From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I also knew I wanted to breastfeed. Even though breastfeeding is something nature has given us as women, for some women it is not possible to breastfeed for medical or other reasons. For other women, it is a conscious choice not to breastfeed. Before I share my experiences about breastfeeding, I want to emphasize that I have no judgment about the choices of other mothers. I believe that mothers should do what they feel best about, this is ultimately best for the child.
Before I gave birth, I read something about breastfeeding and talked about this subject with friends, but I must honestly say that I didn't really study it very much. I think I was made for it, the female body does not produce this milk for nothing, so it will be fine. I trust Mother Nature. I myself had no backup in case breastfeeding didn't work out. So we have never had bottle feeding in the house.
The thing I heard most about breastfeeding before I experienced it myself was that it hurt like hell. “You have to go through it for a while, but in the end it will be ok.” So I was prepared for the worst. It is understandable that there are mothers who drop out because of this. 'Eventually' sounds very far away and why would you gift yourself so much pain when the painless alternatives are there for the taking?
But dear mothers-to-be, with this blog I want to tell you that it doesn't necessarily have to hurt. In fact, it shouldn't hurt at all. And let's be honest... you just gave birth? After this you can take on the world, right?! I know that I am blessed and lucky that my milk production started immediately, I gave birth to a girl who knew how to latch on perfectly right away and I have a dear friend who has breastfed for many years and has supported me in all my questions can help. This doesn't mean that I didn't run into anything and it was always easy.
The maternity assistant helped me a lot with finding a nice position for feeding. I found this difficult in the beginning. It was a struggle with my own arms until I had Nore in a good feeding position. Later, when I started reading books about breastfeeding, I found out that I liked the 'cradle position' the most. I have also tried other positions. I will come back to this later. The milk production was good, the hooking up went well and now I had also found the right attitude. Nothing can go wrong now you would think...
My milk production was too good. Nore couldn't empty my breasts and this resulted in clogged milk ducts; a chest infection. I developed a fever, was shivering at night and my teeth chattered in bed and the sides of my breasts hurt terribly. When I called the doctor with these complaints, I thought for a moment that I should stop breastfeeding, something I really didn't want. The assistant indicated that I could not breastfeed during a course of antibiotics. I was determined then not to take antibiotics and to try to cure the mastitis with a breast pump. However, these concerns turned out to be unnecessary because when the GP called me back a little later, it turned out that you could continue to breastfeed with this course of antibiotics. The baby latching on a lot, so that the milk ducts could be cleared, was good. During the ignition I put Nore in the so-called 'rugby position'. As a result, the channels that were clogged were drained first.
Nore, like many babies, had a lot of sucking needs. She could easily hang on my breast for an hour, one hour on each breast. As a layman in breastfeeding, I had quite misjudged this. There seemed to be no end to it. Especially in the beginning, I fed Nore on demand which was every three hours. So when she had finished drinking and sucking, it was almost time for the next feeding. I felt like I was doing nothing but feeding. While this sounds very negative now, it wasn't. Of course I did this with all the love in the world, I just didn't realize this beforehand. Feeding a newborn just takes a lot of time and energy. A nice side effect is that I lost my pregnancy kilos in no time. A week after giving birth, I tried on my jeans again.
Breastfeeding became faster and more efficient. Nore's sucking needs could be met with the help of a pacifier, which also gave me more space for other things. And once we got the hang of feeding, I felt, it was time to start pumping. I planned to continue to breastfeed Nore when I went back to work. So Nore would have to learn to drink from a bottle. After trying different bottles and bottle nipples, it worked, Nore drinks from both the bottle and the breast. I myself work three days, so these days I pump at work. Nore only drinks the morning and evening feeds at the breast these days. She receives the other foods through frozen milk from a bottle.
The question of whether I had pain at the start of my breastfeeding adventure? Yes a bit. I too have had cracked nipples and always had a burning sensation for the first few seconds. But there are solutions for this too and nipple ointment is a lifesaver. In my case the pain was better than expected and the start went almost flawlessly with a few setbacks. In addition, just like when I gave birth, I have already forgotten about the pain. You get so much beauty in return.
At the time of writing I have been breastfeeding for half a year and, as long as my milk production allows it, I do not intend to stop. Besides the fact that my milk composition is perfect for my daughter, it is also really our moment. And the bigger she gets, the better breastfeeding is. The moments when she lets go of the breast, her sparkling eyes look at me, she smiles lovingly at me and then continues to drink… melts!
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