First, I don’t care if you nurse or formula feed. It’s a personal decision, sometimes made for us by nature. We all are doing what is best for our family, and every family has a different struggle. All I care is that we support each other as women, mothers, sisters, friends, and humans.
I do be leave breastfeeding is such an amazing thing. The bond it naturally creates between Mother and Baby has been an enlightening experience for me. It’s a magical elixir to keep baby and mama healthy. It’s always available, and it’s FREE!
Did you know the hormonal bond between a mother a daughter while breastfeeding is so strong the baby will produce breast milk?! It’s mind blowing! Our pediatrician showed us. Every time a baby latches to feed, it’s tongue tells the nipple what nutrients and antibodies the baby needs in the milk. Each feeding has a custom blend! Our bodies are so crazy!!! Most of us are aware of all the benefits. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple.
Sometimes I’m a little envious of the mommies I know who didn’t produce enough milk, or their milk never came in. They didn’t get a choice. I chose to nurse my toddler until she was one and will most likely do the same for the new baby. It has not been without its challenges though. Turns out I suffer from Raynaud’s Phenomenon and it causes tremendous pain when the baby latches. I experienced this with both babies but was unaware of the condition until now. Not that it matters though because none of the pain relief worked for us, not even the prescription drugs.
This condition caused a snow ball of challenges in our breastfeeding journey. I do know from experience, it’s worth pushing through if you can. The pain during our latch was so bad I couldn’t tell if the babies were getting a good latch and the majority of the time they weren’t. With Cora, the oldest, my nipples got so tore up they would bleed and look like ground beef. Literally, I was picking dead skin off the tips. I was determined not to allow it to get that bad this time around. Nursing with Cora I would stay up nights just staring at her with such anxiety. Every time she moved I would panic thinking she was waking up and would want to feed again. I felt like such a failure. I was breastfeeding, but it was so painful I couldn’t bond with my baby. Once I pushed past it and was able to heal the thought of stopping nursing was heartbreaking. Cora ended up weaning to bottle around 8 months independently. We would nurse at night, but she wanted a bottle during the day. She is such a busy bee I couldn’t get her to sit still through a feed. I ended up regretting not trying harder to keep her on the boob. Pumping is convenient when needed, but being hooked up to a machine multiple times a day is not fancy. It was really stressful too, I was always worried I wouldn’t produce enough milk.
This time around I knew about the Raynaud’s problem and was determined not to allow myself or my nipples get destroyed. I tried natural remedies for the condition, olive oil rub, heat packs, and even decided to try medication. None of it helped. Tylenol helped dull the pain and I found that nipple guards helped to ensure a proper latch. I still got bloody nipples once, so decided to pump and feed a bottle early. Once the Raynaud’s issue worked itself out I decided to lose the nipple guards to prevent any possibility for nipple confusion. Most lactation consultants recommend against nipple guards, but I’m all for anything that allows you to breastfeed comfortably. As I got rid of the guards the baby got overwhelmed by my heavy milk supply. Her throat would get tickled and she would choke on the heavy flow. She was also very gassy because she would lose her suction as my milk would drop and swallowed lots of air. To rectify this problem I would have to pump before each feeding to almost empty the boob. I would do “bulk feeding”, where I would pump and feed on one breast for a few hours. Then I would pump and feed on the other side for the next few hours. This helped a lot until I got Mastitis. Luckily I was able to spot the Mastitis right away and beat it quickly. At this point, I am still struggling with a solid latch and a gassy baby, but I consider us in the clear.
If you can, breastfeeding really is a wonderful experience. My condition made it difficult, but to me, it was so worth it. Now, knock on wood, if my baby was lactose intolerant I would have to switch to formula. I know many devoted moms that couldn’t eat a drop of dairy! Not even butter. BUTTER! More power to you! In my home that’s where I draw the line.