Monday, July 7, 2014

Breastfeeding update!

Well friends I am happy to say that after 4 months Leo and I have finally figured out this breastfeeding thing.
Actually at about 3.5 months things changed for the better.
I'd love to tell you that it was some groundbreaking discovery I made or the result of my hours of research... but it was all Leo.

You can read my previous post about breastfeeding here.

I honestly and truly believe that he just learned how to eat properly.  He became less of a barracuda, as I so lovingly called him the first 3 months of his life, and started to eat so much more gentle.

Bottom line?

Just keep reminding yourself how great it is for your baby.  It may hurt, but it is temporary.  Either the pain goes away or your babe turns a year old (or however old you decide) and is weaned.
I can't even tell you how many days I considered giving up and nights I dreamed about just giving him formula.
I was convinced that one day my nipples would in fact fall off.  I tried to envision what I would look like and how the milk would come out with no nipples.  I worried that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed my future children.
It was so excruciatingly painful at times that I would dread the thought of feeding him. again. for the 10th time that day.  I would be paralyzed by the pain.  Leo was SO eager to eat that he would clamp down on me and chug - pulling so hard on my nipples.

They were red, sore, cracked, and sometimes bled.


I went to a lactation consultant twice.
I used a nipple shield for several weeks.
I used a hot compress before each feeding.
Tried different positions.
I exposed my bare chest to sunlight.
I did nipple massage before feeding.
I used a boppy and 15 other pillows that Lee would arrange around me.
I pumped rather than feeding him directly - but as soon as I would feed him the pain and tearing would return.  I went over a week without him actually eating from the breast!
I used prescription cream, lanolin, non-lanolin, coconut oil.
I was diagnosed with a possible yeast infection.  I took medication and swabbed Leo's mouth after each feeding.  I took probiotics. Sterilized everything.  (Lee was never convinced I had yeast)

None of it worked for me, not long long term.
I knew I had no issues with my milk, the supply, the let down, or even how I positioned Leo.
I eventually just learned to deal with it, sort of.  I still winced in pain every time, but accepted that this would just be my life for the next several months and reassured myself of my decision to press on every time I saw that sweet baby's eyes light up and his smile or I'd read some new research about the benefits of breastfeeding (and breastfeeding longer!) for your baby's intelligence and health.

Slowly Leo began stretching out his feedings, going 2.5 to 3 hours in between eating, and sleeping longer stretches at night.  A little after he turned three months I began noticing a change in the way he would eat.  He stopped being so vicious.  He is really the sweetest baby in the entire world, but when he's hungry he gets so angry and frantic - clawing at me, pinching, and biting with his sharp little gums.  He started latching on slower and easier.
One day I was feeding him and it dawned on me that I was doing this pain free.  For the first time practically since the week he was born.
I really believe that he just grew up and realized "hey this milk comes out the same even if I don't kill my mother in the process"

Now we're a well oiled machine Leo and I.  I'm able to feed him any time, any where.
I no longer have to have my whole set up of pillow props, ointment, nipple shield, etc.
I can feed him in a chair, in the car, lying down in bed, walking around the house, in line at the DMV...
And I can do it with a smile on my face and a happy heart knowing that my Leo is happy and healthy and that my nipples are staying put.

So here's what I say to you struggling new mother or scared mom-to-be.
Breastfeeding can be hard.  It can hurt (like REALLY hurt).  It can be frustrating.  It can be a chore, a chore way worse than the dishes ever thought of being.
But if you are really set on breastfeeding your child you can do it!  Any length of time that you breastfeed your child is beneficial.
Do it once!  Give it a try immediately after that precious little baby is born.  Not only are you giving them life changing nutrition and antibodies, but it is amazing to watch a minutes old baby know exactly what to do to get fed.
Try if for a couple days - a week.  The colostrum that your body produces right after giving birth is the most important for your baby. It helps protect them from bacteria and viruses they may encounter out in this dirty new world and it also works as a laxative to help baby get rid of that that nasty tar like poop.

Take it one day at a time.  You CAN do it and your baby will forever thank you.


Stephanie Scurlock said...

You've been so quite on here! Glad things are going better. Breastfeeding is no joke and definitely doesn't come as easily to some as it does to others. Good for you for sticking to it. Love to you all!

Catching Up With The Connolly's said...

It took me about 3 months too to be able to nurse pain free. Glad things are better!

Amber said...

hooray! congratulations on your perseverance and success! I also have dreamt about using formula, for different reasons, but I totally understand the struggle of knowing breast milk is so much better than formula but wanting the "ease" of formula. so glad to hear you have both have mastered it!

Catching Up With The Connolly's said...

Yep still breastfeeding. It gets easier and easier every month plus he will start eating faster. Ryleigh nurses on both sides for like 5 minutes total usually.

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peter andersen said...
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Sam said...

good for you mama! I laughed when I read your "bf at the DMV" comment. I did the same thing--bf my LO in line at the DMV when we moved to MI for my DrH's residency. ugh, new liscenses, tags, registration, ugh!


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