Thursday, September 13, 2012

And how are we doing now? - Nursing Edition

Well, since Will started his four-month sleep regression IMMEDIATELY after I posted my "sleeping" blog, I  am not sure how wise it is that I keep on going with this series! I suppose I should expect nursing to be frightfully painful tonight, eh?

Because it WAS FRIGHTFULLY PAINFUL at the beginning. Holy. Cannoli.

I have a picture of me nursing Will after he was born:

I look so happy!

For the several weeks following the day this picture was taken, I would look at this picture with an inward GRR. How deceptive it looked, I thought! Now, I WAS over the moon with my son. But I was literally clenching my teeth as he nursed. I was thinking, this is NOT FAIR! I just went through labor and now THIS? I felt for the first time - not during contractions, or pushing, mind you, but during nursing - that being a woman rather had its drawbacks.

I'm not sure what I could have done to prepare myself for nursing. I did read Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding, which I very highly recommend and which gave me a lot of knowledge on the subject, but insofar as toughening up my skin - well, I'm just not sure I could have done anything to prepare myself.

A few things I did learn:
1. I didn't want to wear nursing bras. Instead, I found that really soft sports bras were perfect.
2. Don't listen to any crunchy hippie one that tells you, "Let the baby find its own way to the breast and latch himself on." Nope, nope, nope. You need to shove that baby's head on the way it's SUPPOSED to be. Otherwise your sweet baby will do murderous things. And you will think murderous thoughts toward whomever told you that.
3. If you are having pain, RUN NOT WALK to your nearest lactation consultant. If she is not helpful, find another one. Will was born on Wednesday and I went to see a consultant on Friday. As much as I loved the birth center, their advice to me was NOT good - or at least in my case, not helpful. But I loved the consultant at our ped's office.
4. Stock up on ibuprofen. I was on it 'round the clock for about seven weeks.
5. Put on your own oxygen mask before you help others. My mom told me this. There were times that Will was hungry, but I took a few minutes to assemble my nursing station: coffee, water, snack, something to read or listen to, pillows, etc. I found that nursing wasn't so bad if I was otherwise comfortable. So he cried a bit while I set myself up.
6. One thing the lactation consultant told me was that the baby's lips can be flanged out perfectly and you can still have a bad latch. That's what was happening with us - perfect flange, bad latch. At the birth center, they would check the flange and say, well, it's a good latch. Then he would pop off and I would be all misshapen and deformed and I'd say, I don't think it should look like that! And they'd say, But his lips look fine. Well, thanks to what I read from Ina May, I was correct and the lactation consultant at the ped's office backed me up. Small comfort that is now!
7. Pumping hurt too! I still hate pumping. Pain in the butt and a half, right there. I do it only when I absolutely have to.
8. Learn a breathing technique for contractions during labor. You'll need it for when your baby latches on those first few times. Or first few hundred times, in my case.

Most of all, the biggest thing I learned was, don't give up! I know I've made it sound terrible but it was worth it a hundred times over. After nine weeks, I was finally healed. Even before then, I had begun to like nursing simply because he looked so cute and because I knew it was doing him some good. Now, I LOVE nursing. It's one of my favorite things about having a baby. Will is gaining weight and eating well. I really, really love the convenience of nursing - have breastfeeding, will travel. : ) I love being able to lay down on the bed and close my eyes while he eats, if I'm exhausted. Or laying down on the bed and reading my Kindle. When he's fussy or cranky, it's the first thing I try - want to eat? - and it's really easy to do. No heating up bottles or seeing food go to waste. And the health benefits are wonderful, of course.

As crazy as this might sound, I'm thankful I had a rough go at the beginning. Now I feel like I can encourage others. And I'm also thankful that, if I had to have a problem, that the problem was with skin damage rather than with Will's ability to nurse or with my supply. I was so thankful, even in the midst of the worst of it, that at least I HAD milk and that he COULD eat. I never once thought of throwing in the towel. But for those mommas who struggle with supply, or whose babies struggle with eating - well, my heart goes out to them.


  1. Loved this post. I unfortunately gave up too early. I went to a lactation consultant and everything, and it just wasn't working. I really regret not sticking it out, because I ended up pumping bottles for months before my supply finally ran out. And pumping is not convenient. I love the picture of you guys, even if it is deceiving. You look like a happy and comfortable nursing mama. :)

  2. Wow, that's rough! Glad you hung in there :-)

  3. Love this...I'll have to remember to come back to this post when it finally becomes my turn! Love you!!

  4. Of all the bras that I have experimented with over the years, Wonderbra sale bras are the ones that fit, are comfortable, look good and last a long time. They are perfect. They even behave well in yoga class, on horseback, also look good under dress up clothes.