Hello my loves! Today is exciting because we are hosting our second guest blogger of the month!! Cris Stone, from Kiss my Bump, is going to host our Family Friday today. Her blog is all about parenting, being a momma & being a momma on a budget!! So all you mommies, papas & future parents…make sure after you read this post you go check her blog out & show her some love! Namaste.
The Struggles of Breastfeeding
I’m going to start this off by saying that I never expected to have a single issue with breastfeeding. I come from a long line of women who breastfed and none had a problem with nursing. Oh, I knew there’d be a learning curve but really – how hard could it be?
The answer? Very, very, VERY hard.
The realization that nursing wasn’t going to be the cakewalk I had envisioned started within minutes of giving birth to my daughter. The nurse laid her on my bare chest and she inchwormed her little buns over and faceplanted on my nipple. For some reason, she wasn’t able to breath and they had to quickly remove her from my breast and rub her down so she could breathe again. That scared me so during my hospital stay, I was always a little afraid to nurse her for fear that she would suffocate again.
After I was in the postpartum wing for a little bit, the nurses encouraged me to breastfeed again. I had no clue what to do beyond picking her up and shoving her face up against my nipple. Turns out, it’s A LOT more complicated. My mom tried to help me but I was exhausted, she was in pain from a recent major surgery, and my poor husband was as clueless as me. So I did the best I could but it stung really badly and I wasn’t sure if Melanie was getting anything – I was always happy when it was over.
A lactation consultant came by to help me and it turned out everything I was doing was wrong plus Melanie’s latch was off and that was why it was hurting so bad. According to my LC, I wasn’t holding her right and wasn’t forcing her to nurse long enough. The whole time she was with me, she talked a mile a minute giving me instructions. It was super overwhelming and honestly, I don’t think I absorbed a single thing. Luckily, my husband was paying attention and remembered some stuff.
I tried breastfeeding whenever the nurses would remind me to do it because I never remembered to do it every 2-3 hours like I was supposed to. But I was tired and kept forgetting to keep track of time plus Melanie would be sleeping and I didn’t want to wake her up. Also, it was still hurting when I tried to nurse and that made me not want to do it. But I’d grit my teeth try. That’s why I was so upset the next day when a different LC came in, took one look at my nipples and breastfeeding chart, and got mad at me. My nipples had open sores from Melly’s poor latch and I wasn’t feeding her often enough or long enough. She taught me how to use a nipple guard to protect me while I nursed and allow me to heal.
By the time we headed home, I was still sporting open sores on my nipples, not feeding Melanie often enough or long enough, and still feeling a lot of pain while I nursed. But I just figured that it would all work itself out. And for a few hours, we thought we had it all figured out – nurse, rest, rinse, repeat. Then that evening, I got engorged and my boobs looked like a cheap porn star’s and HURT. At an appointment that afternoon, we discovered she had lost enough weight that the doctors were concerned. We went home and kept plugging away: I would try to remember to nurse every 2-3 hours (even with the nipple guards it was painful) and Melanie would fall asleep a few minutes into it. Then 3AM hit and my sweet baby would wake up screaming. Nothing got that child to stop screeching. Finally, early in the morning she would pass out from sheer exhaustion and I would cry myself to sleep.
This went on for several days until one night, she just didn’t stop screaming. She wanted to nurse so badly but wouldn’t maintain her latch and my breasts just hurt SO MUCH. At one point, I tried pumping and not a single drop came out. That’s when I flipped out. I had no milk for my baby and she was starving. I stumbled into my mom’s room, sobbing and hysterical. My mom told me to get dressed and have The Boy take me to the store for some formula. I did not want to do that. I was supposed to be able to feed my baby from my own body – how could I be a good mom if I fed my baby formula? My mom insisted that this would just be temporary. My husband held Melanie while I dressed, hysterically sobbing the whole time. At one point, my mom came in and held me and told me that everything would alright. In the car, my husband told me the same thing and said that we’d call the LC as soon as possible. We bought the formula and I cried while I held my baby in the parked car and fed her formula. She drank it and immediately fell asleep. I cried all the way home.
Later, we called the LC and she soothed me a lot by saying that what I was experiencing was really common. What happened was that my milk came in… but wasn’t coming out. That’s why I was hurting so bad and why Melly wasn’t able to eat. Her recommendation was to continue to nurse Melanie every 2-3 hours and follow up with pumping for 15-20 minutes. She also wanted me to apply ice packs on my breasts for 20 minutes every hour and supplement Melanie with formula (as needed) after every nursing session. It was rough. I would nurse the baby for 20-30 minutes on each side then pump for 15-20 minutes and also sneak in 20 minutes with the ice packs. I never slept – I just didn’t have time! I also felt like I was trapped in my bedroom all day, every day. And I was still barely getting any milk out.
So, we called the LC again. This time, she told me to go ahead and stop icing my breasts (since I was getting some milk it was okay) and to cut down on the amount of time that I was breastfeeding. She wanted me to do 30 minutes total. Anything more was too exhausting. So now, I was doing 15 minutes of nursing on each side, pumping for 15-20 minutes, and supplementing with formula. At our next appointment, we discovered that Melanie had gained some weight back! Not much but enough that the doctors were happy to let us continue on our own with a follow-up weighting appointment for later in the week. Once we were alone with the LC, she focused on teaching my husband how to massage my breasts to break up the engorgement and get the milk flowing. She also taught me how to fix Melly’s poor latch by using my finger to force her lower lip down to where it was supposed to be. I left the appointment a little stressed out but slightly more confident.
For the rest of the week, the nights were still pretty crappy. Melanie continued to wake up screaming. The good news was that my engorgement lessened thanks 100% to The Boy’s personal mission to massage my boobs into submission. Every time I would nurse the baby on one side, he would be over on the other manhandling away. It was painful but it worked. I could feel my breasts returning to their normal “consistency” and Melly didn’t fuss as long when she latched on. At our “last chance” weighing appointment with the LC and doctor, we got good news. Melanie was back to her birth weight! We were given permission to feed her on her own schedule and phase out the formula. We were sent on our way – MUCH happier than we had been since she was born.
Melanie and I have been exclusively breastfeeding since her third week. Now, we’re both old hat at it. I was able to stop using the nipple guards around her sixth week and my nipples rarely hurt anymore. And nursing Melanie in my bed in the morning is one of my very favorite things about being a mom. What this post boils down to is… breastfeeding is hard. If you really want to do it – you may have to fight a battle to succeed. But always keep in mind that any breastfeeding is good breastfeeding.
Did you struggle with feeding your baby?