Being able to successfully breastfeed was probably the thing that I was most nervous about while I was still pregnant. I read everything I could find on the topic and also watched a heap of YouTube videos posted by lactation consultants. I asked family and friends for their experiences and tried to reassure myself that ‘what will be, will be’.
A couple of minutes after Oscar was born, he was placed on my chest but his first attempt at feeding failed. Although he was trying, he wasn’t able to latch on. Once we got back to our hospital room, we gave it another go but again it was unsuccessful. The midwife helped me to hand express a little milk and his next 2 meals were given to him via a syringe. It was in the middle of the night when Oscar woke for his third feed so I tried again to latch him on. By this point I was feeling quite disheartened and thought it was all over but then he suddenly latched on and began sucking! I remember being surprised and thinking that it didn’t really hurt much at all.
Over the next 48 hours, I fed oscar on demand. Every few hours for up to 2 hours at a time. It didn’t take long at all before nursing him became a painful experience. I had blisters and eventually my nipples were cracked and bleeding. I remember when oscar was about 10 days old, I read that breastfeeding becomes less painful at around the 3 week mark. It felt like forever away but at the same time it gave me something to look forward to and focus on. I couldn’t even imagine being able to feed him and it be pain free, it didn’t seem possible. To help heal my nipples I rubbed breast milk into them at the end of a feed and let them air dry before putting on Lansinoh cream. They didn’t seem to get any better but also didn’t get any worse. I began to dread feeding time and would wince in pain while he nursed, with the first 5 minutes always being the worst. At this point he was feeding for around 45 minutes to an hour at a time and there were definitely times were I thought that I might give up. Maybe it was because I was so tired and functioning almost robotically that I kept going, working towards that 3 week date that I was told was just around the corner. It was at this time that I started worrying about my milk supply because Oscar didn’t seem full or content after being fed. He would cluster feed for days on end and I couldn’t understand how I was ever meant to heal when he was constantly attached to me. It was like having a blister on your heel from new shoes but being forced to keep putting those shoes on and continue walking. It was such a horrible cycle.
After what felt like an eternity, it happened! At 3 weeks, 1 of my nipples started to heal really quickly and a few days later both were looking a lot better. By 4 weeks, I could feed Oscar without wanting to squeeze my eyes shut and silently repeat “ow, ow, ow”. By the time he was 2 months old it didn’t hurt at all. Now, at almost 4 months I can honestly say that I love breastfeeding. It’s quite a blur to think back to those first few weeks and I’m so very grateful that I’m now able to enjoy feeding my son.
To relief some of the pressure of being a new mum, I had an initial goal of wanting to breastfeed him for 2 weeks, then 1 month, then 3 months. I’m now at the point where I finally feel secure enough in my milk supply that I would like to breastfeed for at least 12 months or until Oscar decides he doesn’t want it anymore.
Oscar is due to start eating solids in a month or so. He hasn’t really shown too much interest yet, apart from staring at the food on our plates so we aren’t sure when to actually try him on solids. Not to mention what foods to try first. We still need to do a bit of research in that area but I have to admit we are a bit excited at the idea. Watching him experience new things is truly amazing!
In the meantime I’m happy to continue breastfeeding, after all he won’t be this young forever.