Before MK was born we took a baby prep class. I had read reviews and looked for a good one cus Chris and I were first timers, none of our friends had kids, we never picked up a baby book or actually, really held a baby. We’re not “baby obsessed” but had always known that after being married for a couple years we would want to start trying. Luckily enough we were blessed with our baby girl.
Back to this baby prep class… with the high rank on google and good reviews I signed Chris and I up for a series of Thursday nights with a program called Baby Prep Prenatal Class. It was about $300. Which I paid, thinking that was normal. I was nervous and excited about our first class. I didn’t do a lot of reading about breastfeeding but I was told that it’s hard. Co workers and other moms I met while I was pregnant told me their horror stories of breastfeeding. Like how bad it hurt, how they’d rather give birth again than go through the pain and frustration of breastfeeding for the first time. Or how your nipples become raw, crack and bleed. Or how your baby sucks the boobs off you! How it’s non stop crying for both you and the babe. And on and on. So when the nurse asked in class what are you most concerned about? I said Breastfeeding!
In Baby Prep class, they taught us how to properly latch the baby on to your boob so it’s less painful. We practiced with dolls and knit boobies while the nurse, Katherine walked to each couple and made sure we were doing it right. It was pretty silly looking. Holding a fake boob then pretending to wait till baby’s mouth was open wide enough to “cobra strike”! And force nipple in baby’s mouth! Boom! Just like that, baby is eating.
Those classes felt so silly at the time but it gave me a better understanding of how to feed my baby. Cus that’s super important yenno! MK was born at BC Women’s hospital and the nurses there were great when it came to teaching us how to feed our baby. They made sure MK was latching on properly. We learned in prep class that if baby isn’t latched on right, that’s how you get painful, cracked nipples. You can tell if your baby isn’t latched on properly if you pull your nipple out of her mouth and your nipple is super flat. Your nip should still look somewhat round, baby’s mouth should be all the way around your areola, and lower lip should curl out. It’s all about that latch.
We tried over and over to get MK to latch properly. She wouldn’t open her mouth wide enough to eat. So we’d coax her to yawn or I’d wait till she would open her mouth wide when she’d let out a big wail then boom! Stick my boob in her mouth till she was sucking on it! It looked like I was suffocating her but that was the only way she would latch on properly. The nurses would control her head and show me how to do it and position my boob… our nurse was a man. I was impressivly like “oh ooookay…” I’m letting this man assertively handle my boobs. He just got right to it. I mean I was completely naked when I gave birth, and there were like 8 people I didn’t know in the room, so who cares, I’ll let this man grab my boob and push my baby’s head into it. Lol.
It worked. We went home a few days later and I tried latching her on myself. She latched on great with my right boob. But not so much on my left. OMG. The pain. My left nipple became cracked and would bleed. Every time MK would suck on my left boob the initial latch I would sharply suck in some air, close my eyes and try not to scream in pain every time. Chris would ask me what’s wrong every time I did it and I didn’t have the voice to tell him. I just wanted to scream MY FCKN BOOOOOOBS!!! It’s the sharpest, most painful thing I have ever experienced (and I gave birth naturally). Seriously it’s like none other! I don’t even remember how much pain pushing a baby out was but I remember what it feels like to have a baby suck on a raw, bleeding, cut open nipple. OMG I’m cringing just remembering it. I would silently sob during each feeding. Of course MK had no idea how much pain I was in. She would just suck away and cry cus she’d choke from too much milk coming out and she couldn’t handle. I’d have to take her off my boob and try again cus her latch wouldn’t be right. Sometimes I’d just let her keep sucking cus I didn’t want to have to go through that initial pain again. But I didn’t want the cracks to get worse so I’d just suck it up, unsuction her mouth off me. Cry it out while she wailed. Breath in, latch her on, scream silently in pain, bite my tongue, breathe out. There were a lot of tears from both of us.
Nipple cream. I tried lanolin and it was good. But Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter is better. I found that after each feeding, if I splashed cold water on my nips, patted them dry then put the nipple ointment on, it felt better and my nips healed faster.
Over time my nips got used to someone sucking on them for hours. (Hah! Thanks to cluster feeding!) And the whole thing became a routine. Even at 4am. A 3 week old MK would wake up, cry, I’d sit down with my nursing pillow, latch her on, scream silently, feed her to sleep, put her back in her bassinet, go to the bathroom lean over the sink splash cold water on my nipples ( the cold water started to feel so great.) Layer on the nipple butter then ice the boob she fed from and go back to sleep for 2 hours and do the whole thing again.
Chris became my waterboy and cheerleader. (OMG you get so thirsty when you’re breastfeeding!!!) He didn’t have boobs so he couldn’t do much when it came to feeding. I know he felt bad for me so he did his best with everything else. Since he couldn’t feed her he would change diapers, bathe her, walk her to sleep. Sometimes he’d wake up with me so I wouldn’t be alone. Team work.
That’s another thing about breastfeeding… it’s lonely knowing you’re the only one who can feed your baby. I tried to pump my milk and get Chris to feed MK by bottle. But she wouldn’t take a bottle. So I would just pump and store my milk in bags in the freezer for the one day she would take the bottle. It’s just lonely sitting there in a dimmed room trying to feed your baby at 3:30am.
I came close to giving up in breastfeeding so many times. But Chris talked me through it, supported me and urged me to be patient. We learned in baby prep class that breast milk is the one thing you produce that is so personalized to your baby… which I thought was so amazing. It carries things she needs to protect her developing system from the outside world and she discovers different flavours since she’s eating what you’re eating. They also said that humans are the only mammals that drink another animal’s milk. Strange!!! How did that happen? But another great thing about breastfeeding is that it’s FREE. Yup. Free food for baby. Everyone loves free food.
6 weeks passed and it was like the clouds parted. All of a sudden breastfeeding was great. MK was latching on. I was making milk. MK wasn’t crying as much when she would latch on. It’s like she just woke up and knew how wide to open her mouth and how to drink without choking. All of a sudden I felt confident and good about breastfeeding cus I knew how to do it and she knew how to do it! I was happier. Baby was happier. And Chris was happy that there was less crying from both MK and I.
MK is 5 months old now and I’m still breastfeeding. We love it. It’s breastfeeding bliss. I’m SO thankful we pushed through and stuck with it. I love knowing that I can feed her, take care of her, that she knows me. She looks at me and smiles while nursing. My heart just bursts. When she’s nursing she’ll hug me and hold on to my shirt, then falls asleep and every once and awhile she’ll crack open an eye just a bit to check on me.
We are loving it! But guess what? She knows how to drink out of a bottle! We can now leave her with grandma and grandpa for a few hours or Chris can take her and I get some time for myself. FREEEDOM!!!
I’d love to hear your breastfeeding stories! What was it like for you?