Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Greatest Challenge

1 day old Ellie :)
  Well, I'm 3 weeks and 5 days into having a baby and although there have been many challenges so far (my own recovery, sleep deprivation, dealing with a crying infant, etc), by far the greatest challenge has been breastfeeding. I read a lot about breastfeeding when I was pregnant. I had no doubt in my mind that it was the best for the baby and that I would do anything to make sure I could provide this nourishing substance for my baby. Yet somehow I don't think all my reading managed to portray how incredibly difficult it would be.

You see, when Ellie was first born and we were still in the hospital, the challenge was in learning how to hold her properly (with an IV in the crook of my elbow - which *constantly* interfered with correct positioning) and how to get her latched on properly. Every bad latch resulted in major nipple pain during the next attempt. Speaking of nipple pain - holy crap!!! I could never have imagined how much it hurt. I think I may have even let out a little scream once or twice. Luckily, if you get the latch right, the pain goes away within about half a minute. If you get it wrong though, stop immediately because it will only get worse!

By the time we were leaving the hospital, I felt much better about breastfeeding. I went home thinking the hardest part was over. Ha! What a cruel joke nature plays. Clearly I had forgotten that I was only feeding her colostrum and I was yet to experience the joys (!!) of engorgement when my milk came in. Now, I'm already bigger chested, but wow - these puppies got HUGE and HARD and LUMPY and PAINFUL! I can't even describe it enough. Sleeping was awkward (on top of the fact that I couldn't sleep in many positions because of my healing incision). Feeding Ellie was painful too because I had to massage those painful, lumpy boobs while she fed. Finally though, a health nurse that visited us at home suggested putting cabbage leaves in my bra for 20 minutes after a feeding. Strange - but it worked with just one use!! Sweet relief!

Now the pain is seldom and the lumpy engorgement only seems to happen occasionally. The new challenge: leakage! Even with breast pads, I woke up to a nice little puddle on my sheets last night! My advice for anyone taking on the breastfeeding challenge: try a bunch of different breast pads. I have reusable ones in bamboo and cotton as well as 3 different brands of disposables. It definitely took trying all of these to discover that the Johnson & Johnson disposables are by far my favourite. But to each their own! I still use the reusable ones, but at least have another option for when they're in the laundry.

So those are my breastfeeding frustrations in a nutshell! Breastfeeding definitely has a STEEP learning curve, but at least it gets better fairly quickly!

Maybe next I'll post about some of those other challenges (or maybe something more upbeat??).

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