Angela Burzo isn’t afraid to reveal the difficulties of breastfeeding her 16-day-old daughter.
The 33-year-old mom-of-two, who posted a photo of herself breastfeeding on Instagram on Tuesday, dived into the painful realities of trying to feed a newborn, something many mothers could relate to.
“I love seeing all these beautiful women in their beautiful nursing clothes smiling down at their babes as they lovingly look up back at them hand in hand while breastfeeding away. That is not my reality,” the Florida mom wrote on the social media site.
“This is real & as much as I want to stay strong and be the soldier I feel I can be I cannot hide the struggle that is BREASTFEEDING. Whether she is not latching on properly, whether I am not producing enough milk to keep up with her demand, whether my nipples might not be adequate, whether we confused her with having to give her a bottle after pumping… whatever it may be it has been an emotional & painful struggle.”
“I decided to post my breastfeeding photo because I was having a very emotional time with exclusively breastfeeding,” she tells Global News. “Society makes it seem like breastfeeding is so easy because they throw out how natural it is… but they forget to mention all the struggles that is the reality of breastfeeding.”
Her post, which soon went viral, was a complete surprise to the part-time financial representative.
“I felt a huge overwhelming feeling like I had an obligation to all these new people and I wanted to run and hide,” Burzo said. “Now I feel like an inspiration for touching so many people’s lives in a positive way. Everyone has been so uplifting, encouraging and opening up about their own breastfeeding trials and tribulations.”
When breastfeeding is painful
Maria Robertson, president and founder of the New Mummy Company in Oakville, Ont., says if you’re having a hard time breastfeeding, remember that the newborn stage is very short.
“Most moms encounter some difficulties in the early days and weeks, so if you do have some issues you are in the norm, it’s quite unusual to speak with a mom who had it plain sailing,” she tells Global News. She adds most of us are not exposed to breastfeeding until we have to do it for the first time.
“This means we have very little practical and knowledgeable support available to us. If our own moms did breastfeed and many didn’t, it’s been 20 to 40 years since they last had that experience. So, while they can be supportive, they won’t have recent knowledge.”
Some signs to watch out for
Robertson says there are several things new parents need to look out for. If your nipples are cracked and very sore, it’s a sign the baby is not latching on properly. And even if the baby is sucking away, she adds, they may not be getting any milk from the breast.
“Listen to your body and if it hurts, there will be a reason to get some help.”
Today’s Parent adds plugged ducts, yeast infections (thrush) and mastitis, which is the inflammation of the breast, can all happen to some women during breastfeeding.
Reaching out for help
If you are experiencing any type of pain, talk to a doctor or lactation consultant for further information, Robertson says. Practical alternatives, besides formula, is to double pump instead of breastfeeding.
Another option she says is hiring a night nanny, who can support you at each breastfeeding session overnight.
But at the end of the day, Robertson adds it is important for parents to remember that breastfeeding is not easy.
“Breastfeeding can take up to six weeks to establish, during this time both mom and baby will be learning new skills and your milk supply will grow as your baby feeds.”
She adds babies usually feed every one to three hours in the early days, and it’s good for the mother to eat and drink when the baby does.
“Have healthy snacks available to eat while your baby eats. Stock your pantry and your freezer before baby arrives so you have plenty to choose from for a few weeks at least. Drinking enough is also essential to your milk supply so remember to stay well hydrated all throughout the day.”
Burzo says she still continues to breastfeed her daughter, even if she struggles on some days.
“I still have pain and I still cry here and there but I’m only human. I want my daughter to know that nothing in life comes easy and it’s OK to cry sometimes and be vulnerable.”