While I was pregnant, I read up on Breastfeeding A LOT. I had only heard horror stories or don’t worry, everything will be great stories. I wasn’t really sure what to think…so I assumed the worst. I’m the type of person who would rather be prepared for the worst case scenario and not be surprised when it actually happens. I went into labor assuming that I would have an uphill battle ahead of me.
When they laid my little baby on my chest, my world stopped. I was overwhelmed with happiness. We tried to breast feed within ten minutes of birth. Aislynn latched just barely onto my nipple. I knew that wasn’t the latch we were looking for, but the nurse said it can take a few days and not to worry.
After I was transferred down to the maternity ward, we breastfed every two hours. My daughter always had a shallow latch and by the end of the day, my nipples were killing me. They were so red and sore. Thankfully, all of my nurses helped me with latching on. They taught me new positions and helped reattach her mouth to be more open. Those nurses were a lifesaver for me. But of course, that didn’t help with the pain.
The second night there, a nurse came in and gave me Lanisnoh and breast shields. WOW, such a huge difference. If there are any soon-to-be mamas out there, these are the two things you NEED to buy. You can thank me later!
We went home and I knew that I would have to try hard to get her to latch on correctly. My milk came in on day four and I was immediately engorged. It was really painful on that first day but gradually got better. When I first got engorged, my daughter could hardly latch on. I tried massaging the area, using heat packs and expressing some milk beforehand to help. Everything helped a little but not enough for that tiny mouth to latch on correctly. So I let her just latch onto the nipple during those few days. I was really only concerned with making sure she gained weight at the time. After my engorgement was over, she was still only latching onto the nipple. My fault I know. I desperately tried everything to correct her latch. But no such luck. I could get her to latch on with her mouth wide open but after a few sucks, she would reattach her mouth smaller…just on the nipple.
On top of her shallow latch, I couldn’t keep her awake to nurse to save my life! I undressed her, blew on her, talked to her and touched her to keep her awake. She also only nursed for five minutes on one side before she was done. As a first time Mom, I was terrified that she was losing weight and the doctor would make me give her formula. I wanted so desperately to breastfeed that I took the pain of the shallow latch, just so that she ate. But no matter how hard things ever were, I was still so amazed by breastfeeding.
However, I knew I couldn’t put up with this pain for forever…and I was getting more and more worried about her nursing habits. So I made a very smart decision, I called a lactation consultant. I was there for almost two hours and learned so much. We learned that Aislynn had a shallow latch, even when sucking on a finger. When we tried to get her to have a deeper latch, she would gag. We also learned that even though she was only nursing for five minutes on one side, she was getting plenty to eat. She was a very proficient in her nursing and I had a fast letdown. This equaled fast nursing sessions. We left with the knowledge that there wasn’t really anything we could do except practice a deeper latch by giving her a finger to suck on before nursing. More importantly, I left with such a relief that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that Aislynn was gaining weight.
Those next few weeks, things got slowly easier. I got the hang of new positions, and figured out how to prevent leaking. But no matter how hard things ever were, I was still so amazed by what we were able to accomplish. The entire first month, I never looked away from her little face while she fed. My neck would hurt so bad from always turning to stare at her, but I never got over the amazement of how perfect she was and how amazing a woman’s body is after labor.
I actually never ended up using my finger before nursing sessions to help our latch. Maybe it was my renewed sense of accomplishment with breastfeeding or maybe it was just getting better with time, who knows. As she got older, her latch got bigger and breast feeding became easier and less painful. I remember thinking in those early weeks, that breastfeeding was the most challenging thing about bringing home a newborn. And it truly was. But time has seriously changed things. Breastfeeding is one of my favorite parts of my day. I can’t wait to feed my baby girl, to hold her and to cuddle her. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to see her little rolls and know that she got them from me. Now, months later, we are still exclusively breastfeeding and we wouldn’t give it up for the world. If you are a soon-to-be mama or have a newborn now, don't give up! Once you get past those first six weeks, everything gets better and easier. Breastfeeding is truly one of the most wonderful bonding experiences you can share with your baby.