This must have crossed every moms-to-be out there. Personally, when I look back, I did not think much about it during my pregnancy until the last few weeks. Due to the gestational diabetes that I had, I was asked to start expressing milk in the last few weeks just in case the baby was born with low blood pressure and needed extra milk. I didn’t know if I was doing it right, but nothing came out on those few weeks of daily massaging and expressing.
Shortly after my baby was born, during the skin-to-skin time, I could see he was instinctively turning his head to latch on. Wonderful, I know, but I didn’t start breastfeeding until like probably the next day.
Little did I know that breastfeeding is such a painful journey from the very start. I have heard people saying that breastfeeding is more painful than giving birth. The naive me didn’t think it was possible. I mean, breastfeeding is just letting your baby suck your nipples, whereas giving birth is letting a human being out of your private part. Come on. Now I do see why it is comparable. Breastfeeding is continuous while the pain of giving birth stops as soon as the baby is out.
Nursing my baby was so stressful at first. I didn’t think it would be hard just to let my baby latch on. Latching on apparently requires lots and lots of practice. Both the mom and the baby are learning to breastfeed correctly. If the latching on is incorrect, it can be more painful. Unfortunately as well, my baby has a slight tongue-tie, so it takes a while for him to really get the hang of it.
I can’t stress the importance of proper latch on. Not only does it directly affects your milk supply, improper latch on is so damn painful on nipples. At first my baby was only nibbling on the tip of the nipples and it caused them to bleed. It was so sore every time I nursed, especially in the beginning of each feeding session. This, coupled with sleep deprivation and the sore ‘down there’, is just the perfect recipe for major oversensitiveness and irritability.
During the first weeks, babies seem to be hungry like all the time. I nursed around every two hours around the clock. Some sessions could last up to an hour at that time. Night time was the hardest for me as I get irritated so much easier when my sleep is disturbed. And during the first month or so, he didn’t fall back right to sleep immediately after nursing. Sometimes he cried because he needed to be changed, other times he just cried and cried for God-knows why.
I tried to nurse while lying down but it was so hard during the first few months. Not only that he needed to be burped after, my baby also spits a lot so he would wake up with a pool of milk in the morning. I was told that this is bad for his sensitive skin. However after I was able to do so, things get much easier as I usually fall back to sleep while nursing. And as he grows, he doesn’t need to be burped anymore. Hence less milk spits. Hallelujah.
I promise you, it will get better eventually. There will be a time where you are so genuinely grateful that your body is able to provide for your little one. Nowadays I really cherish my nursing sessions. As time goes by he breastfeeds less and less, which is actually bittersweet. Now he mostly only nurses when he is about to sleep. I also can tell if he’s just nursing for comfort, which is totally fine by me. Isn’t it what we mothers need to do for their babies? Giving them comfort.
Breastfeeding is also so convenient. There is no need for bottles, pump, or bringing around milk wherever you go. It’s always right there, whenever he needs it. I travel so conveniently with my baby.
Surely it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies all the time. Up till now I still suffer from milk blisters every now and then. My nipples have gone through so much. But for me the benefits outweigh everything. I can’t imagine having to search for the right milk for him as he has allergies. From what I know it’s also not easy to find the suitable formula milk for babies.
I strongly believe that, given the ability, mothers should to breastfeed their babies. It is one of the best gifts that nature has presented us with. I am still not sure when will I stop breastfeeding, but I know for sure that when it does happen, I will miss it.