It’s one of those things you see everywhere and it seems so natural and easy. Women breastfeeding anywhere and looking so put together and comfortable doing it, like it was second nature to us.
The truth behind that is actually the opposite.
Several months ago, I was at the restaurant and tried to discreetly breastfeed my baby before she started crying. She wasn’t comfortable, I wasn’t either, so I left to breastfeed her in the car.
People are just recently starting to share their experiences with breastfeeding and how hard it is. For some, it’s not really important to go through it, or it is not worth the hassle, or their life circumstances make it too time-consuming. And that is absolutely fine. Others have challenges and give up.
Personally, I really wanted to breastfeed because of all its benefits, because it seemed “easier” than pumping, heating bottles, and all the cleaning involved with them, and I was looking forward to that special bond I would get with my baby. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
At some point, I couldn’t help but think that I was almost delusional for wanting those things. My first 2 months were a living hell. The 3rd month was better, the fourth month also. In the beginning, there were days when I wanted to give up. Other days I would just try to get through without crying. Then, like some friends suggested, I would give myself small deadlines: ok, until the next doctor appointment, ok let’s try this and that.
With COVID, it took a while to get a proper consult with a lactation specialist. It turns out that Alana had a lip tie and a posterior tongue tie. The latter impeded her tongue’s movement, which meant she was working so hard while breastfeeding, but wasn’t getting the milk out. Therefore I was not producing enough. My days were all the same: breastfeed for an hour, pump for 10 minutes, then give her what I pumped and start over. A posterior tongue tie is not obvious to the eye, but the lactation consultant and dentist felt it with their fingers. So, all those who saw pictures of her tie were telling me it was slight and she would be fine, that I did not need to release it.
At first, I was all about the numbers: how many ounces I was pumping, how many diapers, how much she weighed. I was borderline obsessing and I felt like I was failing already at being a mom because I couldn’t feed her and she wasn’t gaining enough weight. It was so hard for me to trust the natural course of things and the process.
I didn’t have a latch issue nor a supply issue. Although I believed I did because milk wasn’t overflowing.
Fast forward to today, and she just turned 12 months and we are still breastfeeding… If you would have asked me a year ago… I would have never thought that I could do this. We recently had some bloodwork done because she was still little and gaining slightly. Once the results indicated that everything is completely fine, I stopped using the app to calculate everything (diapers, how much time on each breast, etc).
So, for any new moms, these are my top recommendations:
- Get a lactation consultation as early as possible (during covid, this was really difficult since all consults were virtual)
- Ask about tongue and lip ties (I had no idea they existed and could be an issue)
- Get friends’ support
- Know that whatever you do, it is the best thing for you and for your family. Fed is best
- Don’t use the apps to calculate and monitor everything (unless your little one has health issues and you need a place to log everything because let’s be honest, mom brain is a thing!)
- Enjoy your baby!
And then, as I kept this draft for over a year before publishing it, on September 5th 2021 at 15 months and a half, our breastfeeding journey ended. It was quite a ride and at the beginning, I never thought I would make it this far. It was absolutely beautiful and part of me did not want to stop, but I knew it was time for both of us to close that chapter.