I was always told that breastfeeding would come naturally and it made sense to me that it would – it’s what our breasts were meant to do.
Until I had a newborn of my own and actually tried to breastfeed. And that’s when I realized how much that lie was messing with my head … because there was nothing easy or natural about it at all.
I had read in a baby book that you simply wait for the infant to open their mouth wide, then latch, and wait for them to be finished. Sounds easy right? Three steps – no problem. However once I actually had my baby in my arms and breastfed myself – well, there were a lot more than just three steps involved.
So before you believe the hype, here’s a more honest look at what it’s like to breastfeed your newborn, in just 43 “easy” steps:
1. Baby screams.
2. Lay baby down to unlatch your bra.
3. Baby still screams.
4. Pick baby up.
5. Try to unlatch your bra with one hand.
6. Get frustrated.
7. Put crying baby down again to see if you can open your bra.
8. You can’t. Baby still crying.
9. Decide to take your shirt and bra off so it’s all easier
10. Doorbell rings. You go answer.
11. Turn red and apologize profusely.
12. Delivery person becomes bright red too, quickly hands you the mail, and leaves fast
13. You text your partner to tell them you now need to move.
14. You pick up your baby and sit on the couch.
15. Attempt to latch.
16. Baby tries to suck on the side of your breast. Unlatches and gets angry.
17. You struggle to find a way to hold your baby and your breast while navigating their mouth to the right spot.
19. Oh, wait… why does that hurt so badly?
20. You freak out… your baby is breaking your nipple.
21. Attempt to break the seal, but you can’t…
22. Google “how to get newborn to unlatch“.
23. Stick your finger in the side of your baby’s mouth until it pops… quickly move to release your breast.
24. Feel relief followed by horror when you look down. You’re bleeding.
25. Open Google again – “can I breastfeed when my nipple is bleeding?”
26. Read that it is safe, but switch your baby to the other side.
27. Try to re-latch with the other breast…
28. Your baby is screaming so hard they won’t close their mouth
29. Text your partner again: “The baby is screaming so much he won’t latch!”
30. Go upstairs to your baby’s room and sit in the rocking chair.
31. See the nipple cream, decide to put it on.
32. Turn off the lights, turn on the lullabies, grab the nursing pillow.
33. Kiss your baby’s head, sit in the rocking chair, cradle hold your newborn.
34. The baby is calmer, but you know he’s going to start screaming again soon.
35. Watch for his tongue to be on the bottom and his mouth open wide.
36. Smash the baby’s face with your breast, hoping to hit the mark.
37. And he’s on!! It doesn’t hurt!!
38. Breathe a big sigh of relief, but not too big – you don’t want to move much.
39. Baby is falling asleep.
40. You stare at the glass of water across the room, wishing you could move it closer with your mind.
41. Your baby moves his hand up and reaches your face.
42. You move your gaze to his little fingers. His little nose, and the cute noise he makes as he receives his milk.
43. You smile, he falls asleep, and you realize everything is as it should be.
I’ll admit the first few weeks of breastfeeding your newborn can really make you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. I questioned how (and why) other moms did it and wondered what was wrong with me.
But once six to eight weeks hit – it all changed. My baby and I had a rhythm. Our breastfeeding time was beneficial for both of us because we both got exactly what we needed from each other. My baby got warmth, comfort, and food. And I got reassurance that I was doing a good job and the ability to slow down and soak in all the magic that is the newborn phase.