Having another baby after 6 years felt like we were starting all over again. I forgot about the sleepless nights, the diaper blow-outs, and nursing what felt like a million times per day. What I didn’t forget were the pains associated with breastfeeding. The engorgement, the clogged ducts, the cracked nipples, the latching issues, and mastitis. Oh how could I ever forget about getting mastitis when I had our first child? That type of pain is unforgettable! But of course that would never stop us from having more kids.
Knowing that I was potentially going to go through breast and nipple pain associated with breastfeeding didn’t discourage me to keep going. Week one was brutal with the nipple pain and my daughter not latching well. My nipples were so cracked I had to start using a nipple shield and I also had to start pumping. Introducing the bottle so early gave me anxiety because I was scared she wouldn’t go back to the breast and I really wanted that bond with her while I am on maternity leave. Yet, I needed to listen to my body and allow it to rest.
During the second week, my nipples were still cracked, but at least this time she was latching with the nipple shield. However, during the 3rd week.. I developed mastitis! I didn’t understand, I nursed her frequently and I pumped in between! Yet I was still getting knots and clogged ducts! It was so painful, I even had a fever and body aches for a few days. So I had to get antibiotics for the infection to go away. Along with the antibiotics I was pumping constantly and making sure I was feeding her as often as possible. I didn’t make any plans to leave the house and boy was I soooo tired. There was a point that I started to break down and cry because I was just overwhelmed and felt sooo defeated. One, my almost 6 year-old son was acting like a teenager. Second, I kept nursing and pumping yet I was STILL in pain. I didn’t understand.. it all felt like too much and I kept asking myself how am I going to overcome this?? Or am I even going to overcome this? I had thought about giving up, but that thought gave me anxiety. I wanted the best for my daughter, but I needed to take care of myself too.
During that week, I needed to put my pride aside and ask for help. I reached out to my mom to please please please come over and spend the week with me to assist with my son. That was certainly helpful. Also, even though my husband had to wake up early for work, he was the best partner to ensure that everything else at home was in tact. Without my mom and my husband I probably would’ve gone insane. My best friend who lives 3 hours away gave birth a month before me, it’s hard to see one another, but keeping one another company over the phone and text also kept me sane.
Not only were they the best help, but pumping during the wee hours of the night and numerous times of the day allowed me to virtually gain the support from other moms who have been there, too. Thanks to Medela Breastfeeding’s “The Moms’ Room” I was able to chat with other moms who were going through the same thing. The Moms’ Room offers free breastfeeding education and personalized support for moms and moms-to-be 24/7. Some of the topics covered include how her body changes, benefits of breast milk, guidance for getting an insurance-covered breast pump and tips for transitioning back to work after baby.
A lot of moms don’t get past the 3-week threshold, and I was one that almost didn’t either. However, I knew that I needed to do what it takes to push forward. First, I needed to make sure I felt good about myself. I made sure to rest when possible (even if it felt impossible); I drank plenty of fluids and I tried to eat nutrient-dense meals, too. Doing these helped in some ways, but sometimes, I make myself feel good by dressing up a little more. Right now, dressing up to me is wearing a comfy nursing bra and a versatile, but cute tank that I can wear with anything and still nurse. The top needs to be easy to wear so I can feel comfortable nursing in it. That’s why I love my Medela tank top! It doesn’t have a wire and it is ideal for layering, so I can pair it with a cute top or cardigan. I also love the Medela Nursing Sleep Bra since it’s so comfy to wear at night and easy to pull down to nurse and pump in. I also like that the fabric is breathable during this hot summer. Another thing that helped was pumping a little before I nursed my daughter.
I kept the Medela Manual Breast Pump on my night stand so that I can express a little bit before I nursed her. Being engorged caused her not to latch very well and she would just cry and cry! I learned that expressing some of the foremilk before nursing allowed baby to receive the fatty hindmilk. No wonder she’s got rolls for days!
While I was surfing in The Moms’ Room, I came across a lot of great advice such as breast massage tips to “empty” out your breasts while pumping; also using the warm pack on your breasts 15 min before nursing then immediately applying an ice pack for 15 min after. This helped reduce the inflammation from my infection. In addition, I learned that taking probiotics help prevent having mastitis again and drinking pineapple juice help reduce clogged ducts!
I could’ve given up, but I didn’t. I always reminded myself why I was doing this. It’s because of the love I have for my baby. If I didn’t keep trying, how would I ever know if I could do it? Sometimes part of motherhood is sacrificing to make the impossible, possible. By allowing myself to become vulnerable and letting go of my pride, I was able to meet the needs of my whole family, as well as, mine. To me, that’s victory.
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