Fed Is Always Best
I remember when I was pregnant, countless women told me how natural, instinctual, and beautiful breastfeeding was, emphasizing how our bodies were made to produce liquid gold. They only spoke about the positives, telling me it would be such a wonderful way to bond with my baby. No one warned me how challenging, lonely, and downright painful it could be.
The start of my breastfeeding journey was rocky, at best. My daughter and I struggled with many, many challenges including: Dehydration due to delayed milk production, latch difficulties causing bloody, blistered, and bruised nipples, dependence on a nipple shield, ineffective tongue and cheek muscles resulting in daily ‘suck exercises’, supplemental feeding through pumped breastmilk, and supply concerns. There are many adjectives I would use to describe the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding but “instinctual, natural, and beautiful” are certainly not on the list. It was immensely challenging trying to navigate all of these hurdles but I was lucky enough to have the support I needed through my husband, my family, a lactation consultant, and our pediatrician.
I’ve successfully exclusively breastfed my daughter for 10 weeks now and I’m happy to report that it has gotten easier, much easier. I no longer have to pump after feeds, nursing doesn’t hurt, and we don’t have to do our exercises or use a nipple shield. When I reflect back on those first 6 weeks, I am so glad I persevered and put in the endless hours, tear-filled cluster feeds, and sleepless nights (lets be honest, the nights are still sleepless) to get this far. I’m happy to say, breastfeeding is now providing me with a beautiful way to bond with my daughter.
If I could give advice to any mother attempting to breastfeed their baby, I would tell her that it might not be easy, in fact it might be really freaking hard. I would tell tell her that it’s okay if breastfeeding isn’t always beautiful, it’s okay if it’s not natural or instinctual, and most importantly, it’s okay if you decide that breastfeeding isn’t for you because above all else, fed is always best.
Written by: Rosemary Fox (Lanza)