I also found several breastfeeding message boards online that were integral to changing my breastfeeding experience for the better. Within those message boards, I discovered a parenting practice called “Attachment Parenting” that, once I finally embraced it, changed my views toward my baby and myself positively and permanently and opened my mind to view the world in a much different way that I had been raised to see it.
Still, those first six weeks were extremely difficult. I was so desperate to stop the pain and to give my son as much breast milk as possible that I considered exclusively pumping. That option never panned out because when I attempted to pump, so little was expressed that I knew I could never do it without also using formula. And the more I read about formula and its inferiority to breast milk, the more determined I became to not rely on it for feeding my son. In addition, his bottle latch was even worse than his breast latch!
At my son’s two week check up, the pediatrician determined that he had thrush, which partially explained my battered nipples. Because my son was still latching on and falling off seconds later, I was very concerned that he wasn’t gaining weight. I was supplementing with at least four ounces of formula per day, both grateful for its existence and sad that I needed it at all. To my surprise, his weight was right on target!
Eventually, the thrush cleared and I learned to nurse while lying on my side and my baby begin to stay latched for longer and longer with each nursing session. In the meantime, I continued to supplement with formula and pumped breast milk. Once the pain of nursing began to subside, I became relentless in latching and relatching my son during nursing sessions. He’d latch and fall off over and over. Over and over, I’d relatch him and lay very, very still until one day I realized he was staying latched for 5 full minutes at a time. This time I cried tears of joy instead of tears of pain and desperation.
By the time he was six weeks old, I was no longer relying on formula supplementation at all and thought of pumping exclusively was long gone from my mind. My son was nursing for forty minutes at a time, every 1.5 hours and was repeatedly falling asleep at the breast. I gazed at his milk drunk face and prayed prayers of gratitude that I was able to have this beautiful experience and that it was getting easier day by day. Who knew that something so natural, so essential would be so excruciatingly difficult? I was glad that those weeks were behind us.
Now it was time for me to return to work. Although I was only planning to work part-time, my absence from my baby would ultimately create another breastfeeding hurdle for us to jump.
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