This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with Breastfeeding. This post is by Aly. Here’s what she had to share:
Hi! I’m Aly, mother to Quinlyn, and this is my adventure with breastfeeding.
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed when it was my time to become a mother. My mom breastfed me and had always talked to me as if breastfeeding was the norm. When I got pregnant, it was with my long time boyfriend, Pierce, an awesome person who I knew would be a great dad (HE IS!!). He and his family were also very encouraging and supportive when it came to the idea of breastfeeding our new baby. I am thankful that I had this kind of support to begin with.
The birth went as planned, a “natural” hospital birth. I say “natural” because nothing is too natural about being hooked up to wires and tubes of saline, antibiotics and pitocin, fetal monitors and computers. It was a wonderful experience but I also didn’t feel the most natural in the hospital setting. After 12 hours of labor, and lots of supportive back rubs from Pierce, our bright-eyed baby girl was born. She was then put through the typical hospital regimen of the clamping and the cleaning, the weighing and the stamping, the eyes smothered in goo and of course topped with a little hat. My doctor stitched me up and then it was finally time for us to nurse for the first time…
I was so concerned about if I was doing it right and if she was getting anything, I asked the nurse for help almost every time I fed her. Quin nursed often the first days in the hospital, but I honestly don’t remember a lot about it, I was so very tired. It wasn’t until I was being discharged from the hospital that I met with a lactation consultant. She told me how raw and red my nipples were. “Oh, you must be so sore! You poor girl.” I was so caught up in the moment, high on adrenaline and hormones (maybe a few Hyrdrocodones, too) that I didn’t seem to notice how bad my nipples were hurting.
She then taught me then how to pump. I was getting a lot of colostrum and she was sure my milk would come in soon after I was home. I continued pumping and we fed Quin with a syringe and a pinky finger to give my nipples a break. She did well! Then my milk came in. My breasts turned to rocks. Literally, like two boulders on my chest (not to mention about 5 sizes larger than my breasts had been about a week ago.). This was NOT what I had expected. But nursing is all about supply and demand, and I had certainly been demanding with the pump, anxious for milk.
Quinlyn had a hard time latching because I was so engorged. So I continued using the pump and syringe feeding. At some point I got her back to my breast and ditched the pump. WOW. Life was much simpler without the pump…except Quinlyn had a horrible latch. Back to square one. My nipples cracked and bled, Quinlyn nursed and nursed. I was shocked that something that was so natural was SO incredibly hard.
I franticly spent my days Googling, making posts on sites like Baby Center and contacting friends and family, trying to find one piece of advice that would work for me. I made saline soaks and bought my first jar of coconut oil. I went through tubes of lanolin and tried every breastfeeding position under the sun. I went shirtless around my house for weeks and rinsed my nips in Apple Cider Vinegar. Nothing seemed to be working and I was definitely starting to think of the alternative. The last thing I decided to try was Dr. Jack Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO), which I need a prescription for. I asked my daughter’s pediatrician who had been so very supportive with breastfeeding and she gladly wrote it. (I wish I would have known about APNO first thing!)
After about 8 weeks of cracked nipples and beyond uncomfortable feedings, they finally started healing! Breastfeeding ended up being an even larger (and more painful!) task than an epidural-free birth, which surprised me! But from 8 weeks on, it was pretty smooth sailing. I started to bond with my baby and truly enjoy breastfeeding like I had imagined. It was wonderful. And still is! (Most days! ) I am so glad I stuck with it.
I couldn’t have done it without support from Pierce, my family, friends and internet support groups. Sure, breastfeeding can be a drag some days, but the pros always seem to outweigh the cons, and breastfeeding is truly what’s easiest for us right now. She is now 18 months and I’m hoping to continue until she turns two.
I didn’t plan to becoming a mother when I did, and I certainly never saw myself breastfeeding a toddler, but if there’s one thing I have learned since becoming a mother it’s that love can get you through even the hardest of times. Being a mother has also taught me so much about my endurance (or stubbornness) when it comes to doing something I believe so strongly in. I encourage all moms to find support when they need it and to keep pushing through the hard times, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel! Happy nursing!