For most mothers, breastfeeding happens naturally from the very first moment the baby is born. Those mothers feed their babies day after day without needing to ask for help. They can fully enjoy breastfeeding the way it was meant to be.
Many times mothers are told that breastfeeding is better and easier. Well, from my point of view, it is better, but not necessarily easier.
I had been working as a Certified Lactation Educator for 2 years, before having my first baby. I used to hear from my patients that breastfeeding should be easy for me because of my experience, and the fact that most of them were happy after receiving my help.
I learned techniques to help mothers to breastfeed in any position, as well as fix difficult latches. I offered prenatal and post-natal information.
I knew from books that sometimes breastfeeding can be painful when the baby is not latching properly. I have such a friendly approach to babies that a Father once called me a ‘baby whisperer’. I also knew some techniques to help babies calm down as gently as possible.
It was only until I had my first baby that I realized (OMG!), that when your baby is not latching properly it DOOOOOOOOOOOOES HUUUUUUUUUUUUURT!!! (yes, I’m screaming). And a bleeding nipple can happen in just one try. It was so painful for me that I started to hesitate about my job. I was wondering how I was going to manage breastfeeding for one whole year, since that was my first goal. I did understand why many mothers were scared and why many others would decide to try later - or in a couple of days. I was committed to breastfeeding from day one of my pregnancy.
It was not easy, my son breastfed 24/7 with 15 min naps in between feedings; I could never get a pain free latch on the left breast with him, but the right side was always ok. There were so many challenges like bleeding nipples, oversupply, forceful let downs, plugged ducts, very needy baby, unhappy baby; he got to a point where he was only breastfeeding laying down, so wherever we were, I knew I needed to lay down to have my happy boy content at the breast. Again, a non- stop breast feeder and always-awake baby. Without mentioning that I could only sleep in one position during 8 weeks post -partum (but that’s a different story).
My point is actually to not scare you at all; I had a second baby, I was ready for a difficult time and…from day 1 she breastfed like a queen, pain-free; I was able to understand that when the baby is latching properly you don’t feel it, she knew how to handle forceful let downs from the beginning, feedings length were between 5-20 minutes, only one breast at the time, and she took naps from 1 ½ to 3 hours. How did that happen? Nobody knows…same mother different babies, different needs and personalities.
Wyatt wanted to sleep against our chest every night for the first 3-4 months; she didn’t want to be touched when she was sleeping. She only needed to be sure that we were sleeping close to her in the same bed, but not sleeping ‘on’ us.
I breastfed Wyatt for 4 ½ years; Hazel is 1 year, 3 months old and she still happily breastfeeding.
I don’t know if breastfeeding is easier than the ‘other’ method…I never tried it. I did pump when I went back to work and it was an extra job but it maintained my milk supply as well as a connection with my baby, who was waiting for me at home drinking this precious gift that only moms can give.
I do not regret every single minute that I spend breastfeeding my babies. Yes, I would definitely do it again!
Breastfeeding certainly takes much time and energy, but it gives me the opportunity to bond with my baby every single time, to look at her, talk to her, and enjoy her in a way that can be only done once in a life time: The Breast Time of Life.