Since breastfeeding completely consumes my entire day, I began to feel a push to share my experience. Before I do, I want to acknowledge that breastfeeding is a polarizing topic. For my part, I have no idea why. Each mother is responsible for making the best decision for her infant. Breastfeeding is best for my baby. If it wasn't best for your baby, I, for one, am not judging you. Promise.
Prior to Lincoln's birth, if I am being honest, breastfeeding creeped me out a bit. Not because I viewed breasts as exclusively sexual, but because it seemed awkward and intrusive. Maybe I was scared of the intimacy? I can't quite pinpoint it except to say I was never frightened of the work involved, only of the interaction. That said, I decided I was going to try my best to nurse my son.
My decision was made based upon the health benefits Lincoln receives such as antibodies, but also for the bonding and health benefits for myself. Nursing has helped me lose weight, but it is also thought to thwart certain cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer. With my brother having had cancer, the thought of not utilizing this free opportunity outweighed any fears I had.
As soon as he was put to my breast immediately following surgery, Lincoln latched. The nurse even remarked on what a good latch it was. For those not in the know, a baby's latch plays a HUGE role in the success of breastfeeding. A bad latch is painful, frustrating and counter-productive.
The hospital I delivered at has a full-time staff of Lactation Consultants and one visited with me every single day of my stay. Even though he had a good latch, there were growing pains the first three days. Despite what the experts in breastfeeding class said, my colostrum was not enough to satiate his appetite. Additionally, even with his good latch, finding a comfortable position and lack of experience lead to some extreme frustration on both our parts. The wicked nurse I mentioned in his birth story also must've felt frustrated because the reason I had her removed was because she manhandled Lincoln onto my nipple, causing it to tear and bleed. Unacceptable. It IS true that if you're doing it right, breastfeeding should not hurt.
I was also frustrated because Lincoln needed formula to be supplemented his first two days with formula and I was terrified of the nipple confusion some babies experience. I also refused a pacifier but he would return from the nursery with one in his mouth. I have discussed this with my pediatrician and he has explained that babies either have nipple confusion or they don't. You won't know till you see which type of baby you get. Blessedly, Lincoln does not have that problem. He has been taking a bottle since we were in the hospital. I began leaving him home with my mom so I could run errands starting at two weeks, and he takes a bottle for her with ease. Praise Jesus! LOL!!! Also, unbeknownst to me, breastfed babies have a more difficult time battling jaundice, which Lincoln did. In the case of jaundice, formula is better (the explanation is long but I will elaborate if anyone really wants me to.)
Trying to nurse him comfortably has been my biggest issue. When he was first born, the football hold worked just fine, and really helped alleviate any pressure off my tender stomach. By the time we got home, that position was not working for us. The Lactation Consultants were helpful but it took my mom situating Lincoln and literally helping maneuver my breast for us to get it right. We now nurse most often with him laying on my lap. Many women raved to me about how wonderful it is to nurse while laying in bed but I find it extremely difficult to get comfortable.
All that said, I would say nursing has been incredibly easy for us. I have had no problems with my supply, and Lincoln is thriving and gaining weight. I have taken several pictures of him nursing so I can remember the special times. What once made me uncomfortable, now brings joy to my heart. I love to watch my son nurse. My inhibitions are gone. My biggest complaint is nipple sensitivity both while nursing and when not. Again, it is not painful, just uncomfortable.
I heard a lot of horror stories prior to attempting breastfeeding but I am glad I stuck it out despite my concerns. If it was intimacy I feared, I now relish it. I am the sole source of nutrition for my son and I am proud during his weight checks to know my body provided for him adequately. Another favorite Casey of mine desperately wanted to nurse but couldn't, documenting her struggles in great depth; my heart breaks for her over that. I am thankful everyday that it worked out for us the way I had hoped.
I didn't invent the wheel by trying to nurse, but if any of you need support or encouragement, I would be happy to provide it. Having an extremely easy c-section and easy time breastfeeding have taught my a lot about not letting my fears take over. I have learned important life lessons about not worrying about the unknown.
In closing, the only downside worth mentioning is the commitment. There is no place I'd rather be than nursing my son, but it IS a massive commitment. we nurse more hours of the day than we don't. In there I try to find time to pump, too,so that I may leave the house on occasion. No easy feat, lemme tell ya!