I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I read all about it during my pregnancy. I knew it would hurt some. I knew it was the best option for helping my son be as smart and strong and healthy as possible. I also made sure we had some formula on hand, in case it didn’t work out for some reason.
X had no troubles latching on in the hour after his birth. The trouble started after that first feed. He just didn’t seem interested in eating. He wanted to sleep. We couldn’t get the latch right. X was born on a Friday night and the lactation consultant worked Monday to Friday 8-5. Of course! The nurses wanted me to feed 15 minutes on each side every three hours. Yikes. Ladies, don’t do it. 15 minutes on virgin nipples is too much! Next time, I will do five minutes on each side for the first couple of days. He can feed every hour if he wants to, but 15 minutes was a nightmare. My nipples were chapped and bleeding before I even left the hospital. We had to pump his little tummy, as it was full of mucus and air and they thought that might be why he wasn’t eating. They wanted to do formula. No way, I said. This baby is eating only breastmilk. Somehow, I had convinced myself that formula=poison. Too many forums and websites.
I was putting lanolin on after every feeding and curling my toes in pain during each latch. My nipples were bleeding into my breast pads. Not bleeding like a wound, just bleeding a little. Looking back, I thought it was supposed to hurt, that if it wasn’t hurting then he wasn’t doing it right. Wrong! It shouldn’t hurt. A little uncomfortable, maybe at first. If it hurts, its wrong and you need to pull that baby off and start again.
After some trial and error, I found that coconut oil works way better than lanolin and its way cheaper. The oil really helped heal my nipples. They got blebs and clogged ducts and hurt, but the coconut oil and the soothies from Lansinoh helped. I pumped sometimes when I just couldn’t feed him from the pain. His daddy bottle fed him the expressed milk. Slowly, it got better. We both learned what latch worked.
We hit the first big growth spurt and I felt like all I did was feed him. He just wanted nipple all day. Awake or asleep, he wanted it. Finally, one desperate day, I popped a pacifier in. He hated it. So we did the nipple some more. The next day, I tried a different pacifier. Peace. He didn’t want to eat, he just wanted to suck and Mama finally got to rest her aching nipples. He only likes one pacifier, so I went out and bought him 3 more of the same ones. They are the Mam newborn pacifiers. He only takes a pacifier on rare occasions, but they are definitely handy for when he decides that is what he wants.
We did give some formula. During the growth spurts when he fussed at the breast and hit me with his tiny little fists, I felt like a failure. Why wasn’t my body making milk faster?! One day, in tears, I went to the cabinet and made him a bottle of formula and he slurped away at it happily. I got into a rhythm of pumping while his dad topped him off with formula after he had drained both breasts. My body still got the message to produce more milk but it was a lot easier on all of us. After a while, I was pumping enough to have some on hand and we got away from the formula except occasionally.
Here we are at 4 months of breastfeeding. X can latch on without even opening his eyes. It never hurts at all. I have about 30 ounces of milk in the freezer and I try to pump one bottle a day for his dad to feed him. I drink Mother’s Milk tea and try to remember to drink lots of water, too. We will breastfeed until X decides he wants to wean… or until he bites me.