I wasn’t going to write this post because it initially seemed a bit too up close and personal to talk about my boobs (how many hits will my blog get now that we’re talking about boobs? Ha!) with the internet, but in thinking about it, I wanted to share what I have learned because it helped me SO much.
Before I had Simon I knew that I wanted to breastfeed but had really mixed feelings about having someone hanging off of me constantly. That and being the only person who could feed him (without pumping) made me a bit nervous. I am not a selfish person, but I’m not selfless either. The idea of being THE ONE 24 hours a day scared the crap out of me.
My breastfeeding journey started off extremely rocky and I immediately wanted to quit.
Simon had trouble latching initially and when we were in the NICU for his first week I spent a lot of time with the nurses and Lactation Consultants (LCs) who introduced me to a nipple shield. My concern about being THE ONE and managing a nipple shield, nursing pillow, and Simon once we got home elevated quickly. I was grateful for the patience, teaching, and care that the NICU staff provided but I had no idea how I would manage all of the breastfeeding elements on my own.
Exhausted. Cranky. Emotional. In pain. Not a good combo of needing patience to work this through.
When I got home I started to have a lot of issues with nursing – different than what I was experiencing in the hospital.
Simon and I made it work, we had to, but it wasn’t pleasant for me (or for him, I suspect). The nipple shield was working but with a lot of frustration on my part – too many things interfering with the actual task at hand led me to be really angry about the situation. After a few days at home I was experiencing pain and would cry and kick my feet every time Simon latched. I was pretty convinced that this was a journey that I wasn’t going to be on for long.
The pain subsided after a few days and I kept at the breastfeeding just as I had learned in the hospital for 6 weeks. At that point it was “working”, but still not for me. Nursing sessions were taking upwards of 45 minutes and I felt selfishly miserable. In a fit of desperation (and some rage) I called a Lactation Consultant (LC) who came to my house the next day. I don’t know why I didn’t call sooner. Pride maybe? Exhaustion maybe?
She asked me why I was breastfeeding and what my goals were for her visit. We talked about Simon and me and my concerns for a solid hour and what we came to was that I really wanted to nurse but that if something didn’t change I was going to quit because I was miserable. I couldn’t see myself doing what I was doing for the next week let alone 10-11 months.
Long story short, the LC told me to steer away from the traditional cradle hold / football position because it wasn’t working for me and I was uncomfortable (my back hurt!). Instead, she introduced me to laid back breastfeeding where you and baby are a bit more relaxed and sitting naturally, without a nursing pillow.
(Image from Baby Center)
Simon caught on to this position INSTANTLY and without the nipple shield. Our nursing sessions went from 45+ minutes to 12-18 minutes within the day and we were / are both more comfortable. I don’t have to balance baby, pillow and shield and he gets to lay across me and be cozy. Win win.
I am not an expert (AT ALL), but my experience went from absolutely miserable to very positive in a matter of minutes once I hired a LC and learned about laid back breastfeeding. I have shared my experience with several new mommy friends and they have started using this position as well.
If breastfeeding is something that you’re interested in and you’re struggling in some way, I hope this helps. It was a real game changer for me.
I still don’t know if we’ll do this for another 4 weeks (until I go back to work) or another 9 months, but what we’re doing is working for us and I am so pleased by that!
If you’re looking for your own LC, I would recommend finding a certified LC in your area through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. If you’re looking for a recommendation in Chicago, I went through Mother’s Milk Company based on a recommendation from my sister-in-law’s Doula and couldn’t have been happier.
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