Breastfeeding, Friend or Foe?

Breastfeeding has always been something I’ve wanted to do, but from the first latch it was excruciatingly painful and I was unable to continue after a short period of time. I really can’t give a reason for the pain, but Noah being tongue-tied didn’t help and I simply wasn’t committed with Nora.

It has been a few years and I’m different and have different ideals and values. For this child I became committed to breastfeeding; praying it would be better this time and reading lots of info about it beforehand. I hoped that even having a natural childbirth would add points in my favor. The baby and I would bond better (which is true) with no drugs to overcome, but when it came time to breastfeed after the birth, it was the same old pain.

Even though it hurt, I continued to feed Lorelei when she was hungry which turned out to be about once an hour all night long and then just a couple of times during the day. By day two of nursing I was crying and shaking when she would latch on. It was so very painful. My midwife and I had talked about breastfeeding at some of my prenatal appts and she knew how important it was for me to succeed at breastfeeding. She came for my postpartum visit that evening and brought a little goody bag complete with a nipple shield. In the wee hours of the morning, I was desperate and tried it. It worked well. It was just enough of a barrier to keep going. It still hurt, but the pain had become bearable.

By the end of day three I was still nursing and my milk had come in, but I was feeling a bit of the baby blues. I referred back to my breastfeeding book and gained some knowledge about the first two weeks and what to expect. Lorelei was doing some of the things they said to expect which made me feel better.

I also called a friend with a lot of experience and she said a few key things. She said always have a big glass of water next to you when you are nursing, use a warm washcloth on your breasts just before nursing and relax because the baby feels your anxiety. I also took a look around at our bedroom. If I was going to nurse, I needed a better setup. I took a moment to fold the pile of clean blankets and burp cloths and moved a small table closer to me to set my water, Lanolin, advil and whatever else I needed on. I folded my body pillow in half and set it behind me to prop myself up better when feeding the baby. These small things helped me feel productive and prepared to breastfeed. We had a good night. I stopped looking at the clock and just nursed when she was hungry and before she was all worked up and screaming to be fed.

That next day we had a pediatrician appt for Lorelei. I also got the chance to speak to the lactation consultant. She examined Lorelei and found that her mouth was perfect for breastfeeding. She also took at look at what she termed as “Mr. Right and Lefty” and watched as I put on the nipple shield making sure I was doing it correctly. She also told me what I was already starting to realize. We would just have to wait. Not months, but maybe a week or two for Lorelei to get a little bigger and to latch on a little better. The nipple shields of today are flexible and fine for using for an extended period of time. I was a little worried because I haven’t really heard much about the shields and got the impression that they were looked down upon. She gave me confidence to keep doing what I was doing and the fact that I had to feed Lorelei while at the Doctors office added to my confidence as well.

Each day has gotten a little better. I’m still using the shields, but getting pretty good at using them quickly. Lorelei doesn’t seem to mind as long as milk comes out! I’ve been to the hospital to have blood drawn twice (jaundice) and to the park. All three times I’ve had to nurse in the car. It seems so radical to me to be taking the food with me wherever I go. I’m so used to carting enough bottles of formula and water around that an unexpected trip would panic me. Breastfeeding is easy breezy compared to all that. Even waking up in the middle of the night to nurse is different. I sit up, get ready and nurse for 30-40 minutes. I never leave the bedroom. If I were using formula I’d be out in the kitchen measuring and warming a bottle and then would have to be washing out these bottles in preparation for next time. What a pain, in a different way. :o)

I’m meeting with the lactation consultant again next week in hopes to help Lorelei latch on better and I can see many months of breastfeeding ahead. I am so enjoying feeding my baby this way and am very glad I was given the tools and encouragement to continue. Not only from friends and resources, but from Jason who does not hesitate to grab me a glass of water or take the baby while I slather some lanolin on, or simply tell me I’m not starving the baby and to keep at it.

I can’t say that there aren’t the occasional hiccups. My breasts are sore from being full most of the day not to mention my nipples, but the satisfaction that I am sustaining my baby makes it worth it. Also, the fact that I have to sit and feed the baby reminds me to slow down and really makes me want to get a kindle for my birthday. :o)

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