When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Come Naturally


November 6, 2018

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When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my son, and I wasn’t too worried about how it would work. I signed up for a breastfeeding class at a local hospital, read various blog posts, and read some books. I figured that breastfeeding was a natural thing, so how hard could it be?

Looking back, the breastfeeding class that I took at the local hospital was misleading. They made it seem like an easy, enjoyable bonding experience for you and the baby, and never mentioned any issues that could occur.

This is FAR from the truth. At least, it was for me, and for many women that I have met since then.

Don’t get me wrong: breastfeeding is natural, but it also has a major learning curve. There are fast let downs, and low milk supply, and shallow nipples, and it takes time to find what works for you and your baby. For me, the biggest issue was my son’s tongue and lip ties.
From the start, I experienced excruciating pain every time I nursed my son, so I knew something was wrong.

I requested that the hospital’s lactation consultant visit me ASAP. She did, and suspected that my son had a tongue tie. This was confirmed by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor, who was able to revise it in the hospital. Unfortunately, the pain continued, and the hospital’s lactation consultant was of little help. She sent me home with “his latch looks good, it will get better.”

It didn’t get better, and feeding my baby became my least favorite thing.

Every single day, 8 to 10 times a day, I had to psych myself up for thirty minutes of excruciating pain, not knowing if or when the pain would stop. Even if I wasn’t nursing, chances were my nipples were throbbing.

The only thing that kept me going was the fact that my son was gaining weight, so I knew that despite my pain, he was at least transferring milk.

After I cried in the middle of the night as my husband handed me my son—cried because I didn’t want to nurse him and deal with the pain—my husband encouraged me to seek help again.

This time, I reached out to a friend’s mom who put me in touch with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). This woman saved me. I was SO close to giving up.
She came to our house and diagnosed what was actually causing the pain. It turns out that my son’s tongue tie was not fully revised in the hospital, and he also had a lip tie.

Fortunately, we found a local pediatric dentist who specializes in diagnosing and revising ties.

Nursing finally became bearable when my son was six weeks old. I pumped, I used a nipple shield and so much nipple cream, but I made it!

Now, I can say that I met my goal!

I have nursed my son for his first year of life, and to be honest, I consider it one of my biggest accomplishments in my life.

It was hard, but I was able to work through it, and now I can help other breastfeeding moms by sharing my experience.

Whenever I find out that a friend is pregnant, I don’t sugarcoat the potential struggles of nursing. I share with them the difficulties that I faced, and hope and pray that they’ll give birth to a super nurser.

I make sure that they know that there is help, and resources, and support…because breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and that’s okay.

Here are some resources that helped me as I worked through this:

  1. Working with a lactation consultant
  2. Attending a local nursing support group
  3. Joining a facebook group for nursing moms
  4. This book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: Completely Revised and Updated 8th Edition By: La Leche League
  5. This website: https://kellymom.com/ was helpful and all about parenting and breastfeeding

Here are some products that helped me too:

  1. Motherlove Nipple Cream
  2. Reusable nursing pads
  3. Nursing pillow
  4. Nipple shield (I wouldn’t use this without working with/consulting a lactation consultant though)
  5. Round reusable gel packs. These can be used hot or cold to provide pain relief for your nipples

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