Mother to 6 month old Luca and lover of Muay Thai. Listen to Nadine describe what to expect when breastfeeding for the first time.
Expectation versus Reality
Monday 3AM. You wake up as your motherly instinct tells you it’s time to fill that baby’s tummy with some milk. You check baby’s cues by touching his cheeks, just like how you learnt it in your prenatal course. He turns his head to you, opens his mouth and he smiles in anticipation of his mummy’s boobie. You pick him up, cuddle him in your arms but no feeding just yet. As a good mummy you first change his diaper as you don’t want to wake him up after his feed. So diaper change first. For 20-30 minutes he will happily eat. Maybe in between he has a short rest and he gives you that sweet little smile which melts your heart. During the feed you have a glass of water or milk and maybe even a cookie. Once satisfied and happy, you pat his back until a little burp comes out. You continue to hold him in your arms until he is asleep and gently put him back to bed. What a natural and beautiful thing to do...the process of breastfeeding
Monday 3AM. You are already half awake because your baby grunts and kicks all night long and your motherly instincts will not let you sleep through. You check the cues for hunger and he quickly sucks in your finger and gives you an angry look. "Finally! I am starving here.“ When you want to carry him to the nursing chair there is no gentle cuddling. He is wriggling and crying. "I want my milk NOW!” Diaper change first? Only if you want your neighbours to hate you. Anyways, you want to feed first because your breasts are so rock hard from engorgement that you can hardly bear it anymore and need the lumps to clear. Why did no one tell you about those painful lumps!? Why do they leave such a thing out when talking about breastfeeding? The little one is eagerly sucking on your breasts while he hears a noice from the hallway and suddenly moves his head...with your nipple still in his mouth – auuuuuu! About one minute into the session the first letdown kicks in – another thing that is hardly mentioned in breastfeeding discussion. Let me tell you what it is. A stream of milk is shooting out of your boobs for the next 10-20 seconds. If you’re lucky your baby can deal with it. If not then he pulls away and the milk is shooting through the living room. Anyone care for some milk in their coffee? With all our clothes soaked in milk he decides he will give it another try.
Halfway through all you can hear is a loud wet fart and see a grumpy little face. There we go. It’s time for his diaper change. But it's urgent. Because if you have my luck, the diaper isn’t able to deal with such a large amount of poo that just came out of this little body. How is that even possible!? So, half naked with boobies hanging out of your shirt, you carry him to the diaper changing station, trying not to leave a trail of poop (and milk) behind.
I won't go into too much detail but if you’re having a boy be extra careful. They manage to pee in all directions. Even backwards on themselves! You continue breastfeeding and end the session with a wet burp - the milk running over your shoulder down your back. Yummy. You rock him for another 20 minutes before putting him into his cot. He is sound asleep but the moment any part of his body touches the mattress his eyes are wide open giving you that look "How dare you!“ So it’s gonna be another long night in the nursing chair with him sleeping in your arms. You settle down in the chair, trying to get as comfortable as possible... for your baby, not for you. He cuddles into you, feels the warmth of your body and gives you that little happy smirk that tells you his world is fine and he feels secure. All you can feel is this unconditional love. The sleepless nights and sacrifices are all worth it.
Don’t expect to have the perfect baby or a perfect breastfeeding journey. Yes breastfeeding is the most wonderful and natural thing however it doesn’t come naturally. You and your baby have to learn it and practice. There are mums with little supply, mums with oversupply, babies that simply don’t want to drink breast milk, or engorged breast that can lead to mastitis. There can be so many challenges along the way. It is not an easy journey but it is a most rewarding one! After a few weeks or even months you and your baby are a team and you can enjoy breastfeeding.