For nine months, I dreamt of the moment my baby would latch. Social media is filled empowering photos of little babies breastfeeding on their mothers. Craving that connection between my daughter and I was a dream of mine. I had done endless research on what to expect but didn’t actually know what to expect the first week. So let me break down what to expect breastfeeding that first week day by day and even hour by hour.
We did skin to skin immediately after I gave birth. (I know some are not as lucky to get this opportunity) 45 minutes into our skin to skin, the nurses asked if I wanted to try latching. I lowered her to my nipple and she still fussed a little. Then within 30 seconds she latched. *cue the choir singing hallelujah* She sucked for about 20 minutes, maybe less. Then they took her for measuring, footprints, etc. Then about 2 hours later, they moved us to our Mother and Baby suite. The relocation was filled with getting comfortable into our new home for 2 days. Once family left, it was just my husband, our baby girl and I. She started to fuss so I was directed by the nurse to put her on to feed. Y’ALL! This baby suckled for 5 hours straight. I kid you not. She would cry when I took her off for a break. The nurse told me that cluster feeding is very normal within the first 24 hours. I DID NOT READ THAT ANYWHERE. In my mind, this is how breastfeeding was going to be for the rest of our journey. I was going out of my mind trying to stay awake but so exhausted. My husband stood at my bedside would I could rest my eyes while she fed. They also don’t warn you that if a nurse catches you asleep with the baby in your arms, they will take her and put her in the bassinet (which I did not want). My nipples were starting to get sore about an hour in and I would just keep reapplying the nipple balm. I used Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter which I loved because you didn’t have to wipe it off before feedings. You can find all of my Breastfeeding Must Haves here. Since she fed for so long, it truly was exhausting. I needed something to give me a break. The nurse said we could try a pacifier if we wanted. I was apprehensive because of all you hear about nipple confusion. We ended up giving her a paci and lasted for 2 hours. (also the last time she took a paci.. don’t worry yourself about nipple confusion)
This day feels like a blur but breastfeeding was better! Along with the hourly visits from nurses, doctors and consultants, we managed to get a better hang at it. She wasn’t cluster feeding as much as the night. Thank goodness. The lactation consultant commented how her latch looked great and I truthfully had no concerns, so on their way they went. There was one moment where they weighed her and she was 8 ounces under birth weight. This worried us, the nurse advised if we truly we concerned then we could give formula but she recommended we wait. I AM SO GLAD WE DID. I decided to trust the process and everything would be okay. (Took her a week to get over birth weight) Again, the nighttime was dreadful because as the mom, you literally get no rest. There is someone in there needing you hourly. (also something I didn’t know about)
Time to go home! YAY! But also freaked out because it was my full responsibility to make sure our baby was fed. Completely overwhelming. Her weight was still under but they assured me that the 4 days until our pediatrician appointment will be fine because my milk will come in. Side note, my milk didn’t come in yet. I was definitely producing colostrum because I had seen it on the tip of my nipple. So I wasn’t fretting too much since I knew there was something there. Once we got home, she fed like every other hour or so.
A blur. Constant feedings. Nothing new. A little cracking on my nipples and it did hurt from that. But no other latching pain. Still feeling every other hour.
WHOA BABY! Milk had arrived. My boobs were rock solid. I imagined this is what Pam Anderson’s implants felt like LOL They were EXTREMELY painful. Painful to touch. Painful to feed. Painful. I read once just to feed feed feed in order to drain them. So that’s what I did. The engorgement only lasted about a full day. They also started leaking aka let down had begun. I slept that night on my side and woke up to a legit soaked bed. Lesson learned: wear beast pads. I continued to use the nipple balm before and after every feed. That really helped them heal fast. I had a small scab on each nipple that fell off by Day 6.
As my husband was able to catch up on sleep, I am sad to report, I was not. Our baby girl didn’t like to be set down was still feeding every other hour. As the initial engorgement went down, they would only become filled after a few hours. In order to help the engorgement, I took hot long showers which made them feel SO much better.
Still feeding every other hour. Tried to find joy in each moment because everyone told me it goes by quick. But let me tell you, it’s hard finding joy when you’re completely exhausted, emotional, and your boobs hurt (and not like I’m getting my period hurt). I can safely say, by day 7 it felt way better and I was way more comfortable with handling her for feedings. Now I have smaller boobs to begin with, so I really was only able to use cross-cradle position where she laid on my one forearm and the other arm/hand held her head. This is a very common early breastfeeding position because it helps support their head.
My baby girl and I are now 8 months into our breastfeeding journey and it is crazy looking back to the first week. It felt like an absolute eternity and I all I could think about was getting to our goal. My goal was 2 weeks. I was always told the first 2 weeks were the toughest. So I endured each day to get there. Our journey is on its own path and I’m okay wherever it takes us. Not every mother has the same experience with breastfeeding and it is so important to remember that. Some last 1 day, some last 2 years. Some get mastitis, some don’t. My ultimate advice would be to go into your journey relaxed and try not to put too much stress into it. I often see moms struggle when they let everyone control their breastfeeding journey or do not have support.
I am here for you, mama. I am an advocate for you and your precious baby on your breastfeeding journey. I hope this 7 day insight helps you feel a little more at ease or even a little excited.
Best Wishes xoxo