Breastfeeding: A Word of Advice…

Written by Special Guest Writer Ailsa Long
BreastfeedingMy Doula, McRae Brittingham, recommended that I share my breastfeeding story with you to help others in their quest to breastfeed naturally.A word of advice …

I was a high risk, first time, mature, single, mom-to-be and had no preconceived ideas about breastfeeding, but knew that I wanted to have a natural labor and breastfeed my baby as soon as he flexed his baby lungs and screamed his arrival. 22 hours of natural labor, three hours of epidural expectations and one hour of c-section delivery soon shot my fairytale dream delivery but I still remained hopeful for a blissful breastfeeding experience.

So then I was faced with this new infant who wanted to eat 24/7 or so it seemed. Who relied on me to provide his every need. The lactation nurse came in to see me at the hospital that very morning, and proceeded to “teach” me how to properly breastfeed, as she aggressively fondled me and managed to get my boy latched on. I felt relieved and slightly violated.

However, as I was soooo drugged up with hospital medications to keep pain at bay, I seemed to remember thinking that the lactation nurse looked very similar to my long deceased grandfather. Truth be told, I was so blitzed when the lactation nurse was explaining how to help the baby latch onto my breast. Why, I wonder now, is this instruction not provided the week prior to birth, when you are completely sober and drug free.

A word of advice … take the lactation nurses prescription for Jack Newman’s Nipple ointment, and ask for refills – it was a saving grace.

Those first couple of days of breastfeeding were impossibly hard, upsetting and stressful for me. I was just grateful my son was getting milk and didn’t pay much attention to how he was getting it, which resulted in cracked, bleeding and extremely sore nipples from hell.

I was fortunate enough to have a Doula and postpartum Doula who helped me, as best they could, with how to adjust my breastfeeding positions to help with the latch. But my son and I were constantly at odds when it came to my breasts and his feeding. It was frustrating, awkward and painful for both of us.

On the second month, I was desperate to try and figure out a compromise for us. My postpartum Doula suggested a visit to the Breast Whisperer located in southside. I was intrigued and did I mention, desperate. So I immediately made an appointment and was ushered into the Breast Whisperer’s house, with baby and all baby feeding paraphernalia. I was shown how to cradle my child, supporting him and how his latch should feel and look like, without the aggressive fondling the hospital lactation nurse had generously provided previously.

The Breast Whisperer weighed my baby, in the buff, after each breastfeeding, to determine the quantity of milk he was receiving from each breast. And surprise, surprise, it was sufficient and he was thriving. I had such a feeling of relief and success. At last, I could provide for my child without both of us cringing, crying or climbing walls.

It took one more visit to the Breast Whisperer a couple of weeks later to find new feeding positions that would work for us, as my son grew big, strong and healthy. She recommended hydrogel pads to help soothe my enflamed nipples and by the third month, my son and I were best friends at breastfeeding time and my nipples, while they are as hard as silver bullets, have sufficiently recovered.

I am still breastfeeding my son, who turns five months old next week. Back in the bleak days, I swore I would “only breastfeed him for two more weeks”. My aim now, is to continue breastfeeding for as long as I want. Now, if only finding a job were that easy!

Another word of advice … if it hurts, just reach out for help. Don’t be frustrated alone. Believe me when I say, “by the third month, it becomes sooooo much easier.”