Those of you who have been following for a while know that Owen and I had just about every breastfeeding issue in the book. Undiagnosed tongue tie. Reflux. Low milk supply. Weird nipples. Thrush. Undiscovered food allergies/sensitivities. Lipase. I struggled through and allowed (forced?) Owen to nurse with a bad latch that resulted in blisters and cracks that didn’t heal for months. Figuring out our breastfeeding issues completely consumed me and I was like a crazy person trying to fix things, some of which probably didn’t even exist. Even after giving up feeding from my actual breast at the doctor’s orders, I exclusively pumped for another month or so, which nearly broke me.
Needless to say, once I switched him over to formula and the dark cloud that had been hanging over my head dissipated, I could finally see clearly enough to see that IT WAS NOT WORTH IT. Keeping formula out of my child’s mouth for those months was NOT worth the strain it put on our relationship or our lives.
This time around, the ONE thing I promised myself I would do differently was not to put the same pressure to breastfeed on myself or my new baby. I would give breastfeeding a good, solid try, but if it didn’t work out, I would nourish my baby however I needed to, and would move on. No drama.
You already know that Emmett’s birth was quite different from Owen’s. Emmett came flying out at shocking speed. He was facing the right way and didn’t have a cord wrapped around his neck. I actually got to experience that moment of having my newborn put right on my chest seconds after he was born. The cord pulsed. I cried and cried. Immediately, instinctively, he bobbed his head around and shimmied himself over to my nipple mere minutes after his birth. He sucked. Just the way he was supposed to.
Now any mother will tell you that having a good “sucker” does not perfect breastfeeding make. There’s a lot of work involved. But I will say that right off the bat, Emmett seemed to be really, really good at his part of the relationship. I asked for help at every turn (nurses, doctors, midwives, lactation consultants at the hospital, lactation consultants out of the hospital, attending a breastfeeding support group, etc.) and told each person that although this is my 2nd child, I want to start from scratch. Help me. Teach me.
In the first few days before my milk came in, I was diligent about getting Emmett on my breast every 2 hours. He sucked and sucked and sucked and every time a medical professional came in my room they praised both of us on a good latch. Still, when I left the hospital, my nipples were red and blistered. And it hurt. It was worlds better than what I had ever experienced with Owen, though, which gave me the confidence to keep trying.
Since my milk has come in, it’s gotten easier. We’ve found positions that work. I’m learning more about my boobs and how they work. I have one side that makes very little milk and has a slow letdown. Sometimes Emmett has the patience to work it out; sometimes he doesn’t. The other side makes a lot more milk, but unfortunately is the side that has a crack that hasn’t healed and hurts like hell when he first latches on (even when the latch is “correct”). If I count to ten, though, the pain dissipates and I can actually discern what lactation consultants describe as “tugging/pulling sensation, but not pain”. Something I never felt with Owen.
So we’re going to keep on keepin’ on. I’m getting some APNO (all purpose nipple ointment) to heal that crack, and hopefully that will stop the searing pain I feel when he latches on. We’re also going to introduce a bottle in week 3 (next week), and while I’m going to start pumping during the day to make that bottle out of breastmilk, I’m not opposed to possibly trying a little formula at night to get us through his hardest feedings that are beating up my nipples. We’re figuring it out together, and I’m doing my best to stay far, far away from that dark place I went with Owen. I’m just going to feed my baby.
The most helpful resource I have found on breastfeeding (aside from a one-on-one consultation) is Isis Parenting‘s breastfeeding webinars. They have a live webinar every Thursday at noon EST where you can ask questions to Nancy Holtzman, a certified lactation consultant as well as my personal friend and guru about just about everything baby-related. (If you’re on Twitter, TOTALLY follow her. She knows everything.). They also record the webinars so you can listen whenever you have time.
Last week I wrote to Nancy with a list of questions about my breastfeeding issues and she invited me in for a personal consultation and asked me to be a guest on the live webinar. It was hilarious, actually: Nancy propped me up with pillows in a conference room and helped Emmett latch, and then we chatted about boobs and milk and positions and the joys and sorrows of being a brand new mom live with people all over the country. Here is a recording of that webinar if you want to listen in.
All of that to say… breastfeeding is going. It’s not perfect, but Emmett and I are doing our best to make it work. I’ll keep you posted.
*Please note: Breastfeeding is still a very personal topic for me. If you’re going to leave a comment that is negative about my decision to give my baby formula, or telling me if I “just work harder, breastfeeding will work out”, just don’t. I will delete it. I do not write this to open myself up to criticism; I do it to share my story and possibly validate the others out there who experience a rocky road to feeding their baby.