I always planned to nurse. There was never any doubt. Then I had my son and learned something I did not and could not know until that very moment: I hated breastfeeding. I never hated anything more. And this hatred shocked me. Before I had Waleed I read many books on breastfeeding, scoured the internet, spoke with other mothers. I was told ad nauseum the benefits of nursing and warned about latch, supply, positions, but no one told that me I just might hate it with a passion. I didn't know why I felt this way. It baffled me. Yes it was time consuming, sleep depriving, sometimes painful, but it wasn't that. The hate came from a place without reason. I cried literally each and every time. I fantasized about running to Sam's club and buying buckets of formula. I switched to pumping- which was better- but still not great- and I felt guilty that God blessed me with a healthy beautiful baby, abundant supply, and I could not stand the act of nursing.
People kept saying it gets better but I had a hard time believing this. Two months, they said but two weeks in, two months felt like two years. I called my hospital lactation service, but they seemed horrified and I felt worse. I was about to give up. Then K went to pick up a lawn mower from a Craigslist seller. It wasn't revving and as they waited for it to warm up, the two made small talk with the usual so what do you do? Kate? She was a lactation consultant. We talked on the phone and she gave me advice and told me my feelings were normal. Some women get dysphoric milk ejection and its okay, it goes away with time, and not everyone loves nursing. She was busy lady and it was the only conversation I had with her. I began feeling hopeless a few days in when K, on the elevator at work making small talk with a fellow officer learned that in a former life she was a lactation consultant. I talked to April almost every day. She helped me work through the feelings. Gave me advice. She was my cheerleader when I needed it most. And thanks to Kate, April, and all the people in my support system, I managed to make it to the other side.
And now? Now I love nursing. Just like people promised, it got better. [Ofcourse by then he'd gotten used to pumped milk and it was a struggle to get him used to nursing again- but that's a whole different story].
Not everyone hates it, but if you are in my shoes, here are some words to live by:
- Talk to a lactation consultant. And keep talking until you find the one that will work for you. Like I said, the hospital consultants were awful. Luckily K introduced me to two wonderful women. Most hospitals have them, LLL volunteers are a phone call away, as your child's pediatrician- they have recommendations as well.
- Take it one feeding at a time. A few people gave me this advice and above all else, this is the reason I am nursing today. If I thought at week 2 about month 2 I wanted to give up but if I focused just that feed, and nothing more I could make it through. Feed by feed I made it to the other side.
- Get a good pump if you don't want to nurse but want to give breastmilk. Invest in a good quality pump. A hospital grade pump will not only maintain your supply but will help you increase your supply which is important in the early months whereas a store bought pump will usually just maintain what you already have. This site has great advice.
- It really does get better. I promise. It does. And if it doesnt ever get better, remember. . .
- . . .Nursing is a choice. Yours and yours alone. The majority of mothers do not breastfeed and their children are fine. Don't beat yourself up. Don't let anyone else. Your baby needs a good mom, how you feed them does not factor into the equation. I am so thankful the people in my life gave me comfort and no judgments as I struggled with my decision. I hope you will be so lucky and that you will not beat yourself up regardless of the decision you make.