When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work…Part 1

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This is the beginning of a series of posts about breastfeeding and my very personal experience with it. It’s a sensitive topic for me, but one that has been on my heart to share…
The summer of 2006 forever changed our lives as we discovered I was pregnant with our first child! Of the myriad of questions, opinions, and advice that swirled around, many  centered around feeding. It was never a question for me–of course I would nurse! The health benefits, the bonding, the money-savings–a no brainer
The pregnancy progressed with no complications (for which I am extremely grateful). It was very much like how “the books” describe. All except for one thing…my breasts. In the beginning, they weren’t overly tender. In fact, not really at all. As time went one, they weren’t getting any bigger–like NOT.AT.ALL. In fact, I wore my same bra the entire time. Initially, I didn’t think anything of it. But, as time went on and we neared the end, I kept having that gut feeling like something wasn’t right. 
At the ripe ‘ole age of 26, the majority of my friends hadn’t experienced pregnancy yet and talking about your breasts isn’t exactly something that just “comes up” in conversation. So, I didn’t have a lot of people to talk to about it. I asked my mom, but her experience was nothing like what I was describing. She was “normal”. I mentioned it to my doctor, but she didn’t seem concerned. Her response (to many of my questions) was “everyone’s body is different”. A very true statement indeed, but one that irked me just a bit. 
I tried to squelch that gut feeling and continued with my breastfeeding plans–creams, pads, & pump purchased and all registered for our breast feeding class about a month before my due date! As I sat in the class, I couldn’t help but notice what all the moms’ breasts in the video looked like–NOT mine. That gut feeling was there. After all the other parents left, I approached the nurse/lactation consultant who taught the class. I explained my concerns. She asked about leaking. I almost laughed at loud–“um…no!” She was the first to share my concern and admitted those weren’t good signs. But, did also assure me that “everyone’s body is different” and we wouldn’t know for sure until after the baby was born. 
So, Big Brother’s birthday came–an induction at almost 41 weeks. My beautiful baby boy was finally here!

We had some issues with latching and positioning–all the seemingly normal difficulties in getting the hang of nursing. But again, something didn’t seem right…he didn’t seem to be latching well, wouldn’t nurse for longer than 10 minutes, and quite frankly seemed to be getting nothing. I saw 4 lactation consultants in the hospital–some even tried to hand express colostrum. We saw nothing. The solution–nurse more & lots of contact. So, we did. 

We were discharged 40 hours after his birth and his weight was down 13 ounces. The next day was one of the hardest days in my memory. Every time he latched, I cried, tears of immense pain & frustration streaming down my face. It hurt. A LOT. I’d read that it would be hard, but this didn’t seem right. This seemed TOO hard. But, I kept latching him…and crying…and then, within minutes, he was screaming. He screamed…and screamed…and screamed some more. My parents who were visiting kept telling me he was hungry. But, I JUST “fed” him!!! This continued through Friday night, when he wouldn’t stay latched for long at all and then screamed for hours straight. I was having a full-fledged panic attack and he would NOT stop screaming…in fact, there were talks of going to the ER. The rest of the night is a blur, I don’t know what happened, but I do know that we called the pediatricians’ office first thing in the morning… 

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!…
Whole series: 
Part 1
Part 2  
Part 3 
Part 4 
Part 5

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I’m Sara, a mom to three adorable boys living in the Arizona desert. As a former teacher, I love sharing my passions with others. So, have a look around for creative inspiration about cooking, creating, celebrating, traveling with kids, and more everyday mom endeavors!


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13 Responses

  1. I'm so sorry that you went through this, and I applaude you for sharing it. The photos above are absolutely precious. Hugs, Jen.

  2. Thanks ladies!
    @Emily…fun that I'm keeping someone in suspense! 🙂
    @WilliamsWorld…you didn't spark it specifically. Will share a little bit more about the whys of sharing at the end. But, I did like your post and I think it's good to talk openly about these things and feelings surrounding it (like you did)! 🙂 As always, thanks for stopping by to read!!

  3. What a beautiful baby! I'm eager to hear the rest. Breastfeeding didn't go exactly as planned for me either.

  4. Oh my goodness. What a nightmare!!

    I had my own set of breastfeeding problems and all that fear and uncertainty and frustration and pain comes back reading this. It really isn't just an "easy and natural" thing for some women.

  5. I think the work involved is often underemphasized, and we go in to it with false expectations. (I know I certainly did.) My baby lost 13 oz on the hospital. He ended up jaundice because he wasn't flushing his system enough. We had to supplement with formula. And I was NOT prepared for just how badly it would actually hurt. I didn't see that on the brochure.

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