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I once heard someone describe breastfeeding as “The most natural thing that comes the most unnaturally,” and I couldn’t agree more.
While completely natural and how God designed mothers to be able to feed their babies, breastfeeding does NOT come naturally to 90% of women. Just because you have breasts that start to produce milk and a hungry baby, doesn’t mean you know what you are doing or are able to make breastfeeding work.
Thanks to a great book recommendation, a breastfeeding class at our hospital and some amazing nurses, Raleigh and my nursing journey got off to a good start.
It felt new and completely foreign, but he latched well and after a few days, my milk came in as expected. At our appointment with the lactation consultant a few days after being discharged from the hospital, Raleigh took in several ounces during the monitored feeding, and he was gaining weight well. It seemed like we had things under control.
However, when Raleigh was 3 weeks old, things started to fall apart.
I began having intense pain with feedings. Raleigh never seemed satiated, even after a long feeding with me switching sides halfway through. I met with the lactation consultant two more times and tried every trick in the book. It wasn’t long before we were almost exclusively pumping.
I pumped 6-8 times a day for 9 solid weeks. I fed Raleigh nearly all of his feedings from a bottle, and tried sporadically to nurse, often with little success. Night feedings seemed to work better; maybe because my supply was higher or because we were both sleepy and more relaxed.
I spent a lot of time on google during those weeks, researching and looking for answers. During one of my many google sessions, I came across one simple piece of advice that ended up changing everything for us.
The Simple Piece of Advice
Part of my problem, among many other issues, was that I second-guessed everything. Is he getting enough milk? Am I producing enough? Will he nurse well this time? Is he latching properly? Will I be able to let down? Is he gaining enough weight? Am I doing this right? Should I just do a bottle? Maybe I should just strictly pump?
I never felt confident in what I was doing, ever.
The simple piece of advice that I read on the internet said:
“Nurse in the same place, the same way, every time.”
The article talked about a woman who had nursing difficulties, and how doing things the same way every time helped her feel more comfortable and able to let down more easily. She said it helped improve her nursing success.
I usually nursed in the rocking chair in Raleigh’s nursery at night. When I tried a daytime feed though, I would be in the living room. I sat in different spots on the couches each time, floundering with pillows, getting more and more agitated and ultimately being unsuccessful.
So, I decided that every time I was going to try nursing Raleigh when we were at home, I would do it in the rocking chair, in Raleigh’s nursery.
I sat the same way.
I used a regular pillow, and propped it under the elbow of whatever side he was feeding on.
I put my feet up on the ottoman and gently rocked while he fed.
I did this the exact same way for every feeding, day and night.
Every time, the same way.
Little by little, the uncomfortable, frustrating daytime feedings started feeling a little more comfortable. Things began to feel familiar and we got into a routine.
Little by little, Raleigh started nursing better. As he started nursing better, I began to relax more.
And things only improved from there.
Almost One Year Later
We are now nearing one year of breastfeeding.
It really is a miracle that we made it this far.
There were so many times throughout those early weeks of pumping and bottle feeding that I almost gave up.
But probably because of my sheer stubbornness, I kept at it, and I am glad I did.
Because of a simple tip I read on the internet, I started building my confidence and creating a familiar nursing routine that helped us finally figure things out.
By nursing in the same place, the same way, every feeding, I was able to develop a habit that allowed both Raleigh and I to feel comfortable and competent, and ultimately nurse successfully.