You are finally back home from the hospital and on your own turf. Your guests have gone home (or to bed), you've had a shower, changed your clothes, and are enjoying some quiet sans endless interruptions from nurses. Despite needing sleep, you have spent the last three hours staring adoringly at your newborn, waiting for their first midnight breastfeeding session. You feel a mixture of confidence and fear, and then it happens; you hear that little peep and you pick them up to latch them on.
If you are anything like me, this first breastfeeding session totally didn't go as planned. My daughter latched on, but wouldn't let me put her down for hours. She cried, I cried, and my husband left the room in frustration. I had to keep waking her and begging her to re-latch because, well, she wouldn't sleep unless my nipple was in her mouth.
Needless to say, I got too little sleep that night and spent hours reading articles on the internet and crying from exhaustion. Like many things in parenting, that first breastfeeding session is impossible to prepare for. However, with experience and a little support, you can learn the important things that'll assist you and your baby. Before you know it, you'll have healthy, growing baby and you'll have what you need to get through the challenges of new parenthood. In other words, you'll realize that you've got this.
Your Baby Won't Latch
I begged, I pleaded, and I tried everything I could possibly think of in order to get my newborn daughter to latch and stay latched that first night home. She eventually got it, but it took a bit of practice and, seriously, things are a lot harder when you are alone in the middle of the night than they are in daylight with people to help.
Your Baby Will Cry
My first child cried more during her first night home, than she did in the next six months of her life. I was shocked. It was scary, and I was so frantic to calm her that I was willing to do anything to make her feel better. I just kept thinking being on the outside of mommy must be so hard.
After a while, I cried, too. "Please stay latched little one," And then, a little later, "Please let mommy put you down." Between the hormones, the exhaustion and the crying baby, I shed a lot of tears during that first midnight feeding.
Your Baby Won't Let You Put Them Down
I stayed up most of the night that first night home. Every time I put my baby down, she would cry. At first this was sweet. I loved holding her and staring at her perfection, but then she basically nursed the whole night. I was terrified to bring her to bed with me, but I didn't want her to cry, so I alternated breastfeeding and swaying with her in my arms. The next day, my mom went out and bought us a co-sleeper. Good job, grandma.
Your Baby Will Fall Asleep While Breastfeeding
It seemed like every time I got her latched, she would drift off to sleep and I would have to yell for my husband to help me wake her. I tried everything, up to and including five diaper changes, wet wipes, tickling her toes. She just kept falling asleep. I didn't know at this time that this was a symptom of jaundice and not getting enough to eat. Fortunately, we later learned together.
You'll Be So Tired
Zombie-level exhaustion. It was worse than the hospital. I was so tired.
You'll Nod Off
I was so tired that I kept nodding off, and then freaking out that I had fallen asleep with the baby so I kept putting her in the bassinet, only to have her wake up and start the whole process over again.
You'll Freak Out
Worry will lead to freak outs. I got so worried about my baby that I was actually angry with her. Then, I was mad at my husband for falling back to sleep and leaving me alone with a helpless hungry child. Then, of course, I got angry with myself for not getting things perfectly on the first try.
The Sun Will Come Up
Believe it or not, as the song says, "The sun will come up tomorrow." Even if tomorrow is closer than it should be and you don't get nearly enough sleep in the meantime. Things will seem easier during daylight hours and after a cup of coffee (or three). You can call a friend, your mom, your health care provider or a lactation consultant if things don't seem right or you need support or guidance. Tomorrow night will be better, and every night after that will seem easier. I promise.