My breastfeeding journey began moments after giving birth to my daughter. She learned very quickly and began nursing like a champ within her first hour of life. That doesn’t mean we did not have some surprises along the way.
The breastfeeding tradition, like mother like daughter.
My mom nursed me until I was a little over two years old. One of my dads favorite stories to tell was how I would wake up every night around two am, stand in my crib and say ,”nurse, nurse, nurse.” Over and over until he would come and get me and bring me to bed. Before my dad died of cancer almost two years ago he told me those are some of his most cherished memories. Fast forward 30 years. I now have a munchkin that likes breastfeeding even more than I did!
There are some things that no amount of reading will prepare you for.
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People are not kidding when they say your nipples may hurt. Starting out, breastfeeding was very painful. My midwife gave me Lansinoh and it was a total life saver!!! Like chapped stick for your nipples. After a few weeks I needed it less and less until I noticed I wasn’t needing it at all. That was a happy day because I felt like we made it past the newbie nursing stage.
Waiting for your milk to come in
My milk took 5 days to fully come in. My breasts looked like alien creatures trying to escape my body and my chest felt like it was full of cement. It wasn’t pretty. But my mom told me, “just keep nursing.” And sure enough, finally my milk started to flow.
When you are a new mama, your babies crying can cause you to lactate. The first time this happened I was changing the munchkins diaper and she began to cry. When we were finished the front of my shirt was soaked. At first I thought she had somehow peed on me. After looking in the mirror I noticed the wetness was from my nipples down. That is when I realized the need for breast pads.
I remember my first plugged duct. Ouch!!! In my mind it was much worse than they made it sound in in the book. I took a hot shower then massaged my breast to help unplug the duct. Suddenly my nipple began to spray across the room like old faithful. Mind blown! Soon, I became a natural at mastering the clearing out of the plugged duct. Experiencing these type of challenges really make me appreciate my mom and all the time she spent breastfeeding me!
Pumping only to dump
I remember thinking of how nice it would be to have Genevieve use a bottle so I could have a break sometimes. Faithfully, I began to pump after the 4am feed to build up my stash. A nice supply was slowly growing in my freezer. Genevieve was not a fan of the bottle but I was sure she would come around. Then our diet change messed with my perfect plan. I practically cried when I realized I could not use the milk I had spent so much time pumping. Genevieve never liked the bottle so I gave up on pumping all together.
One of my very first posts was made during one of Genevieve’s growth spurts. I’ll be honest, growth spurts can take a lot out of you. I remember Genevieve’s early growth spurts and she would eat all day and all night long, at least that is how it felt! I learned to stay extra hydrated and eat lots of snacks to keep my energy up.
Genevieve only bit me a few times and good gracious it is painful when she really chomps down! Most of the time my reaction from the pain was enough to let her know biting was not a good idea. Every so often I get a little nibble but nothing to bad.
How do I feel about breastfeeding now?
My munchkin still nurses off and on at night. At one point I had her sleeping in her crib and it was lovely. My husband almost died last year (another blog post for another time) and it threw a wrench in the sleeping schedule thing and I have not readdressed it yet.
Sometimes I really just want a night to myself with no one touching me at all. But then I remember my dads story. Even though I woke my parents up every night for over two years that is a memory he truly cherished. I know I will feel the same way someday.
Years from now I will miss my munchkin sleeping next to me, snuggling close and feeling her sweet curls brush against my arm. So for now I am enjoying every moment of this nursing journey because before you know it she will be a young woman and I will be telling her stories about how she used to keep me up at night, just like the stories my dad told me.
Where are you at in your breastfeeding journey?
Are you an expecting mama hoping to breastfeed? Are you a breastfeeding mama who has the nursing thing down? What were your biggest nursing surprises? No matter where you are in your breastfeeding journey we can always learn from each other and should always encourage one another.
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