Mamas, let’s talk breastfeeding truths. No how-to tips, or supply boosting tips, you can read those elsewhere. I am talking the actual nitty-gritty, day in and day out details of breastfeeding. The emotional side of it all. Breastfeeding is the most intimate and magical experience I had ever experienced. When I was pregnant with my first child, I planned on breastfeeding for the first full year. Once he was born, I would say that I knew why so many women quit before that one year mark by the time he was about 6 months old. Breastfeeding is work and there’s no way to sugar coat that. It’s not always calm and relaxing, it’s not always easy, and it’s not always mess free either.
The first 2 months –
Naturally when you welcome a little one into the world, family wants to visit. My husband and I were thrilled to have company visiting and loving on our little man. We enjoyed the laughs and stories of our own childhoods and it was really fun to see everyone during this time. However, nursing a newborn is a full-time job and little babies want to eat all the time! As I was brand new to breastfeeding and still honing in my skills, I felt most comfortable excusing myself with our baby and going into our bedroom to nurse him privately. Some women can breastfeed in front of others right from the start and that’s awesome, but I just didn’t feel confident enough yet. Needless to say, it got lonely back there in the bedroom! Twenty minutes here and there every two hours or so when you’re trying to have conversations with your family gets tough. Of course they all understood, but I can recall sitting in the quiet of our room and hearing everyone in the living room laughing and talking without me and feeling a little left out.
2 to 4 months –
By this time, I was much more confident about breastfeeding and the demands that it came with. Unfortunately, this confidence came with its own set of complications, as most things do. My son did NOT take a bottle. His gag reflex is easier to set off than a mouse trap and he was just not having it. We tried numerous brands of bottles and nipples and he didn’t take to any of them. He also didn’t take a pacifier for the same reasons (and still doesn’t.) This meant no breaks for mama and no alone time for mama out of the house. Jumping in the car and running to the grocery store was much more complicated now. Instead, my husband ran ALL the little errands like that. We went with him occasionally but more often than not, in the beginning, it was just easier if he went into town and grabbed whatever was needed. Breastfeeding, though easier at this point, was very isolating some days. I felt like I couldn’t have a mom’s night or mom’s day out with girlfriends. Truth be told, a lot of this had to do with where we live. In case the next feeding came quicker than expected, I needed to be close. We don’t live in a super convenient area, in fact, our nearest major shopping areas are forty-five minutes away in every direction. If I wanted to go for a run in my favorite park, it would be a 30 minute drive both ways, plus the run. That being said, it’s not that I couldn’t leave the house without baby, I would just be on the clock the entire time which was more stressful than I felt worth it. I am by no means complaining, but if I am honest here I have to admit that when you’re hormones are already going crazy, you’re tired, and you feel lonely, you start to feel pretty blue some days when all you want to do it run to Hobby Lobby or Target and walk around with a cup of coffee and have some alone time.
4 to 7 months –
When my son learned to roll around from back to front and front to back, the breastfeeding game changed yet again. He became a wiggle worm and a distracted one at that! Unless he was waking up from a nap or about to go down for one, he was not interested in staying still in my arms for 20+ minutes at a time. I was lucky if he would nurse for 10 minutes and that included all the times he would pop on and off my breast. This made the demands of breastfeeding a little trickier BUT this was also around the same time that my confidence grew in other areas that really made up for it. Even though feedings could be frustrating at times, I could get out of the house and socialize with other mamas who were going through the same thing. In addition, as my little man grew, his nursing needs changed as well as his habits. He didn’t eat every 2 hours but instead, more like 3-4, which is enough time to take him with me to run those errands I missed in the beginning and not have to feed him multiple times in the car!
As time passes, way too quickly I will add, and my little man gets more and more mobile, new challenges continue to arise. What I have learned from each milestone and each change is that together, we adapt. Some days my son nurses like a champion and others he resists all day. Some weeks I feel like he is on a nursing strike altogether, and other weeks I feel like I can’t leave the house because he’s eating all day. There are highs and lows with each change. I can feel frustrated with the challenges or I can laugh about the challenges. Yet, the most important thing I have found to remember is to take each day one at a time. If one day is rough, the next will be wonderful. If my son doesn’t eat enough one day, he will the next. It all balances out and he is healthy which is what matters most.