I realize most of you won't be interested in reading this post, and I'm okay with that! I want to put my story out there because I was totally caught off guard by how difficult nursing is. People say it's hard, but they don't tell you just how hard it truly is. I'm sure there's no way to ever be truly prepared, but if this helps just one new mom feel a little more sane....
When I was in the hospital I didn't have a lactation consultant help me until it was too late. The nurses were sweet and ready to help, but they didn't teach me how to nurse. And once I did see a lactation nurse? I didn't understand what they were trying to teach me. I felt stupid so I quit asking for help, which led to a major melt down at 2AM in the bathroom my 2nd night in the hospital. The nurse just happened to come in our room at that exact time to take Mia's vitals.... I felt so dumb! I thought they weren't going to let me take Mia home because what kind of mom cries in the bathroom at the hospital?? Ha! The nurse was really sweet and comforting but she couldn't figure out why I was so torn up. So the next morning I had a lactation nurse help me feed Mia a couple times before we left the hospital. I was feeling pretty confident that I had it all figured out, but once we got home we all fell apart again.
I was in so much pain because I was so torn up. We weren't sure if Mia was getting enough to eat because my milk hadn't come in yet. And Eric was at a loss of how to help either of us, so he kept asking me to quit nursing. He couldn't stand to see me in so much pain, and it was heart breaking to think about Mia being hungry. My friend gave me the # to her lactation nurse and told me to call her anytime. This lactation nurse was a life saver! She came to my home and really taught me AND Eric how to nurse. We both felt so much better after she left! But the pain was so great that I had to use a nipple shield until I could heal. Because of the shield, Mia wasn't getting enough to eat. The shield is great for some moms and babies, but having that barrier made it difficult for our feedings. I would nurse for an hour and Mia still wouldn't be satisfied! So I tried to ditch the shield once I was healed, but she wouldn't latch without it. The day of Mia's 2 week appointment, after plenty of begging from Eric, I gave Mia a bottle of breast milk (I pumped since day 1 of getting my milk but I was too proud to give Mia the milk in a bottle. Ridiculous, I know!) I bawled the whole time for unknown reasons. Looking back, it was the crazy hormones and my emotions were all over the place, but I thought I was failing because I liked giving her the bottle and HATED nursing.
At Mia's appointment we found out that she hadn't gained an ounce in those first 2 weeks. She hadn't even made it back to her birth weight. My doctor told me to nurse 15-20 minutes at the most, then offer her a bottle of breast milk after. It was such a relief to hear that I didn't have to nurse for an hour anymore! Formula is the next step if she doesn't gain any weight. But I'm so happy to say that we had to loosen Mia's diaper! Our baby girl is finally putting on a little chub :) I'm excited to go back and find out how much weight she has gained. And I'm even more happy to say that nursing has gone so much smoother in the last week and a half!! She latches fine without the nipple shield, but I did have to put up with quite a bit of fighting the first couple days of no shield. And she rarely needs the bottle after a feeding (but sometimes I do the bottle instead of nursing just to give us both a break, ha ha).
I was so incredibly shocked to find out how hard nursing was. The physical aspect of it is excruciating, but the emotional aspect? I can't believe how intense the emotions and hormones are! I wasn't expecting it to affect me. But I cried, I cursed, and I beat myself up all day, every day. I thought about quitting every second of the day but I didn't want to be a failure. But here's the thing... I wouldn't have been a failure if I had chosen to quit nursing. The only thing that matters is that baby is full and healthy and happy! I made my decision to continue nursing after lots of prayer and support from my friends and family. But I wish I could go back and erase all those self destructive thoughts I had about myself because nursing wasn't easy. It helped having a husband who cared so much, a supportive family, and friends who were quick to give me advice and encouragement! I hope I can help new moms who are struggling, as much as I was helped! But the main thing to always keep in mind... if nursing sucks it's not because YOU suck! Don't be afraid to make the decision that is best for your family, you won't be a failure either way!