I treasure every minute (well, most minutes) being up with my infant in the middle of the night. Late night feedings are a super special time between mother and child. Breastfeeding is something only a momma can provide. It’s made by the mom’s body just for her baby. If I thought pregnancy was miraculous, breast milk is one step up. My body produces the right antibodies Leigh needs to fight off infections he might be exposed to. It introduces all sorts of good bacteria into his body so he can digest food. It’s the best food source for a newborn child and I’m so happy that I can give it to him.
Like many other breastfeeding moms, I’m proud to feed my child this natural food. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about breastfeeding. I don’t have a lot of experience feeding him outside the house yet, but I have had to pull over on the side of the road to nurse him in the back seat of our car because he wouldn’t stop crying. For my sake, I feel more comfortable nursing him in private. That’s just where I’m at in our breastfeeding journey.
When I said I planned to breastfeed for a while someone said to me, “How long is a while? Are we talking Game of Thrones-long?” Well, no. I don’t want to have a fully functional adult eating from my breast, but the American Society of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year. And that’s my goal. If I can breastfeed for at least a year, I’ll feel like I’ve done a good job. I realize that all sorts of barriers can get in the way and if I don’t make it to my goal, I shouldn’t be disappointed. I just want to try. We’ve already overcome so much in this department since his birth.
While at the hospital, we made the big mistake to stick a pacifier in his mouth to soothe him while taking his newborn photos. It was an in-the-moment decision that I regret doing because it made breastfeeding difficult for Leigh. After sucking on a hard, plastic pacifier, he developed nipple confusion, where a baby has a hard time latching on the breast because unlike a pacifier, a mother’s nipple is soft. I read about this in my prenatal books but I had no idea how fast it could take effect.
The amazing lactation consultant at the hospital spent time with us before we were discharged to get us back on the right path. She patiently helped correct Leigh’s latch and make sure he was eating for two whole sessions. Whenever he’d pop off, she’d patiently help get him back on. She sat there for 30 minutes showing me how to hold and guide my baby. What I thought was natural behavior was actually really difficult. I’m so happy I asked to see her. She’s my hero. Without her help, I don’t know if I’d be breastfeeding today. The first week of breastfeeding is often the last week for many moms with problems who don’t seek help. All new breastfeeding mothers should consult with the lactation consultant on staff before they go home from the hospital. It’s worth the time to talk about your options and potential troubleshoot solutions. I felt so much better going home with her advice in my back pocket. She taught me it takes patience and perseverance to breastfeed. If he’s having a hard time, restart the position and try again. Giving him a little free sample doesn’t hurt either. 😉
When we first settled in at home, it felt like Leigh was testing me to see if I could remember how to feed him. Would he latch? Was his head at the right angle? Was his body tummy to tummy with mine? Could he breathe while eating or was his nose blocked by boob? Should we be doing skin to skin? Will his umbilical cord stump get in the way of that? So many concerns! But it turns out, we got the hang of it. He’s nearing one month old and our feeding routine is established. It’s going to change over time, but we’re adapting. The most important thing is that we don’t give up. No matter how frustrating it is to try and feed a baby who won’t latch or suck, keep trying! It’s worth it! When he is happily eating, his little eyes look up at me, reach into my soul and send a special little thank you note. It’s so worth it.