As beautiful and wonderful as breastfeeding can be, every mom who has ever done it knows that there can be struggles. There are good days and bad days just like anything else, and although it gets easier over time, there can still be bumps in the road (or bumps in the boob, lol).
For some reason most people don’t know how difficult breastfeeding can be in the beginning or over time, probably because it is still such a taboo subject to anyone who isn’t either your best friend or your mom. I wish I would have known how difficult it was going to be, but also how wonderful it could be at the same time, and how it would be worth all the hard times.
Before you have your first baby, you picture your freshly born child to be laid on your chest and it’s easy to think that they will latch without any trouble at all and it will be this beautiful bonding moment where everything goes smoothly and you also don’t look like you were just in labor for 32 hours. That is not the case. At least it wasn’t for me. We constantly hear “if it hurts (or if it’s not working) you’re not doing it right,” even from lactation consultants, which is absurd and discouraging to say the least. But let me tell you, it hurts like HELL, it’s awkward, it’s time consuming, it’s mentally and physically draining, but it has been SO worth it for me.
In the beginning there was pain. Toe curling pain. My nipples were so sore from my son feeding so often that I cried. His latch was fine, at least that’s the impression I got from the lactation consultants who came to check on me for a grand total of five minutes. If you think about it, having your nipples tugged at, sucked on, gnawed on, and scratched at least 10 times a day would make anyone wince in pain. If you breastfed and never had pain, you must have been blessed by the breastfeeding goddess because the more I read, the more I realize that is not the norm.
Thankfully, the pain subsided after about a month or so, but even through all of the pain, I pushed myself to continue because I wanted to make it work for my baby and I. As much as it did hurt though, I don’t want to make it seem like I did it unwillingly. I heard everyone’s different opinions about breastfeeding and formula feeding and whats right and whats not, but I made the choice to breastfeed for my son and I, no one else made that decision for me.
After the pain went away, there were still other struggles such as leaking, having to pump when you get too engorged, navigating feeding in public, and just generally having a cranky baby during feeding times. Thankfully, these can be relatively easy obstacles to overcome, with practice. I invested in some re-usable nursing pads, I had a great pump that insurance covered (thank goodness), and I learned to be comfortable with the idea of feeding in public because I had to. And by saying I had to, I mean that I either had to never leave the house or get over it and grow some guts because my son doesn’t take a bottle. So if I went out I had to feed him from the tap so he didn’t go hungry.
Even though breastfeeding has been quite a struggle, and there will still be more obstacles in the future, I have learned to appreciate it all. It has health benefits for both of us, it’s quicker and easier than making a bottle, plus it’s free so that helps ;). It’s also kind of amazing to be able to feed your child and know that their body is getting bigger and stronger thanks to YOU! I haven’t ever felt more important in my life than I do now, and that is thanks to breastfeeding.