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Mar 24, 2012

My Nursing Journey

Warning: If you do not feel like reading any details you may feel are TMI, stop reading here. This is a post to help other moms know they are not alone. I am not going to hold too much back when it comes to my journeys with breastfeeding my little ones.
After reading another blogging Momma's breastfeeding story, I was pulled to write this post even more. I already wanted to write a post about all things nursing, but wasn't sure. Now, here I am. You can see more about the original prompting post over at Mom Spotted.
So may posts, articles, forum chats, etc. either focus on the perfect breastfeeding story or the terrifying stories. One makes you think it is going to be the easiest thing in the world, "It's completely natural". There are so many of these out there, you may not even see the others that focus on the terrifying stories that make you think you should go with formula from the moment they are born. I will admit I don't see many of those around, ever.
I have had two very different journeys in nursing.
LJ was a delivery we were not expecting and he was in an oxygen tent for hours after birth. He didn't get the idea of latching and as the incredibly not helpful LC at the hospital pointed out, I was flat. Truly it came in the form of the question, "have you always been this flat?" I did not know I had flat nipples, but according to her, I did. There are things that can help with women who are flat, but she did not want to offer those as they were reserved for women who had too much trouble nursing and I hadn't given it enough time yet, I guess.
Nights were terrible for us in the hospital. They would bring LJ in crying terribly. We would try everything, including glucose dripped on my nipple to try to get him to latch. Finally, the second night nurse saw how much trouble we were having and how much I needed help. She took it upon herself to get me a nipple shield and help me learn to use it.
LJ was able to nurse the best he could when I used the shield. The biggest thing for me was that it was not very comfortable. The suction he would create would hurt. The second LC that I saw in the hospital helped me learn to use some of the pump accessories (as I had the main pump parts at my house from my sister) so that I could pump and still be able to feed my new son. She was very helpful, but never saw me nurse, so I never got the help I could truly use. We left the hospital supplementing with formula. That supplementing gradually became more and more and by about three weeks I was only pumping my milk and LJ would get bottles with mommy milk and formula. By four months, I stopped pumping, and my supply lasted until about five months. From then on my little LJ was purely on formula. I was just happy I could offer him some milk in the beginning of his life.
Better some than none, right?
BG was a different story all together.
Within the first hour after birth she was with me and nursing. She latched on right away and was a pro at nursing. I wanted to be sure that things were not just a fluke. The LC came in when BG was nursing and said everything was perfect.
When I learned that I was expecting I began researching how to nurse even if flat nipples are involved. I found that I could start using nipple shells to prepare my body for nursing. The biggest issue with the shells is that I had to go up a size in my bras and make sure they were padded so the shields were not too noticeable when I was wearing them.
If you have troubles with your latch due to your body, I HIGHLY recommend getting a pair of nipple shells. They can also be used after birth to sooth sore nipples. 
Back to after BG's birth. She was a pro from the start. After we left the hospital not too much changed, but man did a I get sore! My body was not used to a baby nursing and it hurt. After she got into her rhythm, things would settle down and not hurt anymore, but the first few minutes could get pretty sore.
It did not help anything that my milk came in while still in the hospital. Talk about engorged! The only thing that made things better was pumping or hand expressing milk.
After a few weeks both BG and I were pros at this nursing thing. Now she is going on 14 months old and still nursing at night. I am not sure when weaning will happen. She likes her time with mommy, and I love that time bonding with her.
Breastfeeding does not always come easy, no matter how natural it may be. If you are having trouble, talk to someone. Anyone. I suffered in silence with LJ and didn't get the outcome I originally wanted. If you are set on nursing, get some help, even if only from friends who have experience with nursing and nursing problems. It could change everything.

Until next time... Happy Breastfeeding!

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