Despite reading countless books, taking breastfeeding classes, joining groups on social media, and having a ton of breastfeeding friends, I was totally not prepared. Honestly, breastfeeding my baby for the first time was not easy and or natural. There's definitely a learning curve, and things definitely didn't always go as planned. To make matters worse, I thought it was going to be so different. In fact, there were a ton of things I thought I had to feel when breastfeeding my baby for the first time.
The breastfeeding advocacy movement makes breastfeeding sound like a magical, wonderful experience, full of snuggles and endorphins. If you're the type to believe every single picture on the internet, breastfeeding almost always involves beautiful, thin women in fields of flowers, with perfect hair and makeup. Like most things in motherhood, reality rarely looks anything like stock images.
For me, breastfeeding was painful the first time, and I didn't feel the rush of happy love hormones or let down that everyone talked about. Breastfeeding my baby in the hospital meant being topless in front of nosy nurses and hands-on lactation consultants, piercing nipple pain, uterine contractions, and worrying that my baby was nursing all of the time and not sleeping.
Fast forward through weeks of breast milk supply issues, supplementing formula with a supplemental nursing system, pumping all day long, and postpartum depression, and I can safely say that breastfeeding my daughter was not a beautiful experience. At. all. Fortunately, now that I've had other babies and way different breastfeeding experiences, I can tell you that it doesn't suck all of the time (pun intended), but it definitely isn't magical all of the time, either.