Breastfeeding: What if I hate it?

Friday, June 16, 2017

There is a lot of talk about breastfeeding as a new mom.
Questions like, "How is your baby breastfeeding? Did he/she have any problems with latching? How often does your baby feed?" You may notice that the questions are usually about baby, and not how mother's may be doing with it.
Just like every woman has their own birth story, each will have their own experience with breastfeeding as well. I think it's important to nurture conversations with mother's about their postpartum health and how they are coping with things such as breastfeeding, so as part of the Honest Company's Judgement-free feeding campaign, I'm sharing my personal experience with breastfeeding.

I grew up in a community where breastfeeding is "the norm", and women sit together in a room and have conversations over tea while breastfeeding their child. Being the private person that I am, the thought of having to do this when I became a mother was anxiety inducing (and still is). Would I have to become one of those women, sitting on the couch socializing with her boob out for everyone to see?! I feel like our society puts so much pressure on mother's to "be free" because breastfeeding is natural and should just be this amazing experience for mother and baby, and shouldn't need to be covered up or confined to a private room. But what if I am just not that kind of woman? What if I want my privacy and alone time with my baby while breastfeeding? 

Breastfeeding has brought out so many different emotions for me. To be completely honest, it was a part of motherhood I really wasn't looking forward to from the beginning. I know the benefits it has for baby (and mom), so it was never really a question as to whether or not I would do it, I just wasn't really looking forward to having a baby hanging off of my breast for the next 6-12 months. In a way, I was dreading it.

That first day and night in the hospital everything went pretty well, and I was feeling pretty good about the whole breastfeeding thing. The next few days, my nipples became very raw, were bleeding, and I couldn't even face the water in the shower because I was in so much pain. I remember texting a friend, "when will it stop feeling like my nipples are being murdered every time my baby feeds?!". I knew it was normal, so continued to push through the pain. 

The day my milk came in was horrible! It happened overnight, so I woke up at 5am to engorged breasts and my baby was unable to latch. She was hungry and crying, and I was in pain and didn't know what to do. I sat in bed with a manual pump, and was able to pump a bottle for her and get some relief for myself. That day was our first doctor's appointment, so thankfully I could speak with her about what to do with my insanely engorged breasts. We decided to head straight to the store afterward to buy an electric breast pump, and it was the best decision we could have made! We got home and my husband set it all up for me, and I sat on the couch getting milked like a cow. I remember sitting there with tears streaming down my cheeks, partly from hormones and also just thankful to be getting relief after hours of pain and distress. I figured if I could get through that day, I could do this.

I have had a few episodes of blocked milk ducts due to an overabundant milk supply (according to the telehealth nurse), and I've had days where I wanted to throw in the towel, but I've managed to keep pushing through. My daughter is now 3 months old and I can say that I am finally feeling more confident and okay with breastfeeding. It's still not something that I really enjoy, but I am carving my own way as a woman and mother.

Breastfeeding doesn't come with a manual that you can follow. Though there are tons of books you can read, classes to attend, and lactation specialists to see, your body and baby are unique and each mother has to choose what works best for her and baby.

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