So you've chosen to breastfeed, huh? Good for you! There's no wrong way to feed an infant, and I've tried them all, but, personally, breastfeeding is my favorite. In the grand scheme of things I caught on pretty quickly and didn't have any substantial problems, but that's not to say breastfeeding wasn't hard AF. I sobbed my way through numerous nursing sessions, and never more than on the day after my son was born. I'd go as far as to say that the second day of breastfeeding is the hardest.
As a new mom only 48 hours into the job, everything is brand-spanking new. At the same time, you're just expected to do everything because, well, you have to. Moreover, any of the concerns that you told yourself you'd "deal with tomorrow" are creeping up on you, and quickly. So before you know it you're holding a 2-day-old baby and thinking, "Tomorrow is here and I still don't know what's up with that. Is someone going to handle that? Is everything OK? Should I be worried? Because I'm kind of worried. Should I be more worried?"
So before you go into this magical mystical boob quest (that's what I'm calling breastfeeding from now on because it sounds cooler), be warned that you will be tested early on, and for a number of reasons. If you have already gone on your magical mystical boob quest, read on to know that you are not alone in your past woes and tribulations.
Because Of The Hormone Crash
In my experience (and I know I'm not alone), a day or so after you have your baby all those hormones that have been sustaining your pregnancy, and all those new hormones that are popping up to support milk production, go bonkers. Don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling so many feelings. Definitely don't be surprised if you find yourself struggling to handle even one of them. Honestly, this process is typical and it passes under normal circumstances... but it is definitely going to make everything harder for a hot minute, including breastfeeding.
Because It's All Hitting You All At Once
The immediate glow (or trauma) of your birth is over and now you're faced with the reality that all your waiting is over and your baby is here. And not only are they here, but they need you. Immediately. All the time. Don't they know you just gave birth and need some rest? If they do, they DGAF. Your petty existence is inconsequential to them.
This requirement to hit the ground running (and not just running but booking it) is a lot to manage in and of itself, but the intimate realization of that fact is just as daunting. Breastfeeding is one of those things you have to dive into and flail your way through for a while, but it's a big one.
Because, If You Delivered In A Hospital, Your Discharge Date Is Looming
Yeah, a part of you just wants to be home in your own bed, with your own stuff, but another part of you is tremendously comforted by being taken care of 24/7 by a cadre of specially trained professionals. Once you get home there's no one to ask questions of, no one to take the baby for a few minutes (or a night), and no one tell you what needs to be done. This looming sense of being on your own adds a kind of frenzied worry to breastfeeding.
Because The Lactation Consultant *Still* Hasn't Visited
They said that someone would be in your room at some point, because this is a baby-friendly facility and the lactation consultant meets with everyone. So day one came and went and you're like, "It's OK, they'll be in soon." But by mid-day on day two (and, funnily enough, the days feel really long all of a sudden) you begin to nibble at your cuticles and wonder if they're going to make it in to see you before you have to check out. Neither their absence, nor your worry about it, is making breastfeeding any easier.
Because Your Milk Probably Hasn't Come In Yet
Because either you didn't realize it doesn't happen right away and you're worried, or because you're a Type A person who read that it can between two to five days and the fact that it hasn't happened as early as possible has your overachieving ass all worried. Either way, you're getting anxious at this point.
For the worried unknowing people: don't worry. In the first few days your baby will be getting colostrum, a nutrient rich substance that your body may have been making for a while now and is specially formulated to sustain your baby in the first days of their life. If you're a Type A worrier: no, really, it's OK if it doesn't come in come in as soon as it could. Your timeline is still totally reasonable!
Because Weight Checks Are Terrifying
Babies lose weight after birth. This is very normal, but lots of people don't know it's normal. So finding out that your eight-pound baby has dropped down to seven pounds fourteen ounces is jarring.
"That's fine," a nurse will say. "We just want to make sure that goes back up a bit before you're discharged."
So, you know, zero pressure at all. Certainly not the kind of pressure that could making nursing even more challenging.
Because Your Life Is Revolving Around Your Baby's Diaper
Is it wet?! Is it wet now? How about now? Now? Now? Now? Noooooooooooow?! THE DOCTOR TOLD ME THIS BABY NEEDS TO PEE AND I NEED THEM TO PEE SO THAT I KNOW THEY'RE OK AND GETTING ENOUGH TO EAT AND DRINK.
Because Three Different People Have All Given You Contradictory Advice To "Help" You
Bless all their hearts, because they mean well, but all that information coming at you at once isn't super helpful. And that's not to say all of it isn't good advice, but being generally good advice and good advice for you and your baby aren't necessarily the same thing. Every body and every baby is different and respond to different techniques. Not knowing what works for you yet, and being presented with so many different options, is daunting.
Because Your Baby Is Hungrier
This was my experience, anyway. Day one my son was totally fine just nomming on colostrum. Day two? He wanted milk and even though he was totally fine he was not happy. There is no hell quite as torturous as an unhappy infant.
I would go to feed him, he would eat for a bit, not get everything he wanted, get frustrated, and, as a result, constantly pop off the breast. This, in turn, would piss him off and he would just scream at me.
It. Was. Misery.
(I should add that towards the very end of day two/beginning of day three, I think, I introduced formula as a supplement and that saved my damn life.)
Because You're So Damn Tired
You can only run on happy hormones and adrenaline for so long before sleeplessness (or horribly broken sleep) gets the better of you. Exhaustion affects you in lots of different ways, all of which will make breastfeeding harder and more emotional.
So be warned: day two is a beast, friends!
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