I sooooo underestimated how tough being a mom would be. Sure, I thought. I won’t sleep much for the first few months. And my child may whine or cry but he’s mine. I get to snuggle with him and breastfeed him.
And everything will be beautiful.
Well, it IS beautiful. But it is hard! I had no idea how much I would worry about every. little. thing. and hope that I was doing the right thing for my little one.
I had no idea how much pressure and judgment I would feel from others. And I had no idea how much of a challenge breastfeeding would be.
Breastfeeding is hard!
Sometimes I think that moms purposely don’t tell you how difficult life will be with a newborn, because if you knew, you’d never want to jump into that crazy world.
But I also know that I wouldn’t have listened much even if people did tell me how difficult it was.
I had this idealistic vision of nursing my baby and snuggling with him and having it be this beautiful, easy, natural thing. When my son was born, he latched on right away.
Of course I had no milk, which I had no idea would happen, so he was just sucking my breast for the tiny bit of colostrum that was there. It’s normal, they told me.
This little bundle was latching onto me and it was beautiful…for about six hours. Then it hurt!
Like felt like my breasts were on fire every time my son touched them. I was sure something was wrong. (And it probably was. More on that below.)
Breastfeeding was supposed to be this peaceful experience and here I was screaming and crying in pain every time my son tried to eat.
My nipples cracked and bled. My breasts filled with milk and became heavy, hot and sore.
And every time I showered, I nearly cried because of the pain of such sensitive nipples.
I went to my doctor. Please help! I pleaded. She gave me a cream for my nipples and told me that it would get better.
She’d never had children and I didn’t believe her.
There is a right way to breastfeed.
I had no idea that there was a right way to breastfeed.
Because I was in Guatemala, I didn’t have access to La Leche League (which seems like an incredible resource!) I just grabbed my breast any way that felt right and pushed it toward my son’s mouth.
In the weeks after his birth, I began obsessively searching the internet for relief from my pain and found out that I was, without a doubt, breastfeeding the wrong way.
There are a lot of resources available, including the La Leche League site and the American Pregnancy Association site to help you practice the best way to breastfeed. And I’m sure that some pre-natal classes cover it as well.
Do your homework if you plan to breastfeed! It will be so worth it.
Breastfeeding is exhausting.
I had no idea how exhausting breastfeeding would be. In the first weeks, just the act of breastfeeding would be enough to make me want to nap with my son afterward.
Then, when I was preparing to go back to work, the process of pumping multiple times a day, including in the middle of the night, was a whole other kind of tiring.
I would have to make sure the pump was always clean and the bottles were sterilized, that I had enough bags for the milk, that they were in order by date in the freezer, and that I didn’t forget to take the pump with me to work.
And then there is the restless toddler who breastfeeds and it feels like you are in a wrestling match with them the whole time they breastfeed.
They want to be in your lap, then they want to stand, then they turn their heads quickly and pull your nipple with them. Oh toddlers!
Breastfeeding does not promise quick post-partum weight loss
Breastfeeding burns up to 500 extra calories a day. Woohoo, I thought. I’m going to get skiinnnnnny.
Well, everyone’s body is different and I found that after I gave birth, I started eating even more than when I was pregnant. I was always hungry!
So, the weight didn’t just melt off of me after my first son and I became pregnant with my daughter with an extra 15 pounds. I was able to get back to my pre baby #2 weight within four months, but it was with a lot of sweat and watching what I ate.
And I still have some weight to lose to get back to pre baby #1 weight. So, while breastfeeding does burn more calories than not breastfeeding, you may find that it doesn’t help you get your body back the way you thought it would.
Being a mom is AMAZING!
I guess I imagined this before being a mom, but you don’t really know how amazing it is until you have that little ball of amazingness in your arms. Whether you decide (or the decision is made for you) to breastfeed or not, know that you are amazing for being a mom and that little one is amazing, too.
They say the time goes so quickly and to enjoy it. I believe them and I’m trying!
My daughter is still breastfeeding and sometimes wakes several times at night searching for mommy and I’m trying to enjoy it (or at least survive it) because I know it will all change in a flash.
Even though I wasn’t prepared for how difficult breastfeeding would be, for me it was absolutely the right choice and I’m thankful that I had the option to breastfeed.
It has allowed me time to snuggle with my little ones after a long day at work and comfort them when they bump their heads or get frightened by a loud noise.
And for those moms who bottle feed (by choice or not), you are just as amazing! When I was researching breastfeeding to survive those early, painful days, I found a lot of judgment about breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
I think being a mom in general is an incredibly difficult task and getting through the day with a newborn, whether you bottle feed or breastfeed, is something to be proud of!
Here’s to you, amazing mom! (Lifts up an imaginary glass of wine, because, you know, breastfeeding…)
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