Breastfeeding is No Joke

I've made a decision: we're going to blog about being a family/parent/etc. I didn't know if I would do this considering I started this blog as a renovation blog and thought that maybe I'd just want to keep it that way. But this is a huge, life changing experience for us that I have a desire to share about it. However, because I know many readers may not necessarily be as excited to hear about our family (or frankly, care - which hey, I completely understand, Zoe isn't your kid after all), I have decided that I will post about family/kid stuff on Fridays. That way you know what's coming, and if you want, you can just skip it. Sound good? Alright, we're off!

Oh man: breastfeeding is hard. I mentioned in passing in a post the other day that Zoe and I were having a bit of a tough time getting the hang of things. And after I made that little comment I got a lot of support from other moms via text, email, Facebook, phone call, etc. I was amazed at how many people shared this feeling, yet no one really talks about it beforehand. So I thought I'd open the door on what I had problems with or got frustrated about about in an attempt to share that hey, we all have problems. And maybe I'll sprinkle in some funny pictures of Zoe

Bahahahaha :)

1. Why don't they tell you it's so hard?

Seriously, this one seems completely obvious to me, but no one says anything. All the doctors always ask, "Are you going to breastfeed?" And we all know how beneficial it is to baby so we really want to. But, wouldn't it be helpful if they followed up that question with, "Well, it's really difficult and probably going to suck in the beginning. And your nipples are going to feel like they're being ripped off your boob." Don't you think that would be helpful? It would certainly warm you up to getting ready for it to be super challenging. It's amazing how your body just knows what to do and does it when it comes to being pregnant and cooking a baby, but breastfeeding? Get ready for a wild ride in which your body squirts milk everywhere, but you and your baby can't get it under control.

2. I'm trying to HELP YOU

This one is still a challenge with Zoe. We've gotten breastfeeding under control finally, but she still fights it sometimes. She gets hungry and fussy and cries and she certainly has a little pill of a personality sometimes and fights the boob. She pushes it away, shoves her hands in her face and does all she can to not be fed. I try to reason with her that I'm just trying to help her, but so far she doesn't seem to understand it ;) At this point it's gotten funny because I know I can eventually get her to latch on, but for that first week or so I felt like duct taping her hands to her sides.

(she doesn't approve of me talking ill about her :)

3. Look for help!

We're very lucky that with our health care we can set up appointments with lactation consultants at the hospital, and they even set one up automatically when they discharge you for 5 days after birth. Genius I tell you. That 5 day lactation appointment came when I was having A LOT of trouble feeding her and so it was a godsend. I learned some good holds, how to latch her on better and some other helpful advice. The lame thing is that after that appointment their on call line has not been helpful (in that I've left 2 messages and no one has called me back a week+ later). However the mother of one of my great friends is a lactation consultant so she offered me her number and I gave her a call. She was amazingly helpful also and helped me work through some problems I was having. Help is amazing. And you should ask for it.

4. Have your boobs been engorged? Because that sucks

I needed to call my friend's mom because one boob was CRAZY engorged. I was trying to remember things we'd read or what the lactation consultant at the hospital had said - but nothing was really working. And my boob was basically rock hard and nearly no milk was coming out. It totally sucked. Thanks to my friend's mom however the problem was resolved within a day, hooray! Warm compress, massage, feed, cold compress, repeat. It was really uncomfortable and hurt and freaked me out, but in the end we figured it out and I was very thankful.

5. OH MY GOD there are so many opinions

When I was having trouble feeding I was reading a baby book about it, looking things up online and of course asking the hospital's lactation consultant and EVERYONE has a different opinion. Even in the same baby book they contradict themselves. This of course just sets us up for questions later down the line - there is always going to be another theory or opinion on how you're supposed to solve _____ with your child. So I should really just get used to it. But it's hard when you're having a hard time feeding and trying to get some answers and you read things like: learn to cue feed (only feed when the baby wants it), babies who are fed more frequently sleep better at night (ie, feed you baby ALL THE TIME), wake your baby up if they haven't fed for 3+ hours, let your baby sleep through the night if they don't wake up to feed...OH MY GOD what advice am I supposed to follow??? Thankfully Zoe has learned to be a good feeder and feeds on a relatively consistent schedule. She can go a bit longer at night if I really get her good and drunk and she's gaining plenty of weight, so we're doing well.

6. You're basically a slave to the boob.

Man, breastfeeding is a full time job. I knew it would take a lot of time, but man, it takes a lot of time. Feedings take a while, rocking her to sleep or calming her down after, changing her explosive diaper she always gives us in the middle of a feeding...each feeding takes a decent about of time. And then you gotta lather, rinse, repeat just a little while later. We successfully had our first mobile feeding on Wednesday when we were running errands, so that made me feel a bit less trapped to the house with needing to be home to feed her. But it is amazing how quickly life begins to revolve around, "When was the last time I fed her...?"

7. Milk, milk everywhere

Once I figured out how to milk, the milk was plentiful. Oh my god plentiful. As in, one time I fed her on the right boob (pre-breast pads) and I looked over at my left boob and there was milk everywhere. At first I didn't know it was milk and I wondered if she had just peed all over me because it was alllll down my shirt an all over my jeans. So I smelled it. Nope, not pee, I had just apparently milked myself all over myself. I've now learned the importance of breast pads, but still, there is just milk everywhere. If she doesn't have the greatest latch we are both guaranteed to get major drippage all over ourselves.

8. Breast pads are VERY necessary

For all the above reasons.

9. Regression sucks

Just when you've made progress, you slide back down. The other day she decided for the whole day that she wasn't really very hungry. She would feed for only 2-4 minutes and I was getting totally freaked out (I know, I know, calm down Meryl) so I called the advice nurse who said that because Zoe was still a pooping/peeing machine she was getting enough, but that if that stopped in addition to slow feedings, there was something to worry about. Of course, a few hours later we got our groove back and I was just overreacting :) But those little backslides can be very frustrating.

10. Just because you can't, doesn't mean you're less of a woman

This is the one to REALLY remember. Of course we would all love to breastfeed. We know how important and helpful it is to babies, but if it doesn't work out, that's okay. When Zoe and I were having trouble at the beginning it made me feel like less of a woman. That somehow because I didn't intuitively know exactly how to breastfeed and it didn't work perfectly from the beginning that my womanhood was in question. This is completely false and terrible to think about yourself. There are so many reasons why things might not work, and that is absolutely 100% okay. My brother ripped my mom to shreds and so I was never breastfed. I'm ok. My dad is one of 5 kids with 4 adopted, so naturally my grandma couldn't breastfeed him and his 3 adopted siblings and as she humorously pointed out, "they turned out not to be ax murderers." We're all trying and we'll all make it work in our own way that is best for our own family.

What about you? Any headaches, frustrations, commiserations?


peak said...

She's beautiful and, I promise, it gets much, much easier and much, much quicker! Good for you for asked for help!

Katy said...

Oh man do I remember those days of being trapped in the house with marathon cluster feeds!! You'll be happy to hear that by now (and for the past couple months), M eats every 3-4 hrs and it usually takes under 10 minutes. SO MUCH EASIER. Oh, and the leakage stopped too! I know this varies from woman to woman, but all of a sudden after about 4 months my boobs figured out that I didn't have twins, and one of them could lay low while the other was at work. ;-)

Katy said...


RTBoyce said...

First daughter=vacuum cleaner. Man that newborn could nurse! Good for resolving the initial engorgement/milk comes in like nobody’s business. But really painful the week after, until my nipples toughened up - seriously, I would flinch every time she latched on, although the nursing itself wasn’t painful. By the second week, all was well in nursing-land (sleeping for any length of time was another thing entirely and involved a lot a singing, patting, and walking around lightly jouncing, but nursing was easy).
Second daughter had thrush, a mouth infection that happens with some newborns. She would latch on, make an “ouch!” face, stop nursing, and go to sleep. Which meant an emergency room visit for us, because newborns pretty much HAVE TO EAT: it’s their job. We got her a prescription which cleared it up (administering liquid meds to a newborns is surprisingly tough - she was astonishingly fast and effective at pushing it back out of her mouth, so I cleaned a bunch out of her ears before I got the hang of holding her lips in a pout until she swallowed - note that 3-yr-old sister was monitoring all this to ensure her baby was OK). And then after all that nursing went OK for her too.
I am guessing a lot of nursing issues happen in those first couple weeks, even though we’ve had totally different experiences.

Emily said...

Hurray Baby Talk Fridays!
I just had my second daughter on Monday.
Breastfeeding was REALLY tough the first time around, and I agree with every point you make.
Do you have a breastpump? It will help with engorgement, baby not feeling like feeding, etc. Get a good one, even used - but replace the tubing, etc.
I was very pleased to discover that nursing has thus far been much easier this time around. I'd say 90% of it is less stress on my part. I know I have milk, I know she wants/needs/is able to get to it, and so I can be more patient about it. She being fussy? Ok, try to burp her (Vera is much gassier/prone to spitting up than Fallon ever was) and switch sides. I'll talk to her about it and keep my head. Crying doesn't grate on my soul as much as it did the first time around, but I also have daily exposure to 4 year old wheedling/whining/etc.
It gets better. You're doing great. She looks awesome. Don't forget to take lots of pictures of you two together! Those are my older daughter's favorites from when she was a baby.

Heather said...

There's a reason why rich people used to have wet nurses: breastfeeding is WORK.

My sister came to visit two months after her second was born and she was pumping the whole time but was still freaked out that her milk would dry up after being gone for 36 hours. She took some herb from Whole Foods that stimulates milk production, just in case.

In the middle of karaoke she was like, "I need to go pump RIGHT NOW." The herbs had worked. You have my sympathy!

You made a seriously cute baby. So many babies look weird at this age but she's beautiful.

The Scotdogs' said...

She's beautiful! I nursed all 3 of my boys and MAN could they eat!!

My SIL also nursed all 3 of hers and never once leaked!! I was like you and had a lot of washable breast pads because I was a huge leaker. And, TMI - but it would also happen during s#x, lol!

When I was engorged I had to get in a hot shower and massage some out - oh the memories!

I also cracked and bled with one son, OMGosh did that hurt! But it was all worth it.

Anonymous said...

Dude I could have told you it suks sorry! Just a heads up if your nipples get cracked and bleed like mine did just let breast milk sit on the cracks and they will heal. Weird but it works. Also make sure u change your breast pads cause it can cause u to get a breast infection and lets just say id rather do labor again then deal with a breasted infection :( after about 2/3 months its super easy just hang in there. Ps.. her face is priceles!!

Leslie said...

I agree! Breastfeeding - that most natural of motherly functions - does not actually come naturally for some reason. It's hard! All I can offer is that it does get easier and less messy. Supply and demand, baby! In a few weeks you'll stop producing too much milk and you can go out in public without worrying about leakage. No more nursing pads or tense feedings. You, baby and boobs will be portable and out-and-about town. So hang in there!

Deb said...

For me, breastfeeding was great - for about a two week period (after it finally stopped hurting like shit and I figured it out and right before I had to go back to work after a 12 week leave). Honestly, I did it because it was so convenient in the middle of the night (especially with a C-Section) but once my babies slept through the night (which I basically forced upon them at ten/twelve weeks of age) I was done. D.O.N.E. I realize there are so many benefits to it - but it was just too stressful and painful and disheartening for me so we decided to do it as long as possible and then switch to formula. I got a TON of grief from people about quitting (to the point that I would be in hysterics crying to my husband about it) but honestly you just have to do what's right for you. I thought it would be easier with my second baby but it wasn't - each one is different so I didn't even make it 12 weeks with her. If you can breastfeed at all, that's great. If you can't? Your child will still be OK. Millions of babies got zero breast milk and they are thriving today.

Deb said...

She's gorgeous! You're doing great...

meryl rose said...

Thank you SO MUCH everyone! All of your comments were so helpful and funny :) Glad that I'm not the only one who was confused or distressed at my sore nipples ;)

And Deb - I am extremely defensive when people give moms shit for not breastfeeding. As a never breast fed baby I turned out completely fine and healthy (at least I think so...) I also have a great bond with my mom. Yes, breastfeeding gives baby great benefits, but if it doesn't work for mom and baby, everyone else should mind their own damn business!

Anonymous said...

Kellymom is a great breastfeeding resource if no one has told you about it. Sounds as if this article might help: http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/fast-letdown/

Also, babies will get fussy and pull off the boob when they need to pee/poop. Can't eat and poop at the same time. As many times as newborns pee it sometimes interferes with feeding.

You're doing great mama!

Jessica said...

I'm glad you guys are getting the hang of nursing! I remember going through all this when my daughter was born. My sons took to breastfeeding right away, but she was so pokey about it in the hospital. Eventually we got to a point where her blood sugar was getting low and she was either going to have to nurse or take a bottle of formula. I tried a different hold (football), she nursed and we're now on month 16 of breastfeeding. (I was ready to stop at a year, but she apparently was not).

I'm so glad there are more resources out there now for breastfeeding. I remember looking stuff up on Kellymom practically every day for the first few weeks we were home.

I like the idea of family Fridays. Glad you're going to keep posting baby stuff!

Mary Ann said...

You really did grow a little cutie! Can't wait for Fridays.

Melissa said...

All I can say is it gets easier. I had a lot of nursing issues with my first and then it just seemed to get better over night. I remember walking through the mall and nursing him when he was about 3 months thinking, "wow we have come so far". :-)

meryl rose said...

Thanks for the helpful resources ladies! And I'm glad you're excited for "Family Fridays," hehehehe :)

Colleen Proppé said...

At least you don't have twins. :) I can always tell the story of sitting on the floor in my sons room, back to a crib with one baby on each breast at 5am, exhausted, tears streaming down the face, crying... "God, what did I do? I prayed for two boys. What did I do?"

Well, they are 11 now and I love them and they are total goofballs and pretty bright kids. They will never remember that moment, but I can laugh about it now. Hugs. Hang in there. This too shall pass.