In the wee hours of the morning as I was desperately trying to get my little man attached to my waiting swollen breast ‘It takes two to tango’ kept streaming through my mind. I suppose this is true of the breastfeeding relationship. You need to make sure baby is in the optimal position, that their little legs aren’t kicking up, that they are snuggled in close, that they are at the right height. With all this in place you must maneuver your awkwardly shaped monster breast towards your baby’s mouth. They need to open wide, need not have helping hands in the way, or wrestle your nipple with over-eager mouthing. Then and only then do you have a split second to shove (literally at times) the afore mentioned breast which is squashed to suit their mouth position, into the parting gap before it shuts. Sounds tricky right? Well it is.
Perhaps tango is not quite an accurate description of the delicate acrobatics that need to take place. It’s more like ice-dancing where the risks of not making a perfect lift (latch) can be as sharp and painful as hitting the ice.
I naively thought breastfeeding would come naturally. I thought that Harley and I would instinctively figure it out. How wrong I was. Again bleary eyed in the middle of the night I despaired as my nipple cracked and each feed was toe-curlingly painful. I recalled advice from the depths of my memory – ‘breastfeeding is a skill that you both have to learn’. Be patient I told myself and whispered to my little man. As in birth I used repetitive thought to get me through. ‘No helping hands, big mouth, aim the burger (my breast)’ we repeated over and over until it felt right.
Correct latch is the big worry and causes most of the problems, but just as this seems to be working out other worries creep in. Is there enough milk? Are my boobs too swollen? Did that breast drain? Am I heading for mastitis? Should I express a little?
I read that Mothers and babies who get through the first two weeks of breastfeeding will probably continue on. We have made that mark. The fleeting worries of milk supply have all but disappeared and we are working on latch. Most of the time we get it right. When we do there is no pain and it actually feels really good. Like soaring through the air, sticking the landing and gliding off on the ice.