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A Tale of Two Titties

A Tale of Two Titties: HybridRastaMama.com Follow Me on Pinterest

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This line from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens certainly depicts my breastfeeding journey for the past 28 months. Breastfeeding has been an amazing journey but it has not been without significant challenges. Never, in a million years, could I have imagined that THIS is what breastfeeding would be like. I mean, it is natural right? Moms (human and animal) have been doing this for ages and have been successful. So why was it so HARD for me?

I blame the hospital birth setting for my breastfeeding near-failure. Seriously. They turned breastfeeding in neuroscience. I had every nurse imaginable trying to “show” me how the whole breastfeeding thing was done. However, instead of showing me, they would just grab my daughter’s fragile head and ram her onto my breast. That technique certainly did not help either myself or my daughter. The lactation consultants confused me further by showing me every possible breastfeeding position all the while scaring me with horror stories of what happens if you let a baby “nipple nurse” as opposed to taking in more surface area. I was hormonal, I was overwhelmed, I was mad that I ended up in a hospital setting, and I just wanted to go home and be a mom on my own turf. All of the breastfeeding interference from experts was actually doing me more harm than good. Little did I know at the time that my wee one was TRYING to tell me to just let her do her thing. She effectively did the nursing crawl but I was too naïve to know what she was up to. No one told me what I was witnessing. The one nurse that knew what was going on actually told me not to let her do it. So I failed my daughter in not letting her do what came natural. I regret it but have let it go.

Mostly.

When we got home and began our rhythm as mother and daughter, I was determined to make breastfeeding work. My daughter’s latch was all wrong, I was in excruciating pain, my nipples looked like they went toe to toe with a cheese grater, and I was a frustrated, exhausted mess who felt like a complete failure. Breastfeeding was not even remotely enjoyable. I did not feel like I was bonding with my daughter as I curled my toes, bit my lip, and shook tears from my eyes. My daughter and I just could not get the breastfeeding thing figured out. After a couple of weeks of improper technique, I began to get nipple blisters and clogged ducts. My daughter was nursing more frequently and only for two or three minutes at a time. She would then promptly vomit up everything she had taken in. And so we would repeat the cycle, hour after hour after hour. I was close to the end of my rope but was stubborn enough to keep going.

I am not sharing this to scare other moms. Remember, I said that 28 months later I am still breastfeeding. I am sharing this so that you can see that even the rockiest of starts can lead to a successful breastfeeding relationship. My daughter NEVER, NOT ONCE, had a bottle. So yes, you can persevere. How did I do it?

  • First, I found a GOOD, make that GREAT lactation consultant through a recommendation from the La Leche League chapter in my area. I learned that my daughter had an extremely sensitive gag reflex as well as a small mouth. This made it impossible for her to latch correctly. She was destined to be a nipple nurser and I was destined to accommodate it. I never actually met with this woman in person but via email she was able to set my mind at ease that I was doing everything right and that my baby and I would get this figured out.
  • La Leche League meetings were also incredibly helpful. I was supported, empowered, assisted, and encouraged. Without those experienced moms who had been in the dark trenches at one time, I would have felt so alone.
  • I researched ways in which I could ease the pain of my aching nipples. One can only stand 24/7 pain for so long. After trying a myriad of “tried and true” methods, I discovered one of my very own. I will share this with you later this week. Finally, I had some relief.
  • I learned how to open my own nipple blisters (a painless thing to do) and stayed on top of any clogged ducts. Through massage and hot compresses, I kept them from becoming major issues.
  • I mastered the art of deep breathing and used various distractions to keep my mind from focusing on the pain. Reading, cruising the internet, watching t.v., and talking on the phone kept my mind busy while I was engage in breastfeeding.
  • I kept the end goal in sight. I reminded myself of all the benefits of breastfeeding and focused on the fact that in reality, this was going to be such a short period of my life. My daughter deserved all of the benefits of breastfeeding for as long as I could make it work.

What exactly does breastfeeding look like for me today? Well, it is much less painful although I still am the lucky recipient of weekly nipple blisters, teeth marks, and the occasional sleepy nibble. My daughter seldom gags which brings me such joy! She is very much an “all-night” snacker and typically likes a swig every hour or two. Did I mention this goes on All. Night. Long? Yeah – that means I still do not get much sleep. But I am used to it. She comfort nurses throughout the day as needed. She also likes to nurse in nature. I’m fine with that. We spend a lot of time outdoors and what better place for a mama and her toddler to snuggle in for a good breastfeeding session?

Most importantly, breastfeeding potentially saved my daughter was a grim fate. She has a health challenge and cannot create white blood cells in the amounts needed to fight infection. If she were NOT breastfed this long, she would probably have already been in the hospital multiple times. Her doctors credit extended breastfeeding as one reason for keeping her healthy. (Disclaimer – she is also taking several homeopathic remedies as well).

I hope that this post encourages breastfeeding mothers to persevere. I feel like breastfeeding has become so complex and “unnatural” that as mothers, we fail ourselves in just letting go and letting what comes naturally COME NATURALLY! The more advice and opinions thrown at us, the more we distrust our natural ability and the instincts of our babies.

TRUST in your BODY!
TRUST in your BABY!
TRUST in your INSTINCTS!
TRUST in MOTHER NATURE!
TRUST in what mothers (human and animal) have been doing since the DAWN OF TIME!
TRUST in your BREASTS! (That is what they are there for afterall!)

And screw all those nurses who ramrod baby’s head onto your confused boob! (But certainly seek assistance from HIGHLY recommended lactation consultants if needed).

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Comments

  1. Amen! I was unable to breastfeed Peanut which I still regret to this day. So I’m making up for it with Pistachio. I feed her on demand, which can be difficult with a toddler wanting to play. She also comfort sucks throughout the day.my goal is to breastfeed here for at least a year. We’ll look at everything then and reevaluate.

  2. Perfect advice. I was one of the lucky moms who never had any problems other than sore nipples and a few bites. I can only read about some of the problems others have had (or are having) to try to understand. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. The baby ramrodding was exactly my experience as well and I remember feeling overwhelmed by all the different positions I was supposed to nurse my son in. In the end I had a great lactation consultant friend tell me to stop manhandling my son and to let him breast crawl and latch the way he needs to. The pain stopped immediately after that. Now at 14 months, he’s a pro and I let him to what he want when nursing (within reason) and it works for us. And entertains everyone around us now too!

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