In this article, IVF Mum, Vanesa Puerta, weighs in on the stigma around breastfeeding and how having an online support group of other mums helped her through the long nights.
Breastfeeding, to me, is one of the most beautiful parts of motherhood. It wasn’t always though!
In the First Few Weeks, Breastfeeding Was a Struggle
In the beginning, breastfeeding was stressful, painful, messy, lonely and I dreaded every feed. I had pictured it to be this beautiful, uplifting bonding experience that I had so often heard about… but instead, there I was, exhausted and torn, in pain and filled with worry.
I felt like giving up on numerous occasions. I had set my goal to breastfeed for a year prior to actually commencing and I felt a surge of disappointment set in when I realized that I might not make it past a week, let alone a year!
As a New Mama, I Didn’t Know What to Expect
My breastfeeding journey was difficult. This was mainly due to two reasons.
Personally, the most difficult part for me was the pain associated with it. Just picture razor blades cutting your nipples – that’s what I felt.
And secondly, was the loneliness. You’re getting up at wee hours through the night when everyone else is sound asleep. Everything is dark, quiet, and you’re alone with your thoughts. Not the ideal situation if you’re also suffering the baby blues or post-natal depression.
There Was No Medical Reason That I Couldn’t Breastfeed
I was determined to breastfeed because I had always been a goal getter, so, I continued to push past the pain and past the loneliness – but not without a little help.
The things that helped me keep on boobing were Medela hydrogel breast pads, nipple shields (they were a godsend), breast pump, nipple cream and the constant internal reminder of all the other mamas doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time as me.
Being part of a mums’ Facebook group eased the lonely feeling. Whenever I’d feel lonely, I’d log on and see other mums awake, so we’d sit there, chat and comfort each other.
You Can Do This Mama!
If you’re a first-time mama or having a first go at breastfeeding and experiencing difficulty with it, let me tell you from my own experience that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. My tunnel lasted two weeks, but the light did emerge! I have now been breastfeeding for almost seven months and cherish every second of it.
Along with the beautiful and strong bond I’ve formed with my baby girl from it (yes, that magical time that everyone talks about is actually real!), there’s also SO MANY COOL FACTS I’ve learned about breast milk along the way.
Like, did you know that the nutritional components of breast milk change every day, according to the specific individual needs of a baby. So, if your baby is sick, for instance, then your body produces antibodies to help your baby fight the sickness.
Or, if it’s a hot day, your milk becomes watery to ensure optimum hydration for bub. What about the fact that is breastfeeding burns around 500 calories per day? Hello, extra food! 🙂
I also found it cool that breast milk changes flavour depending on what you eat, which primes your babies taste buds for when they begin eating solids.
We should all just take a second to appreciate how incredible our bodies are!
For all the new mamas who are just starting out in their breastfeeding journey and hear how amazing breastfeeding is, know that it may not feel absolutely magical and beautiful at the start but with time, it will. Hang in there, mama… you got this!
Until next time,
Love Vanesa xx
How would you describe your own breastfeeding journey? What do you wish someone had told you about breastfeeding before you got started? Let’s have a chat and support each other.