To The Mother Breastfeeding For The First Time: It Gets Better

I know what you’re doing right now.

Nursing a baby. Again. For the 6,927th time today. And if you aren’t, you’re about to very soon. And you’re probably either really hungry or have to pee but can’t get up because you are trapped under a baby.

I know what you look like.

Hair greasy from the lack of a shower, probably a sloppy bun. No make up. An over sized shirt or tank top that has been leaked on, probably more than once and has dried milk spots on it. And No pants or lose pants to fit your lovely post partum pads. You look nothing short of exhausted too since your baby is nursing around the clock.

I know what you’re thinking.

I can’t do this. This is hard. What did I get myself into? Is it going to be like this forever? I’m freaking tired. I’m done; I don’t want to nurse one more time. I can’t do it for another second. How do I shower and go pee? How do I go to the grocery? How do I eat or clean the house? How do I do laundry? How do I get my baby to let me put him down? How do I get even a second to myself without a baby attached to me? Why is he crying at the breast? Am I making enough? Omg I only pumped a couple drops! Is he eating enough? Does he really want to nurse AGAIN? He just nursed half hour ago! My nipples are sore! My arms are tired I can’t hold him up anymore, they’re noodles! Why am I so hungry? Why is my baby so hungry?!

WHY IS THIS SO FLIPPING HARD?!

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I feel you… The exhaustion is real.

 

It. Gets. Better.

Don’t quit on a bad day.

I swear to you it gets easier.

The first 6 weeks are a blur of endless nursing, changing 1,492,827 diapers and no sleep.

It is the most crucial time for your supply and your baby is growing/learning rapidly! Baby is growing like a little weed and you are learning more everyday about what mother hood is all about. For a nursing mom, mother hood is all about the boobs for a while. Especially the first several weeks. You are a walking milk machine and the source of nutrition for your baby.

Mama, I so feel you. I have been in your position!

I have been there, standing on the edge of sanity about to lose it all, throw in the towel, wave my white flag of surrender and wipe my hands clean of all things breast feeding.

Nursing is so physically and emotionally draining, even more so when your body is trying to recover from delivery.

Breast feeding. Is. Hard. That’s just the honest truth, but it is so incredibly beautiful and empowering at the same time. If it weren’t no one would breast feed. It is a wonderful God given gift to women. We create life and sustain life all with our bodies.

I was naive before I started nursing and just assumed you put the boob in their mouth and that was it, they eat. Oh gosh was I wrong. It was so much more challenging and time consuming than that.

But listen, there is hope and there is a light at the end of the tunnel! You just have to hang on.

I remember nights of endless cluster feeding. I was a mombie and fell asleep sitting up quite often (not on purpose) with a baby in my arms and pillows propping up my arms and head. I would hear him stir and get angry, not wanting to do it again. I would start to cry out of frustration, out of pure exhaustion. I was barely able to lift my arms to get him into position. Those were the nights when I wanted to introduce bottles, make my husband do it, but I’d have to get up anyway to replace the feed. I couldn’t sleep through enormous engorgement. (Seriously, boobs, I didn’t think mine could get that big but they did!) It was so uncomfortable. But that gets better too!

After your baby has regulated your supply, the boulders that are your boobs finally chill out with their massive hormonal over production, your baby gets the hang of how to transfer milk, and you learn how breast feeding works, it really does become as easy as “just whip out the boob.”

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From first latch, to present time

Everything your body is doing and what your baby is doing is biologically normal. As frustrating as it may be, the struggles in the beginning are temporary. You will get into your rhythm and all will be right in the world again.

I see you sitting there with your over sized shirt on that you leaked all over, let dry while you wore it, then leaked on again, with your greasy hair in a sloppy pony tail because you haven’t washed it in days, lovely hospital underwear and a huge pad and ice pack between your legs saying “This breast feeding thing can go to hell I’m so done give me a damn bottle along with my sanity.”

Post partum is anything but glamorous, but if you can get through the first few weeks, you can get through anything because that time period is the hardest. You and your baby are both learning how to breast feed so give yourself and your baby a break and learn together. Surround yourself with supportive people and reach out to other breast feeding moms for help. Family and friends have the potential make or break your breast feeding relationship in many ways. Do you research so you can educate them on the subject so they know how to better support you. And don’t forget, you are the mother of that baby. No one else. Don’t let anyone discourage you, everyone needs to be your cheer leader.

In the womb, your baby did not know what it was like to have a need or a want because every need was met before it was even a thought. They didn’t have to ask, it was already taken care of. The world is a very different place and it’s scary, you can calm and soothe and comfort through breast feeding. If your baby wants to nurse again when he “just ate 30 minutes ago!” He may not want to nurse for hunger; he may just want his mama. You are home base.

Your baby is the only one who has heard your heart beat from the inside 24 hours a day for 40 weeks (or however long you were pregnant.) He heard your body and your voice the whole time, your cuddles help him transition into this big ole scary place.

When I was so over nursing and didn’t want to nurse another second, I tried to talk to myself as if I was my son, to see his perspective.

“Mom, I want to nurse just to be close to you, don’t worry about the dishes in the sink. I need you to nurse me so I can feel safe enough to go to sleep in this place I don’t recognize.”

You may be fed up, you may be ready to give it all up, quit and never look back, but it. Gets. Better. Your baby needs you, your dishes don’t care and the dust doesn’t care but your baby cares. He wants his mama. He won’t need you like he does right now, in this very instant when he is rooting around for the millionth time in the last 24 hours.

You’ll miss the newborn cuddles when he’s too big to be held with one arm to nurse.

You’ll miss his little hand resting on your breast while he falls to sleep.

You’ll miss the way his little muscles go from stiff to relaxed as he nurses and how he just melts as soon as you put him to the breast.

You will miss it one day when he’s grown and stops asking to nurse because he’s too busy playing.

You will miss the relationship when it goes away.

Don’t quit on a bad day. There’s always tomorrow to keep on trying.

Just. Keep. Going. You can do it! There are thousands of other moms around the world going through the same thing, you are  not alone in your breast feeding journey even though you may feel like you are. And those moms who have been doing it for a long time who make it look easy, we’ve been in your exact position, thinking the same things.

Your baby is here because of you. He loves you for taking care of him.

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