By Ashley from Coffee Cake & Cardio
Starting breastfeeding? Read about Coffee Cake & Cardio’s journey through the breastfeeding pain and why she decided to power through.
Breastfeeding: Experience of first-time mother
Not long after delivering my daughter, the nurse placed her at my breast for the first time. I felt so many emotions in that moment. I was overjoyed, excited, fearful, and nervous. Although I knew I was interested in starting breastfeeding, I had no idea what I was doing or how my daughter would take to breastfeeding. Sure I had read books, but no book could have prepared me for that moment. I sat there, with this small delicate bundle across my chest, and watched human instinct unfold before my eyes. We were doing it. Whether right or wrong, we were figuring out how to breastfeed, together.
As we moved into our recovery room, I was excited to continue to feed my daughter and for my milk to come in days later. Looking back, I realize that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. No one told me how often to feed the baby that night, how long to allow her to be on my breast, or what a proper latch would look or feel like. I fed my baby often, for as long as she needed, and not knowing what a good latch looked like or felt like – I figured all was well since she was sucking. I had no idea that those gaps could lead to a painful transition into breastfeeding.
My nipples were sore, really sore, and eventually led to cracked and bleeding nipples. Having watched my mom breastfeed my sister when I was younger, I honestly didn’t anticipate the transition my body would go through or the breastfeeding pain that would come at first. I cried a lot and I doubted my decision of starting breastfeeding many times. No one ever told me about the toe curling pain or how a baby’s cry for food could make you want to hide. I couldn’t believe that I was dreading feedings and even debating whether or not to continue breastfeeding those first few weeks.
At some point during those first few weeks, someone told me to ask myself if I could make it through just one more day of the breastfeeding pain. Every day I’d tell myself, “Just make it through today,” and I did. Everyone told me it would get better and boy did it! The first 3 weeks were far from glamorous, but I learned a lot about myself and breastfeeding during that time. I learned to be kind to myself, to be patient with my body, and to push through the pain. My daughter and I were learning together and it mirrored the journey she and I will be on for the rest of our lives. There will be painful days, but life gets sweeter!
I am so grateful I was able to breastfeed my daughter and hope to be able to breastfeed any other children we’re blessed to have. I may take a different approach those first few weeks next time, but at least I now know that it isn’t easy at first. It takes time for the body to adjust, for the pain to subside, and for the mommy and baby to learn to feed. Feedings have provided me some of the sweetest moments this first year and I wouldn’t change those moments for the world!
Ashley lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband Neal and their daughter Magnolia. Ashley is an Academic and Life Skills Counselor for Student-Athletes by day and a life and wellness blogger by night. Read more about Ashley, her pregnancy, and her postpartum journey at Coffee Cake and Cardio or by emailing email@example.com.