*warning* do not read if you don’t want to hear lots of details about breastfeeding!
It has always been extremely important to me to breastfeed any children I have. I have had several reasons for this:
- I never thought twice about doing anything else because that is all I saw at home. I was the second of 7 children and my mother fully breastfed all of us.
- I have a dairy allergy. Therefore there is a chance that any children I have could also have a dairy allergy and I wouldn’t want to go down that road of trying to find the right formula for that.
- I love saving money! Having to buy formula has to be one of the most expensive things about having a baby if you go down that route.
- It’s healthiest
- It’s easier to cloth diaper because poo from breastfed babies can just be washed out in the washing machine, no rinsing needed!
I always thought it’d be something easy to do, but I sure learned that it is not always easy! There were two main reasons why it took me awhile to get the hang of breastfeeding and I had quite a bit of pain along the way:
- I have flat, small nipples
- I have big breasts
- (I can’t believe I am admitting this online, but I hope that it might help others with similar difficulties)
I never knew what trouble these two things would give me!
When Svara was born she had a hard time latching on. I was given a nipple shield to help her latch on, which helped somewhat. I still had a lot of pain getting started, though. And I had to practice different holds to get her properly latched onto my rather ample sized breast. I had a breast pump and a few bottles since I knew I’d be returning to work after 4 months. So when I started getting really sore during those first couple of weeks I would sometimes pump and feed via bottle. Luckily she took pretty well to the bottle, but perhaps that made breastfeeding even more difficult, it’s hard to tell in hindsight. After 2-3 weeks I was able to wean Svara off of the nipple shield. It wasn’t very long, but it sure felt like it at the time! It was a pain in the butt to have to sterilize it after using it every time, to position it correctly, have longer nursing sessions, etc. It was such a relief to me when she was finally able to latch on without it. Although she was finally able to breastfeed without the shield, it still took awhile to get into a good easy groove. She would sometimes take up to an hour per feeding session those first couple of months. That’s a long time being tied to a chair! She did bite me as well, in those first couple weeks. I used some natural nipple cream I bought from a baby store and it helped along with pumping on the really sore side. It wasn’t until sometime between 6-8 months that I considered breastfeeding to finally be “easy”. I remember one time coming back from work when she was about 5 months old. She was hungry in the car so we stopped so I could nurse her. I could not for the life of me get her latched and we had to go into the gas station to ask for hot water to heat up a bottle of milk I had pumped at work that day. Which was quite depressing to me because it meant I had to pump more milk that evening at home somehow. Most women are able to store extra milk in the freezer, but I was never able to. Some women have an extra of a substance called lipase in their breastmilk. When the breastmilk is stored for awhile in the fridge, or if it is frozen, the lipase causes it to have an off taste. It’s not unhealthy for the baby to drink it, but the baby often won’t drink it because of the taste. You can apparently get rid of it by scalding your milk, but there was no way I was going to scald 3 oz. portions of milk. So I never really had any extra milk. Every day, for a whole school year, I pumped enough each day for her to drink the next day. Some days I wasn’t able to pump as much, so she nursed more at night. When home I always breastfed her so that she could drink as much as she needed and could increase my supply as needed. It was not easy, but I certainly never thought of any other option and I’m glad that I was able to do that. When she was 14 months old the school year was over and I resigned from my job. It was such a relief to put away that breast pump. Svara never had another bottle after that. She nursed until she was 3 years, 3 months old.
Before Talisa was born I was deciding what the most important baby things were to buy, since we are trying to cut down on many costs. I still have my breast pump from Svara, but it needs a new breast shield. I didn’t really want to spend that money if it was not needed. I didn’t want to buy bottles, either, because they can be pretty expensive and I didn’t know if I’d need them or not. I figured I’d only need them if something drastic happened like if I or Talisa were hospitalized and away from each other. In the end I decided not to purchase either item. When Talisa was handed to me in the delivery room and she latched on and nursed for half an hour I was beyond thrilled! My nipples had gone back to being flat, but I was better at knowing how to position the baby, so that helped. After a couple days my nipples were a bit sore, so I asked Naren to buy some lanolin for me. I liked the nipple cream I had used the last time, but it was easier for him to find the lanolin, so I tried that. It was soothing and helped a bit. Until she was three days old. She had a checkup for jaundice and I had to try to breastfeed her in the nursing room at the hospital. I was without my beloved My Brest Friend pillow (used this with Svara, too, love it!) so positioning is a bit more difficult. I didn’t get her latched on quite right and she ended up biting a gash in both of my nipples 😦 The next month was horrible. She still latched on fine and drank plenty, so I was thankful for that. But it was extremely painful for me. It was suggested that I use nipple shields while it was healing, but I knew it would still be painful anyway and I didn’t want to mess with Talisa’s latch by using a nipple shield, so I didn’t go that route again. I also didn’t want the pain of having to sterilize it all the time! I still didn’t want to spend the money on a breast shield for my pump, either. But one side did get so painful that I hand expressed the milk on that side and only nursed her on the other. It was still early enough that I had plenty of milk to be able to do that for a day or two. The lanolin no longer seemed to be helping, so I looked up some other things I could try. I had some organic cold pressed coconut oil, so I started using that. I also tried some other things, but it was the coconut oil that was my saving grace. It finally started healing and when Talisa was between 5 and 6 weeks old it was finally pain free! Oh, what joy! Now at 8 weeks I can say that breastfeeding is easy! a lot faster than the 6-8 months with Svara before it was easy. We also waited until Talisa was a month old before introducing her to a pacifier. Some sources say that can affect a baby’s latch and some say no. I didn’t want to take the chance.
So that is my breastfeeding journey. It hasn’t been an easy one, but it has been rewarding and definitely worth it!