I consider myself to be a middle of the road breastfeeding advocate. “What does that mean?” you may ask. I guess it means that I fully support moms who choose to breastfeed and all of the issues surrounding it, but I don’t agree with all of the information I have been exposed to. I remember reading in one of my numerous pregnancy/breastfeeding/ parenting books that to breastfeed is a natural thing that comes naturally to mother and child. It is statements like this that I take issue with. I attended two La Leche League meetings before Evalee was born to learn what I could from moms who have “been there and done that”. The meetings were enjoyable and I met some lovely moms with similar parenting views as myself, but there was still a lack of information about the realities of being a new mom breastfeeding her baby. They all made it seem and sound so easy.
My first few weeks of breastfeeding were rough to say the least. Not only was I exhausted from a long birth, healing from birthing an 8lb 8oz baby and dealing with a barrage of fluctuating hormones, I was trying to nurse my baby. My biggest hurdle was a slight case of mastitis/plugged duct on my right side along with some very sore and cracked nipples. (sorry if this is TMI for some, trying to share without getting too graphic). You could say Evalee had a very strong latch and in my inexperience I just let her nurse as much as she wanted, putting my own discomfort aside. I am not one to run to the doctors at the first sign of illness, so I referred to my books and found some natural cures for the mastitis. The first suggestion was to continue to nurse on the infected side with the babies chin pointing toward the affected area. The second was to soak in a hot tub while massaging the area to help the plug to release. Fortunately , after a few days, this worked and I was able to avoid taking antibiotics. Not all moms are as fortunate. Two of my good friends developed mastitis and needed to use antibiotics.
I solved my other problem with the help of a family friend who is a lactation consultant. My mom encouraged me to call her after seeing the condition I was in, I foolishly thought it was normal and that my body would eventually adjust and heal. I called Janet and she asked me a number of questions about latch and length of the nursing sessions. After 10 minutes or so of some simple Q & A I was able to get Evalee to latch with out being in serious pain. The main adjustment I made was with how I was setting Evalee up to latch on. I thought it was as simple as making sure she was getting all of “me” in her mouth, I was wrong. It is also about lining everything up properly and changing it up often so that you don’t wear yourself down too much in one area. I could get into more specific detail, but I don’t want to offend anyone so I’ll just say, call a lactation consultant if you are having any problems or doubts. They exist for a reason, I am so glad I did.
Evalee and I went on to have a wonderful breastfeeding career together for 16 months. There were moments over the latter part of those 16 months, starting when Evalee was about 10 months old, that I thought I had had enough. But it never lasted more than a day, the thought of losing that closeness and trying to give her a bottle was too much to even comprehend. Now, I would have liked it to last longer but she decided it was enough. She is an independent little tot! To think back to those first few weeks and to see how healthy and happy Evalee is now, I have no regrets about my choice to breastfeed my baby.