My Breastfeeding Journey - Part 1

5:09 PM Amanda Greathouse 0 Comments

Breastfeeding. One of the many things a new mother and family must decide whether to venture into on the brink of bringing their little one into this crazy world. How will I feed my child? What is right for my child and my family? Well after much research and talking to many different people, this is the choice we made for our family.

I didn't know much at all about breastfeeding, in all honesty, until I got pregnant and somehow, I knew it was something I wanted to do. I'd never known anyone who breastfed until I got to Germany and met so many young women, around my age, who had at least attempted for some time who I asked endless questions. I don't at all want it to seem like I look down on formula or mothers who feed their children formula! Both my sister and I as well as my husband, brother-in-law, nieces and nephews all had formula and are great! But after all I'd learned, I couldn't not try to breastfeed! 

Skin to skin loving in the hospital with my little guy

I knew having a baby was going to change and consume our lives, especially after deciding to breastfeed. I'd heard and read how often newborns eat, but you don't really realize it until its you doing the feeding. 

I knew the importance of skin to skin, especially right after birth. I delivered at a military hospital and happily, it was their policy to place the baby with mom immediately after birth, assuming there are no complications. After such hard work, I was in shock and awe with this little baby they placed on my chest. I wanted to smile and cry all at once, especially after I saw the look on my husband's face as we admired our new son. But within minutes things changed - I was losing too much blood as my body was failing to hemorrhage. To make it easier on the doctor to "fix me up," a nurse took Greyson to clean him up and weigh him. After an hour of pain and all kinds of discomforts, I finally got to hold my son and stare at him like I'd imagined doing. I followed the advice I read and had the help of great nurses as I tried to latch him - fail. He was so tired and just wouldn't. They told me it wasn't a big deal as many babies aren't hungry right after they are born. 

So after we got settled into the Mother Baby Unit, we tried again. And again. He just wasn't having it. I had several nurses try to help me, showing me different techniques to latch him or hand express so he could have the colostrum. I started to get nervous - was this just not going to happen? Finally, around 8 PM that night [Greyson was born around 10 AM] my nurse suggested I use a nipple shield and see if it helped, which it did! Greyson latched right on and was finally nursing. I was relieved and anxious! Something I'd set my mind to doing was finally on its way. 

We were discharged on a Saturday and had to return the next day for a check-up with Pediatrics. Greyson lost 11% of his body weight. Ugh. They don't want them to lose more than 10% within those few days, so now I was discouraged, especially when the doctor uttered the words I dreaded - "Come back tomorrow and if he hasn't gained, we'll let you know how to supplement with formula." I got tons of encouragement and information and found out that I didn't have to go with the doctor! His weight loss was normal and if I had to supplement, I could use my own milk. Luckily, by the next morning, he's gained several ounces more than they wanted to see him gain so we were good to go. 

Midnight cuddles with my happy boy

Around the clock feedings. Every 2 hours, even through the night. His adorable self made it a little easier to willingly get up at 3 AM when I'd looove to be sleeping to feed him. We had this idea and after talking to a few different people, went with it - a pacifier! He just wanted to suck on something all the time so figured this would be a great thing for him. He liked it, his latch didn't. 

Greyson & I after his first bath & getting the pacifier for the first time

I didn't realize it at the time, but things were about to change and challenge me in more ways I could have ever imagined. His latch was messed up and the pain was unbearable. I would cry feeding him. Cry when I was done feeding him. And cry watching him do anything knowing I was going to eventually have to feed him. It took 3 days. 3 days for me to break and almost give up. Greyson was 19 days or so old at this point. 

I researched and researched and had myself determined it was all sorts of problems. Thrush. Mastitis. Everything that could be wrong, I thought it was. I found a Lactation Counselor who was able to meet with me that day to try to help. She checked his latch and low and behold, he'd stopped flanging his upper lip out. She also told me I was on the right path to mastitis when I saw her. I had a red patch on my breast that was warm, but it went away by that evening so I didn't worry about it. His messed up latch had made him very inefficient. Fixing that little thing helped so much more than I could imagine at the time. But the damage was so extensive it would last for months. I had a giant gauge in my right nipple and my left nipple was basically gone! Ouch! 

Milk coma! 

Despite the damage and the lingering pain, I pressed on. I was told it would heal quickly with the latch fixed, but that wasn't entirely true. I finally spoke to the IBCLC here and showed her my situation and she almost cried for me. She could tell just by looking what kind of pain I was in and could not believe I was still breastfeeding at this point - and honestly, neither could I! She gave me a 3 cream compound to mix and put on every time I nursed. More things I had to carry around and worry about. But they were helping so I didn't mind. 3 months. That's how long it took for them to heal to the point where I could bear to have anything touch them. The day I could shower and not have to cover my boobs with one hand was an amazing day! 

Then I got a plugged duct! Seriously?! Things were just about healed and then this happened - which also happened to be during a week when my husband was away and everything was seemingly going wrong, including not having hot water for a few days. And what you want most when you have a plugged duct is hot water. Fail. After constant nursing, massaging, hot/cold compress and finally hot showers, it was gone. 

I thought everything was fine and dandy as we continued on our way. Then reality check - Greyson had stopped gaining weight for a whole month!! Our breastfeeding journey was about to take a stressful turn...

Our journey continues here