My claim to future motherhood had always been: “I am going to be a Breastfeeding warrior! I am going to take advantage of time off from work, and be a breastfeeding, power pumping Mamma.” I was going to embrace everything that motherhood had to offer and I couldn’t possibly be a “good-mom” if I did not breastfeed. I had this fanciful idea that, because breastfeeding is natural, I would naturally and easily take breastfeeding on! I wouldn’t have any issues with my milk dropping. Me? Have RAW, SORE nipples, NOPE! Engorgement? Lactation difficulties? None of this would be apart of my journey. BOY, was I wrong!
Right after I birthed my son, like many mammas, I immediately let him latch on. My milk still hadn’t completely dropped, and as a new mamma, it gave me a little anxiety. Naturally, you are going to want to make sure your baby is receiving the nutrients needed and if there is even a slither of doubt that he or she is not getting from you what they need, it can be very emotional (I mean, hormones don’t just go back to normal after giving birth…just sayin). Because I didn’t see anything spewing out of my breasts when my son would feed, I was a little concerned. Remember, I romanced the idea of breastfeeding so, I did not fully understand why my milk was not abundantly “my cup runneth over” flowing.
My first night in the hospital, I requested to speak with the lactation nurse on duty because I wanted to gather information from a specialist who was specifically trained to give me insight on breastfeeding in general. Was it normal for me to not see anything coming out of my boobs? Is my baby actually getting something from me? How long does it take for my milk to drop? Will pumping stimulate my production? I hastily threw all of these questions her, and she gave me LOADS of information. The amount of information she gave me was almost overwhelming and at that moment, my idealistic thoughts of a perfect breastfeeding experience began to slightly teeter.
The second night, my fairytale romance with the idea of breastfeeding completely dissipated when my baby boy began CLUSTER FEEDING. Prior to this moment, I had never heard of cluster feeding. I literally wanted to cry! When your baby cluster feeds, they are basically feeding NON-STOP. It seemed like my baby fed every hour on the hour throughout that 2nd night. My body was tired from laboring, nurses were in and out of the room (which got super annoying), and every hour throughout the night, my baby would belt out ear-splitting cries when he wanted the boob. Meanwhile, my life partner peacefully slept through ALL OF THIS as if he was the one who had just pushed out a human being. By God’s Grace, I survived my baby’s cluster feed and trust me, you can too! Just remember, breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. Your baby will demand more of the booby in order to increase their supply. Yes, this phase can be extremely exhausting, your nipples will be so sore that every time your little one latches on you will simultaneously hold your breath and curl your toes. You may even feel like you are not producing enough milk for your little one but remember mamma, you are specially crafted for this. Your baby and your body innately knows what to do and you have to learn to trust both!
Just a little sidebar, the night that my baby went through his cluster feed, one of my night nurses kept trying to convince me to supplement with formula because he had dropped a little of his birth weight (breastfed babies will drop 7% -10% of their birth weight which is NORMAL) AND he fed every hour on the hour. She made me feel inadequate as a new mom, and her pushy persistence quite frankly pissed me off (for lack of a better phrase). Please do not let anyone discourage you from breastfeeding. Unless a doctor has ordered you to supplement, keep trusting your baby and your body.
We were discharged the following day, my milk still had not dropped but my lactation nurse reassured me that my baby was getting the colostrum he needed. I made an outside appointment with another lactation consultant to make sure I was breastfeeding PROPERLY and to gain any additional knowledge I needed to tackle breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is truly an art. Proper technique is the most important factor in conquering breastfeeding. The outside consultant taught me how to make sure my baby latched properly, how to massage my breast, different ways to hold my baby while feeding, things to incorporate in my diet to increase my supply etc. I allowed FG to feed on demand (which you should always do with a newborn) and I would try to pump in order to get my milk to drop. Frank, helped me pump by squeezing/firmly massaging my boobs while I held the pumping cup (teamwork is KEY lol) and VIOLA! LIQUID GOLD! I even took a picture.
Mammas, educate yourself in the art of breastfeeding. It is NOT easy but it gets easier. You have to find your rhythm and believe me, you will. Trust your baby, trust your body, trust your instinct as a woman, as a mother.