By: Anna Katrina J. Bolivar
We often see lovely and peaceful photos of mothers breastfeeding their babies. It seems as if breastfeeding is always an easy task. But once we’re on that boat, we’d realize that it is not as easy as it seems.
Breastfeeding is work. You do it for for a few minutes even up to hours, several times a day, every day. You carry your baby in your arms, try a number of positions that would be comfortable for both of you, and try to maintain that position so as not to disturb the latch. The upside is, you burn calories while breastfeeding. Yes, it’s like an instant work-out.
Despite all of these, we all know that “kung walang tiyaga, walang nilaga.” So moms, no matter how hard it takes to breastfeed, try to persevere on it for your child’s sake. But don’t fret dear moms, it gets easier as you go along. First-time mothers, for sure, would be eager to know what to expect during the first few days of breastfeeding so that they’d know how to prepare for it. So I’ve asked a few breastfeeding mothers to share what they have experienced during the first few days of breastfeeding. Here’s what they can say:
On stressing out about satisfying your baby’s need: As a first time breastfeeding mom, it is normal to worry if you’re satisfying your baby’s hunger. We worry because we cannot see how much they are taking in, let alone if they are getting any milk at all. Just remember that your baby’s stomach is just the size of a cherry and believe that your body will produce enough milk for your baby’s changing needs.
On engorged breasts: I realized that this is quite scary after experiencing it myself. Most moms that I asked also experienced this a few days after giving birth. Your breasts will suddenly feel heavy, it will get really really hard, and it will be painful. It can get really nerve-wracking but hot compresses and hand expression will do the trick. Apply hot compress once you feel any indication of breast engorgement so as not to let it worsen. If you do not know how to hand express, let your baby latch. Your baby will relieve you from this pain.
On sore nipples: Again, almost all moms I’ve asked mentioned this. I myself experienced this and it’s downright painful. Some apply nipple cream, but as for me, I swallowed my fear and just let my baby continue to latch. It can get traumatizing when you have a sore nipple and you see your baby crying because of hunger. Chin up, mommy! Just let your baby latch and try to keep up with the pain. It will eventually heal on its own. I promise!
On muscle pain: Our fragile babies need support when they latch. Note that they will feed every two to three hours, would latch for as long as they want, and you’ll do this 24/7. So expect that you’ll have pain in your arms, shoulders, back of the neck, and back. It is important that you try different positions to find one that is most convenient to both of you. A nursing pillow would be of great help to lessen stress in your arms and shoulders.
There are still a lot more challenges that you’ll probably face when you start your breastfeeding journey. Just like the fact that each pregnancy is unique, each breastfeeding journey is also unique. Who knows, you might have a smooth journey right from the start!
Breastfeeding can be challenging for some, but just keep in mind that it will get easier over time. Trust me, it will! Always remember to keep your goal in mind. Remember that you are giving your baby the best nourishment that they could ever have. Your baby also feels your love and warmth when they latch. Breastfeeding is not just about the milk, but also about the comfort that only a mother can give.
Anna Katrina Bolivar is a first-time mom to a baby girl. She’s a stay-at-home, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and cosleeping mom. She has her own blog at The Everyday Nanay. Despite all the challenges of a stay-at-home mom, she always goes to sleep with a heart that is overflowing with love for the Lord, her husband, and their precious little girl.