The Art of Breastfeeding

I’ve never had more respect for mum’s that breastfeed than I do as a new Mum myself. 

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed, but never put much thought into taking courses or reading the books.  It figures given the outcome of my natural birth plans and how extensively I researched and planned for that – that my lack of planning for breastfeeding would end up being pretty darn successful. 

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day though, my breastfeeding journey wasn’t successful right away either. 

When Ariadne was born, the hospital nurses asked if I’d taken a breastfeeding course.  After my “No” reply, I was given a sort of funny look.  As if to say “How the heck do you plan on feeding your child by the boob if you didn’t RESEARCH how to?”  Well, I guess part of me figured that since billions of humans exist on this planet, and billions more have previously existed – most successfully nourished at the breast, that I could do it too.

I was sort of right.

The vast majority of women CAN breastfeed.  Whether or not they are able to get through the tough first weeks to achieve a milk supply adequate to feed their baby, that’s another story.  It’s hard work, and it doesn’t always work out.

Ariadne’s first days of breastfeeding were tough.  We came home 24 hours after birth and already my nipples were red, scabby and a little bloody.   Her latch felt like knives going through my breasts.  I seriously considered slicing off my nipples.  The only thing keeping me from doing just that was the thought that then I couldn’t keep feeding her at the precious boob.  That, and the mild realization that my chest would look like something out of a Nip/Tuck episode. 

I knew that in order to help my milk come in, I needed to keep the Babe at the breast as much as possible.  But the pain was horrible.   Add to that the fact that Ariadne was down almost a pound from birth weight, not having much if any diaper output, and pretty jaundice.   I was in a bit of a panic from all of this.  Our pediatritian even used the scary words “formula supplmenting”. 

So two days after birth, we called a lactation consultant.  It was the best $80 I’ve ever spent!  In one hour we were able to find a better way to position ourselves, achieve a bit of a better latch, get rid of some of the nipple pain (and learn that I just have very sensitive nipples)…we even got quite a lot of praise for being such quick learners! 

Over the next 24 hours we kept up the feedings, but diaper output wasn’t increasing.  My milk wasn’t in, and we were getting to a scary place with the jaundice levels and no wet diapers. 

So that night we supplemented after two feedings with 1 ounce of formula.  I was so sad while I watched my little girl drink the bottles her Daddy gave her.  She seemed so content afterwards though, and that night we got a few wet and poopie diapers – hooray!

I still hated the thought of giving her the formula though. 

Honestly, I have nothing against moms that choose to formula feed.  Millions of healthy babies have been raised on formula.  I just really wanted to breastfeed.  I also didn’t want to deal with smelly poop (newsflash – breastfed poop doesn’t smell, and doesn’t have to be pre-rinsed out of our cloth diapers…WINNING!)

The following morning, Julie called to check up on me and baby Aria.  Since she had struggled with breastfeeding in the beginning (and made it through alive), I knew she would understand the frustrations.   Knowing how much I wanted to avoid the formula supplementing, she offered to bring us some of her frozen breastmilk stash.  We would still have to give her a bottle, but at least we could give her breastmilk.   We are so thankful!  Maybe one day I’ll be able to pay it forward to another new mother.

For the next few days we supplemented with the breastmilk, and slowly but surely my milk started coming in. 

People tell you that you’ll KNOW when your milk comes in.  You’ll wake up one day with breasts bigger than watermelons.  Engorgement, tenderness, hardness.  All things attributed to both overstuffed water balloons and breastfeeding boobs. 

Mine wasn’t so obvious.  I was a bit sore, and definitely a bit “fuller”, but I still couldn’t tell if anything was coming out of those things. 

It was a matter of days after the supplementing started that I woke up to a crying baby, and the newest location of Niagara Falls – my breasts.  Up until this point I had been spending 99% of my time topless.  Even when I wasn’t caught with the Babe attached to the nipple, I was airing out my breasts, or just being lazy about putting a shirt on to begin with.  Being topless when your milk comes in is hilarious.  There was nothing I could do to stop the flow.  It was POURING out.  Hallelujah!

We had achieved lactation!

Since that morning it’s been amazing.  Sure it’s tiring being the sole food source for our little girl.  The Hubs still gets up with me sometimes at nightly feedings (his job is to wake her up by changing her diaper if she falls asleep before draining the breast) but he quickly falls back asleep.  It is wonderfully fulfilling though, being able to feed my baby girl the way that I always wanted to. 

Now, if only I could figure out how to not soak my shirt with milk while I wrestle with little baby arms that try to block baby mouth meeting Mum’s nipple. 

I have to admit – I purposely will squeeze my breasts to watch the milk streams shoot out.  Maybe I accidentally squirt Ariadne in the face when I do it…but it’s hilarious. 

We’re still a long way from having breastfeeding down to a science.  I’m sure we look a bit awkward.  We definitely have our fair share of frustrations with each other when I can’t get her to the breast fast enough.  My wet shirts are a bit of a problem, and I’m not enjoying the warm tingling achiness that takes over my breasts while they refill after a feeding.  But I know we’ll get it eventually. 

We’re going to a baby shower tomorrow, me and Baby Girl.  To say I’m nervous is a bit of an understatement. 

What do I do when she has to eat?  Do we politely leave the room, not because I’m scared of public breastfeeding, but more because getting her to latch is difficult with noise and distraction…?  What if she gets super fussy?  I’m already super embarassed by the thought of having a crying baby in public.  I know one day we’ll get the swing of it, and it won’t worry me so much, but I’m still so new at this, and completely nervous to make my grande entrance as a new mum.

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6 thoughts on “The Art of Breastfeeding

  1. You are one BRAVE soul Jay Faye. I would be way too scared to go out in public that soon, just because, like for you and Aria, breastfeeding was awkward at first – positioning, maneuvering the cover, spraying nipples, yadda yadda yadda. Good luck to you my dear! I would think leaving the room is your best bet. I am SO glad that you are loving breastfeeding and that its going well. No one ever tells you how scary the immediate weight loss/waiting for your milk to come in period really is…its the worst!

  2. So glad the breastfeeding got better. I’m convinced that BFing would work for so many more women if they’d persevere through the first 2 weeks.

    Are you using breast pads? I can’t sleep without them anymore because I would always wake up soaking wet. When I’m feeding June we get all positioned and everything and the very last thing I do is remove the pad, then onto the nip she goes. Keeps everyone a little drier!

    • I don’t know what I would do without my breast pads! I miss sleeping topless though…but I would wake up soaked without them (sometimes they move a bit in my tank and I still leak through…)

  3. No one’s going to judge you, Jaye! After all, it’s a BABY shower! 🙂
    I’m so glad it’s going well for you. Breastfeeding is so satisfying.
    What kind of top are you wearing to bed?
    Oh, I was wondering… Are nurses/doctors where you gave birth trained in how to teach you BFing tips?

    • Thanks E 🙂

      I usually just wear a nursing bra to bed now. I was wearing my nursing tanks, but I end up soaking them when Aria pulls off the breast and my milk was still flowing. So just me and my bra+pads it is for now til we get better at this.
      Oh and yes, we have lactation consultants and the like at the hospitals that visit with all patients (if they want) to help establish feeding.

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