Thursday, July 29, 2010

"No One Told Me" Thursday

When you are pregnant women flock from what seems like the four corners of the Earth to tell you all the wonderful things to come, as well as some advise...whether it's wanted or not. Yet there are still so many things that happen when you deliver your first child that make you think - "why didn't anyone tell me this would happen???" So here I am, telling you every Thursday what you may not know or be prepared for. Today, lets talk about boobs.

No one told me....

Breastfeeding is lonely and hard. You hear it morning, noon, and night starting the second you realize there is a tiny being in your belly, "breast is best". Women, doctors, websites, and baby books sometimes go a bit overboard in pushing how wonderful it will be for both you and your baby, how natural it is, and how much easier it is than formula all in an effort to ensure that you keep your baby on the boob juice for as long as possible. Naturally, I thought it would be easy and maybe even fun. Then came Little Man.

I was so sure I would breastfeed for at least a year and when that little guy came out and attacked my mammaries with vigor I knew it was going to be a struggle. Your milk coming in is PAINFUL! Like full on, keel over pain. And what about the sharp stabbing pains for the first few weeks while your nips are getting used to the abuse of a baby sucking? I can't tell you how many times I cried. Before you ask, no it didn't hurt because he was latched on incorrectly. I had a lactation consultant look and said it is right, my breasts just need some "learning time" then the pain would subside. Plus I have a forceful letdown, meaning I spray like a fire hose. That is more of a pons-and-needles feeling that I can manage but it is uncomfortable at first. Don't even get me started on engorgement and clogged ducts. Childbirth is nothing compared to the pain of Mastitis (clogged ducts). I had that with each baby.

Don't let the pain scare you, though. I wanted to give up so badly that first month or so but I am so glad I stuck thru it. I was only able to feed Little man for just under 6 months (I had to quit due to milk issues) but I did treasure the time I spent cuddling him. He is a busy body and hates to cuddle so that was the only cuddle time I got. With Little Miss I'm going on four months with no end in site. It was still painful, and I still wanted to quit but it has been "easier" this time.

What I struggle with the most is the loneliness that comes with it. If you are like me and are very modest you want to ensure you don't show your ta-tas to the world, even if it is a natural thing. So I won't breastfeed in front of people without a cover. And even then it is difficult sometimes. Plus, my babies tend to feed close together (like every hour and a half) so I really can't go anywhere without kids. I can't go to the movies with my friends or just have an afternoon alone. Little Miss won't take bottles so that is especially difficult. And nighttime I feel overwhelmed at times because I am literally the only person who can satisfy her hunger and comfort her to sleep. The Hubbs gets to sleep all night and I have to get up as much as 6 times a night and it can be exhausting. I have cried many times. But I still do it out of love for them.

And for a lot of women (like the vast majority) you have to actually teach your baby to latch. Most don't do it naturally. This can be very frustrating and you may end up blaming yourself. It's not your fault! It's just that no-one told you it would be hard. And don't hate yourself if you decide to formula feed. Your baby will get all the nutrition they need and you may just save your sanity and marriage if things were getting really bad.

Now there are many, many benefits to breastfeeding. But you can read about those just about anywhere. Instead I will tell you how to ease the discomfort of clogged ducts of you are lucky like me and are plagued with these in the beginning. I don't know why it works, but it totally does.

Soak a wash cloth that is big enough to cover your breasts in hot water. Wring out the excess water and place it on your bare chest until the cloth starts to cool. Place a cooled piece of cleaned cabbage (yes cabbage) on the hard spot of your breast for 10 minutes or so. Then pump! Once you've pumped what you can, re-soak the towel in how water, wring out the water, and place it on your chest again until it starts to cool. Repeat the towel a few more times and pump one more time. You should be feeling a million times better at that point!

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