The Secret to My Breastfeeding Success as a New Mom
“Breastfeeding is easy!” said no mom ever. I knew that would be the case when I decided to go for it. But little did I know, having support would be the biggest success factor in my breastfeeding journey.
My partner Eric knew of my intentions to breastfeed and supported them 100 percent. He was also concerned with the pressure he knew I’d undoubtedly put on myself because I would want to make it work no matter what. He didn’t want me to stress out if it simply wasn’t in the cards for me. One night we were out to dinner and talking about the coming baby. He said to me, “okay, so we plan to breastfeed for one year”. WE? WE! If that moment could be animated, you’d see hearts floating above my head and rainbows pouring out of my eyes. I felt so incredibly supported and empowered.
When my daughter, Stella, came late February, she latched immediately after birth. But right from the get-go, breastfeeding was tough. I was exhausted from a 19-hour labor and one hour delivery. She started her decent at 3 a.m. so I didn’t sleep much before we went to the hospital. Plus, I wasn’t allowed to eat the entire time. I was living off of adrenaline, hope, love and the ice chips Eric was feeding me. By the time we were moved to our hospital room, I was sleep-deprived, starving and in pain. All I wanted was a sandwich and to breastfeed my baby. Luckily, I was able to do both with Eric by my side, who fed me while I fed our peanut over the next 24 hours.
By day two my milk still hadn’t come in and I was concerned she wasn’t getting what she needed. She wouldn’t stop crying and I needed to rest, so we decided to give her a bit of formula. I was in tears, feeling overwhelmed and drained. Eric consoled me and made sure I was okay with any decision we made. The amazing nurses gave Stella a small amount of formula to get us through the night, and the hospital lactation consultant hooked me up with a breast pump.
The next day my milk came in! I was over-the-moon excited. But breastfeeding was painful and taxing, because Stella was still learning how to latch and I was still learning how to help her. It was like a little dance, learning how the other moves and finding a rhythm. As a new mom, you think this little being is super-fragile, so holding her neck and head is scary. On top of that, pushing her into your breast and shoving it into her mouth is even more intimidating. Having the support of both the hospital staff and Eric was instrumental to the start of my breastfeeding journey. Not only did he feed me, but he slept on the uncomfortable couch in my room every night, held the baby so I could rest, changed diapers, rubbed my feet and gave me so much love.
The following months at home as a first-time, exclusively breastfeeding mom were HARD! Between the cluster feedings, sore nipples, two to three hours of sleep a night and trying to take care of myself, at times I felt totally overwhelmed. Some days—let’s be real, most days—I wouldn’t even have time to brush my teeth or take a shower. And somehow I still had to take care of my massively swollen and torn vagina. When the baby would start to cry inconsolably after an already long day, I would break down and cry too. But Eric would come to my rescue and hold me, kiss away my tears and tell me how I was doing such a great job. He was still working but managed to support me by cooking me meals and doing all the shopping, cleaning, laundry, diaper changes, putting Stella to sleep and holding her to give me a break. He did anything I asked and went above and beyond by doing anything that would make life easier for me.
The third and fourth months with Stella proved to be easier as we found our groove. But with her growth spurts and leap developments and me trying to keep up with my blog writing, we were faced with different demands. Since I was exclusively breastfeeding, I wasn’t able to go anywhere for long because Stella would require my breasts. It became exhausting. So Eric found a way to become more hands-on during the night feedings. He started to burp her after I fed her and then put her back down to sleep. It’s not only become a bonding experience for them, but it helps me out tremendously, since I’m able to get back to sleep faster.
Stella is 4 months old now, and my breastfeeding journey has been challenging. But Eric is a very hands-on partner who wants to be a big part of her life, and I’m so grateful for that. It’s easy for us as moms, as women, to do it all and carry the full burden. But we aren’t allowing ourselves to let go and let someone else help and enrich our children’s lives. Eric has made me realize that having a bit of help is a good thing and nothing to look down on. The other day we were talking about diaper changes and he pointed out that I’ve developed a system and he doesn’t know what that is. I assured him that was okay, that he can figure out his own system with her. He doesn’t have to do it my way. We have to let our partners be part of the process. It’ll benefit everyone.
Boston-born, Florida-raised and New York City-seasoned, Adriana Quaranto is the owner of an event production, public relations, social media and influencer marketing agency, and a New York Fashion Week show producer. She’s also now a lifestyle blogger documenting her journey into motherhood on her blog 4F’s Given, where she talks about her four favorite F words: family, fashion, food and fitness. She is also a contributing writer for the Miami Moms blog. Follow her journey on Instagram.
Published July 2019