My name is Monique and my husband Bill and I are parents to a loving and entertaining twenty month old son. We have been surprised to already have another baby on the way as well! I am excited to be able to contribute our story to these Breastfeeding Diaries since they served as a comfort and resource to me in my early days of motherhood.
I knew I wanted to breastfeed for a few reasons. It was the most natural form of nutrition I could offer my baby, it was a nice cost cutter considering I would not be working full-time anymore, and I hoped to build a close relationship with my baby. I had decided to breastfeed, and did not even consider an alternative or imagine any trouble. I had read my books and had talked to fellow breastfeeding moms so I thought I should be all set, right?
Leo was able to latch nicely in the hospital after a day or so of trying, however, once we were home everything changed. My milk came in on day three and the engorgement I experienced was very painful and caused such hardening of the breasts that my baby could no longer latch on. We kept trying and my nipples eventually became damaged so each latch attempt was excruciating. I was afraid to pump because I did not want to increase production, and I did not want to use a nipple shield because I did not want to cause nipple confusion. More than anything, I did not want to give up. My husband went out and bought cabbage leaves for me to put on my breasts since I read that they could ease engorgement. They did seem to help within the hour, but I continued to produce milk too quickly for my little Leo to easily access. My husband also brought me a nipple shield to try, but it was most likely a poor fit because it created a lovely blister on one side which increased my discomfort and frustration.
I called a La Leche League representative (phone number found on the website) and cried on the phone off and on for an hour with this sweet stranger I had never met. I was exhausted, in pain, and so fearful because my baby had two dry diapers over the past 24 hours. The mother on the other end was the kindest supporter, and I truly appreciated that motivation from her to not give up, and instead problem solve with in-person help rather than just the internet. I had already scheduled a lacation consultation the next day at our local hospital to have somebody else examine our latch and provide pointers for holds and positioning. The result: Nothing new to offer because she felt I was doing everything right and only the severe engorgement was to blame. I was grateful to be doing things correctly, but was still upset and very near to supplementing with formula until the engorgement subsided. The lactation consultant did not recommend I pump more than a half ounce to relieve pain.
Four days after my milk came in with such gusto, I was finally able to tell my breasts were softening. We returned to a good latch and successful feedings and did not see a dry diaper again! It was a waiting game, filled with unease and uncertainty, but it was over and I could feed my baby as much as he needed!
From that point on, we experienced some hiccups (overproduction, imbalance of foremilk and hindmilk, milk bleb) in our breastfeeding journey but overall, I feel so grateful to be able to provide him with the benefits of breastfeeding for sixteen months. We were able to combat two bouts of mastitis with a natural remedy of garlic (stinky but so effective in my cases!) and lots of rest. In addition, Leo was born with a clubfoot which resulted in him needing to have one leg casted for four weeks, followed by twenty three hours per day in feet/leg braces. Positioning him to breastfeed was challenging and I was left with bruised arms and thighs for those few months, but we eventually adapted and he was able to feed comfortably.
Leo became very interested in foods around ten months and eventually seemed to wean naturally throughout the day. I became pregnant again when he was fourteen months and by then we were down to one main morning feeding. After a couple more months, he easily transitioned to a fruit (banana or apple) as soon as he awoke and our breastfeeding relationship was complete. There was some sadness to be traded in for a piece of fruit (ha!) but I was mighty proud of our family for achieving our goal of at least a year of breastfeeding.
I plan to continue my dedication to breastfeeding with our second child, but I do know that I will try and give myself a break and not fear the “what ifs” so much. I feel more comfortable this time around to try different things like pumping or nipple shields to get through the toughest time, and just trust that my body will regulate and we will find our rhythm.
Julie, thank you So much for providing mothers with this outlet to share stories and support!
Health and love,
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