It wasn’t long into my second trimester that people started asking me, “Are you planning to breastfeed?” I gave them the learned and practiced answer of “Yes, you know, if I can.” I’ll confess now that I had no idea what I was talking about. I knew that there would be obstacles to breastfeeding, but had no idea what they actually were or whether or not they would be within my control.
I was fortunate to not have any medical or physical limitations around nursing my daughter, and it was still one of the hardest things that I’d ever had to do. Even without complications, breastfeeding was a bitch.
I’ll never forget the first night home from the hospital. My husband paced the room, trying to console our three-day-old baby as I cried in bed because my nipples were too cracked and sore to feed her. I felt like a failure. I sobbed, thinking I was incapable of nourishing my daughter.
But we had no formula in the house and so I had no choice but to literally “toughen up,” as the lactation consultant told me over the phone. I pumped for a whole day and then forced myself to put her back to my raw nipples. Nipple shields and gel soothies got me through several uncomfortable weeks. I read articles, reached out to moms online, and watched YouTube videos of babies latching until I could stop flinching at every feed.
Now at two months, I’m proud to say that the toughest part of nursing is finding a top to wear that lets me easily feed my baby on the E train. And she has gained weight beautifully — nearly double her birth weight — without the use of formula.
What I learned, and what I really wanted to share in writing this, is that breastfeeding is not easy. And if you’re committed to doing it, don’t think you’re doing something wrong because it hurts, or you’re tired, or you really want your breasts back to yourself. So many things that I read said “if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.” But that’s not true — any change in life requires a little discomfort to be successful.
What was the toughest part of being a new mom for you, and how did you get through it? What’s been your biggest change in your life (baby related or not) and how was it uncomfortable?