But breastfeeding my daughter? It was a completely different experience. All that experience I had did little to prepare me for the battles ahead. It started out well for her as well. In the hospital, she had a great latch and like her brother took to nursing very naturally. Then my milk came in. I had been told before leaving the hospital that engorgement was often more of an issue for second time moms, and boy was that true! It was unbelievable painful! Not only that, but it led to a poor latch and cracking and bleeding. I truly felt sick every time I nursed my daughter because of the awful pain. Still, I knew that this was only temporary and if I just pushed through it would get better. So I did... but it didn't.
On that same side that had given me troubles with my son, the pain persisted... and despite my best efforts to keep nursing on that side, I could tell that once again my supply was dropping. Given my experience, I knew that it was possible to nurse exclusively on one side, but my son had been much older as well. Could I truly produce enough milk to feed a newborn using only one breast!? So, I continued to try to push through. When my daughter reached 2 months old, my 'bad side' had had enough. It was still cracked and bleeding and had dried up completely. I had no choice but to go exclusively to the other side.
The good news is, it worked! At almost 2 years old, my daughter is still nursing with no signs of stopping. We have never had to supplement and she's had more than enough milk to thrive and grow. Despite our rocky start, we DID it.
In the end, our story had a happy ending, but it certainly taught me a lot. It taught me that EVERY breastfeeding story is different. You can have one awful breastfeeding experience and one great one. It taught me to be more compassionate to those who have had struggles and who ultimately decided it wasn't worth the fight. And it also inspired me even more to want to encourage other moms who desire to breastfeed. To let them know that it's not always easy, but that it will get better.
In anticipation of World Breastfeeding Week next week, MAM is asking moms like me and you to share our personal breastfeeding stories to help and encourage new moms and moms to be and giving you a chance to win too:
Breastfeeding is natural, beautiful and healthy; what breastfeeding is not is easy for all moms like most of the conversations online would have you believe! MAM believes that we all can benefit from honest, candid dialogue about breastfeeding between real moms so please share your personal story and your advice for new/expectant moms at http://bit.ly/MAM_MyBFStory with #MyBFStory. MAM will choose their three favorite stories to win a $100 gift card!
Contest ends August 3.
Do you have a #MyBFStory? I'd love to hear all about it!