Dear formula feeding mommy, you see the look I give you, before sitting down with my baby and giving him my breast. I know you feel judged, but was my look judging or jealous?
We probably heard the same thing when we were pregnant, we probably even heard the same thing when we gave birth. “Breast is best” they say, while trying to show you what to do.
“It will hurt a little at first” is what I had read many times, but that really wasn’t the case. It hurt a lot.
“If it hurts, you aren’t doing it right” a smiling Lactation Consultant informed me at the hospital. Clearly I wasn’t “doing it right”, if that was the case; but after trying to do what she said and making the pain even worse for 5 minutes, I faked a smile, lied, and told her it was better now.
Thus began my journey of breastfeeding.
A look at my son’s latch told me that something wasn’t right, he was biting down way too hard, and his upper lip was tucked in, instead of flanged out. But three different LCs at the hospital, looked at him and said it was perfect, everything was beautiful. So I believed them, and didn’t say anything about how badly it hurt.
My milk came in great on day 3, introducing more issues. Choking, coughing, acid reflux, clicking tongue and swallowing air was very common, along with terrible colic. In questioning a natural living group on Facebook about what to do for acid reflux, they helped me confirm what I had suspected at the hospital. Lip and tongue ties.
So we had his ties revised and they healed nicely. While I did my best to train him to latch better, things didn’t improve to the effect that I felt they should.
At some point around this time I realized some of his colic was stemming from a dairy allergy. So I removed all dairy from my diet, thought I would starve some days trying to avoid it, but I did. Since I noticed a tremendous improvement in his colic, I remained off of dairy, but it wasn’t easy.
I also started noticing deep shooting pains in my breasts. Cold made them worse, shivery sounds (like screechy noises) actually made my breasts hurt, and my nipples would turn white at times. Sometimes nursing him was like a nightmare. The older he got, the harder he bit. It wasn’t a BITE though, he just had the tip of my nipple in his mouth and would suck with his gums pressed together instead of moving his jaws.
I was in such pain, and in spite of my being off dairy, he was still cranky. As a result, I literally began loathing him, I didn’t want him around because he would cry and cry, and then if I fed him he hurt me. Next came depression because what kind of mother didn’t want to be around her child?
At 4 1/2 months, I was at the end of my rope. Either I got help and fast, or I was quitting. But I didn’t want to quit, “breast was best” they said, and my son was gaining and growing fine. Aside from the dairy allergy, he was doing just fine on my milk. I, on the other hand, was miserable.
His poor latch gave me milk blisters as well. Blisters that were so bad I had to pop them so he could nurse. Then they would harden over the end of my nipple and I had to peel them off before he could nurse again. Of course, all that affected how my milk flowed and blocked milk ducts were common. It never went into mastitis, but I would get a fever every time I have a clogged milk duct.
At this point, I think you know the answer to my judging or jealous question.
I was jealous, plain and simple. Somehow you got to give your baby a bottle, while I was dealing with all sorts of pain, just from feeding my child.
At the time, I didn’t care why you were giving your baby a bottle. Maybe you really wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t. Maybe your milk never came in, maybe your baby couldn’t handle your milk, maybe it wasn’t rich enough for your baby and the doctor said “failure to thrive”.
And maybe, just maybe you had given yourself permission to quit because it hurt too bad, or maybe you never even tried. In my pain fogged mind, it didn’t matter. Somehow, someway, you were feeding your baby without pain, at least not physical pain.
Motherhood is a wonderful calling, but at that point, I felt anything but wonderful.
To make a long story short (or is it too late for that?!), I found a wonderful LC who helped me correct Kolton’s shallow improper latch. His improper latch had triggered Reynaud’s syndrome (thus the shooting pains and whitening of the nipple), and had to be retrained.
It wasn’t easy to fight a 4 month old in the retraining of his latch. Sometimes I cried with him. But we did it. We succeeded and even though it isn’t always perfect and sometimes I’m still a little sore, I am still nursing him.
If you see me glance your way now as you give your baby a bottle and wonder if I’m judging or jealous, well, I’m totally judging. KIDDING! 🙂
Actually, if you wonder what I’m thinking now, when I glance your way, don’t worry. I’m no longer jealous, and while I may wonder what your circumstances are, but I don’t judge. Most likely I am thinking how cute your little one is, and enjoying that common bond called motherhood, that you and I share.
We have another common bond as well; it’s the fact that we love our babies more than life itself, and will do everything possible to provide them with what we feel is in their best interest. Let’s lift each other up and encourage each other. Even when we decide opposite things are best for our child.
Dear formula feeding mommy, You Rock!
If you are like me, and in a position where you are struggling with nursing, dealing with a lot of pain and feeling anger towards your baby. I wanted to mention a couple of things that helped me.
If your anger/depression is coming from current circumstances like mine was, here are my suggestions:
- Find a Lactation consultant that can help you. If the first one (or three in my case) don’t help, keep looking.
- Pray aloud over your baby. There is truly power in prayer.
- Do skin to skin with your baby. Even though it doesn’t help the pain, it helps release oxytocin which blocks the pain a bit.
- Try feeding your baby while lying down. The position change can help with the pain, while the more relaxed position can also help release oxytocin.
- Give yourself a break. You are only human and will fail at times.
These things all helped, but getting his latch retrained properly helped the most.