I saw this article on Babble today, 9 Reason I am Dreading Breastfeeding. (Again.), and had such a visceral reaction that I was compelled to comment for maybe the fourth time ever. Then, as I thought about what I wanted to say, I realized it was way too much for one tiny little comment box. What I needed was a post purge.
While I was lucky enough to not have to deal with reflux and I did eventually make it to a point where I actually enjoyed nursing, I might have written every other word of this article. Just reading it brought back so much emotion and, now that I am expecting my second baby, some serious anxiety. I too am more than a little bit terrified of how my next breastfeeding experience will compare with my first.
When Olivia was born, the nurses at the hospital exclaimed over how easily she took to nursing, how strong she was, how well I was doing … for two glorious days I thought I was nailing this mama thing. And then we went home and it all went to shit. She went on a feeding strike for 24 hours, leaving me an exhausted, panicky, blubbering mess sitting in the pediatrician’s office and Olivia labeled a “failure to thrive.”
What followed was a litany of good times: plugged ducts, nipple shields, tongue tie, over supply, bleeding, thrush. My daily routine read like the troubleshooting section of a breastfeeding book.
Then there was the pain. Oh, the pain. I had friends who were also nursing at the time who reported some discomfort and soreness. If only. Picture someone putting your nipple in a vise and then slowly driving a dozen tiny nails into it. Yep, that was more my reality. I dreaded each feeding and cringed in pain, tears running down my cheeks, every single time.
Things got so bad that everyone I knew was trying to convince me that it was okay to give up. My husband, my parents, our pediatrician, my OB, my lactation consultant, everyone. Many of these people saw my struggles firsthand and I think, especially for my husband, they just hated to see me in so much near-constant pain. But I was determined.
And then something amazing happened—it just … got better. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment or even the cause, but sometime between months four and five I finally got what everyone was going on about. I continued nursing my daughter until she was 13 months old and was genuinely sad when she decided to give it up.
I am praying that things are easier this time around. But if they aren’t, I like to think that I’m a little older, a little wiser, and I have more than a few tricks up my sleeve—like popping soy lecithin supplements the minute this little girl is born to help combat the plugged ducts!
At least this second time around, I have something that I definitely didn’t have with my first: some perspective. To know what to expect. To give myself a break. To know that I can make it through it and that, when I do, the reward is being able to stare down into my baby girl’s eyes without a care in the world.