Violet is 6 weeks old today! Can you believe it?! I can’t; it’s crazy. She’s the most precious one in the whole land. She’s a super champ, too. She eats like WOAH.
Before Violet entered the world, we did our baby research (remember all those books I read?). I read all about the wants and needs of an infant. After she was born, that all went out the window. We’re pretty sure that every moan and groan she makes (and she makes A LOT of them) means that she’s suffocating or choking or somehow in peril. We brought her to the doctor and one of our concerns was that she seems to stop breathing at times. The doctor told us, “Yeah, infants can stop breathing for 20 seconds at a time. That’s normal”. Well that tidbit wasn’t in any of the baby books!!
Other than spending all day terrified that something horrible is going to happen to our sweet girl, there was one big thing that surprised me about having a newborn: breastfeeding. I know, you probably don’t really care about this experience at all. That’s ok, because I’ll tell you about it anyway. Two of those books I obsessed over prior to V’s arrival were about breastfeeding. I even went to a
horrible breastfeeding class. I was pretty prepared for, what I saw as, the Horrors of Breastfeeding.
In an effort to clear up some of the doom and gloom that seems to surround the act of breastfeeding, I’d like to clear up a few bits of misinformation I received about the process. Misinformation might be the wrong term to use as I’m sure there is truth to all the advice I received. Plus, I realize everyone’s experience is unique. Nevertheless, I feel like this is a topic that’s negatives have become glamorized.
So, here are some of my truths regarding breastfeeding:
- It doesn’t always hurt- I was told by everyone under the sun to be prepared for hell. They told me about cracked nipples, pain, etc. I was told that I would just have to power through the first 2-6 weeks (depending on who the warning was coming from). So I went into breastfeeding assuming it would hurt. I prepared myself by reading books and websites about the correct latch; I wasted $35 going to a breastfeeding class; when I was in the hospital, I asked the nurse if she would help me with breastfeeding because I was really nervous about it. With all that prep and advice, I went into breastfeeding ready for the worst and expecting a lot of pain. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t hurt at all to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is weird. The sensation is a pulling feeling–not a sucking one. It was very odd at first. It’s not the most pleasant feeling, but I can’t say it’s painful. Thank God.
- Everyone and everything tells you not to time how long you feed the baby. You’re going to do it though. You’ll be worried that she isn’t getting enough milk in those first couple of weeks, so you’ll time each feeding to make sure she eats long enough that get enough milk. It’s ok. You’ll worry that you’re starving your child and failing as a parent and if she’s eating for any amount of time then she must not be starving, right??? (I actually don’t think that’s true- she could just be sucking, but it made me feel better to think this way).
- Feeding while covered up is a skill. I can’t figure out how people do it. I have to use both hands when getting this girl ready to eat: one on her head and one on my boob. I also have to be able to see what I’m doing (Ed. Note: It just occurred to me that breastfeeding is kind of like learning how to play guitar). I can’t figure out how to do this under a cover. I’m not there yet. I’ll have to keep practicing.
- Your boobs might leak ALL the time! I wasn’t expecting this. Maybe I should have expected it? It’s really strange. Even after taking a shower, I’ll look down at milk just dripping and, frustratingly, I’ll wonder if I have to shower it all off again (I don’t, by the way. I figure if I ignore it, it isn’t really happening, right?). In the meantime, I find myself smelling like spoiled milk for most of the day.
- When your milk “lets down” it feels like you have pins and needles in your boobs. Seriously. It’s not a comfortable feeling. They also get hard. Seriously, as I’m typing this Violet is sleeping in my arms and the boob that her face is next to just started tingling and is now rock hard and full of milk.
- Those in the midst of breastfeeding all of a sudden understand the inspiration behind super soakers. You can actually shoot milk–with velocity! This, of course depends on variables like pressure and the engorgement, but, sometimes I stand in the shower and see how far it can go (and I still leak even after shooting it all out). Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I shoot Nick when he’s not looking. But I don’t. Because I’m so nice…
- Ugh it’s so MESSY. Before I feed V, I roll down my bra and stuff a burp cloth halfway in. This not only keeps my bras relatively milk-free but it catches anything that would normally drip down my arm and onto the couch, chair, bed, etc. Now, I’ve watched plenty of women breastfeed their babies, and I have yet to see ANYONE do this. I can’t figure out what we (I’m including Violet in this) are doing wrong here. Why do we get milk everywhere but no one else does?? Why don’t we have a natural soft filter envelop us as we participate in this biologically beautiful bonding moment? I guess it’s just another thing we have to practice.
- Breast milk tastes like left over cereal milk. No additional commentary needed
So, fear not expectant mothers. There is a good chance that you’ll master breastfeeding with no pain. It doesn’t make breastfeeding any more glamorous though. You’ll still feel like a 24/7 cruise buffet. But at least it will be a sweet little angel eating your food and not big, fat, sunburned tourists.