Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I have pictures and updates for 2 and 3 weeks, I should probably work on that before he turns one right? Basically I've had a baby on the boob non stop which makes getting anything done quite the challenge. I haven't mastered the one handed typing yet.

Speaking of breastfeeding and challenges, we have had quite the little journey so far. Before having a baby I always knew I'd breastfeed. It has so many benefits, is free, way more convenient than having to deal with formula. I thought baby plus boob, sounds easy enough right? Har har.

(If you don't want tmi about nursing and broken nipples... probably skip this one).

When the midwife was checking his sucking reflex after Marshall was born she mentioned that he had a very "vigorous" sucking pattern. I didn't really pay any attention. The first 2 days we didn't really have any issues. Marshall was a sleepy bear, but as long as he wasn't too warm and I/we rubbed his head or feet he'd nurse no problem. At our 2 day apt, I mentioned that I was having some discomfort and Tiffany checked his latch and said it looked fine but mentioned that he was very "active at the breast." By day 3 things started getting pretty painful. We checked his latch then summed it up to me just needing to get used to it. By day 4 my nipples were severely cracked and bleeding. Bleeding to the point where blood would pour out of Marshall's mouth when he unlatched. NOT FUN. Then a scab would form that he had to pull the milk through each time.

I was in hell.

The pain combined with the hormones was not a good time. It would be time to feed the baby and I was scared to death of him because I knew how painful it was going to be. Then he'd nurse and I'd cry because he looked so happy and what kind of woman dreads feeding her own child right? I read books, breastfeeding boards, and tried everything I could. Ice, hot compresses, hand expressing, lanolin, NOTHING HELPED.

This little kid of ours is quite the voracious eater. Within 2 hours after he was born he was sucking his hands so loud you could hear it from the other room. Most babies take about 2 weeks to regain their birth weight... he took less than one. I am so happy that we have such a healthy baby who wants to nurse, but holy hell.

For about 2 days I cried almost every time he ate. Which was every 2 hours. I told Jerad that it hurt a million times worth than the birth and I was serious. He tried to be supportive but he had a hard time seeing me so unhappy and in so much pain. He'd rub my back and tell me he was proud of me and I was doing a good job... and I'd sob and drop tears on the baby. I've never had a panic attack, but I came pretty close almost every time it was time to feed him.

One side got so bad that it was completely unbearable to nurse anymore. On day 6 I started pumping on that side which still hurt like hell but was at least bearable. I was worried about offering the baby a bottle so early since most people recommend waiting until at least 4 weeks so that a good breastfeeding relationship can be established first. But nursing on only one side was killing me too so we decided to give him the pumped milk in a bottle. It was heaven. Jerad would take one or 2 night feedings and I could sleep. Or we'd give him pumped milk before nursing which made him less "enthusiastic."

I talked to the midwife about it at our one week appointment and she took a look at what I'd started calling the "broken nipple." The cracks were so deep she was worried it would turn into mastitis and told us what to look out for. Great. She recommended continuing with the pumping and also trying a nipple shield.

Over the next week, to be honest, things still sucked. Breastfeeding was not something I was enjoying, it was something that I got through by looking at the clock and counting down the minutes until he would be finished. I felt so guilty. I continued pumping, which is not a walk in the park either. During the night I'd get up every 2-3 hours and go sit in the living room and pump for 30 minutes. I also started using the nipple shield which made things a lot less painful. I promised myself that I'd stick with it for at least a month and re-evaluate things then. I was determined to make it work, but I knew if it stayed as bad as it was that it would just end up hurting my relationship with the baby.

By week 3 things had gotten so much better. I was healing and even though I still wouldn't call nursing an "enjoyable bonding experience," I wasn't dreading it or crying anymore. Which is a good thing because he's going through a growth spurt and wants to eat just about every hour and for 45 minutes.

At least we haven't had any issues with the baby switching from bottle to boob to nipple shield. Basically, as long as he can have something in his mouth he's happy. He's fine with any position which makes things easier too. We'd mastered the side lying thing on the first night! And I haven't had any issues with not making enough milk which is another blessing.

Before I had the baby I knew that some people experienced pain or cracked and bleeding nipps, problems with the baby latching, supply issues etc. But I had no idea how painful it could actually be. I can completely understand why people give up or decide to use formula from the beginning. Especially if they are also having problems getting the baby to latch on! That said, I'm so glad I stuck with it, and if things have gotten this much better in 3 weeks, I can't wait to see where we'll be a month from now. Even though it hasn't been a walk in the park, it's worth it.

Tomorrow we have an apt with our midwife/pediatrician. I can't wait to see how much weight our little piggy has gained!


TheCowans said...

Just know you're not alone. We had a horrible and miserable start to breastfeeding... but if you can stick with it its so worth it! We're almost 9 months and still going strong!

Erin said...

I know EXACTLY what you're going through. I went through this with Claire. Bleeding, scabby nipples, sobbing every time she nursed, numerous breast infections... you name it... I had it. I was horrible. But I was determined to stick it out and I did. By about 12 weeks... we finally had it down and then Claire nursed till she was 14 months. It was definitely a learning experience. I'm glad I stuck it out. Then with Faye nursing was a breeze... no problems at all:) So good job. You're doing great!!!

Elissa Parrish said...

me too stephanie... with gwen... literally bloody and scabby... my left one has a piece that fell off that never grew back... i would sob every time i nursed for weeks. i had mastitis on top of it and even the lactation consultants told me to stop i was so infected... i didn't... they put me on meds for the infection and then gwen was allergic to them and she broke out in hives... the whole thing was stressful but SO worth it in the end... she nursed thru my next pregnancy until it was putting me in pre-term labor with gabe... it was a wonderful experience after the first two months...

i feel like it isn't something that is discussed enough to expecting mothers. in many ways it was much harder than my 38 hour labor with gwen... i was so unprepared for it.

you're awesome and like erin said you're doing awesome!

Beatrice Blount said...

i heart formula

Beth McDermott said...

nursing sucks.
love, beth.

Paige said...

I had a tough time, but for different reasons (inverted nipples). I met with Andrea Heron, a lactation consultant in SLO, and she helped a TON. I have sent a few other people to her, and they have all fallen in love with her. Seriously, she is great.

Also, she has a free weekly class/meeting that was the best part of my week. It is basically just a bunch of new moms sitting around in a circle, getting advice from both Andrea (an RN & LC) and each other about breast feeding, bottles, sleeping, schedules, any thing you have questions about. The way it is set up, you do a naked weigh of the babe when you get there, then you get them dressed, weigh them again, and then feed them, and weigh them a 3rd time. This gives you a weekly weight gain, plus a "feeding weigh" so you know how much they are eating in a feeding. It was really helpful as I was planning go back to work and was building up my "milk bank" so I knew how many ounces to put in each little milk bag.

Anyway, I think she is one of the best resources for new moms in our county. Plus, there are going to be a ton of new moms there who are dying to talk to you about every detail of your birth, the best bottle nipples, and the pros and cons of swaddling while going out for lunch afterwards. I still keep in (almost daily) contact with most of the moms I met there.