Thursday 1 December 2016

Who Said It's Not Supposed to Hurt?

Who is the person that actually started the rumour that breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt? I don't know very many people who didn't have any pain when they first started to breastfeed! 

Early days of my breastfeeding journey with Stella

My breastfeeding journey thus far has always included pain. Yes, breastfeeding is natural and something we are "meant" to do but who is used to having their nipple pinched and sucked on up to a dozen times a day or more for those breastfeeding and pumping, like myself.

I would consider myself quite experienced when it comes to breastfeeding. I've clocked 31 months of breastfeeding to date between my three children. I am currently breastfeeding one of my twins and pumping for the other and breast fed Stella for 14 months and Hudson for 12 months. 

My first experience breastfeeding with Stella was minutes after she was born. She was put to the breast and as much as I had hoped to have that comforting, cozy, bonding and loving moment with her, I cannot lie; it wasn't that at all. The room was filled with midwives and people, under bright florescent lights, sitting on a thin plastic hospital bed, I awkwardly held all 7 pounds of her and my huge breast and attempted to actually breastfeed for the first time, while I was still be stitched up! It's not the best set up for breastfeeding success.

Stella was jaundice which made breastfeeding difficult as she was sleepy
We were sent home with a follow up appointment the next day to check her bilirubin levels with no idea that jaundice causes the baby to be sleepy which makes feeding difficult. And feeding is the way to get rid of the jaundice. We were up all night trying to feed her and every latch was extremely painful. 

We met with lactation consultants and I had attended the hospital breastfeeding class and was slowly gathering information about how to effectively breastfeed. I was told I had flat nipples which would make it hard and that it shouldn't hurt. 

My twins started being fed by nasal gastric tube in the NICU
A close family friend warned me when I was pregnant and I will never forget what she said. 

She said "it's not going to be easy, but if you want to do it, you will need to persevere." 

Like many new moms, I wanted to breastfeed and I planned to try my hardest to make it work. I was lucky it did work for me but not without pain.

I am reminded of this pain this morning, 5 months into breastfeeding my twin son, I have red sore nipples?! I still have pain. I find it comes and it goes depending on the growth of my baby and how much I am breastfeeding and pumping. He's at that age where he clamps down on the tip and pulls his head backward. You know what I am talking about right? 

I'm so happy I've been able to breastfeed. I wasn't sure going into it.
You will be told to use this cream or that cream, certain positions or a shield and will be offered advice everywhere you go, as you will be breastfeeding everywhere you go. I listened to everyone and gave each a try and quickly realized what worked for me. And believe it or not, I have been told I have very good technique - and I have pain!

I have always used all that is available to me and have spoken with many lactation consultants, moms and nurses and listened to others get help while in the NICU. Many moms expect the milk to come in shortly after birth. I never had much until day 3. It wasn't until this pregnancy that I realized I would need to work on my supply, having twins I planned to breastfeed both babies. I would pump after every feed and while I was home away from the babies and they were in the hospital. It's a very busy and tiring time but this will be the best way to start or attempt to be successful at breastfeeding. Those first few days pumping with hardly anything coming out can be discouraging but keep rested, hydrated and relax and it should come. If not, there are other steps you can take to try and increase your milk supply.

I pump a lot, others are starting to notice
And as for my flat nipples, they've never posed a problem in my breastfeeding. All of my babies have a very tight clamping latch and I have heavy flow. And no matter how much we have pulled their chins down, flanged their lips or tried to latch the baby again, it never changed. I simply got used to it. This blog isn't meant to provide breastfeeding tips but I want you to know that your breasts, whether they be small or nipples flat, they will do their job but I would anticipate pain. Knowing that going in, is helpful. 

I hoped to tandem feed but due to Walker's reflux and slow weight gain we bottle. This was the first and only time I have tandem fed the twins.
For me, it usually lasts the first two weeks. I then start to slack off on my technique (hold the baby in my arms versus holding the baby with one hand and my breast with the other) and the pain returns. I then smarten up and continue the proper "technique" and I find the pain tends to resolve within 3 weeks postpartum. 

It's a long three weeks.

It has always got better for me and I know it will for you too. Stay positive!

If you don't know it yet, you will realize this very quickly, you will be bombarded with opinions and information from the most random people. The great thing is, this is your baby, your life and you get to make the decisions on how you care for your family. Go with your gut and take the advice you feel works for you as you are your worst critic and the only person you truly need to answer to. Unfortunately, as mothers we are our own worst judge and often feel the "Mom guilt". If you made an informed decision, for whatever it may be, there's no looking back and you will, eventually, feel good about your choice. You know your baby best.

Life as a twin mom, I also bottle feed
Over the years of motherhood, I've learnt to put up with the sore nipples and comments about how things should be done. But one thing I do know to not be true, that I will never agree with - "it's not supposed to hurt". It does but it gets better and as you heal, you will become stronger and will handle it! And if not, try something else!

1 comment:

  1. Indeed motherhood is not at all easy.Its a roller coaster of different hurdles but the power of the motherhood beat each and every hurdle.Hour breast feeding journey is so inspiring.