Courage to Breastfeed

In my experience, breastfeeding didn’t come easy.  It was a struggle from the first day.  Ever since then, I have tried to share my story with other women to encourage them.

So here’s my adventure in breastfeeding…

When I came home with my daughter Jesse just over four years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed, scared, and excited.

She was so beautiful and perfect, and I had been dreaming of being a Mom.

I had just ended one season of my life and entered into another.

I had no idea what challenges awaited me.

My Mom and Dad were there when I gave birth.  It meant so much to me, especially since my Mom had breastfed me and my siblings (including twins).  It felt good to have a “veteran” available 24/7 to answer questions and provide moral support.

Just after my Mom and Dad left a week later, I was feeling a little nervous (and a little emotional) but things seemed to be going ok.

Then, overnight- my milk came in.  I was so engorged; and it was painful.  Jesse couldn’t latch on and she was wailing.  I was stressed out, tired, and emotional.  I didn’t know what to do.

I ended up just pumping and giving her a bottle.

I felt like a failure.  I wasn’t breastfeeding.

What was wrong with me?

Wasn’t this supposed to be natural?

I started to dread those times when I would try to feed her, afraid she wouldn’t want to eat and feeling insecure in my ability to get her to latch on.  Finally, we went to see the lactation consultant.  She was great.  She was so patient and even though I was a little embarrassed by how “familiar” she was with my breasts, I knew she was just trying to help me feel comfortable and confident about what I was doing.

I left the hospital with my hubby and daughter feeling much better.  However, problems continued.  I became engorged again and got mastitis. I was running a fever and my breasts felt like they were on fire.

I had no idea what was going on, or what to do.  Thankfully, I was able to call the lactation consultant at the hospital again and she encouraged me to pump until I was empty and then go see the doctor.

I ended up having to be on medication for the mastitis.  I was feeling so discouraged and foolish- why was I having so many problems?  This was supposed to be easy and natural.

I wanted to breastfeed my daughter so badly, but we had gone back to using bottles.  I was so tense and doubtful in my own ability, I stopped trying.

And then, God intervened.

He cares about a tired, emotional Mom who’s heart is broken because she wants so badly to breastfeed. He knew my fears were getting the best of me.

My hubby was boiling all the parts of the breast pump one night to sanitize them.

We lost track of time and they melted.

Yeah.

So, he ran to the store right before they closed and he thought he got all the parts we needed…except he didn’t.

So, it was the moment of truth.  Either feed her from the breast or go get formula.

I prayed, took a deep breath, andwe did it!  :)

It was a turning point for all of us.  I started breastfeeding her every day and could pump and use a bottle if we needed it.  I was so thankful for the opportunity to step up and face my fears- and I give all glory and praise to God.

It was a dream come true; and such a beautiful and intimate time with my daughter.

Those first few weeks were agonizing; an emotional roller coaster.

If you are determined to breastfeed, don’t give up.

Keep trying- even after you have started using bottles.  I was not prepared for how emotional I felt, nor how hard it was to breastfeed.  Even though we had taken a class, I still was amazed at how hard something “natural” was for me.

So if it is really important to you, pour out your heart to God.  Pray to Him concerning your fears and troubles.  Seek help from a lactation consultant, family member, or friend who has breastfed their kids.

It was also a poignant reminder that though things may seem small or insignificant- God cares about all those things– and is available to meet our needs when we call on His Name.

Linked up with the following:

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5 Responses to Courage to Breastfeed

  1. Pingback: Courage to Breastfeed | My Heart's Mission – Your Guide To Breastfeeding

  2. I, too, had a VERY difficult time. The ONLY reason I was successful at breastfeeding either child was just down right determination. My “natural homebirth” turned into pre-eclampsia, 27 hours of induced labor, 3 hours of pushing, and an emergency C-Section and I just figured that breastfeeding was the one thing I wasn’t going to let anyone take away from me. And so we persevered in major ways through major obstacles.

    One of the things that I learned from that experience is that I fully believe that the one of the biggest obstacles to breastfeeding is the advocates. Most breastfeeding advocates paint a rosy, serene and peaceful picture. They talk about how easy and natural it is…so when it’s ridiculously hard at first, women have an out–those women, those commercials said it would be easy. So something must be wrong with me, since it’s not easy. Then you have so many women saying they “couldn’t” breastfeed for one reason or another. When the truth is that they just thought they couldn’t because they were expecting the peaceful, easy picture that was painted for them…and I have found that the “easy” picture is very rarely reality. most women I speak to who have successfully breastfed have had to get past 3-6 weeks of really, really hard times before they get to the easy part…but sadly most people give up before they get there.

    So glad you, too, were able to persevere! My youngest is 3 and nursing is one of the things I miss. Such a beautiful thing, and after you get through those hard first few weeks…it’s mostly smooth sailing.

    • Rachel says:

      I totally agree Crystal. I think that most women do find it difficult at first- finding a comfortable position, making sure the baby latches on correctly, the different painful aspects (nipple soreness, engorged breasts, etc.)- it is very challenging. I hope that new Moms will read this and press on through the tough beginning. I totally agree, it gets so much easier as the weeks go by- and it is such a sweet and precious time with your baby. :) Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights.

  3. Mikah says:

    I had no idea how difficult and painful breastfeeding would be either. I love that you included that part that your husband played in helping. I remember the night of our turning point – it was the night with I needed the encouragement of my husband and the support of God the most. I’m so glad that you were able to continue nursing. :)

    • Rachel says:

      Mikah, thank you for sharing. I should have included more about what an amazing support my hubby was. He was so patient with me as I struggled and supported me faithfully through all the ups and downs of those first several weeks. I couldn’t have done it without him. :) So glad you stopped by. God bless you.

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