I am excited to have Brittany, creator of Challengesfromateachermom.com, guest post today about nursing support.
I had just given birth to my daughter and I thought, “I am the luckiest mom on Earth”. I know every new mom feels that way. And, I did, too. For a while. It all changed when my baby girl was ready to nurse. Now, I had done an enormous amount of research and studying to be as prepared as possible for this new journey in life. (I was probably in that category of information overload!) So, here I was, a total newbie mom trying to get this tiny bundle of joy to latch. With a lot of breastfeeding help from the nursing staff, it felt like we were finally getting the hang of things.
I thought so too. Until I realized that a short period of time later, she was hungry again. The nursing staff kept telling me that this was called “cluster feeding”. And, that I needed to keep her awake while she was nursing so that she could get a good amount. About the time my husband and I are ready to literally crash and burn, she starts wailing.
Coinciding with this new scream fest, was the nightly shift change for nurses. The new nurses came in to introduce themselves, which was hard to do since there was a screaming child in my arms. So, they thoughtfully tried to help appease her. They had me try to nurse again. At this point, my nipples were getting a bit raw and I was none too excited to continue this painful experience. I just wanted to sleep! Well, this round of nurses realized that baby girl was not latching properly…
What do you do when your baby won’t latch?
The doctor came in and started pushing me to move to formula, which I was totally opposed to. I think I probably told them something like, “Don’t you dare touch my child or give her formula or I’ll report you”. Well, unfortunately for me, we were in Dubai and I really had no clue who I would even go to in order to report something like this. Let alone the fact that there probably wasn’t any law against this. OH WAIT! There was! A new law had just passed that requires all Emirati (local) moms to breastfeed until their child is 2 years old. Too bad I’m not a local…alas, I digress.
After I portrayed an angry, sleep-deprived, malicious new mom performance, the nurses helped me to hand-express. Yep, that’s right, I was squeezing my boob waiting for whatever was in there to try and come out so I could FINALLY feed my screaming, crying daughter. I think between the nurses and I we got about half an ounce. Luckily, baby girl was so tired that it sufficed and she fell asleep on my chest.
As my love bug was born on Saturday night, I was not able to meet with the lactation consultant until Monday morning. So, Sunday was full of a lot of the same thing: new nurses trying to help her latch, doctor coming in to tell me to switch to formula, me freaking out and seething hysterically. But, Monday morning finally came!
The lactation consultant was AMAZING!
As a preface, if any of you do not believe that lactation consultants are overrated or not helpful…mine was amazing! She came in and immediately got to work. She realized within seconds of watching me try to get baby girl to latch that there was a HUGE problem, or two. Problem number one was quite simple: my nipples were too small. Well, darn, I can’t really fix that. Problem number two was a much easier fix! HOORAY! Baby girl was tongue-tied. The cartilage on the bottom of her tongue kept her from being able to stick her tongue out far enough to latch. Immediately, the LC made arrangements to have some of the cartilage clipped (it was a painless procedure which I had to miss because they took her into a different room). As this was happening, the LC had the nursing staff get a breast pump (yeah, apparently they had one all along and were holding out on me!) and she helped me to pump some milk for my baby girl so she had some to drink when she came back.
But, as soon as she returned, she was able to latch! Unfortunately, my incredibly tiny nipples (I had no idea that this was a thing! I never read it anywhere!) still made it challenging for her to nurse. Luckily, the LC knew exactly what to do. She seriously was like a superhero coming in to save the day! She sent my hubby down somewhere in the hospital with specific instructions to buy a Medela nipple guard – medium. Yup, she even knew what size to get for our little love.
With two nipple guards in hand (my hubby was totally prepared!), he came back into the room and I immediately went about trying this nipple guard thing out. Baby girl latched like a pro the first time and I never had a problem again with getting her to latch.
οCLICK HERE for my favorite nipple guards
Is that it?
Heck no! The next month was absolute torture on my nipples! Nowhere did I read how excruciatingly painful it is to nurse! Why do so many posts and websites talk about how easy and natural it is to breastfeed? IT.IS.NOT! It takes one dedicated momma to nurse a baby. I realize that some women are born with absolutely ginormous nipples and have no idea what I’m talking about, but even still, those nipples will get sucked raw. Sometimes even bleed! Why do you think they have nipple cream?!
Anyways, new mommas or soon-to-be mommas, be prepared. Nursing will give you cracked and raw nipples for about a month. BUT it does get better each day and week. Also, think about the incredible bonding experience you are having with your baby. AND, remember all the wonderful nutrients you are passing along to your baby. Yes, there is a ton of research out there that tells you all the incredible ways breastfeeding helps your baby! If you’re interested in that, that’s a whole ‘nother story.
For now, I’ll leave you with: nurse often, nurse well and apply lots of cream.
οCLICK HERE for my favorite nipple cream
Brittany from Challengesfromateachermom.com
I am an international teacher mom living and working in Burkina Faso, West Africa. I have two little girls that are currently into getting dirty, swinging, coloring, and riding bikes. I enjoy reading, singing, learning about child development, and anything related to education.