Honest Feeding Stories: Serena

Honest Feeding Stories: Serena

With Honest Feeding Stories, you’ll hear from parents like you about one of the most intimate and important experiences of family life. Happiness and heartbreak, serenity and struggle, joy and tears — it’s all here in their own words. Presented with our support and without judgment, these stories remind us that the choices we make to nourish our children are truly unique.

James was born just on time. I had a fairly easy pregnancy, in fact, was darn right perfect. Everyone paid attention to me, I glowed, my skin glowed, desserts were a given (and eaten), I wore bodycon outfits with pride, working out was optional (read: I opted out), and every night I got to dream about the little angel that was about to enter my life. Like many women, I assumed that breastfeeding would come naturally and of course I would do it. So instead, I devoted all my research to sleep training, philosophies on raising children (ha!) and zero on breastfeeding.

After an exhausting three hours of pure pushing, I saw my baby's face for the first time and in his eyes saw my past, present and future all in the same instant. It was the most exhilarating experience — the tears and emotion overwhelmed me as I held my son. The magic continued, he found his way up to the nipple and latched. It was perfect! ... Until it wasn't.  

Apparently latching is highly technical and not as simple as “baby has mouth around nipple area.” Yes, now that you mention it, I do remember that from the 1 hour breastfeeding class I went to. But, like many things in life, until I had that baby on my body, no amount of literature and lecturing could have prepared me.

That first night in the hospital, I was so exhausted from delivery, lack of sleep, so much joy and adrenaline and my body entered a whole new world of hurt. I remembered I was supposed to nurse every 2-3 hours, and I tried to, but when nurses suggested I let them take James to the nursery so my husband and I could rest, confusion reigned and we said yes. We also allowed a bottle of formula. By the second day, my mom instinct kicked in and I requested help. Each nurse said the latch looked okay and said to keep at it. So I pushed through the pain (which I learned later was a sign of an incorrect latch) and kept bringing this little human to my breast.

They discharged us and we went home with our beautiful baby boy. He was so sweet, but definitely not sleepy like some babies are early on. He cried, a lot. Looking back, he was probably very hungry. On his first visit, our pediatrician recognized there was a latch problem. She recommended an immediate trip to the pump station and returning for a weigh in the next day. And so James' first week of life went, nurse, pump, pump station, doctor, weigh in, repeat. There was a lot of crying by both baby and mom and when I heard the words, “you might be starving your baby, it's time for formula” and “failure to thrive” I felt my lowest moment of new motherhood. I would do anything, ANYTHING, for that little boy — I certainly didn't want to starve him.

In the end, I was lucky, things eventually came together and James and I became highly proficient in breastfeeding. Looking back, I see how it very easily could have gone the other way and I realize the only important thing at that moment is to make sure my baby is healthy and getting the nutrition needed to grow and thrive. Sounds so obvious now, but for me, it certainly wasn't at the time. As a first time mom, there were a lot of conflicting 'priorities' circling in my mind, preconceived notions of what motherhood should or shouldn't look like and unnecessary pressures I placed on myself.

-Serena, Los Angeles, California 

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