Let me preface this post with some general thoughts on breastfeeding.
1. Breastmilk is wonderful. It’s got all the nutrients and antibodies that your baby could possibly need. It’s also great for bonding, super convenient and free. I was sold on that last part once I saw the prices of baby formula.
2. Breastmilk isn’t an elixir for immortality, no matter what some might say. It doesn’t give your baby magical powers nor does it make them super special. So if you can’t or won’t, it’s ok, your baby will be just fine. I know this because Truett wasn’t breastfed and he’s a perfect specimen of a 6-year-old.
3. I’ve gone the formula route (Truett), the expressing to bottle-feed route (Kirsten) and the straight from the boob-tap route (Finn) and my favourite is hands down the boob-tap. In terms of convenience, there’s nothing quite like being able to pop out your boob to feed the baby. But we made the other methods work so there’s that.
3(b). Closely related to the boob popping is the matter of breastfeeding in public. I’m not particularly fond of flashing my boobs in public and I’d take the privacy of a nursing room any day but I’ve fed my hungry baby in restaurants, malls and public benches on several occasions so make of that what you will.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part, boobs!
//It’s going to be long so feel free to skip most of it and scroll right to the end where there’ll be photos of
boobs the baby!
I often hear mothers talk about how beautiful and natural and easy breastfeeding is and every time I read one of those perfect breastfeeding stories, I start to hate them and their wonder boobs just a little because in my experience, breastfeeding is so very hard.
It’s really, really, really hard, especially in the first couple of weeks. It’s like I have broken boobs and my baby hates them.
I scoured the internet and nobody really talks about how difficult it is to stuff your boob into your newborn’s teensy tiny little mouth so I guess I will.
The first two weeks after Theo was born, trying to breastfeed him was an absolute nightmare. I googled “How to get a correct latch” and “Tips on successful breastfeeding” numerous times a day and probably read every website and forum on breastfeeding. One particular website even had this lovely gem: “All babies love breasts, it’s the most natural thing for them!” and I was all “Oh ho ho, you clearly haven’t met my baby!!” I was even googling “Why does my baby hate my boobs” but those weren’t very helpful either.
Soon, I started watching youtube videos on how to latch on your baby and FYI, I’ve seen more boobs than I ever want to see in my entire life. And they all made it look so easy – Step 1: pop out your boob, Step 2: bring baby’s head to exposed boob, Step 3: baby drinks with a contented smile.
When I tried the exact same thing, my baby was anything but contented and he certainly wasn’t drinking nor smiling. Instead, he was flailing his head and struggling and screaming till he was red in the face. Not pink. Bright lobster red. Like he had just burst an artery in his face. He would push out the boob with his tongue and try to gum them really hard with his piranha gums (OUCHIES!) and swipe them away vigorously with his hands like “WHAT IS THIS?? GET IT AWAY, GET IT OUT OF MY FACE URGHH!!”
It was truly distressing. It destroyed me to know that my boobs were causing him so much tears and I felt like I was failing horribly at providing him the one thing he needed to survive – basic nutrition. Couple that with the general postpartum anxiety and let’s just say that I was in tears a lot as well.
At one point, I was even afraid to offer him my boob anymore because it seemed just looking at them upset him. I’d pretty much given up hope of ever latching him on and I was pumping exclusively to bottle-feed him.
I don’t think I would have made it through those rough couple of days without the husband being so supportive and talking it out with me. He’d tell me not to worry about the feeding and that the baby would be fine either way. On better days, he’s encourage me to just try offering him the boob without stressing over it.
So I did. Instead of forcing it, I’d be all casual like “hey baby, there’s a nice boob right here if you want it but it’s cool if you don’t.” He’d scream and I’d fail over and over and over but then one day, it suddenly just worked. He went from “WHAT IS THIS ABOMINATION??!!!” to “hey, that’s a fine-looking boob, maybe I’ll have me some of that delicious milk…” So he took the boob and that was my first successful latch. The next feed, he’d go back to hating them again but several more failures later, he took the boob once more. And then again. And again. It was one successful latch at a time until we found our mojo.
It took us a long time to get here but today, he’s a boob kind of guy and I’m so glad we get to do this.