I must say that though labor and birth were both challenging and painful, I have found breastfeeding to be even more challenging. I’m not sure that I would say it is just as painful, but it certainly hasn’t been painless. Ashley and I both took the breastfeeding class at Winnie Palmer Children’s Hospital and did a lot of research ahead of time so it is not like we went into it without any knowledge or help. We also had several great teachers and help from our birthing center crew as well.
Breastfeeding on day one:
Take note that I was smiling in this picture as I didn’t have any issues until about 4 or 5 days later. Also note that I was on the phone with Morgane (lol). Call us, Morgane!
As for the issues that I had.. Andy latched right on just a few minutes after birth and has a great suck (we even called him barracuda jaws). My milk came in quickly and over abundantly around day three. I was making enough milk to feed Andy and about 12 other babies. Because of this, I had to pump the extra to help the engorgement which was constant. Being engorged made it difficult for several days for him to latch on and because of a few bad latches, I had a nasty crack on one side that took forever to heal. While it was healing, I favored the other side for feedings. Because I favored the one side so much, I had pain between feedings due to blanching (when the blood supply to the nipple is interrupted causing it is turn white and hurt). It seemed like a daily struggle and the only thing that kept me going was having Ashley to help me. She was able to do some feedings using the Medela SNS (a supplementing device that she used to feed Andy my breast milk so that we didn’t have to introduce a bottle too early). I’m not usually much of a crying type person, I didn’t even cry when Andy was born, but I have cried more the past couple of weeks due to the breastfeeding issues than I have in past couple of decades.lol Luckily, we have started to get the hang of things and I am even able to breastfeed in public now and make people uncomfortable (ha).
Just a few thoughts from my experience so far…
1. They, and by ‘they’ I mean people who have breastfed, midwives, doctors, lactation consultants, breastfeeding educators, etc., should tell you ahead of time that breastfeeding can be really hard and really painful. The statement that breastfeeding doesn’t and shouldn’t hurt is very misleading. At least in the beginning, it does hurt and if you encounter any issues or problems it hurts a lot.
2. They should also tell you not to even think about giving up until at least 2 weeks and potentially even 4 weeks. I wanted many times to give up and I definitely understand why people do. The combination of the pain and the mental and emotional frustration is enough to make anyone crack…
3. It does get better. Just because he is older and growing, Andy’s mouth has gotten bigger so getting a good latch is much easier. I have gotten better a latching him and knowing when it is good and when it isn’t. I nursed through most of the pain and fixed the problems that were causing the pain. Now that things are better, I am so happy that I didn’t give up. You could even get a photo of me smiling during feeding like I was the first day.