Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Terrified of Breastfeeding

I am absolutely terrified of breastfeeding, even more (way more) than labor. Being on such a weird sleep schedule for the past week and a half, I am sometimes left without much to do in the early hours of the morning. This usually leads me to Twitter where I have an endless supply of articles to peruse and interesting topics to mull over. However, just this week alone I have had TWO post-midnight panic attacks about breastfeeding from reading unsuspecting articles. I must admit that, almost always, these late night readings generally don't end with peaceful rest. So, I come here humbly at 1:00 AM on the dot ready to lay it all on the table.

Prior to getting pregnant I hadn't thought much about breastfeeding. The concept has actually always grossed me out (I am dreading the day when I start producing milk pre-baby...sends shivers down my spine!). I knew it was what I should plan on doing, but I hadn't thought much beyond that. I had heard about latching issues and struggles with "getting it to work" or producing milk supplies, but never these horrifying, terrifying, skin-crawling topics like plugged ducts, mastitis, fevers, insatiable hunger, cracked nipples, babies with teeth, blood curdling pain, and not being able to shower because of mutilated nipples. Maybe I'm hearing just the cream of the crop of horror stories, but the things is, I read about these same issues over and over again in almost any article or comment thread I come across. Most women say that it gets better with time if you tough through it, but that could be anywhere from a couple weeks to six months, or better yet, never.

I don't know what to make of all this. I am certain the Lord will be with me in this endeavor and provide me with the encouragement I need, but honestly, I am crazy scared. Aside from the horror stories of pain and bleeding, I am scared breastfeeding might impact our intimacy. How the heck am I supposed to feel sexy when I'm dealing with something like this? And how is my husband supposed to understand really what I'm going through? Will he resent me not being there enough for him? Or will he shy away not wanting to stress me out? Maybe everything will be figured out by the time we're even ready for intimacy. Maybe?

My heart is starting to open to the stories I hear of women who end up not breastfeeding. Being somewhat of the "granola" type, it's easy to fall into the camp of being judgemental when you hear about a woman not breastfeeding their child until they're 12 years old (I joke!). But seriously, there is some serious "pressure" from the other granolas out there to get your act together with breastfeeding and do it until your child is at least one year old, but better yet, until they decide they are done. I bet  this is what they do in their free time (!)...

I am realizing this might be the first time I am toying with motherly guilt, comparing myself to other mothers, and indulging in the selfishness of "keeping up with the Jones' Yogi's". This is not okay and definitely not of the Lord, but something I know will be recurrent and prevalent over the coming year(s). It shows my need for Jesus and his cleansing mercy.

All this to say, I am trembling at the knees and looking to the Cross for my hope. I plan to read as many breastfeeding books as I can, take a breastfeeding class, talk to other moms, and make sure I have lactation support lined up. Luckily this is one of my naturopath's specialties and the clinic is just a few blocks away. I guess I figure if I brace myself for the worst, I'll be prepared for anything, right? Probably not. If you are an expert breastfeeder, or at least have some sound advice, let's talk!

No joke, this tweet was at the top of my feed upon finishing this post. SEE?!?!

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  1. Stop reading so much, mama;) just decide what's best for you and the baby. If you don't breastfeeds it is ok. If it grosses you out, then that is that. But, I promise those horror stories can be avoided. It is not easy when you are learning. Sure, there is a curve and maybe a cracked nipple at first. But no blood curdling pain or nastiness. For someone who plans to go natural, I think this will be no-big for you. Just go in with a positive attitude and see what happens. Lthough it seems intimidating, I promise this will be the least of your worries:) xoxoxo ps I can be a great support for you if you decide to nurse:)

    1. Our chat at dinner a couple weeks ago was really helpful! It was right after I wrote this post. I definitely wasn't seeking out forums or articles to get freaked out about, I just kept running across them in my general blog reading in this particular week. I am really excited about breastfeeding, but also really nervous to do it because of all the scary stories I've heard, and just the fact that it kind of gives me the shivers to think about producing milk right now—I been told this will totally change once I'm actually feeding the baby. I've been chatting with other mamas about it since then and have heard such encouraging stories about their breastfeeding successes, which has been super helpful. Thank you for offering be a resource when Baby K comes!! Love you, xoxo

  2. Melynda O'BrienMay 1, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    I totally get how you feel, I was absolutely terrified to start breast feeding and had no idea what I was in for. But here's my piece of advice - stop reading the forums ;-) I had to because it was not causing me any good. Not only that, but people ONLY share horror stories! If someone is enjoying breastfeeding with no problems, they have no need to post on any forums!

    As someone who was terrified, grossed out, and unsure of breastfeeding, now that I have actually been nursing my son for 5+ months I can say that I absolutely LOVE it. There is nothing like it and the bond that it creates between you and baby is incredible. I went from someone who was so unsure about it to someone who is going to be so sad when the time comes to stop. The first time I pumped and gave Finn a bottle I almost cried! I didn't like the idea of him eating from anything but me (even though it was still technically from me, lol). I was sore for the first 5 days, but I never had cracked nipples, never have had a clogged duct, mastitis, etc...etc... Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt (other than the first week or so) and it is honestly one of the best feelings in the world.

    As for the intimacy part, your body is incredible how God designed it. As time goes on, your body will produce and "let down" when your baby needs it, not 24/7. And I really think that in God's grace he allows this vulnerability to draw you closer to him and closer to your husband. You and Arthur will learn to communicate in ways you never thought possible and it will bring you closer (with a few laughs and tears along the way).

    Thank you for your honesty in this post! Keep surrendering to the Lord and He will carry you through. It will be hard at times, but I promise you that it is so worth it.

    1. I am so grateful I'm not alone in my pre-baby nervousness :) I definitely wasn't seeking out any forums—I figured out early on that this never ends well! It just happened to be that the blogs I read were all posting about breastfeeding horror stories that week (about 3 weeks ago). I was already anxious about it to start out with and it totally threw me over the edge. So I wrote down these thoughts and started talking to other mamas and got so much encouragement!

      One of my new-mama co-workers said the same thing to me about the bond breastfeeding creates between the mama and baby. She told me that the chemicals our bodies release are also so euphoric during a feeding. I am feeling a lot more excited about it and am so, so grateful for your encouragement! I knew it might be hard putting my ups and downs on the blog, and it is, but I can't thank you enough for your sweet words.

      Thank you also for your encouragement with intimacy. I'm not sure what to expect going from my breasts being my husbands to being more for the baby, but I trust the Lord will be with us. xo

  3. Hey Kelsey, it's Alison Ericson. I would highly recommend hooking up with your local La Leche League group. Look here to find your closest meeting: http://www.lllofwa.org/groups. You'll find an awesome community of breastfeeding support there.

    Another great breastfeeding & parenting resource is Kellymom.com. Go there for late night reading if you must ;)

    I'd also be happy to chat with you over email or phone if you have any specific questions (or general for that matter). I'm certainly no expert, but I do have 4 years experience (and counting) breastfeeding my two littles. I love seeing and supporting new moms as they learn how amazingly capable our bodies were designed to work.

  4. Hey Kelsey, coming from a similar perspective as you (granola, vegan, hippie, whatever you want to call it) I had a unique experience. I assumed I would breastfeed...to me there was no other option. But when both my kids popped out, no milk flowed. I did everything and dealt with every judgmental comment you can imagine, and still nothing. If you ever want another perspective, feel free to find me on fb and I could share more...

    1. Hey Jenn, I've heard of a few other stories like yours. It's definitely something I'm keeping in mind as we prepare for breastfeeding. I think I would be sad if I weren't able to breastfeed (as much as it makes me nervous), but I know God will get me through that if it happens. Thanks for being open about your experience. I will keep you in mind in case I face something similar :)

  5. Hi Kelsey! What a sweet blog I just found (through Paul's FB page.) ;) You're going to love motherhood. :D

    About breastfeeding, how's your journey been since May?

    I want to add my two cents (but that's ALL it is, kay?!) :)

    Before Anika was born I, too, thought breastfeeding was my only option. I was determined. When she came, she refused to nurse. REFUSED. I had an amazing natural birth and had TONS of coaching with my doula at my house trying and trying to get A. to latch on. FOUR DAYS she wouldn't even latch. We supplemented with formula and pumped colostrum. I pumped every hour on the hour. We used a nipple shield. We kept trying. I wept. Finally she started to nurse a little and eventually by about 5 weeks old was a professional. No more formula and she nursed for a year. Also, when Catch was 10 months I had TERRIBLE mastitis. 1) it could have been avoided, 2)I survived. My REASON for telling this ((horror??)) story is to say that I would have it no other way. God was with me (as He is and will be with you.) When you're suffering, God is there and He is ready to meet you face to face. I see that you love and trust Him with your whole being, so I am unafraid for you - NO MATTER how hard it gets. ... and sometimes it will be hard.

    Be fearless sweet Mama! Our God of grace is near to you.

    1. Hi Genevieve! I'm glad you found our blog—it's such a joy to hear from friends and readers who follow along.

      I am proud to say that I no longer fear breastfeeding! I think I have a much better perspective having now read through books like Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (by La Leche League), I feel much more prepared and aware of just what breastfeeding entails. I'm planning to visit the West Seattle LLL group for their September and October meetings and am really looking forward to that.

      I am really thankful you shared your story with me. It's important for me to see that things might not go smoothly but that the Lord will be with us no matter what. I'm also encouraged to hear that you worked through your breastfeeding trials successfully! I will say though that I still am pretty nervous about mastitis... I hear it's pretty awful.

      Anyways, thank you for your sweet words of wisdom. I hope all is well with you. xo

  6. "RG Pyper" was my old pen name. Sorry. It's Genevieve deHaan!!


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