Let’s talk about breastfeeding. I’m a huge breastfeeding advocate and its one of my favourite aspects about mothering my baby.
The past 8 months have been really smooth easy-going breastfeeding, but then it became a struggle. Breastfeeding hasn’t been so easy in the past month. There have been tears and struggles and lots of fustration. Maybe you can relate?
I know I asked a few questions in my favourite Facebook Mom Groups and lots of moms were experiencing the same things. Its a struggle, lets talk about it and maybe help #normalisebreastfeeding
Around the 6 month mark, Walter gave up his pacifer. He stopped taking it and eventually we just stopped using the pacifer. I’ve left them in the drawer in case he changes his mind.
What did happen, was he discovered the boob.
Up until then, he rarely ever soothed at the breast. He wasn’t interested. Boobs were for eating only. This made me sad. I wanted to mother thru breastfeeding and when your baby is upset and you can’t calm them, its heartbreaking.
Around 6 months, he discovered the joy and comfort brought by breastfeeding and has taken to it. This meant that we spent a lot more time comfort nursing to sleep and comfort nursing because we could. I haven’t been more thrilled… but it also kind of sucks, because now I found myself with sore nipples because sometimes his comfort nursing latch was BAD and that equaled pain. Constantly readjusting was a bit of a hassle.
We hit an 8 month growth spurt this past month. It was a solid 3 days of non stop nursing. Every hour for THREE DAYS. You read that correct. It was like having a newborn again. I was exhausted. I was over it. I was touched out.
Growth spurts are unbelievably hard. First, you aren’t sleeping so you are exhausted. Second, your baby is always touching you, so your body isn’t your body anymore. Third, everyone is cranky because everyone is cranky.
I survived the growth spurt. We all survive. Its hard to imagine you will, but you do. What came after the growth spurt I wasn’t expecting.
Pain, Engorgement & Discomfort
The growth spurt meant that my milk supply was all over the map. Suddenly my breasts felt full, I was engorged, and in pain. Seriously. After around 4 or 5 months, I had really sunk into our rhythm with breast feeding and my breasts just felt like breasts, not crazy milk jugs, so this was an unpleasant sensation returning.
I let Walter continue to nurse in hopes of figuring it out. But because I’m just kind of a feed from whatever breast is comfortable gal, and really have no rhyme or reason to my breast nursing order, things got bad. Saturday night, Walter latched in the middle of the night and I woke up almost in tears. The pain was SOO BAD. I kept having him nurse from that side because my breastfeeding mama instinct said that I needed to, and tried to figure things out.
I called the lactation consultant twice. She never called me back. Now I know why breastfeeding fails. Women don’t get the support they need. Luckily, I was resilient and a few fellow online moms reminded me about the joys of breastfeeding and that things get better. Things do get better. So if this is you right now, and your in pain and your uncomfortable and you want to give up, things change. Your breastfeeding relationship with your child is unbelievably beautiful and incredible, and I wouldn’t want to mother any other way.
I kind of figured it was one of two things – either my nipple was damaged (damn teeth and sharp finger nails) OR the small lumps in my breast were painful clogged ducts.
I’ve read enough questions and blogs to know what to do. Seriously, this is why my online village is amazing. Sure I’ve never experienced clogged milk ducts, but I always read the comments when a mama asks. I pulled out my electric tooth brush, I had a hot shower, and I worked on massaging those bad boys out (that’s right my breast had multiple lumpy lumps!)
I also remember from my early days that sore nipples suck and that I found my own breastmilk to be the most amazing. So I spent a day or two walking around with my boobs out (I get cold, shirt stayed on). A little breastmilk drying on the nipple cures anything.
I think the combination worked.
However, my rollercoaster of a breastfeeding week didn’t end there because a couple days later I spent the entire day releasing pressure of my ENGORGED breasts. Serious. I touched my boob and I sprayed. I put a little pressure on the one and I offloaded 3 oz of milk before the pain went away and I felt I could nurse without drowning my child. It was crazy.
But you know what. After this week of craziness… It’s been good. Walter nurses to sleep. He nurses when he’s hungry. My breasts feel normal and healthy. And I’m still okay.
I’m going to end this story here. I’m going to include some of my favourite links I read during this crazy week.
Resources & More
I read TONS of KellyMom (http://kellymom.com) this past month. Even if you’ve read it before, read it again. She’s got articles about sleep, about breastfeeding, about any challenge you can imagine. Read it once, read it twice, and read it a third time. Eventually it’ll give you the support and reminders you need.
I love having breastfeeding in my social media streams. I follow breastfeeding support groups and activists on my favourite social media platforms. For me, that type of exposure is really beneficial to my journey. Additionally, I find that it means I am reading and following up on links and information before I have a problem.
- Milk Meg
- La Leache League International
- The Badass Breastfeeder
- Breastfeeding USA
- Dr. Jack Newman
- I also follow my local breastfeeding community on Facebook
There’s tons of awesome Facebook groups, but some I love more than others. My other online community suggested Nursing the Littles and I’m really enjoying it, as well as a couple extended breastfeeding groups (not because we are there yet, but because some mama’s share the most lovely of stories that are really encouraging and remind me of my goals to naturally wean).
Not just your online friends, talk to your real life friends. I connected with some of my breastfeeding mamas at our weekly hang outs and turns out some of them had challenges and could relate. I checked in with the nurses at the support group, and looking forward to our monthly meeting with our doula this week.
Where do you get your support? Do you have a breastfeeding advocate that you follow on social media and love? Drop his or her name below. I’d love to follow and have more inspiration in my life