Our Breastfeeding Journey

I’m a little late to the party (I blame the kids), but I wanted to share some of my experience breastfeeding two babies for World Breastfeeding Week. 

My first baby was born in the hospital. In light of my second birth at home with a midwife it wasn’t a great experience, but it is what it is. On the second day she was struggling to latch and they didn’t want to release us until she did. After a long, uncomfortable night slammed into a tiny room with a baby who kept coughing up fluid and not having slept in 24 hours we were desperate to just go home. The hospital sent in a lactation consultant who simply threw a nipple shield at me and told me that I would be able to just stop using it at some point. I didn’t get any advice on how to position the baby, no advice on how to stop using the nipple shield, no way of getting follow up care, no real support. They sent us home a few hours later and I spent the next eleven months nursing with that damn shield. 

Now, I know without support I needed that shield and I know other women need them too, but in our situation I think it caused more problems than not. Cam gained weight, but was always thin. It never took less than 45 minutes to feed her. I felt revolted by the sensation of nursing her. My period came back six weeks postpartum. It was always a production to feed her between the shield filling with milk and spilling, popping off, and needing to be kept track of. It was just kind of a mess. I was so grateful when she weaned herself. The idea of needing to breastfeed another baby really put me off the idea of a second child for years.

When I got pregnant with Malin and started care with my midwife we discussed the breastfeeding woes I had with Cam and my apprehension of going through it all again. She confidently told me we would simply work hard to ensure I didn’t use the shield this time around and she got me in touch with a lactation consultant before I gave birth. We got all our ducks in a row so that when I needed support it was already there. 

Once Malin was born we struggled. There was a lot of pain. She latched poorly. My nipples cracked and bled and scabbed over and cracked again. There were nights of wanting to just give up. I cried and cried and cried- partly from hormones, but also because I physically wanted to give up but mentally wasn’t ready to. We sank a lot of money into the lactation consultant, who was incredibly helpful but still didn’t fix the problem. I had to use the shield at various points to protect my healing nipples. We had Malin’s posterior tongue tie clipped. I have had five blocked ducts and run a fever three of those times. And we’re only four and a half months in. But you know what? It was trial by fire and, despite her seeming to forget how to latch properly every three or four weeks and the occasional bleeding crack, I feel confident in feeding her. 

Malin is much bigger than Cam was. She’s longer and two whole pounds heavier. It only takes her 10 minutes to feed and we’re rarely soaked in milk after feeding. And I love feeding her. I look at her little baby body and the rolls on her thighs and feel proud that I’ve sustained her. 

I am really disheartened that the US did not support the WHO resolution for breastfeeding. While feeding babies can be accomplished many, many ways, breastfeeding is natural, healthy, and people who can breastfeed and choose to may need a lot of support. The opposition is both misogynistic, but also deeply entwined with the ills of capitalism. I hope by sharing stories about successfully breastfeeding healthy babies we can stress the importance of having that choice promoted and celebrated. 

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