Uncomfortable beginnings It was while I was pregnant with my first-born Amalia, now two years old, that I started to learn about breastfeeding. Even then, I already wasn’t comfortable with the idea of nursing. I admit it was mainly for selfish reasons: I didn’t want to be tied down to the baby’s schedule; I didn’t want my already tiny breasts to sag; and cringed at the thought of having to nurse in public. On the other hand, I was surrounded by breastfeeding advocates so I felt pressured to nurse. Besides, doctors and the media keep proclaiming, “Breastfeeding is best for babies.” So even if I had my doubts, I felt I had no choice. My reasons for not wanting to nurse did not justify risking my baby’s health. I had to try.
Attempting to surmount difficulties The first time my daughter latched on to me, I knew it wasn’t going to be a smooth ride. During the first month I suffered from sore nipples. I tried everything to soothe the pain –from creams to nipple shields to ice packs –but nothing worked. I also had breast engorgement. I had so much milk, but had difficulty expressing it. My breasts would get so hard, they’d feel like rocks. I’d express the milk even when my baby wasn’t hungry to relieve myself of the pain. I’d even stuff my bra with cold cabbage leaves to help ease the swelling. And I had to deal with clogged ducts all throughout the months I breastfed.
My struggles with the pain of nursing, coupled with recovering from childbirth, exhaustion from taking care of Amaia, lack of sleep and stress of being the first-time mom plunged me into mild postpartum depression a few weeks after she was born. I struggled to take care of my baby. I dreaded each time she’d wake up. I wasn’t enjoying my motherhood at all –and I knew it was mainly caused by my struggles with breastfeeding.
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