We get enough disapproval from strangers and our spouses and our in laws and our distant relatives. We do not need it from you too.
Breastfeeding did not come easy for my son and I. My son was due on December 25, but my water broke on December 3 at 36 weeks, 6 days. I was both surprised and worried. I wasn’t even full term. When we arrived at the hospital, they told us if he was born before midnight he would have to go to the NICU. If he was born after midnight we could keep him. We hoped for the latter. Sixteen hours of labor and minimal progress from 4-6 cm later, my doctor recommended a c-section. He was born on December 4th 10:34 am by emergency c-section. Afterward, my doctor informed me that he’d had his hand down the birth canal with his head and that’s what had prevented my labor from progressing. She said he was never coming out. My husband also mentioned later that he’d overheard the nurses saying that I was starting to smell like I was getting an infection. As he put it, I had started to “smell pretty ripe down there.” Thanks honey.
I don’t believe it was the c-section itself that contributed to our breastfeeding difficulties, as much as the actions of the staff afterward. He was born, I kissed him and he and my husband were sent away to the nursery for what seemed like an ETERNITY. I was separated from him for several hours because the staff thought I needed some sleep. I disagreed then and I disagree now. I needed to be with my baby. I have since been informed that the hospital policy has changed. They now place the baby on mom’s chest for skin-to-skin immediately after the c-section while they stitch mom up. I feel like I was robbed of that crucial time with my baby. In hindsight, I wish I had done more c-section research, but I really had no idea what to expect. No first time mother thinks they are going to end up with an emergency c-section.
Things seemed like they were going OK in the hospital. The nurses and LCs were able to get him to latch, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. Then a nurse brought some formula and I dropper fed it to him, because I’d just had this tiny little baby and I was afraid he might starve. Of course I wish I hadn’t done that, but again, I didn’t know that I should research these things.
When we got home, things were even more difficult. At least my milk came in on day 5, but I just couldn’t get him to latch well on my own. Thank goodness a fabulous LC foresaw this and scheduled me a series of appointments before I left the hospital. I’m pretty sure breastfeeding wouldn’t have worked out if it wasn’t for her. It got so bad that I found myself in a mess of tears on Christmas morning at our family celebration. I was barely pumping anything (despite pumping every three hours around the clock), he wasn’t latching properly, he was getting supplemental bottles with every breastfeed and I was convinced my milk had all but dried up. I was in a bad place. At that time it seemed as if my happiness hinged on how well breastfeeding was going and I was about 90% sure it wasn’t going to work out. I was devastated.
THIS IS WHAT BREASTFEEDING IS LIKE. IT IS A SACRIFICE.