Two extremely long and emotional days of labor with my stillborn son unfortunatley ended in failure to progress which resulted in a C section. I was utterly devastated. Not only have I lost kmy son, but the God given ability to birth vaginally was one more precious and perfect gift that was stolen from me. I would never get to experience a "real" contraction. I would never get the birth my babies "deserved", and this was just one more heartbreak that I was left to grieve with for a very long time.
I took time, but eventually I realized that all birth is valuable and beautiful. So after opting for a repeat C section for my Rainbow, breastfeeding became my way of offering her that "Perfect and Natural" element I so desperately valued. Breastfeeding became one of my biggest priorities, even though I would later find out I had so many factors working against me.
To set the stage, this is what I was working with from the get go:
- Violet would be born at 37 weeks (Early delivery is custom after a previous stillbirth/ early delivery can cause delayed milk)
- Violet would be born via C Section (Which causes milk to come in 1-3 days later than after a vaginal delivery)
- I have had a breast augmentation (Which can affect supply if vital nerves around the aereola have been snipped/affected)
- I'm on oral chemo due to my stomach ulcers (Certain medications can tank your supply)
- Violet was conceived via fertility treatments (The hormones used in the treatment are known to cause delayed milk and affect supply)
After 8 weeks of surviving low birth weight, delayed milk, the heartbreak of supplementing, nipple confusion, AND low milk supply... I became an honor roll student in the Breastfeeding school of HELL. I literally stumbled and ugly cried the entire way through, and it was NEVER easy for me.
Below are 7 Ways to Survive the first two months of Breastfeeding
1. Read up and get educated early on in your pregnancy.
Let me be the one to tell you that Breastfeeding is way more difficult and complicated than you could ever imagine. There are so many in's and out's and no one mother has the same experience. Luckily there are many blogs, articles, and books available and reading up on the obstacles that could arise and how to prevent them will give you a foot forward. God gave us ten months to prepare and now I know why. Do your research girl-fraand. (Important topics to note: Thrush, Cluster feeding, Wonder weeks/ Growth Spurts, Pumping, When to introduce bottle and pacifier/ Nipple confusion, Paced Feeding)
2. Get your significant other involved!
I wish I had known how absolutely essential it would be for Lucas to participate in the breast-feeding classes and getting educated with me. His complete lack of support and knowledge really set me back during those long and painfully fussy midnight cluster feeds. Hearing "Just give her a bottle" if you are determined to EBF (Exclusively breastfeed) will not only make your blood boil but simultaneously want to give up and punch throat your husband deep in his shit. It's so frustrating having to explain things as they are happening. If your significant other knows to expect the good bad and the ugly, they can encourage you along the way, bring you water and snacks, and remind you that you are on the right track.
3. Seek Support Online
Where else can you log on and suddenly have access to speak to thousands of breastfeeding moms all encouraging, supporting and answering each others questions. Online forums and support groups are amazing alternative to google by comparing real life stories and advice from real women that may be tackling the same issues as yourself.
4. Seek a Support Group in Person
Organizations like La Leche League give a group of mamas a safe and supportive place to come and talk openly about their individual breast-feeding struggles. It's a place I have thoroughly enjoyed learning from other mothers' experiences, sharing mine, and even making new friends that have been fundamental to my breastfeeding journey.
If you are struggling and feel you need individual attention (As I did!) Do not hesitate to call a lactation consultant. You can ask for recommendations in the online groups or look for one your insurance will cover. I had several amazing lactation consultants that set me up with a plan to tackle my issues when I was on the verge of giving up.
5. Take off the pressure
As I mentioned, I was aggressively invested in exclusively breastfeeding. So every time I hit a snag (There were a lot) I was very hard on myself. Being a new mom comes with enough strain as it is. So my advice is to take it easy sometimes and allow yourself a break every once in a while. The EBF police will not come knocking at your door if you decide your husband can give baby a bottle (or two) for you to shower or get a few hours of much needed sleep. I still have to supplement here and that is totally ok.
6. Adjust your expectations
This was a big one for me. Some struggle a lot, some a little, some not at all. Some are blessed enough to produce 46758 ounces of milk daily (Insert all the eye rolls). Others, like myself, have to nurse and pump until their nipples fall off to maintain barely enough supply to feed alone and still have nothing leftover to save and store, womp womp. So if you are expecting engorgement and leaky breasts, that may not be your case! I stopped being "Milk jealous" and just became thankful for what I have. Know this, If baby is fed (formula and all!), and happy... You are doing a an AMAZING job.
In addition to expecting to have more milk, I also never anticipated the amount of hours it takes to EBF a baby. Like Holy Milk, its a full time job! I had to accept that hours on end with a little milk leech on my breast is what it would take to make this breastfeeding relationship to work. Quick meals, three minute showers and Netflix binging it is!
7. Don't Give Up
There will be many a times you will question your every move. Was that feed too long or too short? Is this poop the right color? Is my baby hungry or colicy? Why is he doing this or that... and Why does my baby want to nurse 24/7 !! I constantly worried if I was starving Violet because she was always fussy at the breast. But there could be so many reasons for that! It's easy to get discouraged during the "Witching hour" and during cluster feeds but just nurse, nurse, and nurse that baby! Don't give up, IT GETS EASIER (Then hard again, then easier again, haha)!