When I had my daughter, I had planned on breastfeeding her but I got an infection a few days after having her and I was told I couldn’t breastfeed for at least 10 days or until I was done with the antibiotics . By that time, she had quickly adapted to being bottle-fed formula and no longer wanted to latch on. I was young and didn’t pump so I truly missed out on that whole experience with her. When I got pregnant with my son, I knew I wanted to try my best to exclusively breastfeed. I read so many articles on how to successfully breastfeed and I felt confident it would be different this time. When my son was born, I couldn’t wait to feed him! I remember the way felt the first time I fed my daughter a few hours after she was born. How she looked into my eyes while she was latched onto me. It was amazing. There aren’t enough words to describe the bond that’s created when you breastfeed your baby. I felt the same exact way with my son and I couldn’t be happier.
The hospital where he was delivered is very big on breastfeeding. The baby is left with you at all times and isn’t sent to the nursery unless requested by you. That first night was a breeze and I felt so accomplished being able to feed him with no problems. The second night, wasn’t as easy. That’s when the cluster feeding kicked in and so did the soreness! By morning, I had called for a lactation consultant. The baby had fed every 20-30 minutes that night and I was exhausted. When the consultant came to my room, she asked me to show her how I put the baby on my breast, so I did. She was surprised at how well he latched on and told me that the soreness was normal and would pass but that I shouldn’t feel any real pain. The following day, we were discharged and sent home. I was happy to be going home.
Fast forward to the first two weeks at home…they were BRUTAL! What I thought was going to be a smooth transition, was the start of my postpartum. I know postpartum is something that most moms experience in one way or another but breastfeeding was the trigger for me. The first thing I experienced were these excruciating headaches, due to lack of sleep and not eating. I had no idea that when you breastfeed, you have to eat like a grown man! lol. You have to eat at least 500 extra calories daily. No one tells you these things! Besides eating like a baby whale, my milk supply hadn’t come in yet so I read every blog, article, book, anything you could think of on ways to increase my milk supply. I tried the “Mother’s Milk herbal tea” and let’s just say it didn’t settle very well with my stomach. I also read that Gatorade and Malta help increase your supply so I added them to my diet as well. I ate boat loads of oatmeal and tried to drink as much water as possible.
The worst part of it for me was the pain. What started out as soreness turned into full-fledged angry “Nickels” (my daughter has always called nipples nickels and I think it’s the cutest thing so I will not correct her lol). People say it’s not supposed to hurt and if it does you’re doing something wrong. That is completely untrue! You go from not having anything latched onto your boob, to all of a sudden having this little person who depends on you solely for its nutrition, living on it day and night!
By day 5, I was a mess. Hysteria was the only emotion I could express. By this point, my nickels were cracked and bleeding and I was no longer a rational human being. Every time I had to put the baby on my breast, I’d cry and yell and curse. It got to the point where I started to feel a bit angry when feeding time came around which in turn made me feel guilty. This precious little guy needed me and I wanted to breastfeed so bad but how could I continue? It was torture! Coconut oil, Lanolin cream, and the silicon pads (that feel amazing after they’ve been in the freezer) the hospital gave me quickly became my best friends. Despite the countless shirts they ruined, I didn’t care. I needed to heal these bad boys if I was going to continue to exclusively breastfeed but unfortunately, the ointments weren’t enough. I’d cake the stuff on but by the time they started to feel somewhat better, feeding time rolled around again.
I tried a nipple shield but couldn’t get the hang of it. My last resort was to supplement with formula and it broke my heart. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with formula feeding your baby! I did it with my first child and she’s a happy and healthy 6 year old. With all the left over hormones surging through my body, the mommy guilt was taking over full force. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t exclusively breastfeed my son. All the cold pads and creams I had applied weren’t cutting it. So I made a new goal; heal my nickels now, so I could breastfeed long-term later. I cried every time I had to give him a bottle of formula and sometimes I even bit the bullet and suffered through the pain and put him on my breast. My boyfriend had found a formula called “ Similac for supplementation” for breastfeeding moms who wanted or needed to introduce formula and that made me feel better.
I supplemented for about a week and a half and then I was ready to get back to the original plan. It hasn’t been easy but it has totally been worth it! Aside from the convenience of not having to lug bottles around or wash them for that matter, it’s truly created a beautiful bond between my son and I. I will say, if you’re a mom who truly wants to breastfeed, the number one thing you need is SUPPORT. Whether it be from family, friends or even a group. My boyfriend has been the epitome of support. Even when I said I couldn’t do it, he was right there telling me I could. When I was wallowing in guilt for needing to supplement, he was there telling me just how amazing a mother I am. My friends and family were also very supportive because they knew just how important it was for me.
Now we are 4 months in and I’m so happy I stuck with it. But mommies just so you know, it doesn’t stay blissful forever lol. My little guy has been showing signs of teething and has now started to bite down on my nickels. Here comes the soreness! Good thing I have a tub of coconut oil and Lanolin on back up!