I’ve been wanting to talk about my breastfeeding journey for a while now, but I feel like I’m at a point where the worst is definitely behind me. The reason I am sharing my story is because it has been extremely challenging, frustrating, and heartbreaking at times. On the other hand, nothing makes me feel more connected to my little boy.
I feel the need to preface this post by stating that I 100% agree with the saying ”fed is best”. Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed your baby, the most important thing is that he/she is feed. I’ve seen it both ways while feeding Lennon. I also want to say that I am so glad that I continued to breastfeed Lennon even though it was extremely challenging for my given situation. I didn’t think I could do it, but here I am 7 months in and loving it! I want to write this post for mothers who are feeling discouraged with breastfeeding and maybe want a little inspiration if it’s something you really want to do, but are struggling.
Disclaimer: This post is not for everyone. I think it is best for expecting moms, new moms, those struggling through breastfeeding, or those who like to be informed on the realities of motherhood.
Let’s rewind to April 9th, 2018.
I receive my baby boy into my arms for the first time. He’s been wiped down and wrapped up and is absolutely perfect. I want to breastfeed within the first hour of his life, and this was the perfect moment. The nurse tries to help me latch, but it wasn’t happening. I am confused. I didn’t think it was going to be perfect, but I thought it would be possible. After a few attempts with a flustered baby, the nurse leaves to get me a nipple shield. Here’s why: apparently, I have flat/inverted nipples. This isn’t a problem until you go to breastfeed. This information was new to me. I knew of flat/inverted nipples, but I didn’t know I had them. Anyway, we put on the shield, Lennon latched, and he started feeding.
Logan was still beaming at the fact our son was born and is now in my arms being fed. He asked me, “How does it feel?”, and all I had to say was, “it hurts” while trying to smile off the pain. I knew it was going to be painful. I did my homework, but I was not prepared for this. Either way, I suffered through it. He slept really well through the night and I didn’t feed him until about 5 hours later. Each feeding was so painful, and I dreaded it.
The next day a lactation consultant came in at one of his feedings to make sure he was latching properly. She gave utterly useless advice and didn’t help me at all. About 24 hours after Lennon was born, I had a serious breakdown. At that point, breastfeeding was by far more painful than giving birth. I cried and cried because I didn’t want to feed my baby because of how painful it was. I tried to feed him, crying and breathing through the pain. Finally, I had the nurse give him formula that night instead because I just couldn’t do it. I was feeling absolutely defeated. I didn’t know what to do.
The next morning I asked to meet with a different lactation consultant. Together we made a game plan to ensure Lennon was fed well, and allowed me to give breastfeeding a chance. I was feeling really good about our plan.
I decided to pump and bottle feed instead of straight from the breast for that time. Lennon’s suck was just a little too powerful. Pumping was still quite painful, but not as bad. We supplemented with formula at that time, too. Lennon just wanted to eat so much!
I was supposed to pump during the day, and try breastfeeding as much as possible, for me that was supposed to be at night. However, even with the shield it was still very painful. I usually only breastfeed him once in a 24 hour period and bottle fed him the rest of the time. We rented a hospital grade pump for a month, which I loved. Right when the month was up we moved from Utah to Texas and I had a normal double electric pump. It wasn’t quite as fancy or powerful, but it did the trick.
When I made the switch from hospital grade to normal, I started breastfeeding him more and more. I hated pumping, and I wanted to have that connection that other moms talk about with breastfeeding. Even though it was still very painful even a month later, I tried and tried. When Lennon was 6 weeks old, I dropped a 4oz. bottle of pumped milk and decided right then that I never wanted to pump again haha. So dramatic, I know, but if you’ve dropped pumped milk you’d probably understand the grief.
From when I stopped pumping, it took about 4 more weeks for breastfeeding to feel okay and not so painful. You’re probably thinking that my latch was horrible for it to hurt so long, but that is not the case. It’s because of the flat/inverted nipple situation, and the fact that when Lennon tries to latch, my nipple also retracts. He didn’t have much to work with, but he’s a little trooper.
Anyway, around when Lennon was 3 months old, I really wanted to be able to feed him without the nipple shield. Here are the reasons why:
- It was messy and wasteful. Milk would slip out the bottom and get everywhere.
- It was inconvenient. Feeding in public is made far more difficult worrying about putting on a shield first.
- I wanted to have the breastfeeding experience without needing extra help.
Every once in a while I would try, but we would both get so frustrated, that we went back to the shield. I watched video after video on latching, but none of them addressed the issue of retracting. I thought it was impossible. I would cry because I felt inadequate at times. Then one day, we gave it a shot when Lennon wasn’t too hungry, but willing to try. It took more than a few attempts but eventually, WE DID IT! At that point they were tears of joy. I was so happy.
It took about another month before I could completely stop using the shield, but I was so happy even knowing that it was possible for me. Something I didn’t think would happen was happening for me.
I took every stage of breastfeeding about 6 weeks at a time. From pumping, to feeding with a shield, to nothing at all. It sounds painful and exhausting, which it was, but now it is so worth it. Even now it hurts every once in a while, but nothing like before.
I’m at a point where I can enjoy feeding him. The closeness to Lennon is beyond priceless. I love spending that time together. I love when I’m feeding him and he stares at me giving little smiles. I love when he falls asleep in my arms. I love when he searches to latch when he’s hungry. I have yet to experience anything else quite like it. All the pain and struggles of breastfeeding are 100% worth it now. There was a point when I wasn’t sure why I was even trying, but I’m so glad that I continued.
I can honestly say that I love breastfeeding Lennon.