World Breastfeeding Week 2018 has come and gone! It was such an exciting & inspiring week but that does not mean that the conversation ends.
Hey there Mama, If you are wanting to breastfeed, currently breastfeeding, or just wanting more info about breastfeeding this is the post for you! Portions of this post are graphic….but hey breastfeeding gets real REAL at times! So just FYI there are probably some TMI stories in this post. I broke up my breastfeeding journey into two parts, because otherwise the posts would be too long! I’m going to start from birth and walk you all through our weaning process. The highs, the lows, and the joys of breastfeeding !
For the first 7 weeks of my sons life he was unable to latch. Between being born with a small mouth and my flat nipples that occurred from the sudden drop in hormones after delivery he and I were a bad combination for breastfeeding.
Initially he nursed great! I was beyond excited!!! But soon after delivery things changed! The Mother/Baby nurses gave me pointers and we even tried using a suction bulb to help perk up my nipples but he just didn’t have anything to latch on to. We tried breast shields (ouch), different breastfeeding positions, but nothing helped. When I would try to latch him, Breezy would scream and cry, causing me to scream and cry. He made a face of disgust every time I would offer him the breast…..this continued after long after discharge.
I really REALLY wanted to breastfeed and the morning of discharge he finally latched!!! Well kind of ….it was the most painful, burning, pinching pain I had ever felt! YIKES! If this is what breastfeeding was going to be like I wasn’t so sure I wanted to continue ! But thankfully I had a very patient and kind lactation consultant who talked me down off my ledge ! She showed me how to use the correct size nipple shield and explained how to use a breast pump when I got home. She explained that Breezy might not latch but that I should keep trying to nurse and to offer the breast a couple of times a day until he either latched or I decided to just pump.
Thank God for Lactation Consultants!
Well we got home from the hospital and I felt like we were doing a pretty good job nursing!! It was still really painful but I told myself that Breezy was getting enough colostrum. He had pooped a couple of times and was having wet diapers so I knew he was getting something! …….but his weight kept dropping!!! And at his 5 day check up baby boy was down too much weight that our pediatrician was concerned. I met with the lactation consultant at the pediatricians office and we came up with a plan. I would exclusively pump and not worry about offering the breast until his weight improved.
But something happened….My MILK CAME IN!!!! and my right boob was so engorged I had to hold it up with my ARM!!! It was sooo painful! Thank God for cold cabbage leaves and it’s inflammatory properties ! I called the Mother/Baby unit asking for advice . I was so engorged but I couldn’t express any milk because my breasts were rock hard! My boobs felt like rocks and my chest was burning. The nurse I spoke with told me to turn my pump up as high as I could tolerate, apply hot compresses, and massage my breasts…. It worked!!!! I cried tears of joy and relief.
After that Friday night I pumped, every 2 hours, I hooked myself up to my Medela pump and expressed precious breast milk for my son. All day and all night I pumped, the sessions began to blend together and before I knew it, pumping consumed my life. I watched innumerable YouTube videos, joined informational and support groups of Facebook, I researched, read, and completely got lost in the world of what it meant to be an exclusively pumping mama.
Outings, meals, sleep, and caring for my son all revolved around my pump schedule. I began spiraling down, emotionally, feeling isolated, alone, and looked at pumping as some sort of punishment. I would have an anxious, palm sweaty feeling right before I had to pump. I would dream about pumping and late at night it would sound like the hum of my pump was talking. Sounds crazy right?! Well try living it! I felt CRAY CRAY! Some people would call what I went through post-partum depression but really I was EXHAUSTED, I barely slept more than 3 hours at a time!
People would ask me how pumping felt and I would just shrug and say that I didn’t know or sarcastically say that it made me feel like a dairy cow. But the truth was…….I HATED PUMPING.
Just when I felt like I couldn’t take anymore of the exclusively pumping life my son did a wonderful thing ! He LATCHED !! I had almost given up on ever breastfeeding, but Breezy began rooting around on my mom’s chest oddly enough. She asked me if I thought he was trying to nurse. I had never seen him even show interest in breastfeeding before, but it did look like he was rooting…. I was totally shocked!
I HATED Pumping!
Well that afternoon I tried to latch Breezy and he actually took the breast!! I was floored! I just remember thinking Praise the Lord! Because this mama couldn’t take much more EPing ! I really admire any mama who is exclusively pumping, you are a rockstar!!!!
So after 7 weeks Breezy began to breastfeed! I still had to pump a ton but I was certainly able to cut out a few sessions. I was a over producer and spent weeks 7-12 feeling very full and uncomfortable. But my baby was finally nursing and that’s all I cared about!
Our breastfeeding schedule became a little funky when I went back to work. I nursed Breezy in the mornings, in the evening, bedtime, and 2-3 times during the night, in the early morning I would wake up and pump about 20-30oz before his morning feed. During the work day I pumped about every 3 hours filling up about 6-7 milk storage bags a day.
When I was in the middle of MY agony I couldn’t see the other side!
From 3-6 Months I still had to pump a lot ! But Breezy’s appetite began to increase and he nursed all the time ! I pumped everywhere I went, in the car, at work, at church, even at other people’s homes. But things were starting to improve and we were finding our rhythm with breastfeeding. It felt so natural and I began to forget about the stress of pumping.
When I was in the middle of my agony I couldn’t see the other side. Pumping provided milk for my son that nourished him for the first months of his life. It grew me in a way I didn’t know was even possible. Pumping pushed me emotionally and mentally but I came out a stronger women because of it. It taught me sacrifice and to push through hard times for the benefit of someone else. Looking back the first 6 months of my breastfeeding journey were very difficult but oh so worth it !
Pumping Pushed Me…I Am a Stronger Woman Because Of It!
So Mama ….don’t quit…keep going. Join a support group, talk to a friend, call a lactation consultant, but if you can and if you really really want to….keep pumping, nursing, expressing milk for your baby!
DO NOT QUIT!
My Breastfeeding Journey: Part 2 will be coming in a few days when I share months 6-12 and our weaning process. My journey is really what sparked my interest in lactation and set me on the path to becoming an IBCLC.
Well mama thank you for reading, please comment, like, and share ❤️