Saturday, September 01, 2012

Pitfalls of Breastfeeding

As I mentioned in my previous post about the benefits of breastfeeding, there were some pitfalls that I anticipated and others that I had never imagined.  For example, I knew it would take some time to be comfortable feeding in public. Initially I avoided this like the plague. Eventually, I did surprise myself with how little it bothered me to do it in public and how quickly I was able to do it discreetly. Another disadvantage that I expected was the fact that the feeding responsibility fell solely on my shoulders. All the feedings were mine, day or night, tired or not. I did not have a break from feeding until after the first few weeks when I was ready to start pumping bottles. I was never away from him until then, and our trips out were short and very rushed. They stayed this way until I got comfortable feeding in public or began taking pumped bottles. It was a huge responsibility in the beginning especially, but it got better.

Other less obvious pitfalls involved the physical aspect of breastfeeding. Leaky boobs make for stained shirts and embarrassing moments (use washable breast pads to cut dow on costs), engorgement (really full breasts) can be uncomfortable between feedings (not to mention itchy nipples), and my nipples hurt a lot in the beginning when the baby was getting used to latching properly, which lanolin gel helped soothe.  I also had to avoid certain foods as they made my baby fussy or gassy. There are some foods to avoid that are common among most breastfeeding women (dairy, onions, beans, etc.) and others that are unique to everyone and you are unaware of how they affect your child until you've already eaten them. Sometimes its a guessing game. 

One of the major pitfalls that I experienced was blocked ducts. These are painful lumps in your breasts that occur where the ducts clog and this can lead to infection if not treated. I spent many mornings taking advil to reduce the inflammation and massaging the ducts in the shower. I let the warm water hit them directly to force out the blockage. The pain was bad sometimes, and I was unable to lie on the side the clog was on. Thankfully I was always able to get rid of the blockage on my own.

Blocked ducts led to another dilemma - overactive let down. This happened when the build-up of milk in my breasts( due either to the blocked ducts or to improper drainage because of my inexperience) shot out of my nipples like a fountain spray. Once letdown was triggered, the milk would start flowing FAST and wouldn't stop without me breaking the latch and soaking it up with a cloth. When the milk came fast and hard it scared my little guy to the point of losing his breath when he cried. I ended up having to lie down flat with my baby on top of me to feed to avoid the shooting milk as much as possible. After awhile, it finally subsided,  and he also got used to it and didn't freak out near as much when it happened again.

For me, no matter how many of these issues happened, I was determined to continue breastfeeding.  I still found that the benefits outweighed these hiccups and once myself and my son got used to breastfeeding it became so easy. It became rewarding and well worth all the troubles that I went through in the beginning as my body adjusted.

Pumping Tips to follow in next post!

Momma's Musts
  • Be comfortable. Don't be afraid to feed your baby in public! You can do it discreetly and if someone stares or is rude, that's their problem!
  • Be prepared - always stock extra shirts, breast pads and face clothes/towels with you when you go out with or without baby in case of leaks!
  • Have patience - if you encounter a blocked duct or overactive letdown - take the time to help yourself and your baby work through it. You CAN fix it yourself and the end result is worth it!
  • Finally, be honest with yourself. If any one or more of these issues is more than you can handle - there is nothing wrong with supplementing with or completely switching to formula feeding. It's your baby, your body and your decision. You shouldn't feel forced or even obligated to use your body if you feel uncomfortable in any way.

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