So, I know that breastfeeding can be a controversial issue, and I’m not here to preach. The decision to breastfeed is a personal one, and I would never judge a woman for choosing not to breastfeed. That is HER choice. And I know that some women don’t even get a chance to make that choice, they just aren’t able to. I am thankful that I have been able to successfully breastfeed both of my children, but there have definitely been some ups and downs. That’s what this post is about. So, here it goes…
The thing about breastfeeding is that your boobs are “on call” ALL THE TIME. That’s right, 24 hours a day, your baby has access to the girls and all they have to offer. This seems a little unfair, considering that same baby just took over your body for the last nine months, but, that’s what you sign up for when you decide to breastfeed.
The first time my daughter (my first child) latched on, it felt like she was literally going to pull my nipple off. My toes curled. I screamed. Nobody prepares you for that. You know labor is going to suck, sure, but nobody tells you that after you go through that hell of an experience, you go right into MORE pain.
Well, it turns out that my daughter had latched on improperly, which was responsible for SOME of the pain, but even when she did latch on “the right way” (whatever that means…I’m still not sure that even exists), it still hurt.
The first few weeks were really hard. My nipples were sore and blistered. I used ALL of the nipple balm that my midwife gave me.
When my milk came in, on the third day after the birth, my breasts became extremely engorged. It was awful. It’s basically when your body produces too much milk and your baby can’t drink it all. My boobs were already the size of big melons, but with engorgement, they swelled and looked more like GIANT water balloons. And they were hard. And hot. And it made it almost impossible for my daughter to latch on. I had to buy a nipple shield. And my midwife told me to put cold cabbage leaves on my breasts to reduce the pain and swelling. Surprisingly, those things worked. But, it took me about 24 hours to get all of that in order, and meanwhile my hormones were going crazy, and I was crying because I couldn’t feed my daughter, and it seemed like the whole world was going to end.
Well, the world didn’t end, and after that, breastfeeding got a little easier. My boobs were still on call all the time and my daughter loved to eat, but it didn’t hurt anymore and I learned to enjoy the experience.
The hard part came again when I decided that I wanted to try to sleep through the night…10 months later. Prior to that, my daughter slept in bed with me and I kind of half woke up when she wanted to eat and turned whichever way it made it easier to access my boob. So, when I decided to move her into her own room and get some decent sleep, I ran into trouble. First of all, my daughter wasn’t all that happy about the transition. She cried a lot, and my boobs squirted milk all over the place (that’s another thing that happened ALL THE TIME when I first started breastfeeding…anytime ANY baby would cry. I had to always carry an extra shirt with me), and I had to actually get up every time she wanted to nurse and go into the other room to do it. She was actually a pretty easy baby and got over the whole thing in just a few nights, but my boobs were a different story.
Once she stopped nursing at night, I got engorged again. And then I got MASTITIS. That really sucked. I had a fever, and both my breasts were red and sore, and I still had to nurse and take care of my daughter. I was miserable, but it only lasted about 24 hours. I called my midwife right after I noticed the engorgement and she told me to immediately start taking extra Vitamin C (4 packs of EmergenyC a day), drinking Echinacea tea (at least 2 times a day), and taking a tincture called Happy Ducts. It’s made by a company called Wish Garden and it is MAGIC. I took it every two hours during my Mastitis bout, and it completely got rid of it. It also works to prevent mastitis, so I started taking it every time my boobs started to hurt. I’m so glad I found that stuff. If you are currently breastfeeding, you should find it too. It really is amazing.
That pretty much concludes my list of breastfeeding issues with my daughter. I’m sure that I have blocked some things out, but mostly, it was smooth sailing after that. She weaned herself from the boob at 17 months. Like I said, she was a pretty easy baby.
I’m now on round 2 of breastfeeding with my son. He’s 7 weeks now, so I’ve really only just begun.
It’s definitely easier this time around. I know a little more and am more confident in my ability to get through it, but it’s a brand new set of challenges. Apparently, every baby is different.
My son loves the boob (like every other man) and wants to be near it every second of the day. He’s a pretty efficient eater, but when he’s done, he wants to sleep on the boob. This presents a problem when I want to get up and do something, so I spend the majority of my time with him strapped to me in an Ergo carrier. Again, this is what I signed up for. It’s all relative, and now I know that this time is short and I really should enjoy it while I can.
But it is nice to complain every once in a while. Thanks for listening.