Breastfeeding has been a journey for us. It started out very complicated. There were so many unexpected twists and turns. I wrote a post a while back explaining some of our early struggles (https://babylute2013.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/breastfeeding-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/feeding). For a while I was almost exclusively pumping. Even when I was nursing, I always had to use a nipple shield. My best hope for where we’d end up was some sort of a pumping/breastfeeding combo. I doubted I’d ever get to a position where I would be able to only breastfeed and not have to use bottles.
Never did I expect to get to where we are today: 100% breastfeeding AND nipple shield-free! It feels SO AMAZING.
Ever since the early part of December, I have been 100% breastfeeding. Pumping all day long is a thing of the past. It feels great to finally be there for the past month and a half. The last piece of the puzzle was this: having to still rely on using a nipple shield to get Winter to latch. I have been wanting to ditch the shield for a while. It’s an inconvenience to have to rely on a prop to feed. I have to make sure I always have one on hand, washed and ready to go. When I nurse in public, it’s just one extra thing that makes feeding more complicated in addition to using a nursing cover. For weeks I’ve been trying to wean Winter from the shield, doing things like removing the shield halfway through nursing. It never worked. She would just get frustrated and scream until I put it back on. Then BAM–on Saturday I tried nursing without the shield and she latched perfectly!! I was so thrilled. She literally stopped using the shield cold turkey! We have been successfully nipple shield-free for 6 days now! I am SO PROUD of her! It is such a joy to be able to breastfeed my daughter and not have to worry about using a nipple shield. We are finally 100% natural now.
One of my friends, Bree (http://littlemissprepared.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/breastfeeding/) did a post recently about how much she loves breastfeeding. I could TOTALLY relate to her in this post. In the beginning, I dreaded nursing sessions. I was tired, my nipples were infected, when I was able to nurse, I had to use a nipple shield, and I had to rely on pumping almost exclusively for a long period of time. For a glimpse of time, the only thing that kept me from throwing in the towel was my stubborn nature not to GIVE UP! I knew that breastmilk was best for Winter, so I was bound and determined to keep going in hopes that “it gets better as time goes on,” as I was promised by other nursing moms.
Well, guess what? It DID GET BETTER! In fact, I have done a total 180 from where things were. Instead of dreading feeding my baby, I now look forward to it! I absolutely LOVE breastfeeding Winter. It’s such a special time.
Let’s take a look back at where we’ve come from. Here is a comparison of the early weeks compared to now:
THEN: Breastfeeding took 40+ minutes every 2 hours in the beginning.
NOW: Nursing sessions are every 3 hours and she is finished eating in 15-20 minutes. She is much quicker and more efficient at the breast.
THEN: My nipples were infected, cracked, bleeding and caused excruciating pain.
NOW: I’m fully healed and experience no pain. Hallelujah!
THEN: For a period of time, I was having to pump almost exclusively and feed her bottles. I had dim hopes that I’d ever be able to fully nurse her naturally. My goal was to move to a 50/50 breastfeeding/pumping combo.
NOW: I am 100% breastfeeding! The only time I pump is in the mornings after her first feed to pump and store extra milk.
THEN: I had to use a nipple shield to get her to latch on. She got confused and angry when I tried to take it away.
NOW: We have been nipple shield-free for an entire week! It’s amazing to not need a prop. This was the last piece of the puzzle that I wanted to resolve…and here we are today, shield not required! It’s an amazing feeling.
THEN: I hated breastfeeding in public or around other people. I felt self-conscious and awkward, even with a nursing cover. Because of this, I would always pump ahead of time and give her a bottle to avoid nursing in front of others.
NOW: I fully embrace when it’s time for her to eat and I’m not a home. I use my nursing cover and will feed her without worrying about what other people think. Breastfeeding is completely normal, natural, and it’s perfect FINE to do in public.
THEN: I dreaded breastfeeding in the very beginning because I was so tired, in pain and didn’t like it.
NOW: I look FORWARD to when she is ready to eat. I love the bonding experience of nursing her.
It is truly a miracle that we are in such a good position today. I never understood moms to said they “just loveddd breastfeeding.” I thought they were wackos! Honestly! But as time has gone on, problems have resolved, I now understand. I have actually become one of those moms who “just lovesss breastfeeding!” Who knew?! I am so blessed and grateful that things turned around for us. I know that I’m not the only one who has had a rough road and had to stick it out. If you are still in a rough patch, I encourage you — DON’T GIVE UP! It will get easier and it will get better. It’s so worth it.