October 2015

I knew breastfeeding was going to be hard, but I’m not sure it really hit me just how hard it was until I was in it. We’re only 3 weeks in and, from what I’ve been told, the first 3 weeks are the hardest. I’m crossing my fingers that it can only get better from here (knock on wood).

In honor of passing the 3 week barrier (woo hoo!) here are the 5 things I thought I did “wrong” with breastfeeding, followed by the 5 things I did right.

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What I thought I did “wrong”

  1. I pumped for the first time the day my milk came in

My milk came in the day after we returned from the hospital. My sister warned me that I would know my milk had come in when my boobs scared me. Well, my boobs officially scared me. They had grown two sizes overnight, were rock hard, and looked like a really bad overdone boob job. They were also leaking at an alarming rate. At one point I was standing in the kitchen in my nightgown and they began leaking so bad that a puddle of breast milk was forming at my feet. It was bad, really bad.

Apparently my boobs were so scary that even Annalynn was afraid of them. She suddenly stopped latching and every time I tried to offer her a boob, she would break out in hysterics. She was inconsolable and there was nothing I could do to help her. She was crying, I was crying, and poor Derek didn’t know what he could do to help.

Not sure what else to do, we made our first emergency run to Babies R Us to cash in our credit for a breast pump that our insurance company had provided. I needed relief and the breast pump seemed the logical solution.

  1. I gave Annalynn her first bottle at 3 days old

That’s right. I caved and gave my baby – who was refusing the breast – her first bottle of pumped breast milk at 3 days old. Surely this would lead to nipple confusion and she would never go back to the breast again, at least that’s what this hormonal, first time mom was convinced of. It was also my first experience of mom guilt. I felt like I had my first dirty secret that I was ashamed to share with anyone.

  1. I used a nipple shield

My cousin had given me a nipple shield at my baby shower, telling me the shield was the secret to her awesome breastfeeding relationship with her infant son. Willing to try anything, I gave it a shot to see if it would help. She latched almost immediately with the nipple shield and continued to devour both breasts. It was amazing and I thought it was our end-all solution (it wasn’t, but it did help). It wasn’t until later that I learned nipple shields were somewhat frowned upon.

  1. I gave Annalynn a pacifier

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Everything I read told me not to give Annalynn a pacifier so early, but we were desperate. Baby girl continued to work herself into hysterics and the pacifier seemed to be the only thing to soothe her. She took right to it and would suck herself to sleep.

  1. I Googled for answers

When will we ever learn? Google is the worst source of information for new moms (or really anyone looking for real help). Everything I read scared the crap out of me and I was convinced I was doing everything wrong. This lead to mom guilt and extra stress for my overly hormonal post-partum state.

And 5 things I know I did right

  1. I pumped for the first time the day my milk came in

Looking back, I know without a doubt that pumping was the best decision I could have made for my baby and me. I’ve since learned that newborns really are scared of rock hard breasts and can easily turn them down. My engorgement was out of control, they were causing me pain, and my baby girl was turning them down. I needed to fix the situation and pumping was the best solution we had. There was such a sense of relief that came after my first pumping session that I was crying happy tears. I would go back and do it again in a heartbeat.

  1. I gave Annalynn her first bottle at 3 days old

I started freaking out when Annalynn refused to eat. Not so much for fear of losing our breastfeeding relationship so early (though that was in the back of my mind), but because I knew how crucial it was that she eat. When she stopped eating, and stopped producing wet/dirty diapers, my mom instincts kicked in and I gave her her first bottle of pumped milk. Sure, there was the possibility of nipple confusion, but I knew in my heart that making sure Annalynn ate was my number one priority no matter how that happened.

Whenever Annalynn was hungry I continued to offer her my breast – sometimes she would take it, sometimes she would not. Whenever she did latch I felt victorious, like we had overcome whatever our dilemma was. Then the next feeding she would refuse and I felt like we were back at square one. However, she never starved. When ever she refused, I would pump and give her a bottle.

We had a lot of trial and error, but eventually the pumping/bottles were able to be phased out completely. It’s now been 6 days since our last bottle (*knock on wood*) and while our nursing sessions still aren’t perfect, we’re slowly figuring it out. I think the key to breastfeeding is patience and persistence.

  1. I used a nipple shield

I owe a lot of our breastfeeding relationship to the nipple shield. Though I’m still working on phasing it out, I’m not sure we would have been able to nurse without it. It allows Annalynn to latch a little easier and it’s actually a little comforting to see the milk build in the shield so I know baby girl is eating. I’ve already texted my cousin several times to thank her for the gift and for encouraging me to give it a try. It may be “frowned upon” in certain breastfeeding circles, but I am 100% pro-nipple shield.

  1. I gave Annalynn a pacifier

Heck, it soothed my baby and allowed her to calm herself down so she could eat/sleep. A stress reliever for baby is a big stress reliever for momma. And you know what? She won’t even take it anymore! It was like one day she decided she didn’t want it anymore and the only thing that will calm her is the boob. Talk about a complete 180! It just goes to show you how quickly babies change their minds – every day is a new adventure.

  1. I Googled for answers I made an appointment with a lactation consultant

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, making an appointment with a lactation consultant was one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far as a mom. She helped me see that all the things I thought I was doing “wrong” were actually things I had been doing right. She reminded me that Annalynn is learning to breastfeed, just like I am, and that takes time. She told me that’s it’s normal to go two steps forward and one step back, and encouraged me to continue to give it a go. Just when I was at my breaking point, she gave me the hope I needed.

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Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural, but it ain’t easy. I know we still have quite a journey ahead of us and, to be honest, that scares the hell out of me. However, I’m up for the challenge and am looking forward to see how the rest of it plays out.

I plan to continue to post updates as our journey continues. Like I said, every day is a new adventure and who know what next month (or tomorrow!) may bring.

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