Some moms find breastfeeding to be a difficult task and either choose not to breastfeed or to only breastfeed for the first 3-9 months, while other moms find it to be a blessing and hold on to breastfeeding their child as long as possible. I am a mom that falls into the latter category. My breastfeeding story is one that will probably make you cringe. I say cringe because I went through a lot in order to be able to breastfeed my daughter. Many moms out there would have given up in the first week; so I guess you can say this is also a story of courage and determination.
When I first gave birth I was super excited to see my daughter latch on with no problem. I did not feel any pain whatsoever, most likely due to my level of excitement or perhaps it was due to my level of exhaustion after 21 hours of excruciating labor. In any event, she latched on, got fed, and fell asleep. The next day however, was a different story. After breastfeeding her a couple of times, my nipples began to tear and they even bled a bit. After the 3rd of 4th feeding I could not stand the pain, it was awful, “toe curling” the nurses referred to it. The lactating consultant provided me with some breastfeeding tips (how to hold the breast, how to latch on the baby, etc.) and told me about the Nipple guard and cream/gel. The Nipple guard was a lifesaver, although it did not relieve the pain completely, it did so enough to allow me to keep giving it a try and prevented my nipples from tearing more.
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Tips for properly breastfeeding
Two days later I was home from the hospital with my baby girl. Now, it was all up to me to continue breastfeeding. I read about all of the great benefits of breastfeeding, so I was determined to provide that for my daughter. Every two hours I endured the worst pain ever (aside from giving birth). It was just absolutely awful. I cried every time (no joke). By the end of the first week I was ready to give up. I contemplated it every time she latched on and my hubby kept encouraging me to continue and telling me it would get better. One particular day in the 2nd week I decided to pump one breast while feeding my baby on the other breast. Although, not a bad idea to multitask in my opinion, that day I was so exhausted I fell as sleep pressing the pump on my breast. I must have been out for like 3 minutes, but those 3 minutes made the whole situation even more difficult for me. When I woke from my 3 minute nap and took off the pump, within seconds my breast became hard as a rock. I called my midwife immediately and was recommended all sorts of natural in-home remedies. I had to massage, put cabbage on, soak in warm water, breast feed mainly from that breast, just to name a few. Although, it alleviated the pain, the lump was just too large and was not subsiding. Again, I called my midwife and made an appointment. After she saw me I was recommended to a lactation expert. She was amazing, two hours with her and I learned so much. With over 20 years experience, she was a master at this. She encouraged me to continue through the pain as breastfeeding is one of the best things I can do for my child.
After my visits with my midwife and lactation expert, it was determined I had developed mastitis and had to be put on strong antibiotics. I continued to breastfeed through the pain, one feeding session at a time. I continued to cry, massage, put cabbage on, take my antibiotics, not sleep due to the sharp needle pains I would feel while sleeping, curled my toes every time my baby latched on, etc. I kept telling myself it would get better to keep pressing forward. It took over a month for the mastitis to fully dissolve. By the time my mastitis was all gone my nipples were more accustomed to the breastfeeding and I was so glad I no longer had to curl my toes in pain. So I never gave up. I pushed through and proudly say I would do it all over again if I had to. I had so many reasons to give up, but just one that made it all worth it to endure the pain. Today my baby girl is two and a healthy little rascal. I can’t say her great health is 100% due to breastfeeding and its benefits, but I know breastfeeding has played a huge role in it. I am so thankful that I am one of those mom who have been blessed with the chance to breastfeed and I am so glad that I was strong enough to push through the pain and not give up.
I know not every mother has the opportunity to nurse their child, but want to badly and so resort to milk banks to be able to provide their child with the benefits breast milk provides. So, for all of the mothers out there that have been blessed with the ability to breastfeed and are struggling with the demands of it, I say, don’t take it for granted and try your best to do at least 1 year of nursing. I know for a fact it can be harder for some mothers than others, but stick with it as much as you can, it does get easier. I know that some babies don’t always latch on well to the breast, if at all; however, are still able to bottle feed, so in that case I suggest pumping and storing the milk if necessary. So don’t give up, breastfeed if you can, your baby deserves the best!
Now, with all that said and this magical story of breastfeeding, today I still breastfeed my two year old daughter. And although it has been a great experience, I am ready to shoot myself. Please get her off my breasts!!!
Stay tuned, I may have another breastfeeding blog soon, about how I stopped. 🙂