My mother weaned me off at 13 months. This came after an incident at a law office where I walked over to her, said “Mama chi-che!!” and proceeded to pull her buttoned blouse open for all to see. The next day she put peanut butter on her nipple and convinced me it was “caca“, I never nursed again.
Apparently, weaning my sister was not as easy. I guess she was just more astute as an infant than I. When my mom did the peanut butter bit she looked at it confused, wiped it off with her hand and proceeded to latch on. It would take the bitter taste of mustard to convince her that the “chi-che” was no longer in service.
When I gave birth to my daughter, I knew I would be breastfeeding. Little did I know how hard the beginning would be. First, the whole process of nurses man-handling my breasts was uncomfortable to say the least. Then they hooked me up to a medical grade breast pump and I thought my nipples were going to fall off. The next two weeks were not any better. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing and the bad latch was doing terrible things to my skin.
I reached out for help, I visited the lactation consultant and sought advice from a close friend who had breastfed. The thing that stuck with me was “IT WILL GET BETTER”.
The tenderness, the engorgement, the leaking, the cracked and bleeding nipples, mastitis. All of it… Will eventually go away. And it did go away. I was able to nurse her until my supply ran dry at nine months.
The second time around, with my son, was not any easier than the first. The latch was all wrong (again!?) and the bleeding, cracked skin returned. On top of that, this little bugger has a very strong latch and a high palette. I got to the two week mark (when things had gotten easier the first time) and I still didn’t see improvement. It took over three weeks for my skin to toughen up.
Did I think about giving up? You bet! That sample can of formula started looking really appealing right around week three. Did I? No way. I know first hand the benefits of nursing. If my mom did it for me, I can do it for my kids. The bonding experience is like nothing else; to know that I alone can feed and nurture my child in such a special way.
No, it’s not always easy. Nursing in public is not for everyone, especially if you have a baby who hates being covered up to eat.
I’m not trying to preach to anyone about breastfeeding, just offer encouragement for those who have chosen this route and need some support or motivation to keep going. Just remember that your baby is only a baby for a very short amount of time, stick with it, IT WILL GET BETTER!