Let me back up just a bit. For me, deciding to breastfeed was never really much of a decision. I knew I was going to breastfeed the moment we decided to have kids. Once I was pregnant I bought all the books, read every magazine article and even took a breastfeeding class at the local clinic. I was going to be the best breastfeeder EVER.
As it turned out, the books, the class, and all the magazine articles that I’d read left out a number of things. What all those great breastfeeding articles didn’t talk about was my 30 hour labor and my 10lb baby boy. They neglected to mention the effect that a 30 hour labor and the horrific tearing that took 20 minutes to stitch up would have on my ability to sit down and breastfeed in the early weeks. Or how that discomfort would make it harder for my milk to let down so the feedings would take even longer.
They said my nipples might crack & bleed. They said engorgement may cause a little “discomfort.” What they didn’t say was that the pain involved might actually make me forget about the pain of childbirth.
These resources also listed some of the pitfalls of breastfeeding. Like mastitis, thrush, and the continuous leaking from my breasts. They didn’t explain how excruciating these things could be, especially when they all happened to me one right after the other.
Needless to say in those early weeks of motherhood I was feeling pretty beat down by breastfeeding. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I also felt like I couldn’t get a break. I really wanted breastfeeding to be this beautiful and mystical experience for me and my son. It just wasn’t working out that way.
Then somewhere along the way I came across a blog post online, I don’t remember where exactly now. But in this post the woman said, “Anyone who tells you breastfeeding is easy is a big liar! But if you stick it out, it gets better.”
And I did stick it out. Thanks to ice packs, lanolin, antibiotics and ibuprofen my problems passed. And breastfeeding did turn out to be one of the best things I ever did. I went on to breastfeed my son until he weaned himself at 14 months, even pumping for a whole year once I went back to work.
When I had my daughter a couple of years later I breastfed her as well. Oddly enough other than gritting my teeth through some sore nipples, it was pretty easy the second time around. Then again I think the breastfeeding Gods owed me one.
So why tell this story almost seven years later? Because somewhere out there is a new mom with cracked nipples and a hungry baby. And she’s feeling like maybe, just maybe, it’s too hard.
Well honey, it is hard. In fact it sucks. But it gets better. And it’s worth every ache and pain.
This post is a cross-post from Meghan Harvey’s personal blog, Meg’s Idle Chatter, where she writes about more than just sore breasts.