Breastfeeding – not as easy it looks? Part 1

Breastfeeding – it’s not always easy and that sucks.

BREAST IS BEST!?

I’m a dietitian. This mantra ‘breast is best’ about breastmilk and breastfeeding was instilled in every dietetic student when I was at University.  

So, a while later when I was pregnant with my first child I wanted to do everything ‘right.’  Attending prenatal classes with my husband in tow, the public health nurse did not have to convince me that breastfeeding was the best alternative for my baby.  She was preaching to the choir!  I was motivated and inspired to be the best mom possible.  I wisely nodded in my head in happy agreement as she taught the benefits of breast feeding to the group of soon-to-be parents.

Breastmilk is:

  • perfect nutrition, including antibodies for immunity
  • ready and portable
  • inexpensive

And, there was more! Breastfeeding is protective against many illnesses and conditions, including:

  • ear infections
  • upper and lower respiratory ailments
  • colds, viruses, staph, strep and e-coli infections
  • allergies
  • intestinal disorders
  • type 2 diabetes 
  • certain childhood cancers 

And, there are benefits for the mom too!  You can check this link from Public Health Canada for more information about the benefits of breastfeeding.

It all seemed so easy; I was ready to breastfeed my newborn when she arrived. It was natural, I was build to do it, I would be happy.

Then, everything took an interesting turn…

As I went into labour, I didn’t realize this was the day my bundle of joy would arrive.  She came a little bit early so things weren’t going according to my birthing plan.  Heck, I didn’t even have the nursery ready!  She couldn’t possibly come yet!

Labour was fairly normal, except for the dipping of the fetal heartrate, the vacuum to assist her entry into the world, and the fact that she turned blue within minutes and had an awaiting respiratory team working on her. 

It was several hours after delivery that I would have THE moment with my swaddled infant where I would whisper into her ear that she was what I had been waiting for all of these months and I would always be there for her. 

The Hallmark moment was interrupted by a well-meaning nurse who announced it was feeding time.  She instructed me to open my gown and “put the babe to breast”.  What was unveiled from under the powder blue hospital robe was something very foreign to me.  My A-cup breastlings had grown into round, hard masses that would make a porn star jealous. These could not possibly belong to me! 

The nurse assisted in hoisting one of my solid, yet tender, breasts towards the mouth of my sleepy newborn who had about as much interest in my boob as a vegan at a pig roast.

This futile attempt would be one of many for the next 3 days.

We were not allowed to go home until my daughter had a successful nursing session and the two of us pooped.

Sounds simple, turns out it wasn’t. 

Ask any woman who has had her hoo-ha stitched up, how frightening it is to try to push out a poop?!  But the main point was my baby couldn’t latch on to my bursting boobs to get a proper feeding.  Until the night of Day 3…

I was exhausted.  But too tired to sleep.  It was probably midnight when the “eureka” moment happened.  My milk was in, my baby latched, and she nursed!  And she nursed and nursed and nursed.  And then nursed some more.  It was like she hadn’t been fed all her life (apropos?) and was making up for it.

I thought I was exhausted before, but this was a whole new level and I had no ideas what was coming next.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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