Breastfeeding Journey: Jackie Grondahl
To help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2017, we wanted to take some time to appreciate different types of breastfeeding journeys! Today, we bring you Jackie Grondahl’s story of choosing a path that worked best for her babies and her family.
1. Did you breastfeed? If so, how long did you breastfeed for?
3 weeks with my first daughter and 5 weeks with my second daughter.
2. What, if any, misconceptions of breastfeeding did you encounter?
I didn’t educate myself on anything related to breastfeeding with my first daughter because I just assumed it would happen naturally. That was a huge misconception on my part. While it may happen naturally for some, it can be overwhelming and incredibly challenging for others. With my second daughter, I was much more knowledgeable about what to do, my resources, and aware that the experience is different of every woman and baby. What I didn’t know was how bad it can hurt in the beginning!
3. Did you have any complications or challenges on your breastfeeding journey?
I had a lot of challenges – but not nearly as many as some of the stories I have heard. With my first daughter, I was advised to use a nipple shield by a lactation consultant. I had no guidance thereafter, so I continued to use it during every feeding for 3 weeks. I was still struggling to find a rhythm and my milk wasn’t coming in fast enough so I was alternating pumping and nursing just to try and keep up. By week three, I was worn down, exhausted, and on the verge of losing my sanity. Not to mention my nipples were cracked and bleeding from nursing or pumping so much. After going to my Mom in tears, she reminded me that I have options and it doesn’t have to be this way. So I stopped. We switched to formula and I started to get my bearings and some of my sanity back. With my second daughter, I had so much support from a network of Moms who encouraged me and said if I stick with it I will experience the joys they did while breastfeeding. I went into my second pregnancy knowing I would give breastfeeding a valiant effort, but if it didn’t work out I wasn’t going to be disappointed. While I didn’t experience the same challenges as I did with my first daughter, Kamdyn, I never felt the joy and connection with my second, Madison, when I was nursing. It felt like a burden and that I had no control over my body or activities. This was MUCH different than what I felt with my first. I also found myself disconnected from Kamdyn, who was 3 at the time. Madison wanted to nurse all the time, especially from 6-8pm which was usually my time with Kamdyn. After 5 weeks of trying to grow 4 arms so I could nurse and play at the same time, I made a tough decision that was in the best interest of me and my daughters. I was worried about all the criticism that would come from my mommy friends who nursed explicitly for a long time, but what I reminded myself is that no one gets to make this decision for us. I could tell it was affecting my mental and physical capabilities, and to raise healthy children, you have to take care of yourself…and for me, that meant having my body to myself and the ability to not be so attached – not just to Madison, but anyone. This gave my husband, and others, the opportunity to care for Madison and bond with her themselves. It didn’t impact the connection I had with her whatsoever. If anything, the fact that I felt better, made it easier for me to be present and able to build a relationship with both of my daughters.
4. Were there any specific items or resources that helped you through your challenges or that facilitated breastfeeding?
Not necessarily. I tried to surround myself with momma’s who were encouraging and comforting. I also read a few articles by women who made similar choices and it brought me comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone or wrong for feeling the way I did. Before deciding to stop breastfeeding, I did attend weekly support groups to help with latching and making sure Madison was getting enough.
5. What’s one tip you would give a first-time mom who is trying to breastfeed?
Remember that this journey is yours and your baby’s alone. Something “new” is always challenging, so always give it your best effort but ensure that you are making decisions based on what is right for YOU and your baby, without any concern of the potential judgement from others.
Thank you Jackie for sharing your journey with us!