12 July, 2012

Lactationality

If you are squeamish about breast feeding and any related vocabulary, don't read this post.

Let's preface it with this: I am not of the school of thought that "breast is best". I think that as long as the baby is nourished and loved (and of course, safe), you know what is best for you and your baby and while breast milk is irrefutably pretty amazing, formula isn't going to make your child grow several extra limbs or end up being one of those kids who is allergic to everything and has to be contained in a large plastic bubble (someone should make a movie about that). In fact, your baby will be completely, absolutely, just fine. And I get annoyed when I hear folks degrade women who formula/bottle feed and give endless praise to women who solely breast feed. 

image via pinterest

I decided that with Kjel, the best way to nourish/love/feed her was through breast feeding. Though I did breast feed Gage some, mostly I pumped and supplemented with formula (consequently, he's still alive. Imagine that.) So I am not really skilled in the nursing department. 

Kjel was born with an appetite the size of Alaska, so at first I thought I was amazing and that nursing was a breeze, but after a couple of days I realized things weren't going so well. I started cracking and bleeding and if you haven't experienced this, I don't even want to try to explain. For those of you who have experienced this, I won't remind you. You're welcome.

Needless to say, I was pretty sad. I tried a few different things on my own: coating myself in Lanolin cream, warm baths, cabbage leaves, etc., but the cracks weren't healing and I was dreading nursing. I decided to call the local lactation consultant and La Leche League.

Two very different experiences. La Leche League called me back first: wowza. Talk about enthusiasm. This woman was awesome and insane. I've never been more praised in my life:

"So, I don't really want to stop nursing to take time to heal, because I don't want her to get nipple confusion-"

"Ex-act-ly. Very smart decision. So glad that you've chosen this, you should be canonized.." etc.

She gave me some good tips and I tried all of them religiously; I think that tilting her chin down while she ate definitely did help. She definitely gave me the pep talk I needed.


Then the other lady called me back. She asked me to describe in detail my battle wounds, and almost right away she asked if she could come over and help me in person. 

"YES!"

She was here in like ten minutes and after nursing in front of her, she told me exactly what the dealio was with Kjel. She was "lipstick tubing", meaning that too much of my nipple was rubbing against her hard pallet, causing it to crack and bleed. Yowch.

She also gave me some good tips, but it wasn't until I blogged about Kjel's "latch of death" that the most helpful advice came. 

A bunch of different people wrote or called and told me of things they had done to relieve the pain and heal. Everything was incredibly helpful. And then my visiting teacher came by and told me about a shield you can get for while you're healing, and holy cow, it helped so much, too.

Within like three days, I was healed and Kjel had apparently gotten all the government secrets she wanted out of me, because the torture stopped.

And then a few weeks later, I woke up feeling weird. I just didn't have any energy and when I nursed, that whole area stung like crazy. I asked Steven to stay home and I went back to bed and woke up at two in the afternoon, thinking  I might be dead. I was totally feverish, shaking, nauseated and my whole body pretty much felt like a tractor had run over it, over and over and over and over again.

"Please. Please let this not be mastitis." I have a fear of infections - I mean, a real phobia. 

I quickly pulled up my trusty Web MD and looked at the symptoms - yep. Have 'em. Redness, swelling, "tenderness" (if by tenderness you mean pain equal to electrocution), fever, body aches. 

In the words of my friend Rachel, "mastitis is the pits." 

I didn't want to publicly declare my mastitis-status, so I called my mom and a couple of friends for advice and everything I was told to do helped immensely. And my sweet visiting teacher, the one who had told me about nipple shields, brought over dinner one night, too.

I love people who share their experiences to help others, I love the internet for making it easier to share, and I love caring people who are willing to talk on the phone for an hour or drive to my home to save my poor you-know-whats from furious, fiery pain. I just love that there is an entire underground network of women out there who have fountains of hidden knowledge of all things lactation, who give freely when asked but you'd never know the troubles they'd had because they are just so happy and don't complain. Does this make sense?

So a big, huge, full of love, THANK YOU to everyone who gave me advice and sympathy. I love you!

3 comments:

  1. Aww I'm sorry you had Mastitis!!! Hopefully it subsided quickly :(

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  2. I hope every new nursing mother reads this post, and am SO glad you're better now! PS - love the disclaimer at the beginning about choices.

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