Friday, 6 May 2011

Baby's first year- Breastfeeding- the early days

So far I have managed to breastfeed my kids for three years and ten months and with baby Boo only 2 weeks old I expect to extend that to at least five years!
With our first baby it didn't occur to me that I had a choice on the feeding front, I just assumed that our baby would be breastfeed for 12 months. At the six week mark a comment was made that turned me into the "lactivist"  I am today. The comment? "Are you still feeding her? Isn't that enough now? Maybe its time you gave someone else a turn." I was shocked, my baby could barely hold her head up and already I was under pressure to give up the breast and pick up the bottle. I didn't listen, I just went on feeding and I made a big effort to learn more about breastfeeding.
That was nearly six years ago. Now baby Boo and I are two weeks into our feeding relationship and I am very pleased to say that third time around has been much easier! You see, for me, the early days of breastfeeding have not been fun or easy. With all three babies I have had blistered, cracked and bleeding nipples.
Yep- nice- I know.
Before I put you off having children or off breastfeeding, read on.
I think breastfeeding is one of the most important things we can do for our babies, so I wanted to share my story to help others.
With my first baby the damage to my nipples was horrendous, the pain excruciating. I was in tears at the thought of my baby waking and wanting to be fed. I wanted to give up breastfeeding but it was so important to me that I just couldn't. My husband was amazing, he sat with me during feeds and held my hand, he let me cry all over him and he helped my find out everything we could to solve the problem. He also drove me around to see anyone we thought could help. Our main source of advice was the team of midwives at the birth centre. They couldn't pin point anything I was doing wrong and seemed unable to offer a solution to the pain or advice on healing the damage.
After several appointments with the midwives and our GP I was starting to feel a failure. Breastfeeding, apparently being such a natural thing to do, had me in pain and tears over and over again. The saving grace being that my baby was happy and thriving.
 I made another appointment with the midwives.
On explaining my problem and showing the midwife the mangled nipples attached to my body she said "Just wait here a minute, I think our lactation consultant is in the office. I'll see if she can come in." About two minutes later an angel walked in the room (by angel I mean a women who looked deceptively ordinary but she had lactation super powers) She sat down with me and asked me to feed my baby.
Then she told me how well I was doing, pointed out all the things I was doing right. At that point my determination crumbled and I knew that on the way home I would buy bottles and formula and my baby would be bottle fed. Then the angel dressed as a lactation consultant asked me to break my babies suction, then she gently put her hands around my baby and moved her across my chest away from my nipple. The angel told me that this would make my baby tilt her head back and open her mouth wide and her position would be better and my nipples would be fixed! And that was it, 5cm was all that had been standing in my way of pain free breastfeeding! If only someone had told me about lactation consultants, if only I had booked in to see one earlier. I didn't stop to buy those bottles and formula never passed my babies lips and I went on to feed Bug, pain free, till she was 16 months old.
With my second baby, Cricket, I thought I had it sorted, but nope- blisters, bleeding and cracks! So I had to really focus again and get the position just right. Still it was two weeks of pain. The same again with baby Boo but this time I was prepared for damage and pain and I healed much faster and was calm through out. I knew it would pass. Two weeks in we are pain free and fully healed.
So the moral of the story?
Real estate and breastfeeding have three things in common, position, position, position. But sometimes, even with perfect position, things go wrong. Get help and hang in there, most problems can be worked through with the right professional help. Remember breastfeeding is a skill and most women need to learn and so do their babies!

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I do understand that not everyone wants to or can breastfeed. I am not against bottle feeding. You do what is best for you and your family.

1 comment:

The Mother Experiment said...

Thanks for writing this Nicole. Does it really hurt second time around too :(

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