It’s a no-brainer that nursing your baby is a fantastic option. Does breastfeeding make you a better Mom? No. Is it great for your baby? Yes. I knew the basics of breastfeeding before I started with my daughter. Nipple meets mouth. Pretty simple, right? Negative. Breastfeeding can be extremely challenging for some Moms and literally impossible for many as well. I learned that quickly when I was in the hospital after giving birth and my stubborn daughter (she gets it honestly) refused to latch. I wondered if my nipples were broken, if I was producing enough milk/colostrum, maybe they were clogged? Maybe I wasn’t holding her right, she isn’t a football after all. Among all these questions I was asking myself, was this little voice telling me to keep trying, a determined little voice that knew I chose this for a reason and I’d be damned if I walked out of there with a formula fed baby. After 12 hours, my starving little bundle finally latched on and began nursing. The emotions I didn’t know I was going to feel were overwhelming, relief washed over me as I tried to wrap my head around how my body could sustain this little life. Me, just plain old boring Kate. As if it wasn’t mind-blowing enough that I grew three humans in my body and gave birth to them, I was now about to exclusively breastfeed one for the first 6 months of her life.
Which brings me to the biggest thing I wish I had known. I had already established that I would nurse her for 6 months and not a month more. I’d give her a bottle and pump if I had to, but mostly I just wanted my body back after that point. Fast forward 6 months and this stubborn girl will not take a bottle. I try every nipple size, shape, colour, you can think of. I try spoon feeding her breastmilk, I try sippy cups, I try normal cups. But do you think that child was going to wean without a fight? Hell to the no. I kept telling myself eventually, if I was persistent enough, she would take a bottle. Fast forward a few more months and she is 10 months old and still nurses regularly. She doesn’t have much interest in food. She’s slowly learning to take a bottle but it’s been a real process. My point is, don’t go into nursing with a preconceived idea of how it’s going to start and finish. Every baby is different and a lot of them don’t magically self-wean.
I’ve been struggling to maintain a social life where I can go out with my friends for more than a couple of hours because I have this tiny human at home waiting for the boob. She needs me. It’s more than food for her, it’s comfort. I love to be her comfort, but I also love my sanity. I’ve accepted that I might end up nursing her longer than I anticipated and it took me a long time to accept it, but that’s okay. I just wish I had known before so I wouldn’t have felt so… trapped, for lack of a better word.
Another thing I discovered, is that nursing bras are not for everyone. I had one in the beginning along with cloth nursing pads (which were amazing, especially when you’re frugal like me). I always messed up the snaps on the bra and fumbled around and just generally had a rough time before I started using a sports bra. I could plop my boob out in like .5 seconds. Now that the engorged awkward stage is over, I can wear pretty much any bra I like and I have no issues. Same goes for nursing tops, I wore my regular tops, it’s just as easy to lift it up and tuck it into your bra as a nursing top is to pull down, plus regular shirts provide a nursing cover without the intention of it, it’s great.
Lastly, I always thought I’d be really open about nursing, I thought I’d just pop my boob out and nurse her wherever and whenever I felt like it. I was wrong about that as well. I’ve actually only fed her in my home and at friend’s homes, never once in public. It’s not because I’m uncomfortable, it’s because I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like making other’s feel uncomfortable. Does that mean you shouldn’t nurse in public because you might hurt someone’s feelings? Definitely not. It just means that I made the personal choice not to, even after convincing myself I could and would.