I was luckily able to breastfeed both of my sons, but I’d be lying if I said any of it was easy. My first son wouldn’t latch, and I had to express milk and dribble it in front of his mouth just to entice him to open it. With my second son, I had more confidence that it would work, but I also experienced cracked and bleeding nipples, and wasn’t sure how long I could take the toe-curling pain.
But you know what saved me in the end? The friendship and support I got from friends who had gone through the same things I had; women who knew just how it felt to struggle with breastfeeding.
Of course, not all of us are lucky enough to have supportive friends who live nearby; but hey, that’s the beauty of the Internet, right?
Case in point: One new mom is getting the support she so desperately needs after sharing her many breastfeeding struggles in a highly relatable and brutally honest Instagram post. Leah, who goes by @thenashvillebump on Instagram, wrote the candid post on January 24, opening up about the challenges she’s facing as she learns to breastfeed her daughter, Penelope. To date, the post has gone super viral, with over 7K likes, and almost 700 comments so far.
It’s easy to see why, though: Leah, who gave birth 7 weeks ago, pulls no punches as she talks about the fact that breastfeeding can be super-duper challenging at first.
“Ok, I’m going to say it for us all,” Leah begins her post. “Breastfeeding is hard. It’s really, really hard … The uncertainty, second guessing, responsibility, commitment, discomfort, just to name a few. We trusted our bodies to grow our babies for 9 months and now we have to trust our body to supply the nourishment for our babes growth & development.”
And she’s right — the hardest part about breastfeeding is trusting that things will work out, that we are doing it right, and that our bodies alone are going to be able produce full meals 24/7 for our babies. I mean, even if we know theoretically that this is what breasts are designed to do, it’s hard to believe they’ll actually fulfill their milk-making duties. (Trust me, though: Most moms are shooting milk across the room before they have to second guess this for much longer.)
And there really are things that can go wrong while you’re breastfeeding, as Leah is quick to point out:
“You truly don’t know what’s going on down there. Too much? Too little? Too intense? Not enough hindmilk? Not enough time? Plugged duct? Mastitis? WTF!!!”
WTF, indeed. Anyone who has experienced the pain of a plugged duct will tell you that Leah is not mincing her words here … because oh holy HELL, that hurts.
Leah then touches upon another stressful aspect of breastfeeding: Not knowing if your baby is getting enough milk. It’s definitely one of those things that mystifies new moms, especially because you literally can’t see how much milk is passing from your breasts into your baby, unlike when you can when you bottle feed.
But even with all her worry and second-guessing, Leah’s post is a message of hope and perseverance — or at least, of doing your damndest to get through all the tough stuff.
“We all so desperately want to survive and push through,” she writes. “We so badly want to have our baby thrive. We want that relationship. We want the experience.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Leah opened up even more, discussing her motivation for sharing such an intimate, private, and difficult aspect of her postpartum experience:
“I had seen so many pictures on social media of mothers blissfully breastfeeding their babies that I didn’t realize it’s not always like that. It seemed so easy and natural for them, but even things that are easy and natural can be a learning experience for many people.”
According to HuffPo, Leah has since had some of her breastfeeding struggles addressed by a lactation consultant, and she encourages other moms to seek support wherever they can find it, too.
It’s that same tone of support that ends Leah’s heartfelt post:
“Mamas really do need all the support they can get,” she tells her followers, “So mama, you’re hearing it from me, you’re not going crazy, it is hard, but you’re doing good. Keep going!! There’s a rumor going around that it gets easier.”
Amen. And from a mom who has gotten to the other side of it all: the rumors are true. Breastfeeding really does get easier. Before you know it, you’ll be nursing like a pro, and will almost forget just how hard it was to begin with.