Monday, July 22, 2013

The Truth About Breastfeeding

Yes, let's talk about it. I want to get this out there. This post is one that is going to be very close to me. BREASTFEEDING. To new mother's and even seasoned ones, it can sound dreadful and bring on a panic session of crying. At least that is what it did to me after little Yogurt Drop was born.

There were always amazing women that would come to me once that they saw that I was pregnant and say, "I'm going to tell you what I wish someone had told me." Boy, am I forever grateful for all of that information. But, it turns out that the one thing no one ever told me about turned out to be my greatest struggle for the first few months of being a new mother.

After Yogurt Drop was born, they put her on my chest and said, "She needs to be fed, now. Feed her." And I did just that. I just stuck her on my chest and she sucked away! I didn't feel any pain in the hospital from feeding her, which I thought was odd because everyone told me that feeding makes you pretty sore. After my first feeding, they told me that a lactation specialist would be sent into my recovery room to help me learn how to feed her properly. I fed my baby a few times before the specialist actually came in, and luck would have it that I was feeding her just as she entered.

She watched me feed her for a little bit and said something about how her jaw was moving up and down so she knew I was doing it correctly and then she left.

                                    but guess what? I WASN'T.I was not doing it correctly.

It was only a day later that I could not STAND anything touching my chest. It was too painful to wear a bra, even with the gel pads that the hospital had given me. So, I spent a few days walking around like a person with TERRIBLE posture just so that my shirt wouldn't touch my cracked bleeding nipples. After about a week, my girls looked like THE PLANET MARS!!! They had crevices and were swollen to like triple their size(ok, maybe not triple. That'd be weird). I had been doing what everyone said to. After every feeding I was LATHERING them up with Lanolin oil. Everyone said that stuff is magical and will keep anything bad from happening. That was a lie. If you are feeding wrong, Lanolin won't do anything for you. But, I kept telling myself the pain would go away and that it was normal, because everyone said that it is supposed to hurt at the beginning.

But, it wasn't getting easier as the days went on, only worse.One day, I was so desperate that I went to a friend for some help. I was literally going insane. Having to go through extreme pain every two hours to feed your baby is NO BUENO. My armpits would literally be dripping sweat while I fed her. I went to my friend in hopes of comfort. But, I kind of got the exact opposite. I thought my nipples were going to fall off. No joke. The cuts were so deep and it was so swollen with so much dead skin everywhere, I thought they were just going to fall off. So, I told her that. She then went on to tell me a story about how she actually has a friend that it happened to.

I kept a straight face and listened, but inside I was DYING. I didn't need a horror story about it. I just needed help and understanding.

I called my best friend the next day telling her all of my troubles and how I just couldn't do it anymore, and just her listening and relating to me helped me out a lot. I was 95% ready to call it quits and become a formula momma. I had never wanted to do that. I don't think that it is bad to use formula. Formula is great for those who can't produce enough milk or for children who spit up everything they drink, only to be starving 3 minutes after it all comes up. But, I had no problems with my milk supply. I wanted to nurse my baby because I heard it was amazing, not to mention pretty dang convenient. But, I was at my breaking point. It wasn't until around then that I remembered that a nurse had given me a discount coupon for a lactation specialist clinic.

I remember that I was so angry while sitting and waiting to go into my appointment. On every wall there were posters that showed pictures of a baby and its mother together, nursing. All of the posters made feeding look SO EASY, so natural, so calming, so loving. YEAH FREAKING RIGHT! Nursing was what caused me to have a complete mental and emotional break down, which really does not happen very often. Nursing is what made my husband think I was a psychopath(not really, though.) It was the bane of my existence. At that point, I hated it. I wanted to never try to feed again. I was then called into the back room.

The specialist was exactly what I needed. She listened to me and told me she knew it was hard and she told me that yes, the pain and severity of cracks that I was experiencing was NOT normal. She helped show me easier ways to latch for beginners and prescribed me medication called Newton's Nipple Ointment(heaven on earth!) and after the appointment I went straight to Target and bought the Lanolin brand double pump(best price for quality). After only like 3 days of using the prescription and the pump, my girls were looking like normal again. They were healed enough that I could handle the little bit of pain to try latching and feeding her correctly. I discovered that the cradle position works best for me.

About ten months down the road and I am remembering how I told myself I'd have her weened by one. WHAT!?!? It came up so fast. She did it beautifully though and was totally ready. Two weeks later and she was drinking two sippy cups of banana milk a day. AWESOME. The truth is, it was harder for me than for her to ween. I missed her and I missed cuddling her and I missed her needing me in a way that I would never be needed again. I wanted to cry when I could tell that she wanted to nurse and then be totally fine with a glass of milk. Now two months later and we're both doing awesome. I will always nurse my children. What a truly magnificent and unique our Father in heaven has given us as mothers to be able to feed our own children from our bodies. WHOA.

So here it is, the TRUTH about breastfeeding. It is definitely one of the hardest things that some mother's will ever have to go through, but in the end, it is also one of the biggest paybacks of motherhood.
This is kind of like the pictures in the lobby of the lactation specialist's office I went to.
My baby yogurt drop during our most difficult nursing experience. We made it through, together!