Breastfeeding: It Gets Better

Way easier than nursing a newborn

My husband pointed out a blog post about breastfeeding on Ask Moxie in which she was asking readers to comment with their “it gets better” stories. A while back, I began writing a series of posts on my adventures in breastfeeding, but haven’t made much progress lately. The comment I made on Moxie’s blog summarizes it probably as concisely as I ever will. Devoid of details that I’ll hopefully add in future posts, here is my “it gets better” post about breastfeeding:

Things seemed to start out well despite one cracked nipple and scabbing on the other. I still wasn’t willing to give up nursing when he would not stop crying his second day. I resisted supplementing until I finally got so depressed that I couldn’t get out of bed to care for him. He went to the nursery so I could sleep off my traumatic birth and heal from my c-section, but I still had to wake up every two hours to pump.

I was so determined to breastfeed that I wouldn’t even give up after he rejected the breast because of the bottles they gave him at the hospital. My husband and I woke up every two hours so he could bottle feed our son while I pumped for the next feeding. Then the doctor told us our son was still losing weight.

I wouldn’t even look at the bottles of formula the hospital sent home with us. Instead we went to visit the most amazing lactation consultants ever and they taught us how to use a nipple shield and syringe to coax my son back to the breast.

That was the beginning of a couple of very long days when each feed meant another struggle. My husband wielded the syringe, I wielded the breast, and my son wielded his stubborn resolve. The first few times it took an hour to get him to eat, then 45 minutes, soon he was eating after a half hour and so on until he finally accepted that the nipple shield was similar enough to the feel of a bottle.

A couple weeks later we were ready to do away with the shield. I was terrified, but I just wanted to be able to whip out my boob and feed my son without any contraptions. Sometimes he was ok without it, sometimes he accused me with his cries of trying to starve him. Finally, he started to accept my nipple without the shield more often than with it and eventually I could toss it into a box of baby stuff we hope to never need again.

Boy, we had a hard time. But wait, there’s more! I noticed a little white bump on my nipple, consulted the internet and discovered I had a (very painful) clogged nipple pore. Every time I’d discuss it with friends they’d say “oh man, plugged ducts are so painful!” and I’d clarify, “no, this is not a plugged duct. I’ve had those. A plugged duct is nothing. This is searing pain IN MY NIPPLE EVERY TIME I NURSE on that side.”

The lactation consultant told me they take a few weeks to go away. Mine took more like six. Before every time I nursed I would soak in hot water with epsom salt while my son wailed. After, I would lather up with nipple butter; sometimes I wore breast shields that made me look like Madonna so my nipple wouldn’t rub on my shirt. Every time I nursed, I would curl my toes under and curse my husband for suggesting formula.

I did not get mastitis. There’s the part that went well.

Here’s the good news. At eight weeks, my world changed. I healed. My son was nursing well and gaining weight like a sumo wrestler. And I was on a high that can only come from achieving something that was oh so very hard to achieve.

Now my son is 13 months old and nursing is my favorite thing I do every day. I LOVE it and I thank my stubborn past-self for not giving up. I see moms around me weaning their kids left and right and I’m overjoyed that my son seems to have no interest in weaning. I know he’ll want to stop one day, but I hope to make it to two years. It’s really up to him, though. I wasn’t ok with him quitting when he was four days old, but now that we’ve hit one year, I’ll reluctantly give it up if he wants.

What is your “it gets better” story?

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5 thoughts on “Breastfeeding: It Gets Better

  1. Oh my god. Katie, you are my hero. I don’t have an “it gets better” nursing story; I feel kind of guilty saying this, but we had a remarkably smooth start to our nursing relationship and have done really well with it every since (I’ll try not to feel guilty about that). I don’t yet have an end to our “it gets better” adaptation to solids story, though (my kid at almost 14 months is iffy at best with solids), but I think fighting through pain, sleep deprivation, and lots of pressure to bottle feed makes for a much more inspiring story than anything we’ll experience with our solids saga. Breastfeeding is just so very, very important, and not everyone would have done through all of that. Kudos to you, both for your tenacity and for sharing this with others!

  2. katie,
    your commitment is fantastic. with so many benefits to breast feeding, your son is lucky you stuck to your guns. though i’m not a mom, my experience as a nanny is that toddlerhood is easier than babyhood. as long as you toddler-proof your home haha. your open honesty is a great quality in your blog. thank you for sharing. hope you are enjoying your summer and getting that little boy and yourself into a cool pool !
    Take care,
    Leah

  3. My favorite milestones have been no more syringes, no more asking how painful it was, no more complaints about some new boob-problem and of course… side-lying position… the most amazing thing on earth.

  4. I had really sore cracked nipples the first week I was nursing my daughter. I was putting Lasinoh cream on my nipples, but it was so thick that putting it on was painful. Then, a friend suggested the Made from Earth Aloe & Jojoba Creme Therapy.

    Wow, what a difference, it is oily but goes on smooth and heals the nipples like you would not believe. It does have a GREAT smell. Highly recommended!

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