Milkmaker | Ashley D'Onofrio

Breastfeeding. 

Isn't it interesting how one word can cause such a stir? Before having my son I didn't think much of it. Quite frankly, I was uneducated in the subject matter. I was breastfed for a few weeks so it was not something I grew up being an advocate for. Although I definitely had nothing against it either.

Oddly enough, my husband had mentioned it was very important to him. He was breastfed and so was his brother. He had felt it was the "healthier" option and would like it if I tried. Having no real opinion on the matter, I figured I would give it a try. It's natural, right? It's supposed to work immediately, right? It'll be an easy, loving, bonding memory, right?

As a mother still breastfeeding (15 months & going strong), I can definitely admit that "easy" and "breastfeeding" do not go hand in hand in the beginning. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I have ever attempted to do. 

My son was born beautiful and healthy. I thought he was latching perfectly - we were in a euphoria those first few days. Then, reality hit. My son had a lip and tongue tie, his latch was wrong, and my breast were cut and bleeding. I remember thinking, "this is NATURAL?!"

 
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Having the determination to see this thing through, I scheduled for my son to have his lip and tongue tie cut less than a week after he was born. I then allowed it to grow back by not applying enough daily pressure (new mom mistake) and had to get it fixed a second time. By this point, I had also hired a lactaion consultant (who I loved) to come over and show me a proper latch. 

All things seemed to be heading in the right direction, except the damage had been done. Imagine ripping open a paper cut every time you see it begin to heal. Painful, right? My son cried to be fed and I cried at the painful thought of feeding. It was not immediately easy, natural, wonderful.

I say all of this not to deter anyone or instill fear. In fact, quite the opposite. I say this because going into this journey full of knowledge and with determination is what will get you to the finish line. You must begin the journey with full commitment, otherwise, it's easy to give up. I recommend joining a lactation group, finding a consultant, or just finding mom friends who have or plan to breastfeed. A support group is necessary and will help push you along. I have my "boobie gals" and I wouldn't be 15 months into this journey without them.

Let me also just stop and say it does get easier! Maybe some of you will have a much easier latching experience than me and maybe some won't. Regardless of your story or how long you breastfeed, I felt it did get easier. One day, it clicks and you realize things are happening as they should.

My son and I got into a quick and painless routine. It became our snuggle and bonding time. It became our secret meeting and no one else was invited. I never thought I'd make it past 6 months, let alone 1 year. Some days I work hard to wean and some days I let it go. I think about the future and how he won't always fit in my arms or want to sleep on my chest. So, if I can steal a few more months of quiet snuggles, I'm going to do so and enjoy them.

Wherever your breastfeeding journey takes you, just know that there are other moms out there to support you along the way! I wish all mommies who try the best of luck. Although not always easy, it is incredibly rewarding. You'll love it.