For the entire 9 months of my pregnancy, I spent my time focusing on learning as much as I could about pregnancy and labor and delivery. I think I just wanted to feel proactive during a time in which there wasn't much I could actually do for 'Bumpy'. Either that, or I was in denial that I was about to become a mother.
Now the denial is over. Clara is here and I'm definitely a mom, even though I don't feel like a mom because that word just seems so freakin' serious and I'm not that old and boring and responsible... right?!
Anyway, one part of motherhood I didn't think about was breastfeeding. I mean, I knew I'd breastfeed, but I had never really considered what choosing to breastfeed would actually entail.
I was going to post a picture of me actually breastfeeding, but I only have selfies I took of her attached to my nipple, and honestly I just don't find my nipple to be attractive enough to share with the internet.
Well, over the past four weeks, I've had the following thoughts about breastfeeding:
// Clara Jane is (thankfully) a natural born boob sucker. From the moment I held little Clara in my arms, she immediately started trying to find my nipple, and once I shoved it in her mouth, she latched almost perfectly. It was our first victory together!
// For the first few days, newborns will keep sucking on their mom's boobs even if there's no milk to be found. Then, after 3-5 days, the mom's milk will come in - and boy is that interesting. And by 'interesting' I mean 'super uncomfortable'.
// You see, when my milk came in, it made my boobs look like those of a porn star, or maybe just someone far more 'blessed' than me in that department. Honestly, I loved the way they looked but they HURT like crazy. They basically felt super full and like they were going to burst at any second. Thankfully, they did not explode and after a few weeks, they became normal feeling again - but they're still big, which I appreciate.
// Our entire house is covered in breast milk. The amount of boob milk I leak is incredible. I sit around topless all day (easy access, you know) and it just drips out. And if the boob milk isn't coming from me, it's being spit up by Clara.
// Clara eats for about 100 minutes - 130 minutes per day. I know this because my breastfeeding app tells me so.
// I'm very comfortable feeding Clara just about anywhere, but I hate using a cover, so I usually don't. The amount of boob that is actually exposed is very minimal, so I feel like it's a bit overkill for me to create a whole tent around us. I don't blame other moms who do, though! The most awkward part for me is to feed Clara around men I know. Women are easy, I just whip out the boob, but I never know what to do around men. While I'm not shy about feeding her, it's not my intention to make other people uncomfortable. Part of me thinks that it's just boobs and if people don't feel comfortable they can just look elsewhere for a while, but part of me wants to be more modest than that. It's trickier than I anticipated!
// Until I begin pumping, Clara and I are inseparable. I can't leave her for any amount of time because I don't want her to start crying and not have anything to eat. Usually she eats every 3-5 hours, but sometimes she eats and then wants to eat again less than an hour later.
// There are all of these 'rules' when it comes to pumping and how that works and how long breastmilk can be left out or left in the refrigerator or left in the freezer and what to do in case you take milk out of the freezer and need to refreeze it... I mean, the situations are endless and it seems much easier to just feed the baby straight from the boob - although I'm sure once I figure out pumping it will be a breeze!
// According to the lactation consultants we've spoken to, there's no need to 'pump & dump' after drinking alcohol. The general rule I've heard is 'safe to drive, safe to feed!'
// Also, I haven't had to restrict what I eat yet. Clara doesn't seem bothered by absolutely anything I ingest, which I hope doesn't change over the next few days/weeks/months/etc!
// As of a few days ago (at around 3.5 weeks old), Clara had already gained 2 lbs! This made me feel great because it's proof that she's eating like a champ.
// Sometimes Clara eats for 1 minute and sometimes she'll stay latched on for 20 minutes without taking a break - there is absolutely nothing predictable about feeding this little one.
// It melts my heart when Clara acts hungry, but really just wants to latch onto my boob to comfort her and/or to go to sleep. She really must feel safe with me! That being said, I also get annoyed when I know she's just trying to use me as a human pacifier and I'm doing something else important. Like eating, blogging, or just generally existing without a human attached to me.
// Breastfeeding originally felt a bit uncomfortable when Clara would latch on and start sucking - but the discomfort would subside in about a minute. Now, breastfeeding doesn't hurt in the least bit. I'm happy to say that my nipples haven't cracked, bled, or really been painful at all. I guess I expected it to be a little harder to get used to but maybe I was born with tough nipples or something! After all of the horror stories about how much breastfeeding hurts, I was surprised at how much it doesn't.
I guess what has really surprised me about the whole breastfeeding thing is how much I absolutely love it. There is nothing sweeter than looking at Clara's sleepy face after she eats a full meal, and I love that she depends on me for something absolutely no one else can give her. I find it miraculous that she can grow and grow from something my body produces!
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