I am not one of those moms that had the “picture perfect” breastfeeding journey. But then again, who really is? I’m an ordinary mom that wants to be real with you. Breastfeeding was not easy for me in the beginning. I want you to know you are not alone if you are struggling and there is light at the end of the tunnel. So here is my story, my breastfeeding journey.
I know the pain. The pain that made my toes curl to the soles of my feet. The pain that shot through my entire body like a lightening bolt. The pain that brought crocodile tears to my eyes. The pain of frustration…
I thought breastfeeding was suppose to be easy. That it would come naturally. I read about it some before I delivered, but thought, “ohhh this seems easy enough”. But boy was I wrong. My daughter and I could not figure out this whole latching thing. I cried and cried those first few weeks. And as much as I hate to admit it, I dreaded every single feeding. I thought to myself, how does anyone do this? Am I the only one feeling this way? Is something wrong with my nipples?
I reached out to the lactation consultants for help after a few days home from the hospital. They informed me my daughter was tongue tied. At 6 days old, her tongue was clipped. It seemed to help ever so little. I continued to press on. I visited the lactation consultants twice a week. And can I just tell you, I have never had so many women touching my breast! I mean they had my boobs in so many different positions and squeezes I didn’t know what was going on. I look back on it now and just laugh.
I finally made it to a month with breastfeeding. I couldn’t be prouder of myself, but I was still in pain. I couldn’t even stand under the shower. I hunched so the water would not touch my nipples. I walked around topless every minute of the day. I could not have ANYTHING touching my nipples. I dreaded feeding my child and I felt guilty. I looked down upon myself and hated that I felt that way. I decided to exclusively pump. This was the way I was going to provide my daughter with breast milk. Ya’ll, this almost seemed harder. I was pumping around the clock every 2 hours for the first week. I wanted to build my supply so I wouldn’t have to do this for an entire year. Between pumpings, I was washing bottles and pump parts and taking care of my newborn child. I had no time for outings. Heck, I hardly had time for a shower. I only slept for about an hour between the pumping sessions at night. I was completely exhausted. The moment I knew I had to change something was when I fell asleep giving my daughter a bottle. I panicked. It had probably been 30 minutes. The bottle was on the floor and thank GOD my daughter was sleeping peacefully in my arms. Saying that I was exhausted is an understatement. I finally changed my schedule to every 3 hours during the day and 4-5 hours at night. This schedule was a breather compared to what I was doing.
While I was exclusively pumping, my nipples began to burn. They would turn white after I finished pumping or when I got out of the shower. I went back to the nurses and they believed I had thrush. I went home and sterilized EVERYTHING. For four days, I sterilized everything after each use. I have never washed so much in my life. My hands began to become dry and cracked from all the washing. Yet, the burning was still there. I called my OBGYN and they fit me in their schedule that day. When my doctor took a look, she believed that it was NOT thrush but possibly vasospasms. Vasospasms happen when blood circulation is cut off. It is commonly misdiagnosed and is usually treated as thrush because it has the same symptoms. I was instructed to use hot pads and take ibuprofen. I decided to take magnesium supplements to help with the blood flow as well. My OBGYN prescribed me “all purpose nipple ointment” as well just in case it wasn’t vasospasm. I applied this daily. Within about a week, the burning and discoloration subsided. To this day, I am still unsure if I had thrush or vasospasms during that time.
My nipples finally heeled and I decided to give latching another try. I contacted my lactation consultant again for help. A little side note, they ROCK! I could not have done this without them. They encouraged me and kept me going strong. This time around, I used a nipple shield. There was still pain, but not excruciating like it was before. I would use the shield then remove it to latch my daughter directly on my breast. One day, as I was squeezing my breast in one hand and “popping” my daughter’s head onto me with the other, I couldn’t feel anything. I double checked, then checked once more, to see if she was latched. And guess what, she was! This was the first time I had NO pain. I was ecstatic! After 20 minutes or so of nursing, we were both content. I was anxious to see how the next session would go. I sat down confidently in my rocker, pulled my shirt up and whipped out my breast like it was going out of style. I held my breast and latched my daughter on again. SUCCESS!! I was so thrilled. Tears of joy flooded my eyes. We finally nailed the latch. It took 8 whole weeks for us to figure it out.
My daughter and I have been going strong for 7 months now exclusively breastfeeding. Breastfeeding gives me empowerment as a mother. It is my second biggest achievement, first was becoming a mother. Breastfeeding has created an unbreakable bond between my daughter and me. I am beyond blessed that I am able to provide my daughter with all of the nutrition that she needs. I absolutely LOVE breastfeeding!!!