Before I start this blog, it’s all about my personal breastfeeding experience so if that would make you uncomfortable, you might not want to read this. Also, I want to say that even though it was my choice to breastfeed, all mamas are wonderful no matter how they feed their little ones.
Breastfeeding is HARD! There are so many women who talk about breastfeeding like it was nothing for them, but my breastfeeding journey has been harder than pregnancy and maybe even birth itself! In saying that though, all bodies are different so my story might be completely different than yours.
From the beginning, I decided that I was going to try to breastfeed. So a few hours after my son was born, they made me try to get him to latch. My son was 6 lbs and 3 oz and really small so he was having a really hard time. They also told me that I was slightly inverted so my nipples didn’t jut out like they should. I just remember laying in the hospital bed with JJ in my lap crying, and I was trying to squeeze milk out by hand to drip in his mouth. The nipple shield they gave me was even too big for him.
Then they made me try the pump. I cried the first time using the pump because I sat there for 30 minutes without a single drop. The second time, I got about an ounce all together, and we were able to syringe feed that to JJ, and we were still trying to get him to latch too. It takes a while for babies to latch because they have never had to work for anything.
When we went home a couple days later, I got a pump from WIC. I kept trying to latch and syringe feed him, but he always acted hungry. Finally, I tried pumping and putting a couple ounces in a bottle, and he was finally satisfied. I cried because I felt like I had been starving him the whole time because he ate a lot from the bottle once he started going. Man I felt so bad.
Since bottle feeding worked best for us, I would just pump every 3 hours and bottle feed him. I usually pump 5 ounces from each side every time. I rarely tried to breastfeed anymore. Then I made a mistake.. I started wearing bras with nipple pads all the time. I would even try to go all night without pumping because I wouldn’t leak because of the pads. I thought I finally outsmarted having to pump every 3 or 4 hours.
One morning after not pumping for 8 hours, I woke up so sick. My chest was swollen, engorged and bright red. I also felt like I was getting the flu. I was so weak that I was having a hard time even taking care of my son. It turned out that I had gotten mastitis from not doing things right. I had to get an antibiotic to get better. There were some people telling me to switch to formula at that point, but I was too hard headed so I kept pumping and feeding.
As son as I felt better, the next week, I broke out with a terrible rash from an allergic reaction to laundry detergent! After a few days of nothing helping, I had to get a steroid shot and some prednisone, and the doctor said that I couldn’t breastfeed because of it. I didn’t have a choice though because it was what I needed to feel better. It worked out though because I contacted a friend that donates milk to the hospital, and she was able to give me enough for little man for a few days. I was so happy because I’d come too far to switch to formula now! I just had to pump and dump for about a week.
After I finished with the prednisone, I went back to our regular pump and bottle feed routine. Then last Wednesday something really random happened. Little man had just gotten his shots and wouldn’t stop crying so I went to the rocking chair to soothe him. When he wouldn’t calm down, I decided to try to latch him, and he latched! He breastfed like a pro, and it calmed him down so much. We’ve been able to breastfeed multiple times since then too!
I know this blog was long, but I wanted to write it too encourage mamas, and to tell them that they’re not alone in this struggle. It took me 2 months to get the hang of breastfeeding! If breastfeeding isn’t right for you or your baby, that’s perfectly fine too though. I wish all mamas the best health for themselves and their babies.