When I was pregnant with Samuel I would often daydream about nursing my newborn baby.
I had successfully breastfed my previous two children for different amounts of time, and I had overcome some challenges with Nakiah, like eczema, cutting dairy out of my diet. With Ava she wanted to nurse around the clock, and I also cut diary because her body reacted with eczema. I’m thinking I have this down. I wasn’t prepared for other types of challenges.
Imagine my surprise when the initial pain that I’ve felt with all three kids turned into something much worse. For me, I’ve always felt what feelsl like needles when the baby latches those first days. It feels like my body trying to get used to the baby suckling. After a few seconds I would feel the letdown, but the needle feeling turned to stabbing knives, and whenever I would break the latch, my nipple would look like he was gnawing on it. They were cracked and bleeding, and I dreaded nursing him.
I had been using Lansinoh after each feeding like I had done with the previous two children, I worked on making sure he was positioned better. My midwife reminded me to make sure his belly was facing me if I was using the cradle hold. I also had to work on making sure he was opening his mouth wide and getting enough of the nipple.
After being consistent withh those two things, the torture I felt when he would latch went away, I was actually beginning to enjoy nursing my baby!
Every woman is different. Some women say they experience no tingly feelings at all when the baby latches for the first time in those first days. Others say they’ve felt it, or described something similar. But every woman I spoke to said it went away.
I’ve heard people say it’s not supposed to hurt, and it’s not, but I know with all of mine I always had that initial tingling.
Now if your nipples look raw, are bleeding or cracked like mine were, please seek help right away. That is not normal at all. It’s breastfeeding, not nipple feeding.
The other problem I had, over supply. I have always had a forceful letdown and an over supply of milk.
The girls were bigger (at 10lbs) and could tolerate it better. Samuel was my smallest baby (7lbs). So we have the latch issue fixed, but not my baby can’t stop choking whenever I have letdown. I spoke with my friend who is also a La Leche League Leader. She suggested I sit in a reclining position with him on top of me to nurse. That way my letdown wouldn’t be so fast and forceful for him. It worked!
I came to find out earlier this year the term is called laid back breastfeeding.
My baby was happy, I was happy, all is well with the world now, right? Wrong!
I had been waking extremely engorged for a while, and I was sick of it. Samuel is about 3-4 weeks old at this point. With Nakiah, I woke her every three hours to nurse once we were home. With Ava, she would wake on her own to nurse. She was always on the boob, and I was only engorged a few times with her.
This was happening what seemed to be every. single. day.
Once again my friend from League came to my rescue. I was so upset that this was my third child and we were having so many problems breastfeeding. She reminded me that just like every pregnancy and baby are different, so is each breastfeeding experience.
This time the solution was to set my alarm and wake him to nurse every 3 hours. I didn’t want to! I had two other small children that needed me during the day. Plus, I’m waking during the night still anyway, now I have to set an alarm and purposefully interrupt my sleep? I did it though, for about a week, and just like everything else, it worked. I began to wake with no engorgement, and that felt wonderful.
So we’re out of the woods now right? By this point Samuel is nearing 8 weeks old, I have a fabulous milk supply, he’s not choking anymore, no engorgement, all of our challenges were behind us.
Nope. Now he only wanted to nurse on my left side, and you know that is the side he prefers to this day.
I wondered if his neck was bothering him, because he refused to nurse on my right side in the cradle hold. At another LLL meeting I asked about that and several of the women told me he may ned to see a chiropractor because sometimes baby’s can have trauma from coming down the birth canal.
I also would nurse him in the football hold, or the reclining position.
Eventually, everything smoothed out. I would say it took us a good three months to overcome all of our challenges.
Samuel is 14 months and we have a beautiful nursing relationship. He didn’t start solids until he was closer to 8-9 months. I love love lovelove that his main source of nutrition comes from me. It has been amazing to watch him grow from that tiny newborn into the happy toddler he is today. My body did that!
We still have some rough patches like when he’s cutting teeth. I can always tell because his latch is different. It almost feels like he’s clamping down, but he’s not. Of course he wants to nurse more frequently then. Also when he’s sick, or going through a growth spurt.
He seems to be following in Ava’s footsteps with table food. He’s just now in the past month or two really become interested in eating solids.
I don’t make him meals or anything like that. He eats what we eat. He’ll eat just about anything now.
Our story is not done. I don’t know how long he’ll continue to nurse. As things stand now, I’m going to do child-led weaning. We will continue this breastfeeding relationship as long as both involved are happy. There are so many benefits to nursing past infancy, too many to go into in this post. I’ll save that for a later date.
Charles has been supportive every step of the way. The girls would tell me when he was still tiny mommy Samuel is crying, he needs milk from you.
They have nursed their babies and stuffed animals. Ava even tried to nurse Samuel herself a couple of months ago. That was pretty funny.
All three of them, Charles and the kids kiss on him, play games with him while he’s nursing. It’s one of the sweetest things.
Right now I’m enjoying watching him grow, giving him comfort, and love with my liquid gold.
Here’s to another 14 months and possibly more!
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