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Why Breastfeeding Isn’t Always Easy

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.12-1-15_Why Breastfeeding Isn't Always Easy_Inset

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.

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4 comments

  1. Mary

    Organized Mom December 1, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Congratulations Morgan!! You should be incredibly proud of yourself for staying with nursing. I had similar experiences except with my first, she flat out wouldn’t latch and I had to use a breast shield. What an emotional roller coaster that was to nurse with a piece of plastic between me and my baby. With my second I too got mastitis. Except I was on vacation on a small island and couldn’t find a pharmacy to locate a heading pad. Hello bath tub in a tiny rental with my 2 year old wanting to join me. Oh the stories of nursing. You will surely have many good tales to tell. Like you said it does get easier and some days it will be harder but personally I never regretted my decision. It will be over before you know it and yes, you will occasionally miss it. Choosing to breastfeed and sticking with it can be as challenging as choosing not to. All the opinions!!! Just remember, you’re doing great!

    • Morgan

      Morgan December 3, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Thanks, Mary! As difficult as it can be, I have thought recently about how I’ll miss it in the future. It’s such a special time between my son and me!

  2. Kate

    Kate December 2, 2015 at 11:10 am

    The first two weeks were ROUGH with both babies for me but at least by the time Rory came around, I know what to expect and how to manage it. I can’t oversell how helpful working with a good lactation consultant can be in those tricky first weeks. Totally agree that it gets SO much easier as they get a little bigger.

    Now that I’m back to work and pumping bottles, I miss the days of just feeding on demand with no bottles to clean!

    • Morgan

      Morgan December 3, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Agreed! I’m not loving the bottle cleaning! And I also considered finding a lactation consultant at the very beginning. Beckett eventually figured it out, so it wasn’t necessary, but it’s definitely something to consider for next time!

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