I hope from time to time to be able to share some thoughts directly from some friends and other mothers. This is one of those occasions. Emily is a dear friend who encouraged me during those first difficult weeks of breastfeeding. Pictured below is Emily, her husband Ky, and their son Jackson. This photograph was taken in March of 2013, shortly after Jackson’s first birthday. Emily is a great example of what she and I both declare necessary – support! I hope you find her words encouraging.
Jami wrote some great stuff on breastfeeding. For me, the first five weeks were extremely difficult! Between the shock of being a new mom, exhaustion, physical recovery of my own body and trying to get Jackson to latch on I was at my wits end. My mom had been a group leader for La Leche League and had taught on breastfeeding. I’d observed her feeding all of my younger siblings with what looked like ease. I grew up thinking that breastfeeding was easy – just like breathing. However, I’d forgotten an important thing. I’m the oldest child and didn’t know the struggle it can be when you’re first learning to breastfeed. I didn’t know the struggle my mom had faced with me!
The books made it seem so easy. “Just lay your baby on your bare chest after birth and they WILL find the correct spot & latch on to you on their own.” Ha! That’s definitely not how it worked for me. I met with several lactation consultants at the hospital who also could not get Jackson to latch on properly. We had to spoon feed him at the hospital. I was terrified when they said we could check out and go home. “You’re letting me take a baby home that won’t nurse?” The consultants didn’t seem concerned. “Just keep trying,” they said.
Finally, we went to the lactation consultant at our pediatrician’s office. She was able to immediately pinpoint the problem. Jackson was holding his tongue on the roof of his mouth and therefore was unable to latch on. With a few tips from her we went home and things improved.
Things I learned from this experience:
1. A support group is HUGE! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not deficient as a mother if you can’t get your baby to nurse immediately. Also, don’t just talk to one lactation consultant if you’re having trouble. We talked to four before we really figured out the problem.
2. Use a nipple shield at the beginning if you have to. This was the ONLY way I could get Jackson to nurse in the beginning. After continuously working with him over the first few weeks he was eventually able to nurse without the shield but in the beginning it was a life saver! It’s much easier for a baby to latch on to the shield when they’re first learning.
3. Get cooling gel pads to use the first week or two. Your body is not used to nursing and you may be sore. I had several sets I kept in the refrigerator and rotated through. Cream is also helpful.
4. Persevere!!!! With the help of your husband, support group & the Lord you CAN breastfeed. Go back and review those chapters on the benefits of nursing. You’ll be tired and want to give up easily but make up your mind ahead of time to stick with it. You won’t regret it. While the first five weeks seemed like forever at the time they were really just a brief intro to a year of nursing. I nursed Jackson for almost 13 months and looking back on those first five weeks I am so thankful I persevered. Were they difficult? Yes. Impossible? It may have seemed like it at times but the answer is no. Through lots of prayer, encouragement from others and my own stubbornness we made it through. Like Jami I can now say it was well worth the effort and the tears.
Hang in there new moms. You CAN do this! You’ll be so glad you stuck with it. If you need a cheerleader then look no further. We’ve been in your shoes and know how difficult it can be. I know I can speak for Jami and say we’d both be more than happy to walk through this with you, cheering you on along the way.
- Postpartum Thoughts: What I wish I’d paid attention to concerning breastfeeding (jamileegainey.wordpress.com)
- kellymom.com – This is a GREAT resource for breastfeeding!