Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Truth

I feel all women out there deserve the truth about breastfeeding. There are so many reports out there that say it's natural and if you do it right it doesn't hurt.

That's just not true. I am currently nursing my 5th child and I know all about latching on correctly, holding the baby right etc. Typically there is soreness and discomfort at the beginning and it lasts for a couple weeks and then you're good to go. But, that's not always the case.

In the past I've dealt with thrush on multiple occasions, mastitis, cracks, chapping and currently have deep fissures. The pain I've been enduring since Anneliese's birth has been awful. There have been multiple feedings where I just cry and cry for the duration. I was talking to Jared last night and realized that I am willing to endure the physical pain in order to avoid the emotional pain of not nursing my last baby.

On Easter we were with the family and I bought a bottle and some formula due to the pain. I decided to pull out the bottle and allowed my sister in law to try and feed Anneliese. Just seeing someone else feed my baby (even though it was someone I love) I was very upset by it.

I'm perplexed at why I have such an emotional attachment to nursing. I went through serious feelings of failure and guilt when after a month of trying I had to bottle feed Brennan due to his lack of weight gain. Once on the bottle he thrived and gained a pound in a week. He was happy and no longer crying nonstop due to hunger. Regardless I still carry guilt over why it didn't work and what I could've done differently.

Things were different with Elijah. He had bowel surgery at 4 days old and I was told by all the doctors and specifically his Pediatrician that it was imperative that I nurse him. Due to all the antibiotics he was on we both had thrush severely and it kept coming back over the year I nursed him. Because of that I have scarring and now when I nurse a new baby (Graham, and now Anneliese) those scars break and the healing process starts all over again.

I plan to continue to nurse Sis simply because I've already endured the worst part and stopping now wouldn't make much sense. I was talking to our doctor and he asked if it was better. I just chuckled and said, "It's all relative. Yes it's better but it's still not good." I'm really hoping in the next couple weeks I'll be able to look forward to her feedings for that sweet intimacy and bonding. I have to say however that even with the pain I love seeing her precious little face and those delicate little hands while she nurses.


Anonymous said...

you know they make nipple cream and soft nursing pads? There is no reason you should be suffering so.

Shannon said...

I wish I could say that was new news. I actually have a prescription ointment called Newman's Nipple Cream that I've been using for the last 5 weeks. I can only assume without it things would be much worse. I also tried a nipple shield on the most mangled side and she wouldn't nurse through it. I've been extremely pro-active and searched the internet and LC's for any help and unfortunately the combination of fair skin and previous scarring has stacked the deck against me. With my last baby the gel breast pads that promote healing where a life saver but unfortunately this time the damage is severe enough they don't provide much relief.

Stephanie said...

I am glad that you are fighting through this! And I can sympathize to a degree. Due to having a breast reduction before having children (and given a less than 2% chance of breast feeding), I struggled a lot. I still feel extremely guilty for not being able to nurse my first daughter - she was a voracious eater and my milk did not come in (not even the colostrum) until she was three days old. By that time all she knew was a bottle and my milk did not flow fast enough for her. My second daughter was tongue-tied and not able to nurse well until she was almost two months and we figured out the problem. We then went strong until she was six months, but I was not able to pump enough while I was at work. The third daughter - I got poison ivy everywhere when she was six weeks old and I was afraid to nurse her because the sores were oozing constantly. I am still amazed I was able to nurse at all, but still feel guilty for having the surgery I did and not being able to nurse longer. With each of them I got clogged ducts and mastitis. I know it hurts! But try to focus on the sweet little face.