Sunday, September 7, 2014

Love and Lactation

This is the start of this breastfeeding jouney...

The first days of life following a birth can be nothing short of wonderful as you get to know your new baby. This is pretty much how it went for us. We were surounded by so much love and support. People just opening their hearts and hands to our family while I had the chance to rest and love on my sweet baby. I was able to just enjoy the peaceful beginnings of this new life. It wasn't until we were about 5 or more days into it that I realized things might not be going as smoothly as I had hoped.

Sometimes the act of breastfeeding your child is pure bliss. It's beautiful, peaceful, and full of love in such a pure form...Sometimes.

Sometimes breastfeeding is tearful, painful, scary, disappointing, and stressful. Sometimes, instead of feeling more of that wonderful and powerful love hormone, you feel about 1 million other hormones filtering through your body that make you question everything.

If you know me, you know that I a completely obsessed with breastfeeding. I love everything about it. It thrilled me to nurse my children. I miss it when I am not nursing. I believe in women's right to breastfeed anywhere, anytime, any how. I believe in the beauty of it, I admire the capability, I completely cherish the sacred act of it. I cherish it for me and my children, and I cherish it for you and your children. I would love to see each woman experience the joy of breastfeeding. It's not what every woman wants and sometimes it's just not what happens, and I place no judgement on those decisions or circumstances. 

The first time I experienced nursing my child, I was terrified, but determined. My sweet girl was able to figure it out with a little help. It wasn't without complications or frustrations, but without too much delay, we succeeded in having a wonderful year of nursing. She wouldn't take a bottle well, so I pretty much strictly nursed her until she decided she was ready to be independent of me, which was around a year old. This year made me passionate about breastfeeding!

I had my beautiful boy next and that boy came out ready to eat. He nursed for an hour the first time I put him to the breast. He was a champ, he could finish eating in 15 mins by about 3 months. By far, he was my best breastfeeder. However, he wanted to eat All.THE.TIME! I didn't know if we would make it becuase I had both of my babies to take care of. We supplemented some formula to satisfy his hunger when I was desperate, and continued on nursing happily for a year. By the end of the year, I will be honest, I was ready to be done, I had been pregnant or breastfeeding for 4 years roughly and I wanted a glass of wine... Or 3 without fear of putting my baby in danger. So I weaned him. It's the one area I regret. I wish I would have allowed him to show me when he was ready to wean. Regardless, it was a wonderful year of nursing my boy. 

Fast forward another 3 and half years. My sweet 2nd baby boy came into this world so perfectly. He didn't latch right away, I just figured we would have to work at it a bit together. I had some techniques from the first two that I utilized, and for a week I nursed him as best as I could, but it hurt and he nursed for long times. I was sore, engorged and starting to feel sad and sick. I waited through the weekend, and broke down and called the midwife on Monday. I was crying as I spoke to her. She had me get in touch with a lactation consultant. When I called the lactation consultant, I was also crying... That day I think I cried for 4 hours straight.

After speaking to the midwife and lactaction consultant, it seemed that my suspicion was probaby true and part of what was causing so much distress is that I had the beginnings of mastitis. I very much dislike antibiotics, so I was less than pleased to be taking them, but I knew that I needed to get better so that my supply would be better and I could take care of me and my sweet boy.

I thought I knew so much about breastfeeding. After all, I've read many books, blogs, and researched on my own about this beautiful act, and I had nursed two children for a year each. I've wanted to become a Lactation Consiltant for a while, and I knew I had much to learn, but I truly thought I had a good base of knowledge for it and nothing could hinder me from nursing my next child. So, I have been humbled... and given the oppurtunity to learn more and grow. These circumstances have given me even more drive to be able to help others successfully breastfeed. And I hope that my own trials can help me be better at encouraging others who find themselves facing struggling breastfeeding times.

The Lactation Consultant that we contacted came over and evaluated Jude. She noticed some oral issues with Jude. She was not surprised that we were having difficulties. She watched him nurse and noticed he wasn't swallowing properly. By the time he was done, I was so sore. She weighed him and determined he wasn't getting milk really. Again, this was no big surprise since I had mastitis; he simply wasn't able to latch correctly and empty the breast. This meant clogged ducts that weren't getting better and that he was not getting the nutrition he needed. She game me some techniques to follow and we determined a game plan. I was to pump and try to offer the breast but only if it didn't hurt... Which I did. We just couldn't achieve a good latch. So I pumped. She recommended a two hour pumping and feeding schedule to boost my supply. We did this for a few days. Pumping, feeding, washing supplies, taking antibiotics, maybe eating, maybe resting, trying to snuggle my precious one and attempting to be apart of the lives of my family. Unfortunately, even though I knew that I was doing the right thing, a huge part of me wished for that first week where I was able to hold and nurse my baby. After several days, I began to see a big difference in how I felt and my supply. Things were getting better.

I tried everything I was told by my Lactation Consultant and my Midwife. It was also recommended that I take  him to a Chiropractor to see if that would help loosen him up and allow his mouth to work properly and improve his latch. I think it is helping, I know it will continue to improve. I trust this. I now know more and believe even more in this alternative therapy.

Now that my supply is better established, we are working towards breastfeeding naturally. It upsets us both sometimes, and I am trying all the techniques out there. We haven't made a lot of progress, but there have been a few hopeful occurances. He is used to a fast flowing bottle at this point. I don't regret using the bottle becuase it was what we needed to do at the time, but I know that it has contributed to a further delay in breastfeeding. I am thankful that I can feed him my breastmilk, and I value that choice, but I can't wait to hopefully one day ditch the cold machine that is replacing the warmth of my child.  I hope to see that sweet face pull away from my breast with milk running down his cheek and a huge smile on his face as if saying, "Thanks Mom". It feels like I am not a breastfeeding mommy, and it hurts a little, but I am determined to hang on as long as I can and I hold on to the hope that we will succeed.

"Breastfeeding is a mother's gift to herself, her baby and the earth."   Pamela K. Wiggins


  1. Thank you for your story. Keep writing... want to hear the great next chapter

  2. Thank you for sharing your feelings and details of this experience as you struggle. Other women and their babies will gain from your gift of sharing. I know you will come to the other side of this challenge a stronger mother who is exclusively nursing her son.
    I see a future Lactation Consultant!