Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Medela through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write this post about Medela all opinions are my own.
When I was pregnant with our first child, Quinn, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I knew breastfeeding had lots of health benefits for both me and that baby. I also knew I could save a good chunk of change not having to buy formula.
I even took a breastfeeding class. The class made me feel like it was natural and I figured it would just happen.
Nothing with the birth of my first went the way it was supposed to. Four days after my due date I went into labor which ended with a c-section and a baby in the NICU.
How I finally got my baby to latch
When I first tried nursing Quinn, I had nurses all over me, grabbing my breasts and “showing” me how to feed my baby. I found everything about breastfeeding stressful. I couldn’t get Quinn to latch. It made me feel like a failure.
How could something so natural be so hard?
I can remember him screaming his head off at home and no matter what hold I tried or what I did, we just couldn’t get it. Nobody talks about this.
I cried right along with him.
For whatever reason, Quinn stuck his tongue to the roof of his mouth, making it impossible to nurse. The lactation consultant FINALLY offered a nipple shield, which the husband referred to as my sombrero. The very first time I used the nipple shield, he latched.
I cried tears of joy. The nipple shield was only meant to be a temporary fix, but I never did manage to wean Quinn from using it, so we just rocked it for a whole year.
It was messy and awkward to get on in public with a screaming baby, but we did it.
Every baby is different
Then came Eleanor and she just latched. Immediately. We never needed to see a lactation consultant. She was a quick and efficient feeder (unlike her brother) and nursing her was a breeze!
Then came Hudson, and the start to breastfeeding doesn’t really stand out for me. My guess is because it was pretty non-eventful and much like feeding Eleanor had been.
Right around nine months, we started to struggle a bit. Hudson had discovered the joy of biting and he did it frequently. Then he decided to go on a nursing strike. Yup, that is a thing.
His nursing strike started right before I left for a blogging event, so I pumped while I was gone to keep up my supply, in hopes that when I came back he would change his mind. When I returned from the trip, we went right back to nursing.
It was smooth sailing until just shy of 12 months at which point I let him wean himself.
Then Fiona came and I think I mostly remembered what it was like nursing a nearly 12 month old so I forgot how much guidance they need in the beginning. One visit with the lactation consultant got us right on track.
Fiona is six months into nursing on demand and things are going really well.
Breastfeeding is bittersweet
Nursing for me has been bittersweet. I think sometimes people see breastfeeding moms and think it is easy for them and that is why they do it, but that isn’t always the case.
I’m battling an ear and sinus infection and being sick for weeks and weeks now. I want to load up on every decongestant under the sun and be healthy already, but I cannot. Being a breastfeeding mom means I need to be careful about what I put in my body.
When I am breastfeeding I find that I have a hard time losing weight. Breastfeeding also means that I’m either there or working overtime pumping so that the baby has food. Sometimes I dream of freedom, but I know how quickly this all passes.
The good and the bad, my mantra is: This too shall pass. So enjoy it when it is good, because this too shall pass. And deep breathe through it when it is bad, because this too shall pass.
There is something incredibly beautiful about being forced to stop and sit with my baby. To watch their fidgety fingers and feel their soft skin. It truly is a beautiful way for me to bond with them.
Breastfeeding is also really convenient because when I’m out and about I have everything we need, never have to worry about it going bad or if I brought enough.
You do You
Here is the thing, moms. All moms are different, all kids are different and we are all just trying to do our best. If you have your heart stuck on breastfeeding, like I did, be gentle with yourself. Having four kids has taught me that there is no one-size fits all when it comes to motherhood so you do you!
Breastfeeding your baby is a huge commitment. Sometimes I look at my husband and feel nothing but bitter. Whose genius idea was this to make me carry the baby, birth the baby, and now feed the baby? And sometimes I think about all my body did to bring my four beautiful babies into the world and nurse them through that first year and I am in awe.
Someday I will trade in my nursing tanks for pretty bras in who-knows-what-size. Someday I will be free to come and go at the drop of a hat and I will look back on these years of babies with fondness. I’m not wishing any time away, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle either.
My nursing must-haves
- A pump. Even though I did not go back to work full-time while nursing, I still used my pump for date nights, etc. A pump offers you much needed freedom and flexibility. If you are going back to work–check out Medelaatwork.com to prepare you for that.
- Bottles and storage bags.
- Breast pads. If you read this post, you know the struggle is real.
- A nursing cover. It just makes nursing in public so much more comfortable.
- A nursing pillow. If you are going to do it, why not make it as comfy as possible. Especially helpful post c-section.
- Nursing tanks/bras. I’m firmly in the nursing tank camp, because I am really self-conscious of my tummy.
- A water bottle/cup. I swear the second I sit down to nurse, I’m acutely aware of how crazy thirsty I am. I love a big water tumbler with a straw to keep handy while I’m nursing.
- This MyMedela app is great if you are tracking feeding, have questions along your nursing journey and just want a reliable resource at your fingertips! Get it here –> http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/my-medela
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