I always knew I wanted to breastfeed.
Even before we found out we were pregnant I knew that when the day came I would do everything I could to make breastfeeding work. Aside from the numerous health benefits – seriously there are way too many to even list – I knew I wanted to have that special closeness and bonding time with my little babe. Also, it’s one of the most natural things a woman can do. The fact that my body can provide sustenance, antibodies and help give my little man the best start possible is an amazing thing and was something I was determined to do.
Once we learned of Carter’s impending arrival, I began to do more research on breastfeeding. I had heard from friends and read that it could be a challenging experience so I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I watched videos, read about it and looked up local resources as a fail safe. I knew that the first few weeks could be tough and was prepared to put in the work to make it stick.
When Carter decided to make his early arrival I was so excited for the moment they would place him on my chest and he would get to nurse. Because Carter was born posterior and it was a bit tougher to get him out, he was a little tired when he first arrived. When we attempted to get him to latch he went on no problem, but didn’t stay on for very long. The nurses were just happy he latched and told me he wouldn’t have much of an appetite for the first 24 hours and not to worry because my colostrum was extra filling and he didn’t need much for his tiny tummy.
We only stayed in the hospital for 24 hours and when we went home Carter continued to latch on and nurse without issue.
Well, at least he was having no issues. Me, I was in pain.
He had such a teeny tiny mouth and wasn’t latching on deep enough which meant my poor nipples were taking quite the beating. They were cracked, red and bleeding. I was putting expressed breast-milk and ointment on every chance I got but there was no chance to let them heal since Carter was a nursing machine! He would latch on and eat for 30-45 minutes, especially in the evenings.
The first 30 seconds hurt so badly that I began to get anxious and nervous when it was time to feed him. My toes would curl, I would sweat and there was more than one time where I cried. Hormones and lack of sleep are no joke.
On day 4 of Carter being home a public health nurse called (I opted into this at my pre-admit appointment at the hospital) and she asked me how things were going, especially with breastfeeding. I told her Carter was eating really well and I was just toughing out the pain and bleeding.
As soon as I mentioned that she advised me that it shouldn’t be a toe-curling pain and told me I should come in for a lactation appointment. They are offered at various clinics around the city and they are totally free! I made an appointment for two days later and was excited to see what they had to say.
Carter and I made our way to the clinic which is just around the corner from our gym (how convenient!) and they asked me some basic questions and then asked to weigh Carter so they could see if he was gaining weight. Carter weighed 7lbs 3oz at birth and a little under 6lbs when we left the hospital.
I was so happy when she weighed him and he was already up to 7lbs 6oz! Within 6 days he had already surpassed his birth weight and I was thrilled when they said he was clearly thriving and eating enough.
Next up was just getting those feeding sessions to be less agonizing.
The lactation consultant simply asked me to nurse Carter as I usually would. She informed me that he had a great latch and was getting a big gulp each time – which explains the weight gain. When I switched to the more painful side to nurse from there she immediately noticed a problem. His latch was far too shallow which is why there was so much trauma to my poor nipples. Seriously, at 6 days into our nursing journey they were bleeding, had scabs (yes gross) and hurt practically every minute of the day.
The consultant showed me how to get a better, deeper latch and instantly it felt so much better! It was such a simple fix (basically sandwiching my boob and shoving it in his mouth further haha) but I felt immediate relief! After he finished nursing she took a look at his mouth and noticed that he might have a bit of a tongue tie but advised me to ask my family doctor.
I happened to have an appointment that afternoon and when I asked her if she thought he had a tie she took one look and said ‘most definitely, let’s get that taken care of’ so I made an appointment for the following week.
During the week we waited for his appointment I continued to try and implement the strategies the lactation consultant had shown me and while it was better, I was still in a ton of pain. It was really only my right side that was still causing major discomfort so I decided to see if a different nursing position would help. Up until this point I had been using the cradle hold.
After doing some research I decided to try the football hold and lo and behold it made such a difference.
After implementing this hold for just a day, my right side finally felt some relief! I was no longer anxious about Carter nursing off of that side and began to really enjoy our time together.
A week after our lactation appointment Carter had his tongue tie clipped (which was super fast and easy!) and ever since then things have been smooth sailing.
Four months in and breastfeeding is an absolute breeze and I love our nursing sessions where he grabs my finger, looks into my eyes and often times drifts off to sleep. Those first few tough weeks feel like a distant memory and I am cherishing each and every one of these memories because I know this special time is fleeting (even thinking about when Carter will be finished breastfeeding makes me sad).
I confidently feed Carter whenever and wherever he needs, whether we’re out at a restaurant, watching a football game or out at Costco. I love laid back nursing where he just lays on me and nurses as he needs to and we often finish our nights with him nursing as we’re both lying down in bed.
I know people have there reasons for choosing whether or not to breastfeed and I know some people who would do anything to make it work but simply can’t which is why I’m so grateful for my ability to.
In today’s society we focus on giving our babies organic food and wrapping them in organic clothes and making sure what we put on their skin has nothing but the best ingredients which is why I am so insanely passionate about breastfeeding. I don’t think there’s a better gift you can give your baby or yourself. Not to mention it’s super convenient and free!
I am by no means an expert (obviously) and as I stated, I respect other people’s opinions on the matter. I just wanted to share my journey with Carter because while it hasn’t been easy, it’s been so incredibly worthwhile.