Katie and I were in the same sorority in college at San Diego State University, Alpha Delta Chi. She blogs at Kompletely Katie (post originally posted on January 25,2016)
This post has been a long time coming, and before I start I want to preface everything by saying I am no expert on BFing and I do not have all the answers.. trust me I wish I did, its still a big mystery to me. However, I wanted to share Emerson and I’s journey with BFing thus far and maybe be able to help or encourage other mommies or soon-to-be mommies to stick with it; because honestly it is such a special thing you can share with your little one.
From the very beginning I knew I wanted to BF but I also had a lot of fears, stress, and self doubt about it. I wanted to be able to provide the best nutrients for my baby that I could, and I wanted to trust in my body’s ability to produce enough milk for him. When Emerson was first born we did skin-to-skin right away which was SO SO SPECIAL and we attempted nursing between 30-45 mins after birth. Right off the bat it was very painful like most first time moms and he had a horrible latch. With help from the lovely nurses we could get him to latch well on the left side but for some reason the right side, even though it might have appeared to be ok, TRUST me when I say something was wrong because I was in tears from the pain. My first mistake I now know was listening to the lactation consultant at the hospital, I know I know we should be able to trust and rely on these professionals but her advice and lack of effort in helping Emerson and I lead to a ton of complications.
#1 if it hurts more than being a little uncomfortable in the beginning than SOMETHING IS WRONG, it should NOT hurt or bring you to tears.
We were about to be discharged from the hospital which was both excited and nerve-racking, WE were going home to where there was no help from experts and we were responsible for this perfect little beautiful miraclethat is our son. I did not want to mess up and by-golly I wanted to be able to feed him and make sure he could gain weight because he had lost over the recommend amount in the first couple days. I asked the lactation consultant again for help but she basically said its my body’s fault and that my nipples weren’t elastic enough yet. So I needed to suck it up and deal with the pain…. Well that is the worst advice you can give a new mommy.
A few days of excruciating pain went by and within a week I had a pretty bad cracked nipple. Besides being sleep deprived and in a lot of pain from recovering whenever it was time to nurse on that side I was overcome with so much anxiety, fear, and self doubt. And this very special time that my new baby boy and I were supposed to share and cherish quickly turned into something I feared. I called the lactation consultant up again and she said the same thing that it takes time but at this point something was definitely wrong with his latch. Thankfully with much encouragement from my big sister as well as my best friend who also is a new mommy, I decided to not give up and to keep going and so I searched for a new lactation consultant and she was a dream come true. But because I had so much damage to my right nipple she advised that I pumped that side and let him nurse exclusively off the left side for a few days until that nipple can heal.
#2 Find a good lactation consultant, one that you feel comfortable around and is encouraging and helpful! They will become such a good resource for you especially in the first month or so.
I followed her instructions but my nipple did not heal in a couple days (it took about a week to show noticeable improvement).
#3 If you have a question or something seems just a little off, do NOT put off calling your lactation consultant in hopes of it correcting itself…TRUST ME!
Over the weekend because I did not call in time for help, I developed a clogged milk duct..(I noticed a small lump earlier in the week, but I thought it went away on its own.) By the time I could make an appointment to get in to be seen I had had a clogged duct for about a week. I was told to nurse on that side, pump, use hot and cold compresses, take a hot shower, and massage it like crazy. All of which Clinton and I tried plus a few home remedies we read about on other mom blogs (cabbage leave, and we even went as far as having Clinton suck to try and get it out). NOTHING was working, and I was in excruciating pain crying with each feed. My entire day and night was spent either nursing, pumping, massaging, or using a hot or cold compress. I am LUCKY and so THANKFUL that Clinton was home for some of this and that his work allowed him to come home and help me a little if I needed to pump and Emerson was not cooperating. I could not have handled it on my own.
I didn’t have a fever so I didn’t think it was Mastitis, just an unclog-able clogged milk duct. I ended up going to the ER and doctors 4 more times, sent to a ultra sound and everyone told me it was just a clogged duct and that it would go away (mind you at this point I had had whatever it was for 3+ weeks). I finally got a fever one night and I just broke down because I was way over tired from being in a ton of pain and I just wanted to be able to take care of my new baby boy without it bringing me so much pain and distress.
The next morning I called my OB and told them that I had a fever and that the lump was still very much there, in fact it had tripled its size ( it was about the size of a golf ball) and that I needed to be seen. At the OB I was telling Clinton that I knew I had Mastitis from the very beginning and now, because the OBs wouldn’t treat it as such, my once small clogged duct had turned into an abscess, that would need to be aspirated. I was sent to a breast specialist who sent in an order for aspiration.
#4 If you know something isn’t quite right even if your OB or Doctor do not seem too concerned, stick up for yourself! If I had, and asked for a prescription earlier on I could have prevented the abscess from forming.
Let me tell you getting a large gauge needle put into your breast then prodded around to suck out mucous from an infection is no fun, but if it was going to help me get better and make it so that nursing my son no longer caused me pain than I was up for it!! So long story short I ended up having to go back to get my breast aspirated twice a week for a month then 1 every two weeks for another month, all the while taking high doses of antibiotics. But I AM HAPPY to say that my clogged duct/abscess is officially gone and I am able to BF Emerson with out any pain!!!
I would not have been able to stick through it without the constant support from my husband, family and friends. Being able to breastfeed my son is now such a special time I get to spend with him and I cherish it! Now I am not going to say that we are 100% great at it..haha.. Emerson gets so easily distracted and loves to pinch and pull and squeeze me all the time hahahaha.. but I love the fact that I am about to provide just what he needs to grow and develop.
#5 MOST IMPORTANT!.. If you want to Breastfeed your baby and you have the ability to produce milk, don’t give up! Stick with it, it may be hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes exhausting at first but its AMAZING! and I thank God Everyday that I have the ability to produce milk for him!!
I apologize if this post was too detailed or not detailed enough. Do not hesitate to ask questions and I will do my best to answer them!!