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
Image: koratmember / FreeDigitalPhotos.net