I wanted to call this post La Leche lies, but then I get enough hate mail over criticizing children’s shows. Besides, I just read a whole bunch of articles on the official La Leche League website, and on there, they fully admit that breastfeeding is harder than it looks. Or sounds. Or assumed.
Nothing pisses me off more than hearing in those first few days after giving birth, “Breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt.” Well, no shit. If it hurt this bad weeks down the road, no one would breastfeed after 6 weeks. No one. But those first few days are trying to say the least as you the mother is trying to get that huge nipple in that tiny mouth of an infant who refuses to open his mouth half way much less the whole way.
The second night in the hospital with Evan, he cried, and I cried as we just couldn’t get the hang of breastfeeding. After five minutes of crying, I was able to jam some nipple into his mouth, and he managed to suck out some kind of sustenance. As luck would have it, the bright side of Evan being in the hospital for a week is that at every feeding time I had a nurse or two around to help teach me a different technique. Of course, I had more strange hands on my breast than I ever thought I would have, unless I made a porn.
Sean took to breastfeeding like a pro those first few days, but then he fell off the wagon. He would refuse to open his mouth all the way and just suck on the very end of the nipple. Not fun after two feedings. Thank God I had a breast pump to help toughen the nipples as I worked to break Sean out of his new formed habit.
Aiden rooted the moment he could and just latched on. Improperly. As I hissed a breath against the pain, the nurse said “If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.” Yeah, I know that. But every child I started to breast feed hurt me as we tried to figure out latching, as my nipples toughened, as we tried to get the hang of this “natural” process.
Natural doesn’t mean easy. And yes, I knew several women who gave up on breastfeeding because it hurt. But I’m stubborn if you haven’t noticed, and there was no way I was going to let a little pain get in the way of the healthy, free food for my baby. Besides after two days, I was gushing milk and needed to put it somewhere.
After several days, perhaps a couple of weeks and a hundred feedings, breastfeeding begins to feel natural. But of course, I’m still rubbing a nipple against a baby’s lower lip, saying, “Come on; open wider; bigger; open up; you can do it.” I know it won’t be much longer before we’re pros and I’ll be able to feed him hidden under a blanket without looking and without missing a word in the conversation.
So yeah, breastfeeding is harder than it looks. It takes practice. It takes some help. And I still don’t think I jam enough nipple into the baby’s mouth, but at least it doesn’t hurt, except during the gushing let down where I pray that I don’t leak in public and curse myself for not wearing a shirt that wouldn’t show off nursing pads so that I have to go without.