Got Breast Milk?

There are some really warm and fuzzy images of new moms with their babies at their breasts. Minutes after birth, she’s smiling. And you can’t hear it, but you know that baby is rhythmically sucking and swallowing milk. Of course he is — because everything is perfect.

In reality, the baby is likely falling asleep after every other swallow of colostrum and the mom is uncomfortably wearing what seems like the largest sanitary napkin ever created. She is in this weird state between itchiness and pain thanks to a large number of stitches “down there.” She is torn because she needs to have a bowel movement but she’s not sure she’s quite ready for that kind of trauma. She is exhausted. She is swollen. She keeps tickling her baby under his chin to wake him every few seconds while he’s latched on — hoping that it’s a good latch — because hell, he has to eat. He has to eat and her milk has to come in… because it’s already been a few days and well, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to actually happen and that formula bottle is creeping closer and closer…

That was me after my son was born. Really, I was happy. But I was worried. I probably wasn’t smiling too much and my hair was probably dirty… just guessing here. My milk didn’t come in for FIVE days. FIVE days of doubt. FIVE days of thinking that maybe my breasts weren’t going to come through for my little guy. FIVE days of my mother in law telling me that maybe it just wasn’t going to happen. FIVE days of my mom telling me that it would be ok (with a really worried look on her face). On the fourth day my doc told me that my little guy was losing weight and that I had to give him a bottle of formula, but I argued that I just needed “one more day.”

I was crushed. Not because formula is bad, but because I really wanted to breastfeed for the obvious reasons. I felt that I NEEDED to breastfeed. My doula told me to hang in there and to have faith. My spirit was breaking. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to and I wanted it so much.

My little 8lb baby was trying really hard. He wasn’t crying too much but he was nursing all the time. It seemed like I was feeding him for 45 minutes, every 45 minutes. He was losing weight.

And then it happened.

I remember it clearly. It was 3am on that fifth day. He was happily sucking away, slowly, calmly, falling asleep at the boob with me tickling him every few minutes to keep him awake. When all of a sudden his eyes opened really wide and he sucked and swallowed eagerly until he was full. When I broke his latch I could see it. There it was: my milk dribbling from his lips. He was in his first milk coma. Cue the singing angels. Success.

It was the best feeling ever. The day that I was waiting for, and it felt like such a long wait. All of that worry quickly disappeared. We were finally where we needed to be and that was the first day of our 14-month breastfeeding relationship. I’m happy that I didn’t give in and that I didn’t give him that bottle sitting in my kitchen. I had faith and knowledge on my side, and most importantly I had the support.

Did you breastfeed your baby? How did your journey start?

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