Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nursing Esther

Nursing my girls through the first couple of weeks has proven to be one of the hardest things I've ever done. Lucy and Julia both had trouble latching on correctly and ended up using a nipple shield. Lucy used the shield for the entire 22 months that she nursed. Julia weaned from it at six months and then nursed without it until 23 months when she weaned. Esther is using a shield for now too.

She is having trouble opening her mouth wide enough, keeps her tongue back in her mouth too far, and sucks on her lips when she latches on. My nipples are cracked, sore, bloody, and torn. I have scabs that get torn off when she nurses. Someone telling me that the baby wants to nurse is like saying "Ok, time to slam your nipple in the door." The pain when she latches on is that intense. My whole body tenses up and I want to scream. The shield helps her tongue not to scrape on my sore nipples, but nursing still hurts quite a bit.

I'm using a variety of things- moist burn pads, Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter, vitamin E capsules, breast shells, heating pads, simple tongue exercises, and working hard on proper latch. I've talked with my midwife and La Leche League leaders several times. There have been lots of tears, and I've considered which brand of formula I would tell Ross to buy and wondered how we would afford it. If I can't latch her on any more, my next plan is to try pumping and feeding her my milk in a bottle until I heal up.

On Friday, Esther was a week old and it was Ross' first day back to work. Thankfully I had help here with the girls because I ended up calling him in tears with chills, fever, dizziness, and breast pain. I developed mastitis and have been on bed rest this weekend with a routine of vitamins and lots of fluids. Engorgement combined with Esther's poor latch and scabs blocking the milk flow led to the infection. I'm feeling slightly better today and still just working hard on getting her to latch right. Esther is a sweet, content little baby and I know we can figure this out.

Why am I sharing all of this? I don't know, just being honest I guess. Nursing can be hard work. I'm sticking it out because its the best thing for Esther.


  1. keep on keeping on! my husband's aunt told me if you can make it through the first two weeks, you're doing TRUE!! praying it all gets better soon. and that YOU feel better soon!!!

  2. You've been in my prayers lately!! I'll be continuing to do so. If you need us for anything, let us know.

  3. This is exactly what I went through with Emma when she was learning to nurse. It absolutely sucks. What finally helped for me was getting on antibiotics for the mastitis. Also, I found that pumping was easier on me than her nursing so I would nurse her on one side while I pumped on the other side. Then, she would get the expressed milk from a spoon (silly me, I didn't have any bottles in the house because I was so sure that bfing would work.). It took us about a week after the ABX to get completely healed up.
    If you do wind up going to formula and want to use either Enfamil, Nestle or Similac, let me know. I have some free samples that they sent me and a bunch of coupons.

  4. I'm so sorry. It sounds like exactly what I was going through with Tyler. You were such an encourager to me then. . .and I made it through it totally with your help. Pumping totally helped me. I think you told me about the Soothies. Those totally worked for me. Hang in there. You'll get through this. Remeber, there's no harm in giving some formula just to give yourself a break. HUGS ---- Kyra

  5. Get in a hot bath and massage (translation=squeeze) the knotted feeling spots out. The hotter you have the water the better. If you can stand to squeeze out that infected area it will come out very thick and when you can't get anymore out, then stop and just soak all those soar spots.... heat has a way of healing the body faster, too Oh it is so awful. I am breastfeeding my fourth child and have had lots of mastitis, etc... Please feel free to email me if you have ANY questions at all. ( Hang in there, IF YOU CAN. It is so hard and with everyone of mine I thought any moment could be the last. My first three went to a year old and this one is on her 17 month. Thank God our nipples turn to leather... sadly....

  6. Awww I know it's so rough!! My babies always nursed like champs, but it's really hard to avoid the champed and bleeding nipples. I even developed mastitis a few times also- totally not fun!

    Try a different nursing position. Whenever I did the cradle hold on one side it would just tear my nipple apart, so I had to do the football hold. With the different latch, I was able to heal a little bit because she was sucking the same way, ya know?

    It's worth a try!

    ((hugs)) you can totally get through this! The Lord hasn't given you more than you can handle- even with nursing!!

  7. Stay strong if you can! You are doing the best thing for her. Is she tongue tied? Can often cause the issues you have mentioned.

    Motherhood, the hardest job you'll ever love.

    Congrats on your little one!

  8. ugh! that sounds horrible!! i hope it gets better soon:-(

  9. I know the answer to your question--"Why am I sharing this?" It's to encourage other moms out there! I wish I had read a blog like this while I was struggling through breastfeeding. It's so nice to know that you are not alone and that other people have the same problems you have! So many people are willing to talk about breastfeeding, but they won't share their problems they encountered while doing it. It's hard work sometimes! Thanks for being so open and honest and for sharing this!

  10. Oh yeah. I'm right there with you.

    When I weighed my baby before and after a feeding (at my lactation consultant appointment), my LO was getting 1.5 oz in a 40 minute feeding. But she was hungry for ~3 ounces per feeding. The consultant confirmed that we ARE getting a proper latch, etc. I boosted supply by taking fenugreek (9 pills a day, split up) and got rid of the awful clogged ducts by taking Lecithin (awesome stuff!!!). But she was still eating for a long, long time and often acting frustrated and fussy after a feeding.

    The length of feedings was starting to get intolorable for both of us, physically and emotionally. (Three hours with 2 ten minute breaks, on bleeding nipples.) She was hungry so often I felt like I couldn't feed my own baby adequately. So I started pumping throughout the day, then feeding her for 40 minutes at the breast and if she was still hungry, giving her a bottle of breastmilk. If she was still hungry after 40 minutes latched and drinking the breastmilk I've pumped, she gets a little formula.

    Pumping/supplementing isn't what the lactation consultant recommended, and at first I was afraid of the things I was warned against. (I'll sabotage my milk supply by supplementing! What about nipple confusion!) but none of that is a problem for us. To me, a hungry baby and stressed out mom were far worse than any of those. Now that she's able to be full within an hour of the start of her feeding, she's happier, cries less and is growing better. And, frankly, I cry less too! :)

    When we try what's advised and it doesn't work for us, it's okay to follow your intuition and do what's right for you and your baby. You matter too--you need to heal and stay sane. So do what you need to as far as pumping and/or supplementing, and know that doing what works for you is what makes a good mom. Which may deviate from the ideal situation or advice.

  11. Thank you so much for all of the comments and support. I really appreciate it.

  12. hang in there, christy!
    i had mastitis and thrush with my first born for seven weeks straight. i actually ended up in the hospital (i'm allergic to many antibiotics and the one i could take wasn't able to fight the infection). after working with four doctors and 3 lactation consultants i was told to quit nursing b/c my health absolutely depended on it. so, when my second was born, i was very proactive in learning about preventing mastitis b/c i didn't want to go through that again. once you've had it you are more susceptible to a reoccurence, which is not good when you have a newborn and two other kiddos to care for. lecithin is HUGE in treating it. for prevention two homeopathics that works wonders are- phytolaca and bryonia (apple valley or nature's market should have these). cabbage leaves and potato peelings help with the heat and engorgement. for dry, cracked, infected nipples, fresh air or sunlight is very helpful (i would lay in front on a sunny window so my neighbors wouldn't see me).
    keep plugging along, but also remember that what's ultimately best for esther (and the older two) is a healthy mom. so, if you have to supplement here and there or pump, that's okay.