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Mastitis & Blocked Ducts
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Since we all have unique breastfeeding stories, I thought it would be a good idea for us to collect them in one place. In so doing, we give each other reassurance that we are not alone in this, and I must say, I found it very therapeutic to "put pen to paper". I have posted my story below and give you the option of adding yours. Thank you in advance for sharing! Read other people's experiences too!
My first birth was a shock to me because it was so long and painful. I had read a really good book on Hypnobirthing, and had gone to antenatal classes where I met some fantastic lifelong friends. Both of these things helped me to go into the birth with a positive attitude. I expected to be able to do it with little pain and with ease. As it happened it was long and painful but I am still grateful that I had such a positive and fearless attitude in advance.
My husband and I asked the midwives if I should attempt to feed my baby as soon as she arrived but they didn't seem to be bothered whether I did or not.
After the birth I needed to sleep. I was exhausted. I had had no sleep for two nights. My husband was sent home because it was night time. I was left alone with my baby, unable to stand up after an epidural. Every time my baby cried I had to press the emergency call button to ask someone to help me get my baby out of the basinet. Not once did anyone suggest that I should feed her. I remember asking one nurse to look after my baby for me because I was so desperate to get some sleep.
The next day, after I had asked a midwife to help me to breastfeed my baby, a heel prick test suggested that my daughter might have an infection. She was fed formula straight away from a cup and put on an antibiotic drip. I was told she was to be fed formula every three hours until they knew she was clear of infection. This went on for three days. In the meantime, I was told to keep trying her on my boob and then to express. I wasn't told how to express. In fact, I really had to pester them to let me have one of the hospital expressing machines. I found expressing horrible and painful. I overheard one woman being told that it shouldn't be on so high as to hurt because this would send the body the wrong signals. If only I had been told the same a couple of days previously.
My baby wasn't interested in going on my boob, so finally a breastfeeding counsellor, who had told me I needed to be more mumsy and cuddle my baby (you really don't need to be told you are not a good mother at this point), asked the midwives to stop feeding my baby formula. Luckily it was decided that she didn't have an infection, and after five days in hospital with a 3-hourly cycle of attempting to breastfeed a baby (who couldn't seem to latch on and was injuring me during her attempts), followed by formula feeding, followed by pumping, followed by sterilising, I was allowed to go home. Fortunately, one nurse had suggested me trying nipple shields, and miraculously, my baby was able to latch on and suck milk out!
The day after I arrived home, a midwife came to visit and told me not to use nipple shields. She helped to latch my baby on without them and then after two more visits from other midwives, they thought I was doing fine. The advice I was given was to feed on demand, to only offer one boob for a feed, and to allow the baby to stay on the boob for as long as they need.
For the next midwife appointment, I had to walk there myself. I remember my boobs hurting with every step. I told them how sore I was but they told me it was normal at this stage. I went to the doctors a few days later and told them how sore I was and was put on antibiotics for mastitis. I went to buy a new bra because the ones I had had measured before the birth were far too small and very painful.
At two weeks I was getting really sore, so I thought I would allow myself one feed off and give my baby a bottle of formula. I felt like the devil and that I was poisoning my child. She then didn't poo for five days and I was desperately worried. I took her to the doctors and came clean about the formula. The doctor was really surprised I thought formula was a bad thing. She said she thought there was nothing wrong with it and that I should do anything I needed to do to breastfeed my baby for as long as possible. That was the first piece of good advice I had received in my opinion.
At four weeks, I really needed help so managed to get myself out of the house to a breastfeeding clinic. I was really nervous about feeding in front of the counsellors and they were all busy talking to other people anyway. By the time they could talk to me I had finished feeding my daughter. They gave me some good advice on how to use nipple cream and suggested that my baby may have tongue-tie.
A few days later I struggled to another clinic. I was talked to as I fed there, and when my baby came off my nipple the counsellor was shocked by my injuries. She said my baby was very lucky that I had fed her for so long. That was nice to hear in a way, but I lost it and sobbed for a while. A few days later I called a tongue-tie specialist and she came to the house the next evening. She painfully massaged all the lumps out of my boobs as I was feeding and suggested I just expressed for a few days when she saw my wounds. She also helped me with different feeding positions and suggested exercises for easing aches and pains.
Unfortunately it turns out that I am not very good at expressing and after a few days I stopped letting down. I rushed to another clinic in a panic, thinking the world was falling down on my head. I remember that it was a really hot day and I was very anxious about putting my baby in the car. They were very busy but I eventually managed to talk to someone and they said I needed to put her back on my boob. I tried to when I got home but she just wouldn't go back on. From five weeks, I had to feed her formula only. I felt as though something had died and felt so horribly guilty. I still do. Read more on my Stopping Breastfeeding and Weight Loss page.
When my second baby was born I had decided in advance that I would use nipple shields from the beginning and that I would mix breastfeeding with bottle feeding if necessary. I re-read the breastfeeding advice in Gina Ford's 'The New Contented Little Baby Book', and in Clare Byam-Cook's 'What to Expect When You're Breastfeeding', and decided that I would start day 1 with feeds of five minutes on each boob and then increase by a few minutes each day.
My second birth was faster so I wasn't as tired and was in a much better mental state. I asked for breastfeeding help in my birth plan and as soon as I arrived on the postnatal ward. The midwife was very helpful and told me she would help all she could. She told me not to use nipple shields because it was too much hard work for the baby. She helped my baby to latch on. When I asked her to help me again later, she was busy so I tried to do it myself. I couldn't latch her on without the nipple shield on one side and I could see that I was starting to get sore, so I made the decision to keep using the nipple shield. Every midwife and health visitor questioned me on it, but I remained strong and I am still using it for every feed. I am still getting sore and injured, but nowhere near as badly. I also now know how to use creams much more effectively.
I am convinced that our loose routine helped me to continue to breastfeed for four months. By following my baby's needs, we developed a routine to avoid sore nipples caused by her using me as a dummy to get to sleep. I have also found that different feeding positions have helped to prevent sore nipples and have eased tension.
One of the main difficulties with breastfeeding my second child has been how to occupy my older child. Read more...
Read the end of my story on my Stopping Breastfeeding page.
Do you have a breastfeeding story you would like to add? Please share below.
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