Why Breastfeeding Isn’t Always Easy
Breastfeeding came easily for both my son and me, and for that I am very fortunate and thankful. I am fully aware that it is either a struggle or simply not possible for a fair amount of women. When people would ask me if I was going to breastfeed before my son was born, my response was always something along the lines of “I’m going to try” for that very reason. So I knew there was a chance that it just wouldn’t happen for me. What I didn’t anticipate, though, was how demanding and difficult breastfeeding can be even when it does come naturally.
BREASTFEEDING ISN’T ALWAYS EASY: MY EXPERIENCE AS A FIRST-TIME MOM
On more than one occasion in the first few weeks of my son’s life, I seriously considered throwing in the towel and stocking up on formula. At this point in your baby’s life, you have to feed them every two hours. What you don’t realize beforehand, though, is that you don’t get a two hour break between feedings. After the baby has eaten for 30 minutes, you’re only looking at a 90 minute break before you’re back at it. This isn’t all that bad during the day, but those middle of the night feedings are another story. Not to mention you have to get the baby back to sleep in the middle of the night, but that’s a conversation for another day. And because you’re breastfeeding, this is all on YOU. My husband was incredibly helpful in the first few weeks when I wasn’t feeling anywhere near 100 percent. But this is one area where he couldn’t come to my rescue.
Your baby is also learning how to latch correctly during this time. Technically my son latched on within an hour of being born, but latching and latching correctly are two different things. The process of learning to latch correctly can be physically painful for mom and downright unpleasant for baby. Beckett and I had more than a few feedings that involved him screaming out of frustration because he couldn’t figure out how exactly he was supposed to get his food from the food source.
To complicate matters, I got mastitis when my son was just over two weeks old. I’ll spare you the intimate details of this infection and instead refer you to Google. In a nutshell, though, mastitis is an infection of the breast usually caused by a plugged duct that causes redness and pain of the breast along with flu-like symptoms. Yes, this does include a fever. For me, the pain wasn’t the worst part. Having a fever and being drained of the little energy I had left while having to care for a newborn definitely took the cake. If you’ve never tried to take care of a two-week-old while feeling like the flu gods have a personal vendetta against you, let me assure you that it’s a huge challenge.
In many ways breastfeeding has become much easier than it was in Beckett’s first month. He can latch correctly. He goes longer between feedings. There’s no forcing him to eat 15 minutes on each breast. And thankfully (knock on wood) I haven’t had mastitis again. It’s actually quite convenient in some ways. I don’t have to worry about warming up a bottle when he’s hungry or packing a bottle when we leave the house. His food supply is just always “there” – assuming that I’m with him, of course. I tell you all of this to say don’t give up if you’re in the early stages of breastfeeding. If you’re able, give it a full month before calling it quits so that you can get a more accurate picture of what it will be like in the long-term.
Whatever you decide – formula or breast – at the end of the day, making sure your baby is fed is what’s best.