I often hear people say things like “you help with breastfeeding? How hard can that possibly be?” This statement has put even my best polite-smile to the test. How hard can it be? Let’s take a quick trip through my own breastfeeding experiences and find out.
2004: I have my first baby. The lactation consultant at the hospital comes by once, takes a peek, tells me “her latch looks good!” and goes on her merry way. By day 3 I am dealing with a baby who nurses around the clock and bloody, cracked, exceedingly sore nipples.
By day 7 I have mastitis and head to a LLL meeting, where I am too shy to ask for help or even nurse in front of the other mothers.
By 4 weeks I am crying during many feedings and googling whenever possible to figure out what I’m doing wrong- after all, the LC said my latch looked good. How hard can it be?
By the time my baby is 2 months old I’ve managed to heal my nipples and the pain has downgraded from toe-curling to uncomfortable- but I am stubborn, and I can’t find a LC in my area, and I’m too bashful at the LLL group to ever ask for help.
By the time my baby turns 1 year old she is still nursing hourly around the clock and I decide that enough is enough. I wean her.
2007: I have my second baby. He actually does latch well and eats on a fairly “normal” schedule. Things go smoothly!
But then I have to go back to work full-time and I need to start pumping. I pump 3-4 times a day, every day, for 10 months.
I worry about my supply, I track every ounce I pump, I bring my pump everywhere I go.
My second child is so used to bottles that he doesn’t really care about nursing and could take it or leave it. I force him (nicely, but still, it’s my choice and not his) to continue nursing to 1 year. To my dismay, he swiftly weans himself.
2013: By now I am already a CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) and working towards my MA in Lactation and the requirements to sit for the IBCLC exam. I use all the tricks to get my new baby to latch well but within 24 hours of his birth I notice that he has a humdinger of a lip-tie.
By now I know that my first child also had a very thick, tight lip tie that was eventually revised when she was 8 and that it likely caused most of our nursing issues- and I know that I do NOT need to suffer this time around.
By the time my son turns six days old I have him at a dentist’s office for a laser lip-tie revision. I notice the improvement immediately once the procedure is over.
This time, I get to have the breastfeeding experience that everyone hopes for; snuggles and cuddles and no pain. Once we get to a year he’s not ready to stop, and neither am I.
He nurses almost until age 2 when one day I realize that we’d stopped nursing and I hadn’t really even noticed. It sort of just… happened.
So I know firsthand that breastfeeding isn’t always easy, that it’s not always simple, that it doesn’t just happen. That’s where I’ve been. And that’s why I want to help you- because it doesn’t HAVE to be like it was with my first child!
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