Liquid Gold & Salty Tears
Updated: Dec 20, 2018
"Anyone who has ever said there is no use crying over spilled milk has never pumped six ounces and then accidentally spilled it."
I was prepared for cracked nipples, sleepless nights, and nipple shields. I'd done my reading, and had many mothers all around me to give advice having worked in an early learning center prior to baby. What I did NOT know, however was a few key elements that would of made our breastfeeding journey more successful, with (possibly,) fewer tears.
My son was apparently born starving, and latched right away. It was the most amazing, wonderful, magical feeling I've ever felt in my whole life. He continued to gain weight, and all seemed peachy keen in the breastfeeding world. Fast forward a few months and things weren't so super fantastic.
Nobody ever told me about the trick where you use your electric breast pump on your breast that the baby isn't eating from during a nursing session, so that you can have some breast milk in your reserves on a night you just really need to catch a few extra Z's and hand a bottle to your partner, or dare I say get out of the house with some friends for a couple hours. Not only that, but did you know there are different size pump attachments for different size nipples?! As someone who was blessed to be able to exclusively breastfeed, I hadn't paid much attention to my pump, but boy did I wish I had when I found out this tid bit. It can really effect let down for some mama's. When I say I struggled with pumping, that is a huge understatement. I knew my baby was getting well fed when nursing, but whenever I tried to pump I was lucky to get 1 oz from each breast, even if they felt engorged. If baby got the flu and wasn't eating much, mama was stuck in the shower with some hot water, hand expressing. A little smaller breast shield would of done me major justice.
Last but most certainly not least, the coveted nipple shield.
Because things got off to such a great start, the nipple shield was out of site, out of mind. I didn't need it in the early days, so that means I would never need it....right? WRONG! My little guy had a great time giving me chronic nipple blisters on just one of my breast. After lactation consultants could not figure it out, I took to online mom groups (hey, we know some stuff,) and found out that sometimes a nipple shield can give some relief. I only wish I had found that information before suffering alone for months, feeling like a failure.
We all feel like crap bag moms sometimes. Struggling with breastfeeding shouldn't be one of those moments. Lean on other mama's, reach out for support, use the wisdom of those who have done the dance before you. You don't need to do it alone to prove something to yourself or others, and ultimately wind up stressed out, overwhelmed and giving up.
Give yourself grace mama, you're doing the best you can.