Sunday marked the one month milestone, one month of breastfeeding my little man. I have always been fascinated by breastfeeding, even before I found out I was pregnant. I had always longed for that closeness and bonding experience so many of my friends had told me about. Unlike pregnancy and birth all the stories I heard surrounding breastfeeding had been positive and inspiring. The moment Hedd was placed naked onto my bare chest, the only thing I could think about was that moment my son would make his first latch and take in the goodness my body would exclusively provide him for as long as he needed it. That moment was delayed by my emergency bleed. But the first latch was wonderful and I could feel my uterus contracting with every suck, the uncomfortable cramp I'd longed for all my life.
In the first few hours we tried a few different positions and Hedd lapped up every last drop of the colostrum. He spent most of his first day sleeping and only fed a few times giving me plenty of time to stare at the beautiful baby boy I'd just brought earth side.
The first few days were easy, yes my nipples were sore but my little man was a natural and latched on without any issues. He would spend a good half an hour feeding and after each sitting would be happy and full up.
Then we hit day four, the day my milk came in. I've never felt so uncomfortable in my whole life. My skin stretched and my already over-sized breasts were now super-sized. And to make things worse my nipples were now cracked and bleeding and with each latch the pain was unbearable. I used breathing techniques I had learnt for labour to get through the initial toe curling pain but I was determined to perserve and get through it.
We both favoured my left breast as I was more confident with the latch and found positioning a lot easier. I had anticipated being in pain but this was something else, I had my latch checked by every available professional and they assured me everything was great and he was doing well. So why was I in so much pain?
Then we hit week two and Hedd hit a growth spurt, he spent 12 hours straight feeding, without a break. I was exhausted. During the day I started to feel achey but I just put it down to sitting in the same position all day, but by early evening I realised this was more and I was coming down with something. My right breast started to throb and I began to cry out in pain each time he latched on. I handed Hedd over to my Mum and curled up under two duvets and a pile of blankets and started to shake. I was running a fever and never in my life had I felt so poorly. It was time to call the doctor.
I was diagnosed with Mastitis and given a course of antibiotics. I felt like a failure. I resorted to giving Hedd formula to give me a break and to recover from the fever. I cried all night. Seeing him so settled after a bottle made me feel like I wasn't enough.
Over the last two weeks I've ploughed through and carried on feeding Hedd, even when my nipples have been bleeding and topping him up with one or two bottles of formula a day which seems to be settling him.
But now I'm worried each time I breastfeed he never seems satisfied. I've tried everything. I let him feed for as long as he wants, then I offer him the other side. Sometimes he can be feeding for over an hour but still he doesn't seem full. That's when I'm resorting to a bottle as my nipples are still so sore.
I need advice Mama's, what should I do? Do I give him formula for a few days and let my nipples heal? Do I keep going and stop giving him the bottle? Or do I just give up and stick with the formula?
In my previous post on breastfeeding I was so narrow minded and expected breastfeeding would come easy and we wouldn't experience any problems. But since starting this post I have now also been diagnosed with nipple thrush. I am not going to feel guilty for having a night off tonight. I'm going to let the gel kick in and try and ease my cracked stinging nipples and offer Hedd expressed breastmilk in a bottle. I really hope that once we have sorted out all these issues we can get back on track and start on the positive breastfeeding road.
I don't blame other Mama's for giving up and switching to formula. Breastfeeding is hard and I really wish someone had told me just how emotionally and physically draining it can be. However I will not let this set me back or change my mind. I want to breastfeed my baby and I will get through this.
Did you experience any problems? How long did they last? Had thrush? Any remedies?
**this post is in collaboration with Medela.