With baby number 3 born 11 years after my first-born child, my frame of mind was definitely different which is to be expected. With my first two children I made a brief attempt to breastfeed them. Both times I gave up after the first 2 weeks. It was the pain! I couldn’t understand how anyone could do that to themselves even though the nurses would tell me the pain would go away, I was not convinced. So with baby number 3, my 3rd and final, I was determined to make it happen.
The first 5 days weren’t so bad. Feedings only lasted a few minutes and he was back to sleep. The horror started when exhaustion set in. I was in a panic on the verge of tears because my milk hadn’t come in yet. I felt like I was starving my baby! So, I gave in and decided I was going to supplement with formula until it did. At first I was relieved because Mr. Grey took to the bottle rather well and he guzzled that formula down like he was starving and… he…slept!!!! He slept for hours! More hours than he had at one time all week! But sadness and disappointment started to set in because I felt like I had failed myself. (Oh the hormones!) I wanted to strictly breastfeed. No formula. Bottle feeding was my first mistake.
During a growth spurt, breastfed babies nurse more often than usual (sometimes as often as every hour) and often act fussier than usual. The increase in baby’s milk intake during growth spurts is temporary.
The next night I tried to nurse Mr. Grey before putting him down for bed for the night , but no matter what I did he would just scream. I was so confused, feeding him to sleep had been working for over a week, so what changed? I tried EVERYTHING! Shushing, rocking, swaying, bouncing, burping, diaper change. Nothing was working, and the longer I tried, the more fussy he became. Every time I tried to nurse him he would try to latch, suck for a few seconds and then pull off. By the end of the night, my poor nips were raw and sore, just looking at them made them hurt! I couldn’t understand it. He was nursing just fine the day before, and that’s when it clicked… nipple confusion.
Giving bottles or pacifiers to young, breastfeeding babies often leads to nipple confusion. Baby tries to use the bottle-feeding technique on the breast and has difficulty latching-on and sucking. Baby gets very frustrated, and so does mother.
After that ordeal, bottle feeding stopped immediately. Two things happened, Mr. Grey began to nurse regularly again and my milk “came in”! I was so happy, but I was in soooooooo much pain every time I nursed. He would wake every 2 hours or so and nurse for an hour or more. After he fed I would retreat to the bathroom, use cold cloths to sooth the pain, cover them in the soothing nipple cream I had made, bend over and cried. The pain was just about unbearable, but I was not going to give up… I couldn’t. It had been two weeks and I was determined to make it past the 3 week mark, the time when the pain would finally subside.
The 3 week mark came and went and the pain did seem like it was getting better, or at least changing. There was a “new” pain, I guess that’s the best way to describe it. It went from my nipple through my breast and around to my back. It wasn’t excruciating but it did make nursing on that side very painful. The other side was no better. No matter how much I nursed, a lingering pain would sit in the left side of my breast and then my breast began to get hard. Like… solid! I had severely blocked ducts on the left, and muscle over use by Mr. Grey’s nursing on the right.
As with almost all breastfeeding problems, a poor latch, and thus, poor emptying of the breast sets the mother up for blocked ducts and mastitis.
I began a regimen of warm compresses (or hot showers if I got lucky!) and breast message to unplug my ducts, I even tried the dangle method… (Lay your baby down, get on all fours and “dangle” your breast into babies mouth). This helped get his chin at the right angle to work the blockage out. It took over a week for them to finally empty, and by the time they did… The pain was gone!!!! I was relieved, happy, excited, overjoyed! I was breastfeeding! I made it through to the other side!
I know my story could probably scare the crap out of any mom to be who is considering breastfeeding, but honestly, I would go through it again and again. The connection I feel with Mr. Grey and seeing the comfort it brings him makes it worth it. Plus… No bottles to make when we leave the house!!
Does any of my story sound familiar? What is your breastfeeding story? Leave a comment!