Looking back over the past 6 months, thinking about everything that’s transpired in my nursing relationship with Ruby, there are many things I wish I could go back and change. I am not writing this so that people can commit about how I shouldn’t feel guilty and that I did my best, etc. I’m writing this for the young mother or future mother. I want to keep you from making some of the mistakes I made.
1. Forcing the baby to the breast
This one probably should be obvious. But when you are tired and frustrated, you don’t think clearly. When Ruby was first born, she would cry… a lot….. and frequently. A crying baby usually will not nurse. They have to calm down before you can latch them onto the breast. I knew this! I was told this. But I couldn’t get Ruby to calm down. She wouldn’t latch. So I forced her on. She would scream with all her might. So I just expressed milk into her mouth until she started swallowing out of self defense and then she kinda latched on and just swallowed while I expressed. Then she kinda started sucking but not really. Which explains why she has little to no muscle tone and very little mobility and skill while nursing. This also caused her to immediately have bad experience, after bad experience at the breast. This didn’t go on for a week or two. This went on for close to two months.
*puts bag over head*
It doesn’t end there…. no, I’m sad to say it actually gets worse.
After seeing my lactaction consultant for the first time (Ruby was 2.5 months old), she warned me about keeping the experience at the breast very positive. Did I listen? Noooooooooooo! “Why not?” you ask. Well, I really don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, really, what does she know? She’s just the best lactation consultant in NorthEast Florida. She’s only been doing this for YEARS. She’s just been to countless conferences and has innumerable resources. Why should I trust her?! *facepalm*
After Ruby’s tongue tie release she still wasn’t gaining weight. We speculated it was because I was using a nipple shield. She wouldn’t nurse without it. So what did I do? Tried to force her onto the breast without one, of course! Isn’t that what every senseable, knowledgeable mother would do? Well, she never took to it. But it severly damaged our nursing relationship.
Even now, I sadly admit to you, I did this again this past week. She’s been refusing the breast (and now you can see why) so I tried to force her onto it. What is my problem? Why not just listen to the expert I hired and trust?! Well….. lesson learned. Not doing it anymore.
2. Get Help Immediately when Problems Arise:
When I had DD1, Loretta, I was good about this. I sought help immediately while still in the hospital. Then I continued to recieve help and advise from anyone else. I saw and talked to a total of 5 lactaction consultants. My problem? I was using a nipple shield that the first (and most knowledgable and experienced LC gave me). All these others kept telling me to get off the shield asap. They spun me into a panic over it. Finally, I had another nursing mother in my church come to the rescue. She saw how small Loretta’s mouth was. How small I am. She explained that I would have to use it because it was physically impossible for her to take the nipple far enough back into her throat to nurse properly. She had a similar problem with one of her children. I used the nipple shield for the first 4 months of Loretta’s life. Then I went on to nurse without one for the balance of our nursing relationship.
I used a nipple shield with Ruby too. I didn’t go get help because I was afraid of the same this happening again. The lactation consultant that I had seen first with Loretta had relocated to another state. So that meant I needed to find someone else for help. Instead of calling around and finding out who I could trust, I just tried to fix it myself. Which brings us to #3.
3. Seek out support
When Ruby was born, I posted something on FaceBook about my nursing experience. Someone put a comment on the post (as opposed to messaging me privately) about how they thought this wasn’t something to talk about publicly. I was embarrassed, hurt, and angry. Then it got back to me that someone else had even contacted my Pastor about the same thing. So my husband and I decided it would be best if I never mentioned breast feeding again.
So I suffered silently and alone. I have no family in town. I’m not super close to anyone else that nurses. I didn’t realize problems when they showed up. When they did I just took it upon myself to do whatever came to mind (ie forcing her onto the breast). There wasn’t anyone there to support me and tell me that this wasn’t normal. No one explained the road I was travelling on would take me to a dead end in my nursing relationship.
Now that I’m blogging about all this, I’m starting to heal. I’m sure I’ve offended people. But I can’t bottle all of this up any more. And you shouldn’t bottle it up either. Get support. Get help. Whatever you’re going through. Be creative and look for outlets. Don’t suffer silently. It’s won’t get better in time. The pain my temporarily dull that way, but you won’t actually heal. Trust me! If you don’t listen to anything else I ever post, listen to this. Get Help!
So now you know all my dirty, little nursing secrets. Don’t you do them! I don’t want to see you go down the same road and end up at a dead end like me.