God Breastfeeding is a bitch.
I have to admit I was really naive when I went along to the midwife appointments when I was pregnant. I actually scoffed at the question whether I would be breastfeeding. Of course I would be breastfeeding, why wouldn’t someone breastfeed? The midwives still went through the obligatory list advising me of all the benefits of breastfeeding. I’m glad they did because if they hadn’t drilled it home how important it is then I would have given up by now.
In the hospital the midwives were great, they helped me get the baby attached. By that I mean they grabbed my boob and just started feeding the nipple into his mouth until eventually he stayed there sucking. One of them got so excited she took a photo, with my phone not hers. I wasn’t completely confident before I left but the last midwife was mean when I asked if I could see a lactation consultant and I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time so I thought I would just figure it out on my own.
I was able to breastfeed for the next couple of days at home but then engorgement set in and he wouldn’t attach. I was in agony with big swollen breasts and flat nipples. A helpful visiting midwife suggested expressing to reduce the engorgement and use nipple shields until it was over so the baby could attach again. I was told engorgement would last 24 – 48 hours so I thought that I could easily handle that. Unfortunately what I didn’t realise is that by expressing the breasts until they were empty I was prolonging engorgement so it wasn’t until the child health nurse saw me 4 days later that I stopped that and the agony went away.
By then the baby was well and truly used to the nipple shields so I had to start trying to wean him off the shields. My nipples also still hurt from when I was feeding without the shields so I kept them until the pain went away. The pain eventually did but by then I was tired so when the baby refused the nipple I just gave in and kept thinking I’ll start the weaning tomorrow.
Tomorrow came and I kept trying to attach him but he was refusing and crying over and over again. Finally I worked out from google that he had oral thrush. The child health nurse confirmed it. I then realised I had thrush on my nipples which explained the stinging pains, the itchiness and the white spot on my right nip. The treatment is an oral gel that I put on my nipple that he is meant to get from feeding. I got him attached for the first time in 4 weeks and had a praise Jesus moment, I even had tears of joy then he pulled off, made a strange face like he sucked a lemon then screamed louder than he had ever screamed before.
I decided that nipple shields aren’t that bad and we would just have to keep using them but my let down was so fast the milk was pouring into his mouth causing him to cough and splutter. He must have gulped a lot of air because then he developed a wind problem which resulted in a week without a poo. I then decided to try expressing and bottle feeding for a while until the wind issue improved. Hours of steralising equipment, pumping milk, winding baby and medicating with infacol ensued. Finally a friend suggested trying fennel tea. I gave the baby 2 ml then the next day he had the biggest poo explosion I’ve ever seen (luckily the only one I’ve ever seen) and then the wind disappeared.
So here I am at 5 weeks, we both still have thrush, I’m using nipple shields and he’s a greedy gulper. I know I shouldn’t be complaining because I’m very lucky to even be able to breastfeed at all but god breastfeeding is a bitch.