My Journey So Far
(Warning disclaimer: I don't sugarcoat breastfeeding, I tell it like it is. Because I wish somebody had told me bluntly all the things you really go through when learning how to breastfeed, because I thought I was doing something wrong when that wasn't the case. So, warning, this section is not for the faint of heart, but for those who are up for a challenge and have made a commitment to make breastfeeding work for them no matter what :-) )
See, noboby tells you these things. All the pamphlets and books and brochures say that “breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt” and that “if it hurts, seek help.” And because of this propaganda, you think that if it does hurt, you’re one of the few freaks who’s doing it wrong and that’s why it hurts. And doctors tend to not tell women it may hurt, because they think we won't be able to handle it or that it will make us not want to breastfeed. But the more I Googled breastfeeding troubleshooting, as I like to call it, the more I realized that most, if not all women go through the same thing I did. Breastfeeding hurts like hell and it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do! It doesn’t come naturally at first, the baby doesn’t automatically know what to do, and there’s a 99% chance you're probably doing it wrong—but hang in there, you're not the only one and it will get better.
The more I researched breastfeeding and all the pain I was in during these first three weeks after I delivered, the more I learned that yeah, a lot of women go through this. Even all of my girlfriends to whom I mentioned what a difficult time I was having with breastfeeding told me they had gone through the exact same thing. That it was very painful and it just wasn’t working out smoothly the way they say. Some of my girlfriends said they had even quit after several days because it was just so unbearable and they felt like the baby wasn’t eating. But that has been my whole dilemma this entire time: quitting is NOT an option. I’m not a quitter, I never have been. Especially now. I do not quit on myself, and now I cannot quit on my baby either. I had to conquer this. I had to find out what the problem was and make it better. There had to be a way, I just knew it. I was determined from the get go, from before I even conceived this baby, that I was going to breastfeed exclusively for a year. And when I set my mind to do something, I do it right and I give it my all. Which is what I have been doing for the past three weeks since Zoë was born. I have been enduring the most excrutiating pain in my breasts that I have ever felt. Never, really, have I felt any pain in my breasts. Not since they were growing back in the day during puberty and even then it wasn't this bad.
Those first two days when we brought Zoë home from the hospital were a nightmare. Absolute nightmare. She was crying non-stop because she was hungry and all I had still was the colostrum in my breasts. It’s the yellow pre-milk right after you give birth that is packed with nutrients, but is still not the actual milk. Baby wanted to nurse constantly during those first two days and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know that breastfeeding your baby meant breastfeeding around the clock. For two days straight she would literally sleep for fifteen minutes, then nurse for thirty minutes. Then sleep for fifteen minutes, then nurse for thirty minutes. I was stuck on my couch and my Boppy pillow nursing this baby all day and all night, and she still seemed hungry. My husband even had the audacity to suggest feeding her the "f" word. I took a deep breathe and all hell broke loose. Oh hell to tha nah! Men, do not mess with a woman who's just had a baby! But I understand, us women are so much more stronger than men are, one thing that was confirmed to me even more from having my first baby. If men had to do all this, there would be no babies! When my baby was hungry again and cried, I cried, literally, because the nursing was so terribly painful. I would squirm, kick my feet, and curl my toes every time she started feeding. Especially when she fed on my left breast. For some reason that breast was a lot more painful than the right breast. And at times, I would feel a shooting pain from my nipple, all the way down the side of my breast and to my back. I tried all the different breastfeeding positions they tell you—football hold, cradle hold, lying down, cross-cradle hold. I tried different locations around the house, it was just not working. But I refused to give up on my baby, so I endured and endured and endured this tremendous pain. And I say all this not to scare you, but to tell you it's OKAY. You're not doing anything wrong, it's part of the process of breastfeeding, and I wish somebody had told me this before and put it more bluntly for me, that is, the truth about breastfeeding.
But I remember one night when I was doing some online research on breastfeeding, I came across some chat forum where other mothers had posted their answers and experiences with painful breastfeeding. There was one answer in particular that really touched me. The person had written “it’s very painful at first, but stick with it. It will get better, I promise.” When I looked at who had written this comment, this mom’s avatar was the generic “no picture” avatar, but her name was Zoë. Zoë! Just like my baby girl! The tears came (just like they have been for just about everything these days) because I truly felt that it was Zoë herself telling me this. It was her communicating with me for the first time saying to me “mommy, it will get better, I promise. We can do this!”
YOU can use your ChiChi Power too!
My solution was to seek a lactation consultant and oh my, it was such a relief! I had about four or five nurses when I delivered try to teach me how to breastfeed and they were all doing it wrong. I'm sorry, but they were. The information I received at the hospital about how to breastfeed was inaccurate. But once I met with a lactation consultant, within minutes, it was such a relief. Like my mom says, "¡santo remedio!" The pain was gone and baby was taking in a lot of milk! Hurray! One consultant I spoke with told me that most women start off breastfeeding, but when their baby hits the first growth spurt at two months, they quit because they think they've run out of milk. But please, if you're breastfeeding, let me tell you, DO NOT give up! You WILL have all the breast milk that you need for your baby. You will NEVER run out of milk. All you have to do is keep feeding her/him, whenever your baby wants to eat. It's that simple. Throw out this false notion of schedules, it's a MYTH and completely pointless when you're breastfeeding (breast milk is natural, healthy and highly digestible). I COMMEND you for wanting to breastfeed, it's the hardest, yet the most REWARDING thing you'll ever do. And it's the best nutrition you can give your baby, hands down. Your little one will reap all the benefits for a life time to come. So I hope you'll join me in this journey and share your stories with me too, so that together we can stick to our commitment to breastfeed our babies and use our Chichi Power!
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