No matter how prepared you think you are for birth and having a baby, there is always going to be things that you never would have thought or expected to come up once that babe gets here. That's why i'm here to encourage all you mammas, whether first child or fifth one in, to TALK, TALK, TALK about it all!
When I gave birth to my son, and nothing went like I had planned, I was forced to pump the first couple weeks. I literally had an alarm set for every 3 hours, even through the night. Prior to having my son, I didn't think I would even use my pump unless my husband and I were wanting a date night or something down the road and I needed to have a bottle to leave. As I began pumping, so many questions arose like, "how long do I pump for?" "what setting do I pump on" "how much milk is normal to get out?" "why are my boobs suddenly so swollen (which was actually engorged, I just had no idea what that was at the time since I had never heard of it)?" "how do I fix a clogged milk duct"? "can you fix a clogged milk duct"?
Sooo many questions, and so little time and energy to google them all and read article after article! And then, when I was finally allowed to breastfeed him, more questions arose! "How long do I feed him?" "what does a good latch look like?" "lip tie, how do I know?" "Is he getting enough?" "he wants to feed non-stop, is that okay?" "do I need to burp every time, or can I let him sleep?" "why am I producing so much milk, and how to I regulate it (which I found was because after pumping so much, my boobs thought I had twins)?" Do I always need to pump?"
And these questions were all just about breastfeeding. I had plenty more about everything else that arose in the first few days of bringing Azariah home.
It was overwhelming, and scary at times. So many thoughts and questions made me wonder if I was doing things wrong, or if my baby was okay. So many questions and concerns I had no idea I would have, because I knew nothing about them until the particular situations actually came up.
Thankfully, all this crazy, anxious, questioning energy soon went away after I began talking to people. I asked my friend mammas (mostly via social media) if they had gone through what I was going through. And to my surprise, mammas were more than happy to answer and lend advice because they knew what this unknown was like, and how hard it was to figure out the first months. Then, I started going to lactation support groups. This was an even bigger game changer. For me, I was nervous because my baby was just barely being weened off the bottle since being in the NICU, and I was having to use a nipple shield to help him latch. Using the nipple shield made me feel kind of ashamed, like I wasn't capable of feeding without it, and it was my fault. But then I got to the group and around me were other moms using nipple shields. Not only that, but there were moms with really fussy babies, that were screaming in the room. Other moms that were only using bottles because their baby refused to latch. And then moms who had virtually no issues, but were still there because they worried and needed the emotional support.
Going to this group not only showed me that I wasn't the only one, but that I was one of many! It was so comforting to be around other mammas who were having difficulties, or learning it all for the first time too. We sat around in a circle sharing our worries and struggles, getting to not only encourage one another, but share what was working and not working for ourselves.
On top of that all, I got to meet with a dear friend who is also a lactation consultant (So-Cal mammas, let me know if you're looking for one!). Not only did I have a well educated and trained human to ask allll my questions to, but I also got some hands on help and assessment of my baby's latch and feedings.
Mammas, all this goes to say, don't be afraid to talk about your struggles you are having with your baby whether in breastfeeding, or anything else! I can guarantee you that you are not alone in your thoughts, fears, or trials. And there is someone out there with answers!! So ask questions! Go to groups! Be vulnerable, and continue to believe in yourself and baby. I promise whatever trial you are going through, or struggle you are having as a mom, it can be worked through and it can be overcome.
I had an unfortunate start to breastfeeding with a baby in the NICU who wasn't allowed milk till he was 5 days old, and when he was finally allowed, he could only be bottle-fed in order to track his intake and growth. I wasn't 'allowed' to breastfeed him till he was 2 weeks old, and that came with so many fears! I didn't think he was ever going to choose me over the easiness of a bottle. But sure enough, with the help, love, and encouragement by so many friends and groups, my little man is now solely breastfeeding and gaining weight continually.
Keep fighting the good fight, mamma. It's a tough journey, but one we were made for.