Sunday, August 10, 2014

My breastfeeding story.

Since August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I figured now would be a great time to share my breastfeeding story.

Long before my daughter was born, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I wanted to breastfeed. I mean, really, free food for baby & burn calories at the same time? Sign me up! The day I was supposed to attend the breastfeeding class at the clinic, I went into labor so I missed it. I tried not to worry because, hey, women have been breastfeeding their babies for thousands of years so it's pretty much embedded into our DNA, right? Plus, I'd watched all those baby breast crawl videos on Youtube. I planned to have a natural delivery, preferably a water birth, and breastfeeding was only appropriate.
Unfortunately my labor & delivery did not go as planned (you can read the story here). So it became very important that I breastfeed my girl, because I wanted to make up for the bumpy start to our mommy/baby relationship. Had I not been as committed, I would have given up within the first month.
When she was born, they placed her on my chest. I watched with amazement as she slowly worked her way to my nipple. It worked. She latched on and started sucking hard. It hurt a little, but after what I went through giving birth to her, the pain seemed more like a light pinch compared to the punched-in-the-crotch-by-a-boxing-champion feeling that came as my epidural wore off.
Every two hours the nurses came in to make sure I was feeding her. I did. Around the clock, I was up trying to nurse her. The lactation specialists came in and checked to see how well she latched because with each feeding my nipples hurt more and more. Latching wasn't the issue. Once she got my nipple in her mouth she chomped down on it every time. It wasn't until the last day in the hospital (day 5) that we finally got her to not bite my nipple.
But the other problem was my milk hadn't come in. The lactation specialists set me up with a pump and after every feeding, I had to pump for fifteen minutes. (Sleep became a relic of the past.) While in the hospital they supplemented with breast bank milk, but as we were getting ready to check out I started to freak-out about what we would do once home. Lucky for me, a girlfriend gave me several bags of her frozen milk which was just enough to get us through until my milk arrived (day 7).
Every feeding session for the first couple of weeks was a traumatic event for both of us. I'd silently curse away as she suckled, many times she would fuss for reasons unknown. Most of the time I blamed myself because I was so tense and she could pick up on that. Or at least that's what I thought at the time.
Within two weeks of the birth we developed thrush. Not sure who got it first but I had it in my nipples and her poor mouth was covered with white patches. So now not only were my nipples bleeding and sore, they also hurt like a mother of Satan. Every time my daughter nursed I felt like someone inserted hypodermic needles into my breasts. My midwife prescribed some medicine for both of us. Now my every two hour feeding routine included, washing nipples with apple cider vinegar,  applying generous amounts of all purpose nipple cream, and changing breast pads. Oh, and pump. I still wasn't producing enough milk... I also drank truckloads of Kefir. The thrush cleared within a week.
I had many mama friends stop by and say, "yeah, the first couple of weeks hurt, but then you nipples get tough." Two, three, four weeks had already passed and I still had to use all purpose nipple cream to help with the pain. One mama however told me it took her at least eight weeks. That made me feel better. Especially since that's how long it took my nipples to finally "toughen up."
After that breastfeeding became the natural wonderful magical thing everyone keeps talking about. I watched my newborn grow for the first six months primarily on the milk my small B size boobs produced. How freaking amazing is that?
My daughter is almost 19 months now and is slowly weening herself, which makes me rather sad that our beautiful moments are coming to an end.  But I have a few selfies like this one that captured a half of a nanosecond of one of these moments.  Please share your breastfeeding story in the comments for others to read. Happy Breastfeeding Month!

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