found out that my son had MSPI, meaning I would need to give up eating all dairy and soy. All of the milk I had been able to freeze was tainted with dairy. My postpartum anxiety and depression was also in full force, so I just quit pumping all together and put him on a hypoallergenic formula.
I always regretted the way that I just gave up, and didn’t educate myself before giving birth. So, when I found out that I was pregnant with my second son, I immediately started reading everything I could get my hands on to ensure that if it didn’t work out, it wouldn’t be because I didn’t try everything possible.
It turns out, I didn’t really need to try. Within 20 minutes of being born, he latched and ate hungrily. In fact, little dude had already surpassed his birth weight before we had even left the hospital. Although the first six weeks were full of sore nipples, vasospasms, and a bout with thrush, we got through them and are still going strong.
I finally have the beautiful breastfeeding relationship that I had so desired.
Despite the fact that my second son latched on his own, these 3 factors helped make this attempt so much more successful:
I didn’t take one before my first son was born, thinking that it would be enough to read a book or two. I regretted that decision, so I made sure that I attended one with my husband at St. Luke’s. We both gained a lot of insight into breastfeeding and how to get past the hard patches.
We ended up delivering my second son at Mercy and immediately took advantage of the lactation nurses there. They were always quick to come in and help. He also had jaundice, so we did a few extra visits back to Mercy in those early days. They were kind enough to help with my holds, look at his latch, and help troubleshoot. They also have this awesome service where they will do an in-home visit within a week of delivery.
Finding a Tribe
I started a group chat on messenger with some other women I knew who were due around the same time and planned to breastfeed. It was so nice to have support available at all hours of the day. They understood exactly what I was going through. Plus, cluster-feeding in the middle of the night can get lonely, so it was nice to often have someone else up going through the same thing. You are not alone and can find your own breastfeeding support right here!
I can honestly say that those three things made the biggest differences in my journey. The knowledge that I gained with the class and the visits with the lactation consultants gave me the confidence to work at breastfeeding. It was my tribe, however, that gave me the best piece of advice. Never give up on your hardest day. On my hardest days, I would message my tribe and they would help me get through. I never regretted pushing through a hard day.
If you are in the throes of those days where the baby just doesn’t seem to get full. The days where your nipples feel like glass and you just want to throw in the towel. Don’t give up. Wait until those nipples are little less sore, the baby is content, and then think about it.
I promise you’ll never regret hanging in there to make the decision on an easier day.
For help and support locally, check out La Leche League of Cedar Rapids.
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