Friday, November 29, 2013

Do Faulty Breasts = Breastfeeding Failure?

As soon as my husband and I started trying to get pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Okay, I always knew I wanted to, but that was when I made a serious commitment to it. I'm extremely stubborn, so when I set my mind to something, it's pretty much a done deal. 

All the research shows that breast is best, not only for the baby, but for the mother as well. I wanted all those benefits for my baby and myself! Lower chance of food allergies and reduced risk of disease? Yes please! Lower risk of breast cancer (for mother and baby!)? Yes please! Let's also not forget that breastmilk is always evolving and changing based on your baby's needs. How cool is that?? 

Another big reason breastfeeding was so important to me was because of ingredients in formula that I personally find questionable. We eat a very specific way in my household, and formula just wouldn't do the trick for my babe. Besides that, I knew I would feel like a failure as a mother if I couldn't provide natural nourishment for my child. I know not everyone feels that extreme about breastfeeding, but I do.

I learned everything I possibly could about breastfeeding. I was like a sponge, soaking it all up. There are loads of books, websites, and videos to teach you the ins and outs. It can get overwhelming! Some of these resources were downright scary. Would it be excruciating? Would I be able to push through the inevitable pain? Would I have enough milk? 

But the questions that plagued me the most were about my own breasts, which I felt were going to be lemons.

"Would my flat nipples cooperate?"

"Would my breast augmentation (implants) ruin my chance to BF?" 

I've had flat nipples my whole life (I'm starting to think I always will). If the nipple is so important in breastfeeding, how would that affect my experience? I became more hopeful once I read about nipple shields and nipple shells. I knew there were at least options for working with my flat nipples. One hurdle down, one to go.

I was still unsure about how my breast augmentation, which now seemed vain and superficial, would affect my breastfeeding relationship. I searched and searched for information about breastfeeding after an augmentation, but I couldn't find much. Basically, I might be able to make it work, but I might not. Would breast implants be what stood between me and giving my daughter the best? I was genuinely worried about this, but I was determined (aka stubborn).

After the beautiful birth of my baby girl (which you can read about here), I was anxious to try our first latch. We enjoyed skin to skin immediately, and while I basked in the glory of knowing I had just given life to a human being, I waited for her to begin rooting and crawling toward the breast. When she finally seemed interested, one of the nurses was kind enough to come over and help me get Nora latched. We got her on a few times, and I could feel her suckling. But it wasn't going great and she kept popping off. Her tiny little mouth just wouldn't fit on my pancake nipple. It also felt pretty excruciating. 

I was on such a natural birth high and didn't want to come down with the devastation of breastfeeding not working. But sweet Jen (the nurse) wasn't about to let that happen! She quickly left to go grab a nipple shield and the problem was solved. 

Photo Courtesy of Lori Diane Photography
I think the look of sheer joy on my face says it all. I was breastfeeding my baby! It was such an amazing and wonderful gift. I was overjoyed and relieved that the nurses and lactation consultant seemed impressed with the amount of colostrum that was free flowing. And so the birth high continued as I was able to provide that sweet, liquid gold for my precious nursling. 

We just celebrated 9 months of exclusive breastfeeding this past week, and I am extremely proud! We've had ups and downs (which I'll definitely share at a later time) but the ups have definitely exceeded the minor setbacks that we experienced.

What were you most scared about before breastfeeding? Were your fears realized or did you worry for no reason?

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