I mentioned my relationship with breastfeeding just briefly in my Birth Stories post. Today I'm going to tell the whole back story and share a confession...
I gave birth to my first child at newly nineteen years old. I'll admit that I was inexperienced (obviously) and that I hadn't researched a whole lot about breastfeeding. However, I had taken a beginners class on breastfeeding and glanced through a book. So I thought hey, this is easy! I can do this, no problem!
After I had my son, they whisked him away to the nursery and put me to sleep because I was tired and my iron was low from blood loss. However, whisking baby away after birth is not very conducive for breastfeeding. I had expressly said I was going to breastfeed and attempted to later on that day with quite a few problems. I couldn't get him to latch on (maybe since he'd already had bottles in the nursery) and the nurses were coming in repeatedly to check on my progress...which was almost none. So they sent in a Lactation Consultant to help me. Her "help" consisted of her roughly shoving the baby onto my breast and saying, "Just do it." Hmmm. I've thought since then that maybe she thought I was a dumb teen mother and was trying to use a tough love approach but I still don't know. FYI, it didn't work. She threw me some nipple shields, told me to just keep trying, and was gone. We left the hospital with me still trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. My son couldn't (or wouldn't) latch so I then tried pumping into a bottle with a tiny little hand pump. I got overly engorged and would only get a tiny amount when pumping and he was just getting more & more fussy. I finally ended up breaking down crying and having a family member go buy formula at the store.
When it came time for me to have my daughter, I was with a different provider and a different hospital. The midwives I was seeing were very pro-breastfeeding and encouraged me every visit to at least consider breastfeeding. However, I turned them down every time - no, no, no, NO. I knew the benefits but I did NOT want to go through the same thing as before. The fear of failing (again) weighed heavily on my mind. Thanks, but no thanks. After the birth of my daughter, we had to wait temporarily on a room in the hospital to open up. While we were waiting, I cuddled my daughter and felt her beginning to root around at my chest. A few minutes later though, the nurses came in and took me off to bed for a bit while she went to the nursery. Although I don't feel guilty about it - what's done is done - I've often wondered if she would have taken to breastfeeding.
So we fast forward to now: I'm pregnant with my third child (due very soon!) and I'm planning on breastfeeding. And I'm scared. I have a different provider again - a midwife who has assured me she will help me as much as possible and won't leave my side until I feel confident. (I know it sounds like I switch doctors/midwives every five seconds but I don't. They have each ended up moving on to different places, I promise!) Anyway, I've been doing tons of reading and researching. I have that pro-breastfeeding midwife, an Aunt who breastfed for many years, a friend who is a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, another friend who successfully breastfed through SO many difficulties, connections to local breastfeeding support & help groups...and I'm still worried I'm going to screw it all up. Even though I have all that, it still all comes down to me and whether I can do it or not.
I know worrying doesn't help so I've decided to just lay my feelings out here and move on. I'm easily bogged down by negativity and it probably doesn't help that some people have told me recently that there is no point in trying since I wasn't able to do it before or that I'll never get any time to myself. (I'm pretty sure that last one never had children since duh, children of all kinds - breastfed or not - require a lot of your time...) But my midwife says the past is the past and to not even let myself get sucked into that type of thinking - it will just drag me down. Which I know is true. I have a better support system this time, I've been educating myself, and I think that I can feel confident in whatever outcome knowing that I'm giving it my all. So I ask for positive thoughts and encouragement - and I'd love to hear your stories as well! Did you struggle with anything in particular as a new mom? What helped you? Feel free to share in the comments.