Share Your Story in the Beauty in Breastfeeding Project.
Each Monday, we’re sharing stories of the personal breastfeeding journeys of mothers throughout the State of Utah in cooperation with the Beauty in Breastfeeding Project. Read our earlier article to find out more about this initiative that celebrates breastfeeding mothers. To share your own story, visit www.beautyinbreastfeedingproject.com.
Like many first time moms, I assumed breastfeeding was a natural process that my baby and me would pick up in no time. Turns out, breastfeeding is hard. Shortly after my baby was delivered, I tried to breastfeed. One of the nurses warned me it might be difficult, because I have flat nipples. I couldn’t help but feel slightly offended. I don’t know what she was talking about. My nipples are fine! Now I know that there are all types of nipples, all types of women, and all types of babies. And most who chose to breastfeed are able to.
When I took my baby to the pediatrician for her 72 hour checkup, she had dropped a pound. Common, yes, but enough to make the doctor say she was concerned. I burst into tears, feeling that I had failed at breastfeeding and nourishing my baby. The lactation consultant at the doctor’s office took me into her office and patiently explained some helpful tips. They also gave me a nipple shield, which really helped me in the beginning.
I’ve decided breastfeeding is an art form. The first time you pick up a paintbrush, you may not make a beautiful painting, but at least you created a work of art, right? Same with breastfeeding. The more you practice, the better you get.
The doctor put me on a strict feeding schedule for the next 48 hours. They said I could supplement with formula or with breastmilk by pumping. Determined to breastfeed, we pumped and pumped. I say we, because my husband figured out the breast pump way before I did. He would pump one side while I fed the baby on the other. We did this every two hours, for two days, and it was exhausting! My baby was more interested in sleeping than eating at the beginning, so we had to wake her up for feedings, which was hard. Now though, at four months, she is a great little eater.
I went back to work full time when my baby was six weeks old. Pumping took some getting used to, but now I’ve got it down! I pump twice a day for about 20 minutes. It’s working well for me and I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to do this. I can think of several occupations where it would be really tough to find time and a space to pump.
I’ve decided breastfeeding is an art form. The first time you pick up a paintbrush, you may not make a beautiful painting, but at least you created a work of art, right? Same with breastfeeding. The more you practice, the better you get. It took me a good six weeks before I really became comfortable with breastfeeding. I’m still not comfortable with breastfeeding in public, although I believe every woman has the right to, and shouldn’t ever be criticized for doing. I really admire women who do breastfeed in public. And the ones who can walk and breastfeed at the same time? Amazing! That takes skill.
It’s important to have at least one person, ideally your partner, who is there to support you in your breastfeeding journey. More than once, in tears, I said I was going to quit breastfeeding because my daughter wasn’t latching for whatever reason. But my husband encouraged me to be patient, and just like he predicted, she started feeding fine again. Breastfeeding is a challenge, but worth it. Knowing your baby is getting the best nutrition possible is very reassuring. I also cherish the bond it gave me with my baby girl. Don’t give up if you have a bad day. It will be better tomorrow!