This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by my friend Kerry. Here’s what she had to share:
My daughter Layla was very alert at birth. My midwife took her little head and latched her on within the first hour she was born. I saw three different lactation consultants before I was discharged, and they all had different techniques. I called on some of them twice to show me again.
When we got home, I nursed her on demand and latched her on often. There was a definite learning curve getting her to latch, but each time got a little easier. A few days after Layla was born a friend of mine asked if my milk came in. I said, “Yes, I think. Wait, how do I know?” She said, “Oh you would KNOW. Your boobs will get so painfully engorged and you’ll feel a let down and it will be white milk, not like the colostrum. You will hear or see her swallowing”. My friend came to see me. Sure enough, my milk had come in and I hadn’t batted an eye. I started feeling my milk let down about 3 weeks later. Around this time, I was also walking around and nursing her without having to think about it, a time when many moms are often still trying to get a decent latch.
Layla gained weight steadily and I never worried that she wasn’t getting enough, I could tell by her diapers and check-ups.
When Layla was around 2 months old, I developed a clogged nipple pore, also called a “bleb.” That hurt. I used hot compresses and nursed her on that side, gritting my teeth and trying to breathe through the whole session. I took a hot shower and let the water run on my breast. I nursed her again. That did the trick, and nursing her on that side felt sore for a few days. I can honestly say this was my only painful issue; a blip on the radar.
I had a healthy supply and a forceful letdown if I pumped, which would make Layla choke and gasp. I block fed for a few weeks and stopped pumping and things got easier on her. As she got older, she handled my let down like a champ. I barely even remembered this happened until now, as I am writing it all out.
She always had a great latch. We sailed through teeth (4 bottoms first, then 4 tops). When her top teeth came in, I did have to make sure she wasn’t lazily latched or I could feel them digging in. I would simply unlatch her and relatch if I felt them. Although she has nipped me a few times accidentally, I haven’t had to deal with biting at all.
Around 5-6 months I got the hang of side-lying nursing which allowed me to basically sleep through her night feedings. Layla just turned 1 and still nurses at night, usually 2-3 times. Some people have balked at this, but because we co-sleep I barely wake up and I never get out of bed. It is so easy and convenient, and it gives me peace of mind that she is getting enough nutrients.
Breastfeeding is deeply relaxing for me. I swear I can feel the prolactin and oxytocin coursing through my body when I’m nursing. Sometimes it makes me sleepy. More than once I’ve let out a deep sigh because my body just felt good. I can’t really explain it in any other way.
There really isn’t much else to report. I’ve been very luck that breastfeeding has been blissfully uneventful for over a year now. My goal was to nurse until 1, but now that we are here I have no reason to stop and many to continue. She is on a healthy self-weaning path, which is best for both of us.
I should add that I had great support, and even though breastfeeding came easily, I still needed it at times. It isn’t enough to just get lucky that it works physically for you- you need to be dedicated and talk yourself through emotionally. It’s hard work nursing around the clock, even if it’s an amazing bonding experience. I really encourage moms to have a good support network just in case they have any trouble.
When I was pregnant, I planned on breastfeeding but truly didn’t know how much I would love it. I know that nursing isn’t always easy or possible, but I hope every mom who can do it gives it a fair chance. It can be hard in the beginning, but stick with it. It might surprise you with how wonderful, convenient, special, and simple it can actually be for both of you.
You can follow Kerry and her gorgeous family on her blog Naturally Crazy