Even before I was married and before the reality of children was a blip on my radar, I knew one day, God willing, I would nurse my babies.
Between the various health benefits of breast feeding and the unnecessary expense of formula, I was completely sold on breast feeding.
Fast forward one month from Caleb’s birth though and I’ve got a lot more appreciation for nursing mothers and a lot more understanding for mom’s who use formula.
You see, my first month has been anything but what I expected. I expected a tolerable amount of soreness for the first week or two before everything normalized and breast feeding became a walk in the park. I also expected it to essentially be second nature. I definitely said a time or ten, “how hard can it be, women have been doing it forever so surely I can too.”
At one month in I know that I CAN do it, but it’s been anything but easy. Here’s how my first month of breast feeding has actually gone down:
Caleb immediately “latched” on about an hour after his birth. He sucked hard and though it hurt me, I figured that was normal and was just thrilled he was eating. For the remainder of our time in the hospital Caleb mainly slept and nursing sessions were very short. We met with the hospital’s lactation consultant twice and were assured that Caleb was latching fine (at least with her assistance) and that he was eating plenty.
The first few days at home were pretty uneventful. I did have bleeding, cracked nipples that caused Caleb to spit-up black, but again, I thought this was just part of the “wearing in” process.
It wasn’t until I tried to lower my dosage on the pain medication that I realized everything wasn’t hunky dory.
Thankfully, that was also the day of our first pediatrician appointment. While there, Caleb decided to scream and whale like he never had before which afforded me a wonderful view of the underside of his tongue. Our pediatrician had already examined him and not mentioned anything but as I stared at his little tongue I became fairly certain it was connected entirely too much to the tissue underneath.
The pediatrician agreed and said she had noticed but assumed since Caleb had gained so much weight in his first week that it wasn’t an issue. She then asked if breast feeding was painful….. And all the pieces clicked into place.
YES, breast feeding hurt like heck
YES, I had cracked nipples that came out pinched looking
NO, it wasn’t getting any better on its own.
The reason? Caleb wasn’t latching correctly!
On day 8 of Caleb’s life, a Friday, I was frantically calling pediatric dentists trying to find somewhere that could see us and fix Caleb’s tongue the same day. My pain seemed to get exponentially worse from Thursday to Friday and I was desperate to have his frenectomy (the fancy name for having your tongue and lip clipped) performed before the weekend. Thankfully, some friends recommended a wonderful dentist who was indeed able to see us that Friday. It really felt like a “God Thing.” Not only was the dentist available but she was also fantastic and made us completely comfortable with the procedure.
After the procedure ,things improved dramatically…for a while. At first, Caleb’s latch looked a little deeper but most importantly, he wasn’t sucking nearly as hard… Hallelujah!!
But, on day 10, a day that is often the start of a growth spurt, I realized I wasn’t out of the woods quite yet. Though I did not need quite as much pain medication, there was still no way I could nurse without it. Furthermore, Caleb was eating almost every hour on day 10 and I began to develop blisters and raw spots all over again.
Part of me just thought, “This is nursing, I’ll just have to survive it,” but thankfully, I decided it couldn’t hurt to go visit my hospital’s lactation consultant one more time.
So, on Monday, day 11, I visited the outpatient lactation consultant who should really be sainted. I told her what was going on and her first words were, “It’s most likely all your fault as you probably aren’t doing it right.” In most circumstances a comment like that would get under my skin and irritate me but in this case, I couldn’t have been happier. I figured I could learn to do it right, but correcting Caleb seemed a whole heck of a lot harder. In about ten minutes the lactation consultant had corrected everything I was doing wrong and almost like magic, I had a baby with a perfect latch. Curious about our new nursing technique? Click here to read the step by step to a perfect latch!
I wish I could report that all pain immediately vanished but that would be too good to be true. What I can report is that it immediately lessened and became tolerable. I took three more Ib Profen pills after that to get me through the evening hours the next few days when Caleb has a voracious appetite. After that, my soreness and discomfort was minimal and I was able to completely stop.