A Mother’s Journey through Breastfeeding: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Written By: Samantha Thompson
When I was asked to write about my experiences with breastfeeding, I was honestly very excited! I feel extremely accomplished in my seven-month journey and definitely have some stories to tell. But when I sat down at my computer, I drew a blank. Not a blank as in “I have nothing to say,” but a blank as in “where do I start?” So I decided to just start writing and see where it leads me.
Any parent can probably write an entire book telling stories of parenthood, but I only have a few paragraphs. So, I’m going to focus on three aspects of nursing my son: the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s start, though, with the ugly and work up to the good. If you can get through the ugly and the bad of breastfeeding, a.k.a the first few months, you are good to go.
The ugliest part of breastfeeding for me was the pain. …LOTS of pain. I took a nursing class a few weeks before my due date, as many mommies-to-be will or should do. It was great information. I was informed about the science of breastfeeding, the techniques of breastfeeding, the benefits of breastfeeding and more. I was certain that I was well on my way to becoming the best breastfeeder in the world. What they left out in the class, was the emotional and physical toll nursing has on a new momma. I had terribly cracked and bloody nipples for the first two months of nursing. Every time my son latched, it was excruciatingly painful. I thought many times about giving up and struggled with the notion that I was somehow failing my little boy. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t doing anything wrong so I contacted a lactation expert. After talking with the expert, I found out that my pain was completely normal. There are, though, many different remedies for the physical pain, as explained to me by the expert. The things that saved me were lots of nipple butter, a nipple shield and ibuprofen. At about the third month, I didn’t need any of those things! For the emotional struggle or baby blues, I found a lot of relief in talking to other mommas, whether they breastfed or not. It’s super important to have an army of support around you!
The bad part of breastfeeding, and the toughest for me, was the constant work and effort that is required initially. Everything was new to me! Newborns need to eat every hour or so and because breast milk is mainly water, it digests super quickly. Think about that for a second… that means that I was sitting with my newborn every other hour for at least 20 minutes per side all day every day…including nights. Although I enjoyed the timing bonding with my newborn, it was very tough for me to adjust. The nights were the worst for me. I’m very grumpy on minimal sleep, so says my husband. During this time, it is very handy to have an army of support. You have to have help! While you cannot give your boob to your significant other to feed the baby, there are things that they can do to support you. They can clean, cook dinner, wake up with you for the extra company or rub your feet when you become overly stressed. Don’t be scared or feel less powerful by asking for a little help. Even if it’s just for someone to watch over your little one while you take a shower!
Now that we’ve waded through the yucky stuff, let me say, breastfeeding is the most empowering thing I have ever done as a woman and mother. The benefits are honestly countless! Every year there is more and more research that supports breastfeeding for the first six months of life (any amount is AMAZING!). Not only are you feeding your baby with the most nutritious milk possible, you are also building their immune system. Because the milk is organic, it actually changes to fit what your child needs. As you nurse, your body picks up on any bacteria and viruses in your baby and creates pathogens to protect and fight against illness, all on its own! Breast milk has also been found to help prevent allergies. From my personal experience, my eight-month-old, whom I nursed for seven months, has only ever had pink eye once. No other fevers, funks or sickness!
Breastfeeding is not only tremendous for the little one, it’s also wonderful for the mother! Nursing mothers are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Remember those baby blues from earlier? After I got the hang of nursing, those quickly went away! Feeding my little dude became stress relieving and relaxing. On top of that, breastfeeding helps momma lose some, if not all of the baby weight. I gained about 80-85 pounds in my pregnancy. Eight months later, I only have 15 more pounds to lose to break even! But the most rewarding part, for me, is the bond that my little one and I now share. Deciding to breastfeed has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
There are many, many, more benefits of breastfeeding; I can’t possibly fit them all! Remember, you are a beautiful and wonderful mother, and whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you are going to be great! You can do this! Happy Worldwide Breastfeeding Week! #BreastMilkIsTheBestMilk