Before I gave birth to my son via C-section I attended one lonely breastfeeding class. It was free and yes, I learned a few things like how big a baby’s tummy is at birth and the difference between colostrum and what milk is like once it “comes in.”
I asked questions and watched a little DVD in the dark about what breastfeeding is supposed to look like. But nowhere, anywhere did I learn a thing about all of the possible difficulties I might face once my little one nestled at my breast and began screaming for milk.
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Really, how hard can it be? Baby + Boob = Milk. Duh!
So after being birthed up, spruced up, weighed up, and sent off for a quick snuggle with Daddy my son was placed on my chest to nurse and he began scooting towards my breast like a champ.
My heart immediately burst into a billion little glittery pieces and I felt so…..motherly.
Three days later he wasn’t gaining any weight.
He was approaching the dreaded 10% loss that the hospital staff incessantly reminded us about so that we would what….feed him formula?
Well, after a bunch of charts and graphs and jaundice and talking to the staff pediatrician that said, “If it was my kid, I’d feed him formula,” I wailed and pounded on the sheets about not being able to nourish my child with my body like I was supposed to….and I gave in.
His first bottle was taken with no problems which just confirmed for me that I had been starving him by trying to get this breastfeeding thing to work when my boobs were apparently broken.
Flash through the next several months of his life: filled with formula, pumping, eating lactation cookies, drinking a billion gallons of water, Gatorade, taking supplements, endless night feedings, daily blubbering calls to my Mom, my Mother-In-Law’s negative comments after every pumping/feeding, tears, more tears, starting solids early.
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And that brings us up to today. Today when I thought to myself, “Hmmm…what’s this lip tie thing I keep reading about?” I looked it up. And then I saw photos. And then I checked my son’s lip.
And then I realized that for the last 8 ½ months it wasn’t hormonal issues, tissue issues, low milk supply, IGT or any of the other various problems mothers can have when trying to breastfeed. It was a lip tie and not one medical professional ever even noticed.
I had to figure that out all on my own. I’m now sinking into this reality with a bit of bittersweet relief.
I share my story so that I can tell you a few things you need to do with certainty:
- Research online. I’ve heard people say you can read too much. I find this idiotic. A new mother must equip herself with as much information as possible because it’s available and it helps. Plus, you’re sitting there on the couch breastfeeding or pumping…what else are you gonna do?
- Go to a La Leche League meeting (http://www.llli.org/). Because when you’re in the fog that is new mommy-hood you just need a buddy or two that you can cry to that won’t tell you you’re being silly. Plus, you learn a lot more from those that have recently been where you are.
- Join a few breastfeeding groups on Facebook. Especially if you can’t get to the in-person meetings and just need a little support.
- Buy or borrow some breastfeeding books. I recommend The Breastfeeding Mothers Guide to Making More Milk and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. During my lowest moments, reading these books helped me to feel like I should keep going.
- Keep Going. Even mommies with the most difficult breastfeeding issues can still give their babies their absolute best. Even if that means your little one gets 20 ml of breast milk a day and the rest is the formula. Honestly, your baby will be okay and so will you.
- Remember that being a good mother doesn’t have to include exclusive breastfeeding or even breastfeeding at all if it’s just not possible for you. Every mother – every child is different. The fact that you are reading this blog shows you care enough about your child to learn more and that means you already are a good mother.