Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. Because It was National Breastfeeding Month and because it’s important to share all types of breastfeeding journeys, I thought I’d share my own.
I had trouble breastfeeding Alina from the get-go. It started at the hospital. She wasn’t transferring milk even though I had colostrum, so it was an uphill battle battle trying to get her to latch. When I got home, I started pumping a lot because she seemed to take to a bottle more easily than my breast. This led to me having an over supply of milk, which turned into constant plug ducts and, eventually, mastitis. For me, mastitis was more painful than giving birth.
I would cry all the time, everyday, from the pain and the shame I felt around breastfeeding. I felt immense amounts of mom guilt for not “being able to do better for my child.” I felt like I wasn’t being strong enough to power through the horrible pain that comes with mastitis. Defeat, purely for not being able to do what I was told EVERY WOMAN NEEDED TO DO FOR THEIR CHILD.
That is simply not true. Fed is best. Pure and simple.
The first thing I did was create a plan to reduce my milk supply, which would resolve the clogged ducts and mastitis. I spoke with my lactation consultant and we made a personalized plan.
After reducing my supply a bit, I decide a last ditch attempt to breastfeed. To my surprise, she latched and has been breastfeeding ever since. Because I did lower my milk supply, I now do a mix of breastfeeding and formula for Alina. I haven’t had any plugged ducts since, which I am soooo grateful for.
Your Journey is Normal
The main message I want to get across is that if breastfeeding wasn’t smooth-going from the get-go, you are NOT ALONE. Remember – fed is best. If your journey doesn’t go according to plan, it’s okay. It took Alina & I a month and a half to get in a rhythm. My nipples were RAW for a month before they turned into a callous. It also took Alina some time to get used to it too. There are so many factors that can contribute to breastfeeding difficulties, so it’s unfair that we tend to blame solely ourselves when things don’t go smoothly.
If I could give any advice about breastfeeding, it is that pumping nonstop is not always the best plan because it can create an oversupply and actually do more harm by overloading your milk ducts. 10 minute mini pump sessions every 2.5-3 hours are best, but so exhausting. Trust me, I know. I really have such an appreciation for all moms and how much we sacrifice for our babies.
P.s. If you plan on pumping, make sure to check out my honest review of the Elvie Breast Pump.
Don’t Feel Alone Breastfeeding: Ask for Help
While lactation consultants should be free and always covered by insurance, it is not. I suggest becoming educated on all aspects of breastfeeding. The more you know, the more you will be equipped if things don’t go smoothly from the start.
From my personal experience, it was so difficult finding a lactation consultant because insurance didn’t cover it. The ones available in the hospital were almost impossible to reach or weren’t educated. I kept pushing to talk to them and we ended up speaking to 3 or 4. One of them wasn’t that knowledgable, and the nurses who were supposed to be “lactation certified,” just roughly pushed Alina’s head into my boob. They had no bedside manner. Each consultant had different advice which made me so confused and uneasy.
We found someone through our pediatrician after we left the hospital. The company actually comes to your house and analyzes us. One of the things we did was weigh Alina before and after a feeding, to insure she was transferring milk. Sometimes babies can suckle on your nipple don’t actually transfer anything.
The company we used was about $210, which is expensive but so worth it because I was so fed up and frustrated. She saved me from so much pain of my clogged ducts. She helped me create a plan to help me reduce my milk supply slowly and gave me peace of mind that what was happening was NORMAL.
Don’t Feel Defeated
If society wants us to breastfeed then they should help us learn how from those that know better. I don’t think it’s a smooth ride for most women and I think that should be more publicly known. Do your research. Ask for referrals and read about their services. Give yourself grace and do your best and know there are options out there for you.
I’m really grateful that I kept going and kept trying because now she is breast-feeding and I hope to do it as long as I keep having milk.
Here are some products that have and still help me with breastfeeding, pumping, etc: