National breastfeeding month

One of my family members posted this article on facebook today and I thought there was a lot of truth in it.  For me, with a two month old baby, most of the time I love breastfeeding.  Yesterday I left Mingli with an unrelated baby sitter for the first time, and when I went to pick him up I almost started crying because I was so happy to see him.  All I wanted to do was nurse him.  There is nothing quite like holding my infant son right up against my skin, spending time staring into his eyes, and knowing that he loves me and I love him.  There are times when it truly does feel magical.  But that is not all the time.  I feel lucky that I was told before my baby was born that breastfeeding can be hard, and that it might not come easily.  Mingli would not nurse for hours after he was born.  He was tired and wanted to sleep.  When he finally started nursing it would take about half an hour to manage to get him latched and eating.  Half an hour of us both struggling, him screaming in frustration and hunger, me crying.  Every time.  I stayed an extra day in the hospital because I was afraid that if I went home and didn’t have the help of the nurses I wouldn’t be able to get Mingli latched and eating.  We finally managed to work that all out and get Mingli to latch on correctly, but in the mean time my nipples had creaked and were bleeding, so nursing hurt.  There were times it hurt so much I would start crying.  But it got better.  Thanks to the help of wonderful nurses, a lactation consultant, and time I learned how to get Mingli latched on and eating, and now it takes just a minute or two, sometimes as little as a few seconds.  After a little bit of practice Mingli now has a great latch.  Once Mingli’s latch was better time and some Lanolin healed my nipples.  Sometimes there will still be a little bit of pain right at the beginning, but it is only a little bit, and it is gone soon.  Now I can enjoy some of the wonderful things about nursing.  But I am glad I knew before hand what I was getting into, otherwise I might not have continued, or I may have felt guilty and like the problems I was having were my fault.

So if you are about to have your first baby, or have just had your first baby, my advice would be to remember that at first breastfeeding may not be easy.  At first it may hurt.  A new baby who has never breastfed before may need practice to be able to do it well.  There will be time, especially at 3 in the morning, when you will not enjoy it.  If you want to do it do not give up just because it gets off to a rough start, it will get better.  Get help from nurses, lactation consultants, other mothers, or anyone else who can help.

For me, despite the challenges Mingli and I had at the beginning, it is worth it.  Now we are able to breastfeed easily, at least most of the time.  Now we both enjoy it, most of the time.  For me, the benefits both me and Mingli receive from breastfeeding far outweigh the difficulty at the beginning.

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