Friday, November 30, 2007

Figuring out breastfeeding

Well, I've made it to the two-week mark. My lactation consultant said that if I could manage to breastfeed for two weeks, I'd be able to nurse for the long haul.

It was one of the things I was looking forward to most about motherhood. I couldn't wait to get started. Fortunately, Allison didn't have any problems and immediately latched on with ease.

I know I should be thankful simply for that. During my research on the topic, I had read lots of stories about women who tried unsuccessfully for weeks to get their babies to feed. Others had to restrict their diets to practically nothing because their babies were reacting negatively to the food they ate.

I haven't had any of those problems.

My only reality check was discovering how painful it was. Until my nipples toughened up, they felt like they were constantly on fire. Taking a shower was agony because the water felt like sandpaper. I developed a few bloody sores and even just brushing against the inside of my shirt made my entire body cringe. When she fed, the first minute hurt so badly that I couldn't help but cry.

Fortunately, that's no longer the case. They're still very sensitive and tender, but it doesn't feel like my nipples are being shredded in a food processor anymore.

Another frustrating part is finding clothes that are conducive to the task. My button-down tops would be perfect if they weren't all dressy. Well, if they even fit me anymore. I can't fasten any of them at the waist or chest and probably won't be able to for a long time.

That leaves me with a few baggy T-shirts that have definitely seen better days and the long-sleeve tops I confiscated from Jerry's dresser. I can't wear anything other than stain-resistant cotton because my boobs have started leaking so much while I sleep that I wake up completely soaked. And that's only going three or four hours in between feedings.

Plus, it's exhausting knowing you are the sole source of nourishment for another human being. I feel like my shirt is up more than it is down these days.

I finally left the house for the first time yesterday to make a quick trip to the grocery store and it was great to feel like a part of society again -- even for just a moment. But I worried the entire time that Allison would wake up hungry and Jerry wouldn't be able to help. The guilt followed me around each aisle and didn't ease until I rushed into the house breathless asking, "Is she alright?"

It was the reality check I needed to figure out how to work the damn breast pump that I bought months ago. Besides, maybe it'll help with the leaking problem.

Although it's challenging at times, I'm sure the alternative has its own set of hurtles to overcome. When Allison's crying, I don't have to worry about measuring, mixing and microwaving. My boobs are always ready no matter where we are.

All that said, I feel tremendously accomplished to have made it past the tough part. And nothing beats the feeling of breastfeeding in the early morning hours. Even though I'm exhausted, it's just the two of us snuggled under a blanket and surrounded by pillows in the darkness.

And there's no place in the world I'd rather be.


Anonymous said...

kelly I found a solution to the breast feeding in public predicament. Actually, my sis in law told me about it.. you should get a "hooter hider" (from a company called bebe au lait)you can find them online, and i belive at babies r us, ? it's a breast feeding cover, that works like a dream, it fits over your head kinda like an apron, and has a formed shape, so it stays off the baby's head, so you can see her, and you can then easily lift your shirt, and no one in public will know.. My sis in law has 3 and loves them. when we go out with her, she has no trouble.. hope this helps!

Janice said...

Wow, that's really insightful. I don't really know much about breastfeeding and I'm very glad that you wrote this. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the memories you have brought rushing back to me :0 My own four kids all made me feel that same way. My oldest is 20 and baby is 10, and yet Kelly I can close my eyes and feel their newborn snuggly selfs and smell that so special divine baby smell! Thank YOU for sharing her with us.....Huge MOM {{{{HUGS}}} to your family from mine~

Lori NS in WY

lovechild420 said...

Breast pads are a Godsend. They absord all the leaking and arent even noticable. Also, there's a Lanolin based cream that will help with any pain and is completely safe for baby. You dont have to clean it off before feeding her. Its in a toothpaste-looking tube called Lansinoh. Congrats :o)

Sara said...

I've been enjoying your blog for years but have never commented before. I just wanted to mention that I am a La Leche League Leader and had a few things to add. Firstly, breastfeeding really shouldn't hurt much at all and I was so happy to read that you have seen a lactation consultant. A shallow latch can produce the kind of pain you are describing. Encouraging a big open mouth and watching for flanged lips can help. The other thing is that the leaking will calm down on its own. Pumping will make it worse so just hang in there. Most mothers feel that by around six weeks they start to feel like everything gets a little easier. You are such a great mom already- it just gets better! Enjoy that beautiful girl! said...

One of the comments yesterday was about how you once looked at all of the different changes coming with a bit of concern, beginning with the simple question of how to properly hold a baby.

Amazing to relect on what has transpired and how you are now a MOM! Repeat, Yes you are now a MOM! And doing very well at it, it seems.

(I guess Jerry and Toby watched the Packers/Cowboy's game last night!)

Kristin said...

I'm so glad breastfeeding has been a mostly positive experience for you adn that you stuck it out even though it was painful. I'm sure Alli appreciates it :)

Heidi said...

Hey! I just had Keagan a week ago today, and he is breastfeeding like a trooper! I have a Medela pump in style, and it is awesome! I pumped my first bottle yesterday, and it's pretty surreal to see a bottle of my breast milk sitting in the fridge.

If you pump in addition to feeding, it won't help the leaking problem, but will actually increase your milk supply. When I pumped the bottle, it was right after the morning feed, so it was as though I was just extending the feed 15 minutes longer.

I wear a nursing bra to bed, and wear breast pads. At first, my nipples hurt too, so I sent my husband out for some Medela lanolin breast cream, and it really helps!

I also bought a couple nursing shirts yesterday - I highly recommend them!! You can whip out your boob in public MUCH more easily!!!

Marina said...

Holy crap. You actually cried? That's it. You have officially scared me off of ever having a baby. Haha.

Erica said...

You're lucky you can breastfeed, really. I didn't even produce milk! So I didn't get to have that experience. I hope you'll be able to do it for as long as you'd like. It's a special thing.

mercurial scribe said...

I hope feeding my child will go so smoothly...

And once you figure out that breast pump, I'd LOVE to know how you work it! LOL. (That thing scares me a bit.)

aahcoffee said...

Hang in there girl. It will all get so much easier!

Ray from Xanga said...

Glad you made it through the hard part. I was watching Tyra and the show focused on moms and different situations. The subject did of course come up on breastfeeding and a woman described it like you did. Like being processed in a food processor.

I was shocked when I heard the lady say that and you say (write) that now. The doctor of course said that it's not supposed to feel that way. But I'm glad it's less painful for you now, and that you're finally getting into the swing of things.

Take, care. said...

I never knew it hurt! But I bet its a wonderful experience!!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on reaching the two week mark! Breastfeeding was tough for me at first, too. Luckily a nurse told me that expressing a little milk after a feeding and rubbing it on my nipples would help even better than Lanolin.

I see that someone else mentioned the hooter hider...I have one and LOVE it. It's so much easier than trying to use a blanket and come it fashionable fabrics.

Leaking eased up for me after about a month. Nursing pads are a must at first.

Anyway, I'm so glad you're enjoying Allison so much and you're giving her a great gift breastfeeding her. Good job, mama!

Anji said...

Dear Kelly

Seeing the joy on your face with Alison is awesome. I cannot wait until I have children when my fiancee and I are ready. Reading the posts from your journal these past few months makes me realise that children are a big responsibility and I am ready for the challenge with my fiancee. thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences as me and my fiancee hope that you Jerry and Alison are fine and that you enjoy the time that you have with her as it goes by way too fast as my mother says. Also just have to say that you are one amazing writer and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts that you have written. Thanks

jsi said...

Merry Christmas
Nursing can be an irreplaceable relationship, but what you are describing sounds more painful than it should. Hopefully your lactation consultant was able to give you some good advice about preventing the excessive pain. Nursing is challenging enough without getting ready for how hurtful it will be. Glad you didn't have to alter to eating very dramatically.
I would have been lost without my Medela pump in style, but even though pumping gives relief (and a sense of accomplishment to have a feeding in hold pattern)it helps increase your milk supply. I found that my pumping schedule helped me anticipate a "schedule" of time I could do shopping, or work and my hubby could feed the little hungry sweetheart.
But nothing replaced the feeling of knowing I was feeding someone.
And you are right - shirt more up than down. Button shirts make a big difference, but you will soon develop a way to be able to modestly feed her, even with a small blanket for a cover.

Kaz said...

It will get easier I promise I can hardly remember those toe curlingly painful times now and we have reached 7 months. It is so much easier than bottles when you are out and about too as you don't have to worry about carting round enough supplies. Your supply will settle down in a few weeks and you won't leak as much. At times like that I used muslin cloths down my bra to keep my nipples depressed and stop some of the leakage. There's nothing worse than waing up soaking wet.

Hang in there it will become second nature soon and you will love it even more. As for breastfeeding tops I just use breast feeding strappy vests with a jumper, top or cardi over it so that your back is kept warm and the top covers your modesty.

Rachel said...

I'm so glad it's working for you! I didn't produce enough milk, so it was more screaming than bonding, but with help we stuck it out for 7 weeks until I got hit with mastitis. I hope you never have to deal with that! Enjoy this special time with your little girl!

Anonymous said...

First off, Congrats on the Baby!
I'm de-lurking becuase I have felt your pain on the leaking while you sleep thing. You need a pair of Lily Padz! Best thing ever - and no i don't sell them, i just love them!
Here's a link so you don't have to wast time googling them.
I love your blog and read it almost every day. My little 20 month old loves the new baby pics ;o)
All the best!
Rachel C.

fiona said...

I was sitting on the couch nursing Katelyn one evening while my 18 year-old brother was visiting. With a sigh, I looked at him and said, "some days I wonder why I even bother to put a shirt on." His response?? "Uh, because you have company."
While I was pregnant, one of my biggest post-partum fears was not being able to breastfeed. At the beginning it was rough, and I still don't produce as much as I think I should at almost six weeks. But I'm making enough to feed her and pump every once in a while when she takes extended naps so I guess that's all that matters.
Congratulations on your over-productive breasts!!!

Jen said...

i'll mention them again, lily padz... You really need to check them out and purchase a pair. They were life savers for me, even just to wear at night. They are a little pricey, but worth it. They really do work!

Keep up the good work. Breastfeeding is time comsuming!

Suzy said...

My baby isn't here yet...but I'm already experiencing leakage (joy of joys..ick!) A gal pal told me about lily padz ( I think) and I intend on getting some for once our Little Miss gets here.
How can I thank you enough for your honesty when it comes to all this. Lately my friends that have children have been "well, I won't go into that b/c I don't want to scare you"...getting scared and being aware..different things. I'm glad I can count on your experience for my doses of aware. Thanks Kelly.