ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What I Learned Breastfeeding My First Child

Updated on December 21, 2017
profile image

Erinn worked in a variety of jibs including retail management and respiratory therapy before becoming a stay-at-home mom.

The first thing I learned about breastfeeding my baby is that it was far more challenging than I had expected. The biggest thing I learned was that it was far more than worth it.

I come from a family that strongly supports breastfeeding: my mother, sister, aunts and cousins had all successfully nursed their children for varying lengths of time. I had no doubt that I could as well, and was confident it would be an easy and wonderful experience. My husband was also very supportive of me nursing our baby.

When our daughter, Sarah, was born at 38 weeks, she weighed 5 lbs, 9 oz. So tiny! After a sleepy first day, she woke up and was an excellent feeder from that point on.

The same could not be said of me. I had much to learn as a first-time mom, and the area of breastfeeding was no different.. These are some of the most important things I learned breastfeeding my first child.


Have Realistic Expectations

The first substance your breasts produce is called colostrum. It is a thin, yellowish fluid that is rich in antibodies and proteins, perfect for a newborn's nutritional needs and tiny stomach capacity. The mature milk usually starts being produced between 2-5 days after baby's birth.

I recall lying down for a nap one afternoon a couple of days after Sarah's birth, and when I woke up I could hardly recognize my own body. My milk had come in, and I was feeling it! I had read about engorgement, but I was still unprepared for the reality. Sarah's previously good latch disappeared as my nipples were stretched almost flat. I let her nurse in whatever way she could so she would get milk and also so I would get relief. This led to sore, cracked and bleeding nipples. Lanolin and coconut oil helped but did not heal the cracks immediately.

The nights were the hardest time. Sarah had a tendency to sleep frequently throughout the day and have her awake time at time at night. Also, she required 30 minutes of being held upright after feedings due to her reflux, in hopes of helping the milk stay in her stomach instead of coming back up. There were many nights that Sarah would want to nurse every two hours, with each feeding session lasting a total of 1 hour. I certainly cried many times and wondered if this was all worth it. Should I just give her a bottle of formula? I felt so utterly alone and solely responsible for her food. No one else could do this for me. I was unprepared for the overwhelming emotions and tiredness.


The Importance of a Good Breast Pump

I did not have an electric breast pump. I decided not to invest in one because I planned to stay home with my daughter and felt it wasn't necessary. I had been given a manual pump at the hospital, and I tried a few times to use it during the engorgement period. I found it to be very uncomfortable and felt it was not effective enough to be worth the pain.

We went to see a lactation consultant a couple of days after my milk came in. We were reassured that Sarah was nursing effectively and taking good amount of milk. The LC took one look at me, though, and said I was already showing early signs of mastitis. This condition is an infection in the breast that happens when milk is not drained well. It comes with inflammation of the surrounding tissue and can cause flu-like symptoms and great pain. Needless to say, something to be avoided. The LC advised me to get an electric pump as soon as possible.

I began the process of getting a pump, and found that it took several days before insurance approved it and it could be delivered to my town. I used it immediately and frequently and found much relief. However, the damage had already been done.

Recognize and Deal With Problems Early

After I got the pump, things started going better with the engorgement. The night feedings were still hard, but I was beginning to handle it better. It was encouraging to have to put away newborn clothes and diapers and move on to bigger sizes: Sarah was growing well! I was learning.

When Sarah was about 4 weeks old, I noticed a lump on my left breast. I assumed it was a plugged duct, a place where milk was not flowing properly due to an obstruction. I followed the recommended home treatments I found online for a few days, but saw no improvement. By the time I finally decided to ask my doctor about it, she diagnosed with with mastitis and prescribed an antibiotic.

Typically when a woman has mastitis, she feels quite miserable and has flu-like symptoms. I did not. I felt fine, and so made the mistake of blowing this lump off as not a big deal.

Several days later, I again looked at this lump and realized that not only was it not getting better, it seemed to be bigger. I called the doctor's office again and left a message. I was called back a short time later and told they were very concerned I had developed a breast access and would need to see a surgeon that afternoon. I required a surgical drainage to be done, and needed a different antibiotic prescribed as well. Even though the procedure was done quickly and in the office, the recovery was still very painful and difficult. I told my husband I would rather go through natural childbirth again than this recovery. The abscess could very likely have been avoided had I taken proper care of the problem early on.

Conclusion

After these problems were resolved, the breastfeeding process became easier. I had been told by experienced breastfeeding women that things would improve, but I simply had to take it day by day. I told myself, "I can make it through this day." I couldn't worry about what tomorrow would bring, let alone a couple of months. The mindset of a day-by-day goal was very helpful.

I ended up nursing my daughter until she was 25 months old. I was 4 months pregnant with my son when she finally weaned, and I believe I would have been very sad to end our nursing relationship if I hadn't known I would be nursing a baby again soon.


Poll

How Strongly Do You Feel About Breastfeeding?

See results

© 2017 Erinn Witz

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)