With today the start of World Breastfeeding Week, I reflect on my first moments breastfeeding almost 11 years ago (hard to believe that I am again breastfeeding at this moment!).
Breastfeeding was not easy. Finding the right latch, unlatching properly, wating for the milk, then the pain of the milk finally coming in.... it was all. so. hard. There was one singular factor that really carried me through those challenges of the first few weeks of breastfeeding: my own mother.
My mother probably views herself to be a failed breastfeeder. A pediatrician who had her children at the height of the infant formula marketing campaings, and as a full-time working mother who resumed work within weeks of delivery, my mother lacked the time and support to fully realize her breastfeeding potential. And, she is sad about that. Now, in her professional life, she touts "breast is best" to her hundreds (maybe thousands) of patients. She will often recount with them stories of her by my side, massaging my breasts to manually express milk when it first came in, helping to relieve the engorgement. She will tell them: breastfeeding is not easy.
Days 1, 2, 3: waiting for the milk, learning to latch. My mom kept saying, "just keep trying, just keep nursing." Whenever Philly would wake up, we would practice the latching. My mom would fluff my pillows, put out a boppy or other lap pillow, and do the C-cup thing to cup the breast. She'd help me teach the baby to open the mouth nice and big for the best latch. She'd help me shove the entire breast in the mouth. Get the best latch! I think that was the one and only goal in those first few days: focus on the best latch.
Day 4: the milk comes in. OUCH. The first time the milk came in, I was in absolute tears, the pain was so bad. My mom, whose hands are always ice frigid, warmed her hands in water and started to massage as I cried and held a cup out. We massaged and massaged. My mama milked me! We collected quite a bit of extra milk - nice, rich, high fat milk.
Day 5 and beyond: mastering the basics, nursing in public. In ensuing days, my mom was by my side, quick to fetch me a pillow, rag, or glass of water, helping me to get the babe top open WIDE, always watching to provide support and suggestions. When out in public, at a restaurant or what not, my mom helped to provide non-suffocating coverage, just a little barrier so the little one and I could concentrate on the task at hand, nursing.
There are so many aspects to nursing that are hard: production, latching on, waiting for milk to come in, nursing in the middle of the night. For me, it was my mother that really provided that support I desperately needed to get me through the toughest time. There are resources out there to help us get through that tougest time. What/who was it for you?