It’s funny how much unsolicited advice and input you receive throughout your pregnancy and well into your new parent stages. Everyone is prepared with their two cents on pretty much everything. They tell you how hard pregnancy is, or how long and scary delivery can be… they talk about sleepless nights and spit up woes and how the first 100 days with baby are the hardest but “it gets better from there.” They tell you to start sleep training early, or not to train at all. They tell you about every product under the sun you’re going to need, but nobody tells you just how challenging the one thing that seems like it should come so naturally can be… breastfeeding.
I don’t know about you, but my knowledge base regarding nursing prior to getting pregnant was super limited. I had always assumed my body was built to breastfeed and that when the time came, it wouldn’t be a struggle. After all, aren’t we wired – physically and emotionally – to do exactly this?
For some the answer is yes, but for many other women (present company included) nursing doesn’t come that easily.
During my third trimester I was so excited to receive my first order of nursing bras and pj’s from Kindred Bravely. I chose the brand because I loved their styles, they carried almost all of their bras in my favorite shade of blush – hooray! – and I adored that the company was started by a mom who crafted everything with comfort and love in mind. I had all of these visions of pretty photoshoots in the bras nursing my little one, and had no idea just how important the comfort factor would be in the upcoming weeks and months as a new, nursing mother.
Blocked ducts. Unbearably sore nipples. Mastitis. Overproducing. Underproducing. Not producing at all.
Been there. Done that.
Yes, all of it.
Breastfeeding felt like I was at war. At war with a body that just would not cooperate with something it was supposed to be built to do. I didn’t understand. Why was this so hard? Why is it so painful? Why does my body keep failing me? There were nights I felt like I would scream if a sheet barely grazed my sore, tired nipples. My Kindred Bravely bras and nursing pajamas were the only garments that I could tolerate. That is the difference in nursing bras that are made for nursing women by a woman who has been there herself. Functional, soft, practical… that was now the priority. It’s great they happen to be pretty, but let me tell you, the color blush was a total afterthought once I was at battle with my breasts. Nursing is serious business.
This wasn’t about pretty photoshoots (although clearly we got there!) this was about all of that unsolicited advice in the early days and why didn’t anyone tell me THIS was the true challenge. I feel like there is a lot of embarrassment and shame around nursing, specifically when it’s not going well. No one wants to tell you just how lonely and isolating this stage of motherhood can be. Pregnancy and delivery were nothing compared to the emotional and physical toll nursing took.
Working through it was a battle, but a battle I was willing to wage. I was determined to do what I needed to do to have a healthy, successful nursing relationship with my son. The bonding moments we had while breastfeeding were magical to me. I wasn’t willing to quit despite it all. I had to make the tough decision to let my right breast go and move forward with my one working breast (hey there, leftie). I sought out tons of support and advice from women who had been there and my trusted partners like Kindred Bravely. It was because of them I decided to share this story and encourage more women to hopefully share theirs.
I was lucky enough to have the one boob that didn’t quit on me, but so many women don’t even get that. We’re all so different, with such varied experiences, but we all have the same expectation going into this… that we will be able to nurse and feed our babies. When things don’t work out as planned it can be downright devastating.
Our stories are all unique and they are all important. In the end, we have to do what is right for us, our babies, and support one another in those choices. Breastfed, bottle fed, doesn’t matter. Fed is best. I hope Kindred Bravely and I helped to shed a little light on the subject and bring some of the awareness (and advice) that I so wished I had earlier.