I have always known that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I was breastfed, my husband was breastfed, my friends breastfed their babies. Plus, I had done the research – it’s natural, wholesome, the perfect nutrition, and in my opinion the best option for a baby. I was led to believe by many that breastfeeding would be all rainbows and butterflies, but I have come to find out that in order to reach that rainbow there have been some rivers to cross and mountains to climb.
Our breastfeeding journey began in the hospital, as it does with most, just after my baby was born. Rather than the overwhelming sense of joy and accomplishment most say they find when first breastfeeding their child, I found tremendous pain and discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, the ability to produce milk had me in amazement, but actually nursing my child was a whole other story! Rather than looking forward to feeding my son, I was dreading the hunger cry. I spoke with the lactation consultant at the hospital, and though she assured me that his latch looked great and that what I was experiencing was probably just the “mild discomfort” many new moms report – I felt like there was a piranha attacking me. We saw four different consultants many times, and every time I was told the same thing.
Release from the hospital was bittersweet – I was excited to go home, but I feared my ability to continue feeding my little piranha. Upon arrival home I burst into tears. My husband assumed it was the stress of having newborn in our care full time, but I knew the baby would be waking up and ready to eat very soon. I researched day and night, talking to friends and scouring the internet, trying to find ways to relieve the discomfort. Heating pads, nipple guards and lanoline cream became my best friend. Yes, these things seemed to help a little as time went by but I never did find a magical fix. I guess you could say the magical fix that I did find was time.
One day when it was time to nurse it was like the pain had vanished completely. Looking back I am so glad that we pushed through those rough first six weeks. Nursing, I have found, is so much more than nutrition for my baby. It is a time for my son and I to spend together, comforting and nurturing. It is a time for us to study and memorize each other’s faces, and a time to develop our trust in one another.