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Guide to a Healthy Breastfeeding Relationship

Don't give up, it's only the beginning!

Ever since I found out I was pregnant with my dear sweet daughter, I knew in my mind I wanted the entire experience to be a natural experience. From prenatal care, to birth, to feeding.

Before she took her deput, I had so many women doubting me. Saying that breastfeeding would hurt, that I may not last because of the type of person I am (impatient), I would have to eat healthy and drink plenty of water to keep up with the milk supply. And then there were others who encouraged me because it was said that exclusively breastfeeding will shrink your belly, because it burns calories. Which I haven't exactly seen proof of so far.

Breastfeeding was an easy choice, but a hard path. Every time I hit a hard point, someone always tried to redirect me to formula. But I was determined.

After moving to my recovery room after delivery, I asked for a pump right away to get my milk flowing. For the first two days in the hospital I only pumped colostrum, which is the first stage of breast milk. It lasts for several days after the birth of the baby, and much thicker than the milk that is produced later in breastfeeding.

My little ones mouth was so tiny so she was having a hard time staying latched because of the extremely slow flow, so she'd let go and cry. So I allowed her to temporarily drink the formula they provided until I got the hang of things, and the doctors sent me home with nipple shields to help with the latch and a couple of bottles of enfamil.

The first night home when I layed down to sleep my breast felt like rocks were living in them, they were two times bigger in size, and my shirt was drenched. But I had no pump, and still no latch. The next morning the first thing I did was buy a manual pump, and I was on my way.

The first 3 weeks postpartum I pumped exclusively. Like I said I was determined. But it was extremely exhausting. My little one would wake up and cry, I'd have to wait at least 20 minutes for the bottle to warm, feed her, try to put her back to sleep which always took an extra 45 minutes. And then it was time to pump again. Before I knew it I was in the bathroom with my little one on my lap while trying to pump at the same time. It was literally around the clock, and I was so, so tired.

When my daughter was about 2 months, I gave breastfeeding another shot. Before giving her a bottle I would test her latch to see if she'd gotten any better. And she did, she was just still a bit impatient. But it was a good thing my patience was still intact. Eventually, she couldn't stay latched to my nipple but she responded well to the shields. So I breastfed using the shields until she was 2 months and a half.

By 3 months we practiced latching without the shields, and that was a very uncomfortable transition. I had caught mastitis. Which is an infection in your breast milk because of clogged milk ducts. My little one wasn't latching on properly, therefore she wasn't getting all the milk she was supposed to get. And although my breast were in the worst pain I still didn't give up. I just went back to the shields and took a hot shower to help the milk run out. I was told to continue breastfeeding because it helped recover from the infection. And although it hurt really bad, I did.

My little one is 4 months now and we have graduated from the hard path of breastfeeding and have reached a new phase. She feeds on demand and her latch is perfect. In the beginning I was so worried about my milk supply as many new mothers are, but I've learned that babies are pros in getting that milk out! And my supply makes exactly what she needs. No pump can compare to the suction of a baby.

Even though our breastfeeding relationship is established, I still research when I'm not sure about something. I follow a breastfeeding page on Facebook and read other women's experiences and concerns. It's comforting when you know others understand.

Breastfeeding is a natural, healthy, and soothing experience for both mommy and baby. Although I don't judge mothers who formula feed, that route just wasn't an option for me. A lot of times I hear that women stopped because their child couldn't latch correctly, their milk supply was low, or that they didn't want their baby to take over their body. But for those who do have those concerns and want to breastfeed it's so worth it! Less getting out of bed, more sleep, less bottle cleaning. And it builds one beautiful bond that no other human can replace.

Don't give up when things get hard. Find help in a lactation consultant, a friend who solely supports your choice and hardship, or simply follow a Facebook page that specializes in breastfeeding. You'd be surprised at how many other women go through similar stages.

Don't let anyone discourage you, because we are strong and this is what we were created to do. Breastfeed for as long as you and little one feels is necessary.

This is my story, and I wanted to share to let you know that you're not alone. Let's breastfeed together!

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