So many people say “breast is best”. I actually dislike that term so much. I understand the benefits of breastfeeding, but I think “fed is best” Breastfeeding was HARD in the beginning. So hard. I feel like it’s a personal choice whether you decide to breastfeed or formula feed, and no one should be judged for what they choose to do. I decided to breastfeed. I had my heart set on it, and was determined to do whatever it took to give my baby all the nutrition he needed from the milk my body provided. It. was. hard.
Growing up, no one I knew breastfed, and I was around a lot of babies when I was younger. As I got older, one of my best friends breastfed her baby and she was the first person I had ever seen doing it, and the first time that I had ever considered doing it myself when the time would come. I was 19 at this point. My best friend and my sister were the only people I personally knew that breastfed their babies, but I wasn’t even around them much when they were nursing their newborn babies.
So, Anthony was born and I wanted to have him nurse during our first skin to skin experience. He wasn’t very interested. A nurse hand extracted some colostrum for him onto a spoon, and that was how he got his first taste of my milk. It was really hard for me to get him to latch. I didn’t know how to position him in a way that would be comfortable for the both of us. I had multiple nurses and a midwife try to help me. He was latched, but it hurt and I knew he probably didn’t have a deep enough latch. By the time we came home from the birth center, my nipples were SO sore. It was crazy. I would smother them with my milk and nipple cream after each feeding. Whenever he was hungry, I wished that he didn’t have to nurse so often because I was in so much pain. Thomas was amazing during this time and very encouraging. I talked to my twin sister a lot and she gave me some good advice (she had given birth exactly a week before me), but it just didn’t get better. I had read that the first 2 weeks or so were the worst and that it would eventually get easier. Well, the 2 week mark came and went, and my left nipple still hurt so much. I would wince, breathe deeply and play games on my phone to distract myself from the pain when it was time to nurse on that side. We had Anthony checked for a lip tie by one of the most well known specialists, but he said he barely had a tie and that it should just get easier.
Eventually it did, after almost 3 months. Before it got better, I noticed I had a milk bleb, which is basically a blister on the nipple caused by a clogged milk duct. I eventually worked most of it out in a hot steamy shower, and it helped a lot. There was only one time that I caved and gave Anthony 2 oz of formula, and I felt like an awful mom. Thomas convinced me I was doing everything right and that one bottle of formula wouldn’t hurt him. My postpartum hormones got the best of me though, and I couldn’t control my emotions. Then I blamed myself for causing him to have nipple confusion, and maybe THAT was the reason nursing was still uncomfortable.
Besides being in pain while nursing, I would finish my middle of the night feedings, get into bed and feel this horrible itchy/stinging sensation in my nipples and my back about 15-20 minutes after I nursed. That awkward feeling would last at least 30 minutes, keeping me up at least an hour longer than I needed to be. to make matters worse, this is when Anthony was nursing every 2 hours in the night. I didn’t get much sleep at all. I talked to a lactation consultant and she thought I was experiencing Vasospasms.
Vasospasm during breastfeeding: Can be a secondary response to pain or nipple trauma. In this case, the nipples turn white shortly after nursing. Mom might notice a white circle on the face of the nipple a few seconds to a few minutes after breastfeeding. Cold often triggers the vasospasm and/ or makes it worse. Unlike blanching due to compression. Latch and positioning may be fine if the source of any nipple damage has already been fixed. Healing the nipple trauma or other source of pain should eliminate the vasospasms. Although they may persist for a short time after the nipple has healed.
She said I should apply warm damp heat onto my nipples as soon as I was done nursing and that would make it better. So, I tried that. We bought Lasinoh heating pads that you put in the microwave, and I would put those on my nipples after every feeding. Eventually that all went away and nursing was magical. I finally started to love it and was living out my dream of feeding my baby the way I wanted. Anthony is almost 10 months old and I can’t imagine stopping just yet. He’s a huge fan, and I love it. Being able to whip my boob out at any time to nurse is amazing! Plus I don’t have to carry a diaper bag with me everywhere.
I’m so proud of how far we have come since those first few months. If you are determined to breastfeed, just keep trying! If you start to do it, then need to stop for any reason at all, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it. It’s not easy for everyone,