At the very beginning of this series, I discussed different physical pitfalls with being a new mother, but there has been one thing specifically that has been a pervasive thorn in my side since the start—breastfeeding. While there have been some positive aspects of breastfeeding/nursing, there have also been some awful drawbacks. In this post, I will focus on the aspect of breastfeeding during my maternity leave.
Before delivering our daughter, my husband and I had already decided that our baby would be exclusively breastfed. We attended the breastfeeding class offered at the hospital, and one of the first things I had ready at home was my breast pump. After giving birth, one of the very first things that happened was skin-to-skin contact with my baby, and she naturally began to nurse.
I’ll be honest. I had no clue what I was doing, and I really paid for it, because within days, the skin was cracked, bleeding, and peeling due to improper latch. Within a week, both sides had become engorged, inflamed, and painful, and I began to have systemic symptoms with high grade fevers, chills, and shakes. I had what I had desperately wanted to avoid—double-sided mastitis.
If I could describe it in a way for you to understand, it felt like I had a horrible case of the flu, while also having two painful solid bowling balls/pimples under the skin overlying my torso. I had never been so sick in my life. I was literally taking prescription strength ibuprofen around the clock, and my Ob/Gyn office ultimately prescribed me a course of antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
My mom (God bless her!!) would also come over straight from work for days and act as my personal nurse by making warm compresses to help relieve the engorgement until I finally turned the corner.
While I healed from the infection and the wounds, we had to transition the baby to bottle feeding. Unfortunately, when I tried to go back to breastfeeding, my baby had nipple confusion and our feeding sessions went up two hours!
I was literally going insane from the
lack of sleep and the feeding issues.
After making an appointment with the lactation consultant, I learned that my baby was not drinking from me, and my supply was decreasing. I felt like a complete failure as a mother as I watched my hungry newborn chug down a bottle of formula. Thankfully, my lactation consultant told me that there was still time to get things back on track.
The weeks following consisted of me taking supplements to increase milk supply and continuing around-the-clock nursing sessions, limited to 15 minutes on each side, followed by bottle feeding for baby and pumping for me. My supply went up, and I was actually able to build up a freezer stash of breast milk for the future. Around 10 weeks post-partum, my daughter and I felt like we were finally getting the hang of breastfeeding, and no longer needed bottle feeding.
It took some time, but we eventually
got to a point where breastfeeding
felt natural, which meant more
quality time for mommy and baby!
At the time, I hated the entire experience, and I didn’t understand why I had to go through that whole ordeal. However, it reminded me that, just like my baby, I am completely powerless and dependent on the Lord for absolutely everything.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.John 16:33
I was at my absolute weakest, but God was there for me through it all and helped me by bringing the right people and resources into my life. If I had not gone through all of those difficulties, I would not have appreciated reaching the end point of finally being successful with breastfeeding my child.
No matter who you are, we will all go through hard times in life. Our first instinct may be to manage the situation on our own, but ultimately you will fail.
By struggling for control,
you are actually struggling against God!
He is the all-knowing and all-powerful one. Only after surrendering to him do we receive his supernatural strength and peace to carry us through the circumstance.