When I first found out I was pregnant, my excitement level was the highest it has ever been. I had countless friends and family members, even total strangers, offer me words of advice and tips. One thing that I did let sit on the back burner for awhile was feeding. What if I couldn’t breastfeed? What if I didn’t want to? Will I even feed this baby right? Well, fear not Mammas, you’re not alone! See what some of our Snuggle Moms had to say about their feeding experiences!
As a mom of 2 (soon to be 3!) I have had my fair share of trials and tribulations regarding pregnancy and caring for a newborn. I think my biggest challenge between my first born and my second was overcoming my fear of nursing. I had my first at 19 and was not prepared for the hardships of nursing those first weeks and because of this I was not successful at nursing my little one past 3 weeks.
When my second was on her way, I was determined to be successful! I made sure to be prepared and I received amazing support from my husband and midwife. I am so happy that I was able to get through the first few harder weeks with my second child. Knowing that my body alone allowed her to grow from conception all the way to 9-10 months of life was very empowering!
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 22, I never thought I’d be able to breastfeed. After 3 surgeries on my breasts, including a single mastectomy, I accepted the likelihood that when I have children I will nourish them with formula. I only had one breast, which hurt all the time due to surgery around the areola so how would it possibly be comfortable to have a baby latching on if I could barely wear a bra? This seemed to be my reality, but I never gave up hope. I was determined to try, to give breastfeeding my best shot, for the health of my children. I am proud to say that I am now exclusively breastfeeding my 6-week-old daughter and have done so since the day she was born. It hasn’t been easy and there have been hurdles I’ve needed to overcome, but with help from professionals and my own determination I am able to produce and give my daughter the nutrition she needs. I have refused to let breast cancer define my life and this has been a big part of that.
I am 24 weeks pregnant with my first child and could not be more excited. But as I get closer and closer to my due date there are so many things that are going through my head about what I need to do to prepare for my baby’s arrival and a few things that most first time mothers are probably a little nervous about… among them being breastfeeding.
When it comes to breastfeeding, there are so many things and so many different opinions that I have heard, but they all seem to come down to one thing; that it will be harder then you expect for the first few weeks. Even before I was pregnant I knew that breastfeeding is something that I want to do, for so many reasons, but most importantly to have the reassurance that my child is receiving the very best nutrients that I can give him. But I never knew that breastfeeding could be such a difficult thing to accomplish and as a new mom, I am a little concerned about the hurdles that I may have to overcome.
I always pictured breastfeeding as this magical time that you get to bond with your child in such an intimate way, which is true, but I never thought of all the pain that I may need to go through to be able to have that bond. I never thought of things like bleeding, cracked, leaky, and raw nipples, or how about the stories of when women’s milk comes in… I’ve heard it’s no walk in the park. Oh and what about if my baby doesn’t want to latch on right away, and even the word “latch” is a little freaky….how tight are they clamping down on there? Then there’s always the embarrassing stories of women who have to deal with leaking all over their shirts. Then once your child is older and you want to wean them off breastfeeding, I’ve heard the trying to stop you milk production can be even more painful than when it comes in.
There are so many questions that a new mom faces that it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. And after you face all of these “what if’s” there’s always the fear of will I ever look the same again in that area?? Will my nipples just be hard, calloused messes forever, or will they slowly return to their usual, comfortable state??
It’s so hard not to become defeated even before you start breastfeeding as a first time mom, but I think one thing that we all need to remember is that women have done this forever and if they can manage then there is no reason we can’t, and to expect that it will be difficult but to hope for the best. But even if our little guy takes his time to figure out this eating thing, I am so excited to be able to share that bond with him, struggles and all.
My first child came into this world with a tongue tie. It was pretty severe and right to the end of her tongue, so the recommendation was to have it snipped, but we had to wait until she was a week old. With help from the nurses in the hospital, and the breastfeeding clinic, I was assured that everything was going to be fine. I would pump after every feeding and would only get about half an ounce at most per side. I took her to the doctor for her 4-week check-up and he looked at me with some alarm; my baby girl was not yet back at her birth weight and needed to start formula immediately. He made me realize that the only important thing was getting food into her, any way possible. Within three weeks I had a happy and healthy formula fed baby. This experience taught me a lot about my own instincts verses what I was being told.
My second child was very different. However, I felt like I was ready to go with the flow with him after the serious issues with my first. I wanted to try breastfeeding again but I was prepared to go to formula if things weren’t working out. The first night in the hospital I had the nurses take him and skip one breastfeed and do a bottle instead. Let’s be serious, I knew what to expect this time around and I wanted to get some sleep. He took the bottle no problem and also latched on me without difficulty. It was such a different feeling than the first time so I knew it was working. We then successfully breastfed until he was six months old and I could not keep up with his demands.
I chuckle thinking back on my notions of breastfeeding before becoming a mother. I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed, but I figured I would stop by 6 months. Several of my friends had done just this, and it seemed reasonable to me. But like everything with baby, reality was nothing like I expected – I absolutely love breastfeeding.
The experience hasn’t always been easy, but the rewards have far outweighed the tribulations. My son, who is now 21 months old, continues to breastfeed – and doesn’t show any signs of wanting to stop – making me a tad nervous considering I am hoping to wean him once he turns two… but that’s another topic I suppose.
A tricky period for us was when my son developed a cow’s milk protein intolerance. After eliminating several foods from my diet and visiting a pediatric allergist, we had the verdict. No dairy, not even the minutest amount (we’re talking butter here people). Although craving pizza more than air, we made it though. And by miracle, the intolerance disappeared once he started solids at 6 months.
I can’t imagine having a stronger bond with my son. Hours of skin-to-skin (aka “naked baby cuddle time” to the tune of “peanut butter jelly time”) definitely played a big part in that bond.
I am now working full time and during the week he goes to daycare – and has become a veritable petri dish of illness. I find so much comfort in knowing that while he is sick, and unable/unwilling to eat solids, he will ALWAYS nurse. I never have to worry that he isn’t getting the nutrition he needs. The downside is that when he gets sick – so do I. As a breastfeeding mother I am unable to take any over the counter cold medications and have to suffer through – so that has been my least favourite part. But overall, especially now that I do not see him during the weekdays, I cherish our special bond and time together.