I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter now for two months. Eight weeks of feeding every 2 to 3 hours around the clock (up until very recently where she’s been giving us a nice 5 to7 hour stretch at night—wooo!). Cluster feedings. Nursing for comfort. Mastitis. I’ve seen a bit (and I’m sure there will be more to come), so I feel like I’m ready to share some tidbits around my experience. So I will share with you what I never knew about breastfeeding.
(Side note: I exclusively pumped for my son, Henry, so while he was still “breastfed” in the sense, this second time around with my daughter involves actual nursing.)
In no particular order…
- You’ll be sitting — a lot. Like, for hours and hours. And, you’ll be pretty much unable to do much else, especially if your baby doesn’t take well to a bottle and you can’t pass them to a partner or support person for a feeding break. You’ll feel pretty helpless with just about anything else during those early, long nursing sessions. Find a good book. Get some tea. Recline.
- You might feel “touched out”. One day, not so long ago, I threw my hands up and said, “Can no one touch me right now?!” I needed a serious break. Between Henry, my toddler, wanting me to constantly hold him and my daughter, always on the boob, I had met my limit for the day. I learned quickly that being “touched out” is a super common feeling among breastfeeding people. At times, you just wish your body was yours, and yours alone.
- It’s a serious commitment. Keeping your supply strong, pumping in the wee hours of the morning, buying the right bras and clothing, timing your day around nursing sessions, clogged ducts, sore nipples, leaking…. There’s a lot to plan for when you’re breastfeeding. It’s physically exhausting being one person’s entire food source.
4. It can take its toll mentally — at least for me anyway. Some days I wonder if I’m cut out for it long term. Was I made for this? Do I even enjoy this? I WANT MY BOOBS BACK! Ask me tomorrow and I may feel completely different. Some nights I even sit there in amazement of my body and the beautiful mother-daughter bond we’ve shared through this. What I’m trying to say is… it’s been up and down for me.
I love/hate it — and that’s just the reality of it.
5. Nursing can be just for comfort. Sometimes my daughter will take a bottle from my husband (rarely) but will then need me to nurse for comfort — even if she’s completely full and satisfied. If she sees me or smells me, she wants me. I guess I’m the cherry on top. Hah.
6. I’ve stopped comparing my experience to that of friends or family members who breastfed. I used to catch myself asking friends how long they’ve breastfed and immediately thought to myself, “Oh man… how did she do that, and how will I ever reach that?!” Guess what? I may not and that’s okay. I may not nurse for six months, or a year. It doesn’t make my experience less personal or special than anyone else’s. It just is what it is.
So whether you’re nursing, pumping, or bottle feeding — give yourself a pat on the back for all those long days and nights, bumps in the road, blurry-eyed moments and times you just needed an extra hand.
We’ve all been there. We’ll get through.