…Really hard. Who knew something so basic and natural could be so freaking challenging!?
I’m pretty sure if I ate like crap I would have quit by now, but since I put so much effort into eating right I want all that liquid gold injected directly into my baby in every round at the tata bar. I took the “no other option” approach from day -280. Women have been doing it for thousands of years and so will I. Period. That said, I’ve certainly encountered my fair share of lactation woes.
In no specific horrible-ness ranking… meet my woes:
1. I’m the cow. I’m the only parent lactating therefore I’m the one responsible for his nourishment. That’s a lot of pressure and a huge commitment. I always thought it was crazy not to take a baby out for the first three months, but now I get it; you can’t take them out because they’re constantly eating. The minute you think they’re finally relaxed enough to go for a walk, hunger strikes and your top comes off. Speaking of tops…
2. Extremely limited shirt choices. When I’ve pumped enough to earn myself a quick mommy outing, I’m overjoyed at the ability to wear a real shirt that doesn’t fold down or have hidden peek-a-boo booby holes sewn in.
3. The stress of not making enough. There’s nothing worse than a crying baby and two lifeless, dried up udders with not a drop left to spare. In the beginning if you have any excess, pump and store that shit ASAP; you never know when a low-pro (duction) day may strike. In retrospect, as much as I hate pumping (see #4) I would have stockpiled freezer bags for emergencies and sanity breaks.
4. Sore nipples. Yes, the worst of it subsides, but it’s never awesome. Ooh and when they get the wrong spot!?!?!? Yowzas!!!
5. Pumping sucks. So apparently Medela makes different size flanges!??!!? I wish I’d known that 12 weeks ago. If you have small nipples like me (probably TMI, but necessary to make my point), order smaller flanges and save yourself the cringe-worthy, raw nips I had from using the generic 24cm size that came with my pump. The smaller hole makes a world of difference. I still hate pumping, but at least now I don’t have to avoid feeding babe on that side for five hours afterwards.
6. Having a short fuse. Everything in the world is more irritating when someone’s been sucking on your nipple for an hour. All patience and tolerance goes off the 28th floor balcony.
7. Engorgement. Gigantic bowling ball boobs are NOT FUN. I learned this the hard way the night of my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding. After a midnight drug store hunt for a manual pump and three hours of by-hand relief-pumping I learned a valuable motherhood lesson: NEVER leave home without your pump… even when you think you won’t need it.
8. Lack of sleep (and waking up five times a night). This one really doesn’t need an explanation. It just plain sucks.
9. Clogged milk ducts. I had one and O-M-G it’s so stressful and so painful. Highly NOT recommended. Apparently pressing to create a titty divot so babe can breathe contributes to clogging (stopped doing that) and so can engorgement (stopped doing that too).
10. Cabin fever. Pretty much unavoidable with a constantly hungry winter baby living in a snowy, slushy, frigid city.
11. Loooooong days. After feeding and pumping and feeding and pumping and feeding and pumping all day, I count the minutes until Daddy gets home so I can hand off a diaper change and a cry-soothing walk around the apartment here and there.
12. Balancing my diet. Even as a dietitian this part is tricky. If I only eat when I’m hungry it’s not enough (1,500-ish kcals) and my supply drops (refer back to #3: STRESS). I have to consciously eat more to produce more; I’m eating more carbs now than I probably have in the past five years combined. So what do you do? Pump more? Eat more? Drink more water? All of the above? I’m still figuring it out. By the time I get it right these jugs will be prepping to fuel baby #2… I hope 😉
13. Inner turmoil. I’m dying to get back to my pre-baby weight, but I won’t let my vanity get in the way of my baby’s health. I’m choosing his future over my present. And the sacrifices of motherhood begin…
I’ve only been at it for 12 weeks so I imagine this list is only going to grow, particularly when babe starts cutting teeth (gasp!!). Did any of my woes strike a nerve? I’d love to commiserate! Send me a message or comment below and keep up the amazing work, moms!