The “Suck” of Breastfeeding

**Warning- this is a very candid post regarding breastfeeding that may make some uncomfortable. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!**

Feeding the Baby

Feeding my baby doll

Feeding the Baby

Feeding my baby doll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed Miss A. Even as a little girl, breastfeeding was my choice for my baby dolls. That was what I always knew to be normal! I don’t remember having baby bottles for my dollies and I never thought anything of it. I was, without a doubt, going to breastfeed my own children.

And then I actually had to do it. My pre-birth concerns about breastfeeding were all regarding supply (what if I couldn’t make enough milk?) or difficulty latching (would Abby and I be able to connect the way that we needed to?) but nothing prepared me for the physical pain and emotional struggle of breastfeeding.

Thankfully, supply was the least of my worries. Abby was put right on my chest after birth, and she latched on easily. It wasn’t comfortable, but it didn’t hurt so I assumed we were all good and I would “toughen up” as time went on. Little did I know that the discomfort I felt actually was a problem with Abby’s latch. My super strong girl has a super strong suck and jaw muscles that caused her to “ratchet” her mouth shut as she ate, consequently tearing up my nipple. Couple that with my sensitive skin (common in red heads, according to my lactation consultant), and within 24 hours, I was in excruciating pain every time I nursed Abby, which, at the beginning, was every hour at least… I started dreading those moments that I was supposed to be enjoying. I did not feel the closeness with Abby but only the equivalent of razor blades on my nipple, tearing off the scabs that had formed since the last feeding. Every time Abby latched on, I was reduced to sobs. I felt inadequate, cheated, and sad. 48 hours after birth, J, A and I stopped in and saw my Lactation Consultant (life saving woman, in my opinion) and I put in a call to my birth class teacher who, after having exclusively breastfeeding four children, knows a thing or two about it. It turns out that not only was Abby’s strength causing difficulties, but I also had thrush.

After following both of their advice, I now had a prescription ointment to battle the thrush and help heal the open sores (APNO- a totally miracle!!), was using a nipple shield to allow myself to heal (helpful but an inconvenience, for sure), and preforming exercises to help Abby relax her jaw when eating. With these life changing additions to our routine, feeding my daughter was no longer a miserable experience. We managed to develop a rhythm, working together, and breastfeeding was no longer a burden. It certainly wasn’t enjoyable, but I could tolerate it. I set a goal to breast feed for six months.

Then, we discovered that Abby has a milk protein allergy and I was required to cut out dairy. Hopefully the lack of cheese in my diet will result in a decrease in my pants size… Our next hurtle was to ween Abby off of the nipple shield. I knew that if I was going to breastfeed past six months, I was going to have to get off the pesky nipple shield. Every day we spent one or two feedings learning to latch and feed without the shield. It took four months of dedication, work and patience, but we managed, and now Abby is five months old and nursing freely without the shield. I am no longer torn up and don’t expect it to reoccur (I do have some APNO on hand, just in case). We are still working on her latch; we are not completely pain free when she eats, but I can feel her improve every single day and I am finally enjoying those moments of closeness with my daughter that I so desperately craved when she was first born. I have no doubt that Abby and I will nurse to our six month goal and beyond!

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Yummy yummy milk!

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Milk drunk!

 

UPDATE! Abby and I made it 16 months until she weaned herself.

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Renaissance Mom

So I have become horrible about maintaining my blog (obviously, since the last post I wrote was over a year ago). Well, since then I traveled to the UK, moved from CA to NH, came back to Bahrain, gave Dubai another try, and traveled to Oman. Oh yeah, and I had a baby- no big deal 😛

We have had a LOT of big changes in the Ball family over the past year, and I have experienced a lot of personal growth over that time. Since having a baby I have discovered I’m pretty good at being a mom. It comes naturally to me. Don’t get me wrong- it is still the most difficult thing I have every done, but I have an affinity for parenting. And couple my mothering ability with my obsession with research and I have become somewhat of a Renaissance Mom. I have an “answer” to a lot of parenting questions, and if I don’t have an answer right now, I can and will find one! Once again, don’t misunderstand me- I, like most first time (or second, third and fourth time etc) parents, have no idea what I’m doing, but I am having so much fun figuring it out, and love to help others figure out what they’re doing, too!

I have had more than one person suggest that I start a “mommy blog,” cataloguing my parenting journey, including the choices we made, what worked, what didn’t, and why. I love information, and am constantly inhaling new facts and theories. Over the past year, those facts and theories have revolved around parenting. Hey- why not share what I’ve found with other people? The most important thing to me regarding this mommy blogging journey is that mothers and fathers understand that this is a blog of support, a blog encouraging everybody’s right to choose what kind of parent they want to be. Whether you breast feed or formula feed, cloth diaper or use posies, baby wear or are strictly into strollers, this is NOT a place for anybody to feel judged or ridiculed simply because the parenting choices they have made are different from the choices J and I have made. If you are doing the work to weigh the choices, then no matter what decision you make, if it is the right decision for your family, it is the right decision. There is absolutely no “right way” to raise a child. There are pros and cons to EVERY parenting decision. Now listen, obviously, if you’re doing crack and breast feeding your baby, you are not a good parent- those are not the choices to which I am referring. What I mean is that the majority of us are just trying to keep everybody in our family unit happy, healthy and, in some cases, sane. While some choices may be the best choice for our family, it doesn’t mean it is the best for yours. And it certainly does not mean that the decision either of us made was the wrong one.

I am sick of parents beating each other up, judging each other on their parenting choices, or feeling judged by other parents- this parental competition has GOT TO STOP! Just because you aren’t into cloth diapers, doesn’t mean you need to scoff my choice to use them and say “we’ll see how long THAT lasts!” And I certainly have no right to judge somebody on their choice to formula feed their baby simply because we all know breast milk is the better choice on paper, and the last thing you need to hear is “awww, why aren’t you breast feeding? Such a shame…” I don’t know what circumstances led to your decision just like you don’t know why we chose what we did. If the baby is happy and healthy and loved, then everybody should keep their judgments to themselves.

If I do decide to write a mommy blog, I certainly hope readers do not feel judged because they made different choices than we did. I hope that they find my potential blog fun and informative and a place to feel welcome as a parent. I want to include ALL sides of parenting, include posts from people who have had different experiences and made different choices than I have. I want to learn from you and your choices. And I hope that readers know that I am absolutely no expert in the field of parenting. Just somebody who is passionate about it. Even though there are days when I am reduced to tears because being a parent is so stinkin’ hard, I enjoy my job, and I want to share that joy and passion with other parents out there.