Having some issues with breastfeeding? Join the club. I think its easy as a new mom to assume that breastfeeding will come naturally and be a blissful experience between you and your child and while this may be a reality for some it was not for me.
My personal experience is this…
My son Omari was born via emergency c section so not only was I not able to do skin to skin with him right after he was born, which can help with bonding, but I was not able to feed him until a few hours after he was born when I was released from the recovery room. When I finally arrived in my postpartum room at the hospital it was time to feed Omari, my nurse asked “breast milk or formula?” to which I replied quickly “breast” and they brought him over to me. I never received any instructions on how to breast feed but I assumed I didn’t need any thinking that he would naturally find the breast on his own and our blissful feeding experience would commence. WRONG! As I breastfed him over the few days I was in the hospital I experienced pain which I thought was normal (it’s not) and eventually my left breast began to bleed, this is when I knew something was definitely wrong. I called on the help of the head nurse who taught me about proper latching and how it should feel but it really did not help (for reasons I’ll reveal later) and I also asked for help from the hospital lactation consultant who honestly was a waste of space but she did at least teach me that a “football” hold would be the best position to nurse Omari in because it would not affect my surgical incision. So, nothing was really getting any better with my breast feeding experience but I was determined to keep at it through bleeding/cracked nipples and all because of course I wanted to give my son the best and we know “breast is best”. A few days after I was released from the hospital and Omari had his first visit to his pediatrician I decided to have a lactation consultant come to my room and help me out because Omari was gaining enough weight but I was still in a lot of pain and his nursing sessions were lasting almost an hour on one breast. My new lactation consultant was an angel sent from heaven and made the consultant at the hospital seem even more incompetent than I had already thought. First she weighed my son to get a baseline of if he was gaining weight based on his birth weight and to use at the end of our session to see how many ounces he would drink while she was there. She then examined my breasts and the inside of Omari’s mouth. She explained to me that not everyone’s breasts and nipples are ideal for breast feeding and sometimes the anatomy of the child’s mouth can hinder proper breast feeding techniques. Based on her exam on his mouth she said he had a tongue tie which makes it harder for him to lift his tongue high enough move milk to the back of his throat, and the roof of his mouth is higher than normal which makes it even harder for him. When she looked at my breasts she said that my nipples were flat (who knew? lol) and the shape of my breasts did not really fit his mouth to which I thought “how can mother and son not match?” but I guess thats how it goes sometimes. After her examinations she watched me nurse off each breast so she could correct what I was doing and give me better techniques. First thing I had to do differently was change my latch position to an asymmetrical latch where the nose is lifted away from the breast, his chin is hugging the breast tightly and you see the back of the jaw and ear moving instead of a lot of sucking sucking motion in the front of the mouth. We had to change it to this latch position because in another position he could not lift his tongue properly so he was overcompensating and sucking VERY VERY hard in order to get all the milk he wanted out of the breast (this was also why the nursing sessions were taking an hour, he was getting little sips at a time instead of big gulps). I continued to use the football hold position because it was the easiest based on my incision and shape of my breast and things seemed to be going uphill for us for a few days. What I did not anticipate was as Omari grew getting him in the right position to breast feed would start to be challenging, what worked the day before would not work the current day and it started to get very frustrating for both of us. It started to be that every feeding was a fight between Omari and I as I would try to get him to latch properly and avoid him slapping at me. My honest feelings every time it was time for him to eat was anger and frustration because I knew he had to eat but I also knew the pain I was about to be in. After about 2-3 weeks of feeding on the breast I decided that there had to be something I could do to take control of the situation because I was starting to get depressed about the whole situation on top of the “baby blues” I was already having. After his two week check up and discovering he was gaining plenty of weight I decided to order a breast pump (that I would need anyway when I went back to work) and pump all my milk out all day and feed it to him in a bottle. I did some research on “exclusive pumping” to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into and if I could handle the task because not only do you have to pump on the same feeding schedule as your baby but you still have to feed the baby (lol) so it’s very time consuming. However for me personally I will take losing a little more sleep to make sure I pump when I need to over the pain of severely cracked bleeding nipples any day (it wasn’t like I was getting much sleep anyway).
So my fellow new mommies… here is some advice while you are on your own breast feeding journey
- Don’t compare yourself to your friends and family’s breast feeding journeys. You have to do what works for you and your child
- Drop the mom guilt. If by chance you don’t make enough milk, don’t want to breast feed, etc, give that baby some formula and be happy in the fact that your child is full and happy
- Get a session with a lactation consultant if you are having any problems, even if they aren’t severe. Most consultants are covered by insurance, you may just have to pay a travel fee if they come to you versus you visiting their office.
- Get a quality breast pump. Also should be fully covered by insurance
- If you are having trouble with your milk supply try some lactation teas or lactation treats. I personally use Milkmakers lactation cookies (which are actually pretty delicious)… oh and drink plenty of water, your body is using the water to make the milk.
- Don’t stress and love on that precious baby! Stress can actually decrease your milk supply
- . While you are pumping have your partner feed the baby sometimes, you don’t have to do everything mom! haha
- Visit exclusivepumping.com
So good luck ladies, and happy feeding!