I know it’s been soooo long since i’ve blogged! So much has happened and there so much I have to blog about! First though, I wanted to blog about my breastfeeding journey and the struggles I had to overcome, and to maybe give some insight to new moms who have no idea what’s to come.
I heard that breast feeding could be hard, but no one ever gave details on how hard. No one told me how crazy painful it could be or how it could make you cry some nights or want to give up on breastfeeding all together. At some points I even had doubts I was a good mom. I was overtired and in pain from giving birth, even my vision was blurry.
While I was pregnant I figured I would be okay. My siblings are 14 years younger than me – my mom remarried, you know, the whole blended-families story, blah blah blah. I remember seeing my mom just pop my younger brother and sister’s heads onto her boob and she was golden. It looked so easy. Based on that I naively thought I would have the same outcome. Nope. I never asked my mom until after the fact but she went through this shit too. So I assumed wrong.
I was fooled in the beginning at the hospital because my midwife just popped Ryo’s head onto my boob quickly after I pushed him out. He latched really easily, so I thought I had it down to a science, no problem. I didn’t.
In my room at the hospital when I was trying to breastfeed him, I started to notice how uncomfortable it was – Ha! I started to notice – more like I could feel him freaking gnaw on my nipple. It got worse. But first, I should mention that I learned that you will most likely experience one of two main problems when it comes to breastfeeding: a poor milk supply and all the problems that come with that, or an excess of milk. Both problems have their pros and cons, but
I personally think that having an excess milk supply is the better of the two for the obvious reasons. Keep in mind everyone’s situation is different and I’m going based on what my friends have told me and my own experience. I had a good supply, and I do mean really good. I had lots of milk. I mean, I figured and hoped I would since my tits grew so fuckin’ huge during my pregnancy – let’s just say no one noticed the baby bump as much as the two mountains I grew!
“With great power comes great responsibility” – Yeah the responsibility of making sure your breast milk is expressed so your boobs don’t get super sore from being too full, which can lead to a variety of complications.
So by this point I’m now at home trying to follow everything my midwife and the nurses from the hospital advised me to do. Honestly, it was so overwhelming. My breast milk came in so much and breast ballooned into watermelons. My bras didn’t fit, and I was uber uncomfortable. I couldn’t even sleep comfortably (when I did sleep) as my tata’s were so engorged it hurt. I noticed my boobs were getting blotchy red all around which I knew was an indication of mastitis. I had to get into the shower and have a hot shower – which I will say was amazing to have but made me super tired! While in the hot shower I had to express my milk by hand, which is annoying and uncomfortable, but still preferable to the feeling of engorged boobs.
I know, I know, you’re probably asking “Why didn’t you just pump?”
Simple answer: I couldn’t, even though it would have been way easier. When you first start breastfeeding your body is still figuring out how much milk to produce for your baby so the more you pump or breastfeed the more you produce in order to keep up with the demand. If I pumped on top of breast feeding, I would produce that much more and instead of reducing my discomfort, I would be be adding to it. Passively expressing the breast milk with my hands don’t create suction. The suction created by the breast pump would signal my body to generate more milk, so you take away the suction and the body doesn’t make more milk, which means my boobs can deflate a bit to where they’re comfortable again.
I didn’t think my boobs would grow as much as they did – they quadrupled in size, and I wish I was kidding because I wasn’t small-chested to begin with either.
Everything had been going okay now that the mastitis was kept at bay, and then I remember one night I went into the living room to breastfeed Ryo. He starts happily chomping away and suddenly it felt as if lightning bolts were surging through my breasts. It was so painful and sudden it made me jump. It kept happening every time he latched on, and it was so incredibly painful that my eyes would tear up. I would kick the floor because it was so uncomfortable. This lasted for weeks, WEEKS! It may not sound like a long time, but remember when you had 2 weeks left of school before summer vacation? Yeah, time tends to drag by when you’re not having a good time.
Yes, I did have guidance from my midwife and I did a lot of reading and watching videos but I felt it still didn’t prepare me for the pain and hardship I went through breast feeding. It was fucking hard. I did not like it. I wanted to stop but I stuck with it because I knew it would be better for Ryo, and I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I did have a milk supply.
I know some girls have to take medicine to keep their supply up so I don’t want to take that for granted.
Another thing the consultant told me to do was wear cabbage on my boobs to help with the inflammation, sort of the breastfeeding equivalent of cucumber slices over your eyes at the spa.
Eventually that 1 week point after I gave birth came around and I said to myself I need to see a lactation consultant. [<– Click here to see what that is] So I went to this clinic another mommy-friend of mine recommended that has medical doctors who specialize as lactation consultants. There were three women who offered this consultant service, and I saw all three. It definitely helped, and I highly recommend it.
I got advice on how to have him latch properly, and I was told that I needed to train him how to suck – he’s just as new at this as I am! I had to use my finger as a nipple training-wheel and have him suck on it to train his tongue to come out more. One of the doctors prescribed me with this topical ointment for my nipples because they were starting to get cracked and raw – that shit was amazing. It was okay for the baby to eat it, as I was advised that I did not need to wipe it off before feeding. I also drank sunflower powder (lecithin) that the consultant also said I should drink as it helps with calming your milk supply down – and it worked!
She told me she doesn’t know how it works but it does, and yeah, it worked. I felt like a giant-boobed cabbage mermaid, but it worked.
Another thing that the consultant mentioned a lot of babies struggle with is tongue tie, which the doctor can clip and then after that breastfeeding is a breeze because their ability to suck is fully restored. Ryo didn’t have tongue tie so that wasn’t an obstacle to his breastfeeding, but also meant that snipping his tongue wasn’t option for us to improve his breastfeeding.
After weeks and weeks it started to get better but still not great. It was almost like my nipples got numb to his poor latch. Maybe I was just too sleep deprived to feel the pain as much. To be honest I wasn’t sure.
After seeing the lactation consultant several times, she suggested I see a physiotherapist because Ryo favoured turning his head one side, and his tongue movements were like he had a tongue tie. So we saw a physiotherapist and sure enough, he had a condition called congenital muscular torticollis. The solution to this was a simple exercise which consisted of me turning his head the opposite way three times a day for 30 seconds a time. This helped somewhat with breast feeding but it wasn’t an instant fix, but over time breastfeeding did become much easier.
Another task that I thought I could never do was breastfeed outside of my home, as well as in public. I was so used to having my special pillow and I was so used to my special set-up at home where I was comfortable, right? So why would I go anywhere else where I wasn’t set up and wasn’t comfortable? Oh yes, that’s right.
Because staying home all the time really does drive you crazy – I KNOW, TRUST ME. After just one week I needed out of the house, my very sanity depended on it.
I was so prepared to leave the house with Ryo, but I was sooooo not prepared to feed outside of the house without my pillow, so I didn’t. I took it with me, but one day the housebound crazy lady won out over the need for the pillow and I said FUCK IT, I’m going out without the damn pillow. We were out to visit my friend’s office and I didn’t have the pillow OR a cover – crazy, right? Who is this woman?
Ryo was hungry so I went into the backseat of my little SUV and whipped my tit out and popped his mouth onto my nipple and bam he was good. I had to raise my leg up like captain Morgan the whole time, but hey it worked. Ryo had a meal and I got a killer leg workout.
I kept putting myself in these situations, not on purpose but simply because I was super forgetful and I always forget shit (mommy brain? Baby brain? Liza brain?) and I got better and better. It didn’t take me long. I still do it today – train myself to deal with an uncomfortable situation. I get through it even though it was uber stressful.
I also wanted to talk about the breastfeeding in public. Like I said in my first post I would never have breastfed in public before, and obviously that changed. I would tell any woman who’s a new mom to just do it! I truly understand how it can be uncomfortable but it’s for your baby not anyone else, and suddenly feeding your hungry infant becomes way more important than your need to not feel slightly vulnerable.
There’s an episode on Friends (Season 2 episode 2 on Netflix) where Joey and Chandler get really weirded out when Carol, Ross’s baby mama, whips out her breast to feed the baby. I’ve totally experienced that exact scenario. A lot of my close friends are male and one has even said “There is a time and a place for that” to which my response was, “Um, excuse me? No.” Now, they are cool as they understand it’s not about me whipping my sexy boob out anymore. It’s about feeding my child (and their nephew). I still feel the “Oohh you’re breastfeeding, I’ll look away” vibe, and that’s okay, it’s their problem and not mine. It’s actually really funny how men get so weirded out. Even some women!
I really wish it wasn’t like that. Boobs are looked at as such a sexual thing – and I don’t blame some people as thats how its been brought up in our society. For my son its not! He just wants Mimi (what we call my breastmilk). I will teach Ryo about breastfeeding when he’s old enough to appreciate it, so he’s not so surprised when he does come around new moms when he’s older.
Mind you, it is awkward to breastfeed in front of certain people, for example my father in law. Or my own father. I get it some the older generation parents aren’t comfortable and that’s fine.
I was blessed to have a group of girls I became friends with from my Birth & Babies Class inspire me to breastfeed and to not give a fuck about what others think. It really helped me get out of that uncomfortable zone.
One awesome time was there was about seven of us from this class at the mall in the food court and we all had our amazing breasts out feeding our babies. It was very empowering because we knew that if anyone had something negative to say to us we knew we had each other’s backs. Plus, I’m sure no sane person would come up to a bunch of overtired women with newborns and complain – we would have ripped their heads off with our “kind” words of wisdom. LOL
So yeah, it took me a couple months to really get the hang of breastfeeding.
I know some of the stuff I wrote was negative sounding and no one wants to go through all that or hear that this is what awaits you in early motherhood but, you know, every time I look at Ryo eating I don’t want to give up. I could see him being fed well and growing from the nourishment I provided and all of the struggles I went through faded a little bit. He is always happy after every feed and to me that makes it all worthwhile. When you have a baby and you watch your baby eat it really is the cutest thing. Sometimes it’s even funny when they go crazy because they want the milk so bad. His eyes get wide and his arms start flailing and he looks absolutely ravenous.
It truly is amazing how one smile takes all the pain away. I mean it. The love from your child really does conquer it all.
With that said don’t give up, you can do it. It’s going to be okay. And also if breastfeeding doesn’t work for your situation that’s okay too, you’re an amazing mom for doing what you could.
If you have any questions and want more info on anything else I’m happy to post more about something else in detail! Just let me know in the comments 🙂