If you're a parent, you're probably aware that this week (August 1 - 7) is World Breastfeeding Week. I wanted to post something about it, but I didn't know what, until this morning. While scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, putting off getting out of bed because I was SO TIRED, I came across an article on Parents.Com Titled Why Do Moms Quit Breastfeeding? Here’s the No. 1 Reason… I just had to read it. And I was not surprised to read that the Number 1 reason women stop nursing is that IT HURTS!!!
It hurts. A lot. I'm currently nursing my third child, so you'd think I'd have gotten the hang of it by the time he came along. But every child is different and I've had challenges with all three. And pain almost made me quit this time around.
Without going into graphic detail, I have anatomical reasons why nursing started out very difficult for me with my first child. #1 (how I'll refer to my first child, and then #2 and #3 respectively) also had a lip tie that my husband didn't want snipped (#2 and #3 both have lip ties, that husband also does not want snipped, but thankfully have not had too much impact on their nursing). So, I required a lot of help, cried A LOT of tears, and I would not call that go-around a success. Not a failure! But, not a success in my eyes. But I pushed through, with my breast pump, and he got my milk exclusively until he was 6 months old (from week 1, on). Then we added in formula once before bed, and by 8 months he was on formula exclusively.
This picture was my struggle. I was watching a video on breastfeeding, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong because it just wasn't working out. I burst into tears, because the moms on tape were making it look so easy, acting like it was all sunshine and roses, and at the time I was feeding my 6 day old baby a bottle of formula, feeling like a failure. As soon as he latched, he'd doze off. I was afraid he was starving, so I kept giving bottles. This particular bottle, he promptly vomited back onto my chest. I was already crying because I had to give it to him in the first place and it was the final straw. It was 9pm when I called the lactation consultant. She was at my home at 10am the next morning, and gave me so much good advice and confidence. The thing she told me was "Don't give up. You don't want to lose it as an option." And she was right. Even though #1 ended up primarily on bottles of expressed milk, I always had him latch on 1-2 times daily just to keep the option open. It came in handy several times, when bottles were forgotten.
Nursing #2 was not too difficult in terms of pain, but she went through several rounds of cluster feeding which is EXHAUSTING. She never took a bottle, ever, and she nursed every 2 hours, around the clock, until she was 10 months old and I put a stop to it. She weaned herself at 13 months, and I can't say I wasn't bummed about it. But #3, was the most difficult in terms of pain.
#3 was a very tiny baby, and I have large breasts. These 2 things don't really go together. He could not physically open his mouth wide enough to allow him to latch properly. That led to developing an open, bleeding wound on my nipple only a few days in. That shit HURT!!! I didn't know what to do! It was horrible. I pushed through for 2 days, just cringing and crying until each nursing session was over, because my baby's weight had fallen below 6 pounds when we left the hospital and I just wanted to make sure he gained weight. But after those 2 days I couldn't do it anymore and found help online.
There are so many helpful resources online. Kelly Mom was my SAVIOR!!! There I found guides to moist healing - a basic saline soak - that helped me recover. I had to stop nursing on that side for 24 hours and just pump to keep up my supply. The 24 hour break, with regular soaks, a ton of lanolin, and a lot of topless time, made nursing more tolerable. I had to keep up those soaks for a whole week and it took 2 weeks for that sore to close fully. But, the more he grew, the better his latch, and I haven't had any trouble since.
But, it was enough to make me want to quit. And I felt SO GUILTY for wanting to quit. As a mom, there are so many pressures, and I felt this pressure big time. "Breast is best", right? But you know what? If I had quit, it would have been OK! My child still would have thrived and I'd probably have gotten over the guilt fairly quickly. But I'm glad I didn't quit. #3 is my last baby (I think...lol!) so I'm enjoying this time with him. Once you get the hang of it, it can actually be enjoyable. And honestly, my boobs have stopped a lot of crying!!! And the less crying, the less stress!
So, anyway, if you're a new mom struggling with breastfeeding, know you aren't alone. It's hard, and it's doubly hard if you don't have anyone to lean on for support. Thankfully my husband tried as hard as he could to make it easier for me. That consultant wasn't cheap, you know! If you're struggling, ASK SOMEONE. Call a professional, ask a mom friend. Don't be embarrassed to talk about it. It's totally natural! And, sometimes a mama just needs a little help.
OK, so that's my breastfeeding story. Well, two stories. I could write 50 blogs on this topic, but I won't. Unless you want me to! (If you do, let me know *wink, wink*.)
Until next time,