Saturday, September 3, 2011

Breastfeeding comes naturally, right?


When I was pregnant, my husband and I visited a couple of hospitals around our area to decide in which one we would like our daughter to be born. At the end of the visit, the nurse recommended me some classes including some on breastfeeding. I remember telling myself "Why do I need breastfeeding classes if it is so natural? What do I have to learn? It's just having my baby on my breast!" (I thought)

I had never been that wrong in my entire life! After having my daughter and experiencing a lot of breastfeeding difficulties, I realized that I should have taken those classes.

In my case, breastfeeding didn't come naturally at all. It took me a long time to learn the proper latching technique. During that time, I had all the complications a breastfeeding mom can have. Sore nipples, yeast infection, plugged milk ducts, mastitis and breast biopsy!

One week after delivering my daughter, my nipples were extremely sore, cracked and bleeding. Just the thought of breastfeeding would make me cry and curl my toes in pain. I was sure that something was wrong because I always heard that breastfeeding shouldn't hurt and I was in SO MUCH pain, it was unbearable!

I started to get very frustrated and sad. I always wanted to breastfeed because I knew it was the most complete form of nutrition a baby could have, but I was getting to a point that I couldn't take it anymore. One night at feeding time I broke down, I just couldn't do it. My husband had to go out to buy formula at 12:00 a.m.!

The first time I fed my daughter with formula, I felt as if I had fail. It was a terrible feeling.

On the next morning, I went to a breastfeeding support class close to my house. The lactation consultant recommended me to schedule an appointment with my doctor because she was almost sure I had an yeast (candida or thrush) infection. Sure enough, that's what I had it!

As described by Dr. Sears, "Candida (also called yeast, monilla or thrush) is a fungus that thrives in warm, dark, moist environments, such as the mucus membranes of the mouth and vagina, the diaper area, skin folds, bra pads, and on persistently wet nipples."

The lactation consultant also recommended me to come back with my daughter to attend her breastfeeding class. I was in SO MUCH PAIN that I couldn't follow her recommendation. I decided to rent a pump and wait until my nipples were healed to breastfeed again and to return for the class. During that time I was only pumping and supplementing with formula. About 1 1/2 weeks later, I started to fell much better, the cracks on my nipples healed and I was able to start going to the class once a week. There I learned the proper latching technique and how to enjoy my breastfeeding sessions with my daughter. Was also there where I  learned the reason why I was having plugged milk ducts very often.

 Since I was feeding my daughter with formula/pumped breast milk for almost 2 weeks,  It took a while to go back to exclusive breastfeeding. As recommended by the lactation consultant, I started by replacing one formula feeding for breastfeeding every 3 days. I was able to slowly increase my milk supply at the same time my daughter was adjusting herself to the new routine.

After going through all the difficulties I went through, I am PROUD to say that I didn't give up, I was able to overcome all the obstacles and exclusive breastfeed my daughter from 3 months old to 6 months old. Once she turned 6 months old, I started with solid food but continued breastfeeding her until she was 30 months old!!!

It wasn't easy, but I am sure I made the right choice!

 "Pediatricians strive to keep your children healthy, and therefore recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continued breastfeeding for at least 1 year." says Lori B. Feldman-Winter, MD, renowned specialist in breastfeeding and Committee Member for the Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding.

Looking back now, I realize that if I had taken those breastfeeding classes recommended by the nurse at the hospital when I was still pregnant, I would've had a better initial breastfeeding experience. Now, I understand the importance of seeking help when you are a first time mom planning to breastfeed. After all, it doesn't come naturally to all mothers!

Useful Link: Lactation Consultant on your area

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  1. I completely feel your pain! I gave up on breastfeeding twice with both of my daughters. The first time around I was suffering from PPD and was unaware at the time. I didn't want anything to do with my DD. I had a lot of guilt over that so when we found out we were expecting again I decided that I would try it again. My delivery was very traumatic(the hospital I delivered at was AWFUL. They left me in the delivery room after I had DD #2 for 6 hours and forgot to feed me dinner!) I found out that my DD was severely jaundiced and I was told to supplement with formula and try to feed her every hour. THEN I was told that I shouldn't BF at all because she wouldn't be getting enough (?) I was so upset by this all I gave up soon after returning home. When I learned I was pregnant with my son, I vowed that no matter what I was going to BF exclusively. My DS was in the NICU for 5 days after he was born, again due to jaundice. I had no way to get to the hospital to BF him so needless to say I was pretty upset. But I religiously pumped BY HAND every two hours at home to establish a milk supply. When we finally got him home I went through months of latching issues, allergies to things I was eating, sore bleeding nipples, thrush and a whole host of other issues. I remember sitting in bed sobbing some nights because I felt like I was never going to sleep again. My husband and I went through a brief period where we fought about my choice to breastfeed. He wasn't as supportive after the first two months because he was feeling jealous of the time it was taking away from our relationship. Amazingly, despite it all we are still going strong at ten and a half months in :) I really wish I had had someone to tell me in the beginning that breastfeeding IS natural but it is also hard.

  2. Congrats! What an amazing story. You are among the few I'm sure who go to formula and then switch back to breastfeeding. It's awesome that you stuck it through and didn't give up and that you found the support that you needed!

  3. @Ama_La_Notte What a journey! I can't believed they told you not to bf at all on your baby #2! How upsetting!
    Congratulations on your bf success with DS and for not giving it up.
    It is good to know that I'm not the only one going through so much.

  4. @Green Mama thank you! It was hard to go back to bf but it was very rewarding as well!

  5. Absolutely amazing story! I really, really admire you for sticking through it through the pain. We had a lot of trouble in the beginning, but it was mostly difficulties latching (took so many tries) and constant nursing. I had my first clogged duct on my daughter's one year birthday, and it was sooo painful! I can't imagine starting off breastfeeding and being in that kind of pain.
    This was great information! (I also love that you nursed to 30 months and didn't start solids until 6 months.)

  6. I understand completely! Very similar to my story (at I thought it would just come naturally, but no. Baby nor mom automatically know what to do. It takes practice and dedication and commitment to make it work. And to seek help, definitely. It wasn't until I saw a lactation consultant after 3 weeks of bad latching that I started doing it right. And when my baby fed with absolutely no pain, I cried my eyes out to the consultant! And I am SO PROUD of you for going 30 months! I can't stress it enough to other moms that it IS possible to BF exclusively, our bodies were made for this! Wish I could've gone as long as you, I stopped at 13 months but I knew that my body was telling me it was time. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I am a HUGE advocate for breastfeeding. One of the stupidest things is that doctors, nurses, lactation consultants and even books never tell a new mother that it WILL hurt--EVEN if you're doing it properly. I think some moms get scared off because of cracked, bleeding nipples, which I believe can occur, as I said, even if you're doing it the right way. Why? Well, has there ever been so much pressure on the nipples before, and so often??? Every one to three hours??? Of course not! Thus, why wouldn't it hurt?

    However, there are degrees of pain, and certainly a yeast infection causes it to be a whole new ball game.

    I don't think enough emphasis is placed on the threat of mastitis either. When that milk comes in, the breasts can become very HARD and engorged. Ditto if a feeding is every missed and a bottle substituted. You have to MASSAGE THE HELL OUT OF THOSE SUCKERS. I left that job to the husband, who had zero problem complying.

    Cheers for sticking with it. You are an inspiration.

  8. I ended up not breastfeeding my daughter, the only one of my five children that I actually bore. She was born with a floppy trachea and had to sit almost straight up to eat. Between that and a horrific UTI that I got from the catheter, I gave up. It probably didn't help that my four sons, who were adopted at birth, were all formula babies, so I was more at ease with it.

  9. Yay! I was able to nurse all three of my children without any "problems" and I still had cracks, bleeding, etc....Your story is one of inspiration, drive and determination and I know you can help other women out there who might be going through the same thing. Most others would have quit after a bout of thrush! Here's to a happy and painless nursing routine with your daughter going forward. Great job!

  10. hats of to you! I am really happy you didn't give and has successfully breastfed your baby for 30 months :) I remember that book I read talking about breastfeeding. And there it says, while breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, it is not a natural skill. It is a learned skill. And this is one of the skills we humans learn from seeing the act from people (or in this case from other moms) constantly. But in this modern times, breastfeeding is slowly becoming "uncommon" and not many women can see moms breastfeeding their kids. There are many places that are even prohibits breastfeeding in public.. .and so through this, we slowly lose our natural ability to learn how to breastfeed with almost no effort. But I am really glad you were able to find a support group that has helped you "regain" or "re-learn" your ability to breastfeed. I did have almost the same problem (but not as worse) and I've also shed tears every breastfeeding time for a month or so. But sadly, we don't have lactation consutant or support group here so I pretty much suck it all up until my nipples got callouses and healed by themselves while I continued breastfeeding. I was so adamant to continue breastfeeding inspite of the sore and cracked nipples. Then again all is worth it :) we are now breastfeeding for 16 months and 2 weeks. I do hope, I can beat your 30months ;-) or at least get close to it :-D. The idea is for me to breastfeed till my little one wishes to.. but we'll see :)

    I am so glad I've stumbled upon you on voiceboks' members to remember. I always get excited to find breastfeeding mommas as in this time when breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding) is becoming some sort the uncommon thing, it is always comforting to see you are not alone :)

    Sorry for the very long comment!!!

    Spanish Pinay

  11. You poor thing. Your story is exactly like mine. I formula fed my first two though And now for my third i stuck with it no matter what and now everything has just fallen into place. It's wonderful.

  12. Oh my heart Aches for you! I've had challenges with all THREE of my children. I start off breastfeeding nad problems arise, and I've only been fortunate to have support on 2 occassions. ;(

    With my first child, I had latch problems, and I was blessed to have one of my best friend's mom's come and help me solve that issue. She's been a lactician for YEARS (over 20). It was smooth sailing from there until i couldn't produce enough milk for him. We tried and tried and tried, and I just couldn't give him enough, my poor baby was starving. He finished breastfeeding at 5 months.

    My second child, who is only 16.5 months younger, I thought, "oh, I have this in the bag, I know all about it this time"...uhm...NO. I still needed help, but this time there wasn't any lactician in our area. I couldn't find the help I needed. I struggled and at 6 months, my Second son was then done with the breast feeding.

    My 3rd and most recent child, I too experienced Mastitis, and clogged ducts. I was so frustrated. But I had a great lactician who helped Teach my daughter how to attach the right way. Amazingly enough, after 2 feedings with my daughter attached the correct way, our feedings helped give me more relief than the antibiotics were! My daughter is my best success. Although, I had the same problem with her as the others, of not producing enough milk to keep her satisfied, I was still able to breast feed her until she was 8 months which point SHE gave ME up. lol. She no longer wanted to breast feed and I was heartbroken.

    But now I know, for any future children to just go straight to the lactician and say, "REMIND ME!" lol. And I'm hope the next one lets me breastfeed until at least 12 months.

    Returning the visit from Members to Remember via Voiceboks.

  13. Thank you for all the WONDERFUL comments and for sharing your stories with me. It is good to know that I'm not the only one who struggled with breastfeeding.
    @Spanish Pinay, Love the quote from the book "while breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, it is not a natural skill. It is a learned skill."

  14. I wish it had sunk in how difficult bf'ing could be before I had Nate. We had a very tough 2 months with lots if visits to the LC. They were amazing, but things never worked out. Fingers crossed for the next baby!

    I really, really suggest visiting an LC if there are struggles at all. They are a great resource, and I don't think they are given enough credit.

    I am very happy to hear you were able to bf successfully. :)


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