Mar 022011

What’s more terrifying than seeing a little trickle of blood come from the corner of your newborn’s mouth?

Realizing the blood came from your cracked, sensitive nipples.

As difficult as labour was, breastfeeding has been even more difficult for me. My active labour lasted 15 hours (birth story to follow once I wrap my mind around it!) but I have been trying to breastfeed for eight days.

My baby girl is very healthy and has pretty much gained her birth weight back. She doesnt seem to be suffering. Mama on the other hand, spends days crying through the feedings.

Why? An improper latch from the start. Also, two nurses and a lactation consultant have called my baby a Barracuda.

Am I crazy? No. But I am determined. Maybe pumping my milk is an option. I think there is legitimate concern for nipple confusion, so without whining too much, I am trying to be a trooper.

I know few women for whom breastfeeding has been smooth sailing. It ‘s new for both mama and baby. There is a steep learning curve. I know many women who decided soon after giving birth that they would formula-feed their babies, and I can say that now I understand why.

It’s easier to pass judgment when you have no clue what a frustrating, heartbreaking, demoralizing and physically painful experience it can be.

I also know a few women who have toughed it out, sought help, and persisted. I plan to be one of those women. Cheryl and Megan have written posts on this blog about their breastfeeding adventures. They are both inspiring to me.

Tomorrow we will meet again with a Lactation Consultant. Things can only get better.

Here’s to one day and one latch at a time…

  • Des

    Aww Jenn, I am so sorry that your going through this. It is hard. What you are experiencing sounds very similar what I went through with Elisabeth ( This is what a blogged about it when elisabeth was a couple week old).

    I’m sending you lots and lots of hugs!

    • Jenn

      Thanks, Des! Great to read your post. It’s amazing to have so much milk! That’s not a problem for me either. I’m often covered in it!

    • Karen

      Hi Jen, I too know what you are going through! I remember when Tyler spit up blood, and I freaked right out not knowing why! I quickly called the healthy beginnings nurse who then preceeded to tell me that it was probably blood from my cracked and extremely sore nipples. I found that the only way he would latch properly was if I held him in the football hold and then brought him extremely close to me, at time I almost felt as though I was going to suffocate him with my breast. Anyways it did get better, but It still felt awkward. It was only with Blake that I found it EASY and even somewhat enjoyable.
      Hope that thing get easier for you what ever you choose!

  • Sarah

    oh Jenn that sounds terrible. I had a tough time too (only not with the physical aspects of breastfeeding). I remember crying alot and feeling a bit like a failure when Jack just wasn’t gaining weight and would scream in hunger at me :( It did get better though and he became a champion nurser and I’m sure that you and Amelee will find your stride. Good for you for hanging in there! I’ll send you good boobie vibes 😉

    • Jenn

      I didn’t get what you were going through at the time. And I thought it was totally bizarre that you were giving him formula too. It’s amazing how everything changes when you actually give birth yourself.

      Thank you so much for the encouragement these days.

      • Sarah

        It is never an easy thing to describe (nothing about being a mom is) but I wouldn’t have wished the difficulty on you, it can be so disheartening. However, as someone (who not so long ago) was in a similar spot, it gets better, much better and faster than you think and whatever decisions you make about how best to proceed will be the best decision you ever made! I remember feeling like a failure when I decided to continue with both but now I can’t imagine that I let it bother me at all. I have a very healthy, happy baby and Steve and I are equally healthy and happy. I wish I had known then what I know now 😉

  • Kate

    Ack!!! I know what you’re going through. My problem was my milk production was low and Jonah was constantly screaming at me for more milk!! I had the public health nurse over (in hindsight, I should have sought a lactation consultant). Her solution was to set our alarm so that I woke up every two hours ROUND THE CLOCK, nursed the bebe and then pump for another 15 minutes afterwards….EVERY TWO HOURS…AROUND THE CLOCK. This sounded like a good idea, even though I had gone into labour just five days earlier at 2:30 a.m. and basically hadn’t slept in, oh…five days. The first time the alarm went off, my hubby promptly shut it off and we both turned back over. I also felt an overwhelming, chest-crushing sense of pressure (read: anxiety) because I was the only one who could feed the child (read: keep the child alive!) and I felt like I was failing. I ended up pumping. I know there’s a lot of literature about nipple confusion and everyone has to make their own choice, every baby is different, blah, blah, blah…but we never had a problem. He was hungry and he ate – whether it was boob or bottle. It also helps in terms of daddy being able to feed through the night when you’re super exhausted and ready to sell your soul for a solid night’s sleep. To be honest, I found pumping really relaxing. It gave me a set amount of time where I couldn’t fuss over the baby or do laundry or vacuum because I had to sit with the milking machine attached and you’re basically incapacitated. Excellent opportunity to read trashy novels and eat bon-bons! You can rent one of the “mega-machines” from the hospital –they’re awesome!–or call public health and say you’re having a hard time and they’ll (hopefully) loan you one to use for free. Also helped when I got a clogged duct (God willing, this won’t happen to you) and the only relief is a little time with your new best friend – the breast pump.

    Anyway, I was going to message you earlier but knew that everyone and their mother is going to give you a million bits of advice. (I too found that every nurse in the hospital told me something different. I’d do what the day nurse said and then the evening nurse would tell me it’s wrong???) The best advice was from my mom (mother of five). I lacked a lot of confidence in the beginning. She put an end to my self-doubt by simply saying, “Stop listening to what everyone else says and do what your heart tells you.” Good one, mom.

    Good luck!

    • Julie

      We have the same deal as Kate with bottle/breast – no nipple confusion issues, if Marlowe is hungry, she’ll eat from whatever she’s offered. The only downside I find to bottles is the time it takes (2 minutes) to warm them while she’s in hungry-cry mode. We have been using bottles once in a while to give me a break since week 1 and no problems.

  • Enza

    Hi Jenn,

    here is a story of a dear friend of mine that had an interesting experience with breastfeeding but 8 months later she is still breastfeeding…Good Luck and don’t give up

  • Sara Lomas

    I found Breastfeeding to be one of THE most difficult things I have EVER done.

    It is hard, and you CAN do it.

    But above all, be gentle with yourself….
    I remember crying too, it hurt so much. I never bled, but it felt like my daughters mouth was made of fire and broken glass for a while. Sometimes, it still hurts. But mostly now, it’s one of my favourite things on this planet to do.
    Courage, mon amie.

  • Julie

    Hey Jenn!
    I hear you – we called Marlowe the Gremlin because she was such an avid eater. The Lansinoh helped me a lot (I also tried the Medela Tender Care which did NOTHING except leave spots on all my shirts that won’t come out).

    I hope it gets better (it did for us!) but don’t be hard on yourself. Blame it on Amelee (just kidding!!!!!!)

  • Cheryl

    Awww!! Just to let you know, you inspire me too!! You are the one that helped encouraged me to continue breastfeeding PAST my initial goals. Which I am now happily breastfeeding and almost 11 month old!! 😀 I am happy that I can return the encouragment! I sent you a fb message with a more in depth response. You are doing great though! Doing all the right things to get on the right track! 😀 xox

  • rebecca

    My suffering did not last as long, and there was no blood… I’m just kind of sad that no proper counseling is offered right at the start! I’ve had midwives and nurses say the opposite.. and not being able to help out.
    The lactation consultant that came to my house would have been even more perfect few hours after birth (or right at birth). Anyways, another battle for later.
    Take great care of yourself, and make sure you have nothing else to worry about.
    Warm hugs

  • Samantha

    Hi Jennifer,

    I’m so sorry to hear and I can totally relate. It’s really the hardest and most upsetting things I’ve ever tried to do. I had to give my daughter formula when she was just two days old as she was suffering from dehydration. I was advised to tape a tube to my finger so she wouldn’t get nipple confusion. It was all too much for me and I stopped at six weeks. I felt so demoralized as I really wanted to breastfeed but I hated every minute of it and it made me resent and fear being with my baby. It just wasn’t worth the pain.

    One of my friends did this finger feeding method with her daughter for several months and then switched to a bottle. After the baby fed from a bottle, she finally got the right latch on the breast and she went on to breastfeed until almost two years old. I was very inspired by this and hope you will be too.

    • Jenn

      HI Samantha,

      Thanks so much for writing. I have found inspiration in everyone’s comments, though I find yours to be the one I relate to most closely.

      I feel like the pain is causing resentment and taking away from what should be a very beautiful time.

      I had an excellent, very successful session with a lactation consultant today. After she left, two perfect latches all on my own. But then one bad one. And a good hour of the baby screaming before I worked up the courage to try to get her on again.

      I wonder, is the breast really worth it? Why don’t I just pump and give her a bottle? Is it THAT big of a deal? What’s worse, “giving up” Or spending the next months terrified and angry?

      I have wonderful support from my partner, which is helpful, but being so tired, support only goes so far.

      I won’t make it to six weeks if the pain persists like this. Congrats for going so long, and please never regret doing what was, in the end, best for you and your baby.

      • Sarah

        Oh Jenn I can hear the anxiousness in your post, please call if you need to vent. It is very hard, and it is for almost everyone (as is clear by the comments). Oh how I cried but the best advice I ever got from any nurse about anything baby-related is that whether it comes to labour, breastfeeding, sleep etc. that there is no gold medal for motherhood, no big induction ceremony for doing things exactly like you’re “supposed” to or even how you thought you wanted to. The only reward is a happy, healthy baby and happy, healthy mommy and daddy. Whatever works to get you to that is the “right” thing. So don’t be too hard on yourself, definitely keep up your efforts to breatfeed but if you need to pump for some relief don’t beat yourself up about it. I’m sure Amelee will be perfectly fine and best yet she’ll have a happy, un-stressed mommy to snuggle with. No one will every doubt that you did the very best for your little girl! <3 love to you all!

  • Kate

    I second that! Do what’s best for your baby and for you – that decision is never wrong!! Nursing is crazy hard. Through my woes, I kept saying that something so “natural” didn’t seem to be natural for me. Aside from labour and delivery, it’s probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Keep strong!!

  • rebecca

    Something else: in french though:
    “à l’impossible, nul n’es tenu.”

  • katery

    puts a whole new spin on it once you’ve tried it yourself, doesn’t it!

  • Lunatrix

    So, so true! I have lost count of the times I have asked for forgiveness for judging other mums who’ve decided to go for the bottle. Breastfeeding is tough work!! (at least, the beginning)