Thursday, January 9, 2014

Nursing Sucks... Literally

Nursing is so easy and natural. Babies are born with the natural instinct to suckle as a survival method so it's never a problem.

Any mother who had this experience can go suck an egg

Screw that nursing is a bitch! And i'm not referring to that little bitch in high school that wouldn't leave you alone, I'm referring to the biggest bitch of them all. I went into this pregnancy knowing nursing was really our only option. Formula is just to damn expensive and I really wanted to do what was best and most nutritional for the baby. I never thought twice about it the whole 9 months, I just accepted the fact that this was our plan and was prepared for the natural act of nursing when she arrived.

First of all my boobs grew three sizes during pregnancy and i now sport a nice set of cantaloupes. So when the nurse placed her on me for the first time and tried to get her to suckle, it was like trying to fit an orange into something the size of a grape. Her mouth was just too small for my expanded bosom and as a result I got to experience BITING! Ok ok ok I know babies don't have any teeth so it can't really hurt that much but anyone who believes that I dare you do come over and put your finger into my teething babies mouth...It hurts like a bitch! As a result she couldn't get her latch down pat, and my nipples looked like a war zone. Seriously, the lactation specialist we met with said they were the worst she has seen in years. That made me feel grrreat

So what's worse than sore bruised bleeding nipples? Making your baby nurse off of them every 2 hours! You soon begin to dread the impending moment of doom and wish time would slow down so you don't have to try. You begin wishing you had all the money in the world so that you could buy the most expensive formula and not have to face the pain. I hate to say it but I definitely think I was more focused on trying to breastfeed than enjoying my new moments of motherhood. Every two hours is a lot and in the beginning it can take up to a half hour to feed, so you feel like you just finished when you have to start all over again.

As if the nipple situation isn't enough you have other issues that can arise, like milk production. I was sure I wouldn't have a problem because there was no family history of nursing problems but there is a first for everything and naturally I would be the one to experience a low supply. The first few days you don't have milk but colostrum which everyone knows contains antibodies to help protect the newborn against disease. But what everyone doesn't know that it takes a ton of effort to get this colostrum out. First there was the issue of the biter and the fact that it was just too painful to nurse, now i had to use breast pump in-between feedings to keep the demand for milk at a high. Ugh I look back on these days and thank god they are in my past. I would pump for 10 minutes and only get about 5-10 cc's of colostrum. 

So like all the lactation specialists will tell you, I tried warm compresses on my chest before each feedings, Massaging during feedings,  Mother's Milk tea, Pumped after every session and used TONS of Lanolin Cream. I did this for weeks and got to the point where I was almost resentful to my partner because he didn't even offer to use formula. He wasn't the one missing out on family visits because he was in the other room pumping and he wasn't the one getting bitten. This is frustrating because men just have no clue what you are going through and it's made evident many times during pregnancy and birth. All said and done I look back now and thank him for not letting me quit (just don't tell him that).

Eventually my milk supply came in with a lot of effort and tears on my part. I often considered myself a cow in the beginning because it just seemed the only thing I was good for was milk.  I would have to say the warm compresses really did work, so if you have supply issues try that and drink the tea.. Your relationship with your partner definitely goes to a new level when he or she is massaging your breasts while feeding.. Nothing will phase you. Boob's become so less attractive and sexual after birth.

Ok so remember how I told you I had a biter on my hands? The only solution I found to work for this problem was using a nipple shield. WTF is a nipple shield? It's basically a plastic nipple that goes over yours to protect it from damage and helps them correct their latch! Who knew such things existed? This thing was my lifesaver! It made nursing significantly less painful while my nipples were healing. It also helped with the size problem I had and made it easier for her to grab ahold of something. My lactation specialist wasn't trilled about using this but i kept telling myself if was working and reduced the pain so much that i ignored her :) Only problem to this was once the baby started using the nipple shield she would refuse nursing without one. I would say it took her until she was at least 2 months old to nurse naturally without the shield and I was fine with this. Don't be surprised if they reject our nipple but keep trying and eventually one day they will get the hang of it and act like they have been doing it all along.

Wanna know the worst thing for nursing even after all of this? Your partner cannot help you with the middle of the night feedings. It gets to a point when the baby is up for the 3rd time and they are snoring in the corner that you contemplate smothering them in their sleep. I know you can pump and put some in a bottle but by the time you go to the kitchen, heat it up, bring it back to the baby, they are already wide awake and there is no chance in hell they are going to go back to sleep. Plus if thats not an issue what breastfed baby wants to take a bottle over a mother's nipple anyways? The struggle is not worth it. It's just easier to do boob in the middle of the night... Just make the death of your snoring partner look like an accident :)

That being said, Nursing does suck at times but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences any mother can experience. I mean how cool is it that our boobs contain the pure substance that is keeping our babies alive, happy and healthy. I get so excited when we take her to the doctor to see how much she weighs. I always think yay! I'm making her grow! It's just really neat to think that our bodies change and adapt when a baby comes.  I also secretly love when she rejects a bottle even though it's annoying at the time because I know she wants her mommy more :) It's just a great bonding experience that everyone will tell you but this time is actually true.

My most important and most valuable advice to any mother who is going to attempt to nurse is to just stick with it. If you are devoted and passionate about it don't let that die. Struggle through it because the reward you will get in the end will make all the challenges seem minuscule. I love nursing more than anything right now, and though those first few weeks and months were horrendous, I would do it again in a heart beat to get to the place we are at now.... Well maybe :)

Also use your friends and family for help. This is a subject where any advice can be helpful. Lactation specialists are great but a lot of them have old hippie ideas that just frankly are crazy. You have to do what works best for you so find out what other people did and try new things... Also cry. That helped me a ton!  Wanna know my biggest problem with nursing now? Where can I keep all the extra milk!

and this is just half 

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