Hello everyone! I am Kristin and I blog over at Busy Bee.
I am a new mama to my baby girl, Kenley, who was born on November 15th.
I am currently breastfeeding and pumping (working mom here) and plan to continue through Kenley’s first year.
While I was pregnant, there was never a question about whether or not I would breastfeed, and not because I knew anything about it, I just thought that’s what you did. Then I started to do my research. I quickly learned that breastfeeding is not only super beneficial for the baby but for the mama too, but we’ve all heard that story a million times. The stories that I didn’t see were the ones about how difficult it can be and what a ginormous commitment it is, which is why I loved Julie’s Breastfeeding Series so much and am so honored to be here to share my story with all you other moms and moms-to-be.
Like I said, I did a ton of research. I read every online article I could find, I read books on breastfeeding and I took a class. While the education was so valuable and did really prepare me for nursing my baby, I still had a tough time.
A super tough time.
I didn’t have the “typical” breastfeeding troubles — low milk supply, improper latch, mild discomfort. In fact quite the opposite, Kenley latched right away and according to the hospital’s Lactation Consultant latched perfectly. My milk came in after two days and while I was engorged and slightly uncomfortable it wasn’t a big deal.
I did, however, have incredibly cracked nipples. My little angel is quite the sucker fish and was destroying my nipples without me really realizing it. I figured the pain was the typical pain that all breastfeeding moms talk about…but it didn’t get better after a few weeks like everyone said. In fact, it was getting worse. It hurt so bad I would hold my breath and cry while Kenley was latching. I would dread nursing her and would cry when she would cry because I knew it meant she was hungry and knew that meant extreme pain for me.
A few days after Kenley was born I developed Bells Palsy (basically the right half of my face was frozen in place). I saw a doctor who ordered an MRI with a contrast dye, which meant I couldn’t breastfeed for 24 hours. Because they wanted to do the MRI immediately (to make sure something more serious wasn’t going on), I didn’t have a chance to pump and create a supply. My baby was only a week old. I was so panicked and stressed. Everything I had learned said not to pump for several weeks, not to give a bottle for several weeks and most certainly not to give your baby formula. I was one week postpartum, half my face didn’t work, I was tired, I was hormonal and I literally thought the world was coming to an end.
But, it didn’t. Kenley took to the bottle just fine. The formula didn’t upset her stomach. Pumping for 24 hours didn’t effect my supply. Kenley latched back on with no problems. I tell this story to every mom I possibly can…because I think it’s so important to know that things will happen that will interfere with the “perfect breastfeeding plan.” And that’s OK. Babies are more resilient than we give them credit for.
After that whole ordeal, I got back on track with breastfeeding. It still hurt and hurt so bad. Because it hurt so bad I would pump and give Kenley a bottle several times a day to give my nipples a break or I would skip pumping and supplement formula, which of course wasn’t ideal and caused me to be super engorged. I didn’t know if she was getting enough, I didn’t know if I was doing this right and I felt like things were spiraling out of control. I was ready to give up. So I got help. And thank God I did. I kick myself now for waiting 4 weeks to see someone. I went to a Lactation Consultant at our Peditrician’s office and she was the sweetest and most helpful lady I have ever met.
First, she checked Kenley’s latch–still perfect.
Next, she weighed Kenley– getting plenty to eat and is as healthy as can be.
Then, she checked me–extremely cracked and damaged nipples and mastitis on BOTH sides (very uncommon).
She immediately gave me a prescription for the mastitis and recommenced that I use expressed breastmilk on my nipples to help them heal. She warned me that breastfeeding would likely hurt until they were healed but would most certainly be pain-free once they were. So that’s what I did. The medication cleared up the mastitis which was a game changer. Then within a couple of weeks my nipples were completely healed. I was able to feed my baby pain-free and got to experience that happiness and pride while nursing that I heard so many moms talk about.
The moral of my story is that breastfeeding is hard. It can hurt and might hurt really bad. But don’t give up. Go get help. If you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t and it’s time to let someone help you. And if you need to supplement formula or give yourself a break with pumping and a bottle, that’s OK. You need to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your baby. People told me that breastfeeding was hard for the first two weeks, for me it was hard for the first six weeks but I stuck with it and I am so thankful that I did. It amazes me that my baby has grown so much and is so healthy and it’s all thanks to what I alone am providing her. Truly incredible.
Thank you so much to Julie for having me but more for getting all these stories and all this information out there! Us mamas have to stick together and Julie is making that happen!
all photos thanks to the talented Sara Jayne Photography.
Catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries series at the top of my navigation bar!
Great story and message! Glad you got on the mend and now it is a good experience.
Thanks for having me Julie!!! 🙂
Great post Kristin! 🙂 I know first hand just how amazing Kristin has done and how adorable Kenley is! 🙂
Great Post!! Breast feeding is such a personal experience!!
Here are my posts on it.
Suzy JoyIsAtHome says
I love these posts! Great job 🙂 I am still nursing my 9 month old exclusively and it's not AT ALL what I expected. I figured either I would be able to do it easily and naturally or I wouldn't be able to at all… I didn't think it would just be SUPER HARD and require as much dedication. I'm glad I've stuck it out because of the health benefits, but I will be glad to wean at a year as well (although I'm sure I'll miss the snuggles). It's so awesome to have these posts for moms to know what to expect because if you want to exclusively breastfeed, it takes SO much time & dedication.. and if that's not for you, it's important to let that be OK before you are in the thick of postpartum hormones with everyone telling you their opinion and what you should do. Thanks for the series 🙂
Very nice post…and such a sweet little baby! Doing your research, being prepared and getting help (if needed) are keys to success. You're doing a great job!
i love Kristin! SO happy she was featured on your BFDs. I've learned so much from these series, I feel like it really has prepared me for how hard breastfeeding can be and the different issues/solutions that worked for each woman.
Great post, Kristin…you're such a trooper! I can't believe you had mastitis on both sides, ouchie! I also read about using expressed breastmilk on cracked nipples, worked like a charm for me in the early days!
Stephanie Ann says
I'm so glad to have read your series and this post! I have been struggling with a severely cracked nipple for 6 weeks (all but 3 weeks of his life now). It isn't so bad that I want to rip my nipple off when my little guy latches anymore but its still painful. I wish that more moms were as supportive as all you! I felt pressured to use a nipple shield at the hospital and while weaning him off it he cracked my nipple. It's been a long lonely painful journey. I think all BFing mamas know how lonely it can be when you're feeding in the middle of the night and you're exhausted and in so much pain!
However, given the choice, I would never do anything else. There is something so amazing about being everything your baby needs.