I have been asked often about my experiences with breastfeeding, so here it is: my experiences. I am not going to sugar coat anything or be all "rainbows and sunshine". This is the blunt truth about breastfeeding as I know it.
It was very important to Daddy "S" and me that Baby "S" be breastfed. After all, "breast is best!" as we had been told several times over. Neither of us had been nursed for very long as kids so I had no real support system at first. I have two cousins and a close friend who were willing to help me out and that was very nice. Prior to the birth of Baby "S", I met with a lactation consultant to get an idea of what was going to happen and how to do it. This was a great help and in addition to the wealth of information I learned, I was also given some free items to help with my journey, such as some nursing shells and some cream.
I wanted to nurse Baby "S" as soon after birth as possible in order to create that imprint in her tiny little mind. After she was born, Daddy "S" brought her over to me and I tried to nurse her. I learned quickly that you don't get a flip of a switch to suddenly know how to nurse, and your baby is not born knowing how. My midwife assisted me in latching her on and after a few moments she was nursing correctly. Fortunately, we never had a problem with latch, Baby "S" was good at that from the get go. However, Baby "S" did prefer my left side to the right. Upon offering the left, she would latch right on and eat her fill. Upon offering the right, however, she would begin to scream and wouldn't go anywhere near it. I had to call the LC (lactation consultant) and the nurse into the room for nearly every feeding to assist with latching her on. At this time I felt like a failure. My baby was only hours old, and I wasn't able to feed her without help. The LC finally gave me a little glucose water to dab on prior to offering to Baby "S". This enticed her to begin eating and after the first day or so I was able to use this method to latch her on. When you are in the hospital, please don't be afraid to call the nurse in at 3am! I learned they are nowhere near as tired as you are, they see you as a new mom not a failure, and they are beyond willing to help you out!
When I went home from the hospital, I was terrified! What if I couldn't get her to latch on and eat?! That's when I saw the note I had left myself on the calendar: my lactation consultant's name and phone number. Instantly I relaxed and remembered that even though I was home, I still had support. Now, nobody tells you this reality: you become incredibly sore those first few weeks. When you stop to think about it, it does make sense....your baby is nursing every 1.5-2hrs and your parts aren't used to that sort of "abuse"! I learned that Lanolin cream is your best friend! Some will tell you to put it on before each feeding, but Baby "S" was very impatient so I put it on after each feeding. Regardless, put it on often. It sooths, protects, and heals (I prefer Lansinoh brand...its all natural).
When Baby "S" was about 3 weeks old, nursing her began to feel excruciating. I would throb after each feeding to where I couldn't even sleep I was hurting so bad. Then I couldn't touch myself. I used the shells to keep anything from touching me between feedings. I dreaded each feeding and began crying through them because the pain was so terrible. Baby "S" started nursing badly, latching and letting go frequently, crying when it was time to eat, and nursing only until feeling full, so nursing more often. I began pumping exclusively because I couldn't bear to latch her on. After 4 weeks, two trips to the ob/gyn, and turning fire-engine red (add in a feeling of rubbing crushed glass inside me whenever she nursed), and I was diagnosed with thrush and given a prescription for an extra-strength yeast infection cream that I was to apply several times each day and wipe off prior to pumping or nursing. In less than one week, I was back to nursing full time again.
Fortunately, that was the end of our rocky road. After that amount of time, when Baby "S" was about two months old, I began to really enjoy it. There is something about the bond between mommy and baby....it doesn't happen instantly the first time baby nurses, but rather is built as you continue to nurse. Not to mention the calming and soothing effect it has on baby. Of course, there are also the benefits to mommy and baby such as quick weight loss for mommy, uterus retraction is quicker, and that annoying friend may not appear for mommy until baby has weaned. Also, baby is healthier because s/he has mommy's immune system, baby maintains a better weight, baby is less likely to over eat, baby has less ear infections, and if baby gets sick, s/he will get better quicker.
Now, Baby "S" has her two bottom teeth (cut them at the same time). At first, Baby "S" bit me constantly. I would break the latch, cover up and tell her "no biting mommy". After about a week there was no more biting. I cannot speak to more teeth or how it will feel then, but for the moment, I don't usually feel her teeth because her tongue covers them when she is nursing.
Despite our rocky beginning, I love breastfeeding. I am beyond glad that I stuck with it through the rough parts because the bond that is forged when nursing is one that cannot be replicated at any other point with baby. Not to mention, there is something about nursing that makes you feel like "Supermom" all by itself. I am sadly looking at the calendar and realizing that in a little over 4 months, it will be time to begin weaning. I have loved this experience and I plan to continue breastfeeding my next baby, whenever that may be. I do so hope that you make the choice to breastfeed, and don't forget to stick it out! The rough patches only last a short time and if you can stick it out to find the solution and correct the problem, you will find the extreme joy in nursing your baby just as I have!