Breastfeeding didn’t always come easy. Ah, those first several weeks… the incredible bonding, the tiniest little baby getting all his nourishment from me... and sore nipples and mastitis twice with a fever of 102.5, and still being woken up every 2 hours?? Yeah, even amidst that most incredible time, it wasn't all roses and sunshine!
…but I am so happy I decided to stick it out and continue breastfeeding. Firstly, the bonding experience is amazing, unparalleled to anything I’ve experienced. When we take a nap together, and he’s all sleepy and latches on, it’s just the cutest thing in the world! Now, I admit that the first two and half months it didn’t feel like bonding so much, as I was just trying to make it work despite sore nipples and the seemingly constant threat of mastitis. (The second time I got mastitis, I ditched the antibiotics and the constant hot showers, and instead used this solution: I put rice in a sock and heated it in microwave – not so hot it would burn though – and applied it to the affected area several times a day while massaging it, and followed it with nursing. I found this much easier and with much faster results!)
I made it through those tough early weeks, and ever since about the 2-3 month mark it became SO much easier, and because it’s easier, I’ve been able to relax and now truly enjoy it! Having the patience to wait for my baby to latch correctly was key for me. In those early days, I was just so happy when I could tell he was getting milk, that even if my nipples were killing me and I knew the latch was bad, I couldn’t bring myself to break the latch … Big mistake! Read here for more on latching.
Breastfeeding really is a "skill" that mom and baby can get good at with enough practice and guidance. It’s funny; I used to have to sit in a very particular position in my special chair, with a particular pillow, etc, etc. After six months, Draco and I are old pros. I can nurse him while I’m wearing him in a carrier, while he’s “sitting” in my lap and I’m watching TV or working at my computer. Heck, I can hold him in position with one arm and walk down the hall and keep a good latch. No prob!
Some women (including my own mom) have no trouble with breastfeeding, ever. After a few days of soreness, they're good to go. Not me, but I’m grateful that I was able to make it through, and I encourage other mothers having a rough time to reach out for help. I understand that the Le Leche League offers help, free of charge. I was fortunate to have been visited in the hospital by their lactation consultant, and she was a huge help. Even then, I found it challenging, but as I’ve said, it was well worth the effort. Now I have the perfect food, at the perfect temperature, ready for Draco any time he needs it!
Besides the convenience and bonding of breastfeeding, let’s not forget the health benefits! Nature created the perfect food for our babies. The antibodies and other health benefits are so powerful for these little tiny creatures in a big new world. I want Draco to have the best shot at good health and intelligence, and I understand breast milk is helpful for both.
As a side benefit, the calorie-burning benefits of breastfeeding, and how it helps to contract the uterus, have helped me so much in terms of getting my body back after having gained 40 pounds during my pregnancy – especially during that first month, before I was ready for exercise. Also, I admit that I am enjoying having the larger cup size that comes along with breastfeeding, too. They also say that breastfeeding reduces our chance of getting breast cancer. I guess our boobies were made to do this!
A friend recently told me that after a botched breast enlargement, that she had lost all feeling in her right nipple. Her doctors were unsuccessful in bringing it back, but years later, after just a few weeks of nursing her baby, all feeling was restored!
Every woman has to decide what’s best for herself and baby. But if anyone reading this is wanting to give her baby (and herself) the beautiful gift of breastfeeding but is feeling discouraged, I hope you’ll stick it out! As a nurse in my OB’s office told me during my bouts of mastitis, “Whatever the problem is, the right answer on the test is always to breastfeed more.” :)
I want to share one more thing with you guys – if you are a breastfeeding champ with milk to spare, perhaps consider sharing the wealth through a website like milkshare.com or eatsonfeets.com. A close friend recently had baby who was born prematurely, weighing less than 2 pounds. She had also gotten a breast reduction surgery years back, and despite her best efforts - pumping every 3 hours around the clock for 3 months - she just wasn’t able to get her milk going. A full session of pumping wouldn’t even produce a quarter of an ounce. Her baby, like a lot of babies, has some allergies to formula (spitting up after every meal, skin rashes, etc), and so I’ve been pumping for her baby. I do it twice a day, and get about 5-6 ounces total each day, so at least her baby can get one bottle a day of breast milk. It is the truest gift I’ve ever had the honor to give.
Happy Nursing – you can do it!
 I’m not a doctor prescribing advice; just sharing my experience! Be sure to check with your own doctor regarding the treatment of mastitis.
Thank you so much for posting this so more mommies realize that it's not always \easy.\" I fought through pain for a few months with determination that I would and could make breastfeeding work
posted by businessofmom on April 14th, 2011
So excited the way you set up your blog. A novel way to take care of everything. It does me so good to hear that you are a breastfeeding mommy. It's not easy but if you can find the support, it is one of the most awesome feelings in the world, to give your baby what they need! 31 here. I have always been terrible at math. I'm looking at getting your books for myself. That being said, you are an awesome mommy! Your LO is the cutest thing. Keep up the good work, mom!!!
posted by fancylil on April 15th, 2011
Danica, I am so proud of you for the obvious research you must have done to make breastfeeding such a priority. Your Mom and I both had two girls, both had C-sections, and both had no problems whatsoever in breastfeeding! My girls have had all their children with midwives and all three of my precious Granddaughters were born under water. What a calming and serene scene I was exposed to for the first time in my own life! They had troubles, like you, with feeding their babies, but overcame them and bonded, fattened, and loved those little ones so much!!! (The girls had 4 of my 5 Grandchildren at home) I am tickled that you and my girls are on such parallels. It feels like Mom and me when we were so young! Love, Michele
posted by MMcKellar on April 15th, 2011
Yes, Michele, (my dear college friend!) it was great having our children around the same time. :) The same holds true for Danica and several of her high school and college friends who have begun creating their families in the past couple of years. And they are fortunate in that they still live close to each other and can share that time more than we did. I admire young women of today, who (in my opinion) have even more challenges than we did from the moment they're pregnant, to when they decide about whether or not to breastfeed, and throughout the years that follow in guiding, protecting, and nurturing their children. Love to all of you.
posted by MMcKellar on April 15th, 2011
p.s. beautiful picture of you and Draco, Danica. From the smile on you're face, I'll bet Mike took it. :) Your paternal grandmother would've called it a Madonna picture (as in, \mother and child\"; not the pop star); and I'd agree and say it's worthy of being enlarged
posted by Danica on April 16th, 2011
Actually, the picture was taken by Cathryn Farnsworth, an amazing photographer and friend. http://cathrynfarnsworthphotography.com/
posted by ku3e on June 5th, 2011
I was taught in my pediatrics rotations as a med student three decades ago that breastfeeding is best. No contest with artificial formula. (Boston University - perhaps they were enlightened.) I must say, though, the the picture of you and your son is beyond beautiful. It is Motherhood defined. The English language may not have the proper word to describe its aesthetics and impact. A more colorful and expressive language like Yiddish might! :-) S.
posted by mamoran on April 27th, 2012
My ex loved breastfeeding our daughter, she could eat all her favorite things (cheesecake, whipped cream, etc.) in unlimited quantities and still keep her size four figure.
posted by Mimi to ten on January 8th, 2013
Danica, I nursed my babies and had Mastitis with my first child in 1971. The Dr. wouldn't let me nurse on that breast because of the infection. Then I had to use a nipple cover over my breast for my daughter to nurse. My nipple was very sore. I was very unhappy until I got home and did it my way.
When my second child was born in 1974, I had learned how to avoid mastitis through a La Leche group. I felt like the duct wasn't emptying so sitting on a chair,I held my daughter with her head in my left hand and her bottom and legs rested on a pillow by my left side as she nursed on my left breast. We called it a football hold. A German nurse entered my room and said "Well I never saw a baby nurse like that!" I told her that I learned from La Leche to do that to prevent mastitis by helping the ducts to empty. Mom's need to have their baby nurse in different positions to empty the ducts if they are not emptying. Just a little FYI to help new moms avoid mastitis. I was happy that I could nurse with out pain.