They say hindsight is always 20/20 and while I'm not sure I can see completely clearly about our breastfeeding experience with Lydia yet, there are definitely some things I learned and I hope will help other women in the future -- my blog readers and/or my doula clients.
1. Education. Like I said, I was completely naive about breastfeeding with Chloe, but I don't really feel like I was all that much more prepared when I had Lydia. I had more knowledge of the benefits and definitely more will to stick with it, but I still didn't know how hard it is. I did have one friend who had a really hard experience and she pushed through and is still nursing her little one today. She's pretty much my hero. But I really honestly thought she was the exception and I did not prepare myself for all the hard work it would be. Everyone tells you how natural and bonding breastfeeding is. The truth is, in the beginning (I'm learning for *many* women) it's really hard work. I'm sure there are women out there that have a super easy time, but my guess is most don't.
2. Set your mind to it and don't give up. I think part of the reason we weren't successful is not because I hadn't set my mind to breastfeeding, but because I had set my mind to the breastfeeding experience I THOUGHT we would have. Again, I didn't realize how horrible it would be in the beginning and by the time I was so sleep-deprived and depressed, I just could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like at least next time (God-willing) I will know beforehand that it's just going to suck (ha!) for a while.
3. Get help! I said that I had a LC that came to the house, but when I look back I probably should have gotten more professional help. The LC I used was really sweet and tried to help, but she didn't see anything wrong with Lydia's latch (which I can hardly imagine due to the condition of my nipples) and she had no real suggestions about what was causing me so much pain. I should have seen another LC. I should have gone to a support group -- although I was so scared to look like an idiot because I cried every time I fed her and my nipples were so destroyed that I thought they would take one look and tell me how I had completely screwed up and I just couldn't deal with that. I realize that's completely ridiculous now, but in the moment I was a complete crazy person.
4. If you know you struggle with breastfeeding, get a postpartum doula (in fact, even if you don't struggle...get one anyway!). I would have benefited so much from a postpartum doula coming to my house daily/every other day until things got better. A postpartum doula (from the CAPPA website) "offers breastfeeding support, light household
maintenance, family nurturing and instruction to mom and/or other
family members in the care of a newborn. The Postpartum Doula’s job is
to make the transition to parenthood easier for new parents, to help
mom during her recovery period and to ascertain what the family needs
help with and provide the instruction. The main objective of the
Postpartum Doula’s role is not to take over complete care of the
newborn, but to educate and support the family so that they will feel
empowered to care for their newborn themselves". Oh how I could have used that!
Hopefully this was helpful to somebody. And if not, it was helpful for me to just process some of this out.
Tomorrow I promise a much more light-hearted post with pictures of my girlies! And possibly a video of Lydia "talking" if she will quit being camera shy! :)