Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Agony and Bliss

Let me just start by saying I think this blog is brilliant. I truly hope that every woman who finds it shares it with someone because breastfeeding might just be one of the hardest things a woman will ever do.

At 37 weeks of my first pregnancy, my water broke. We rushed to the hospital and I was immediately put on antibiotics (I was group B strep positive) and pitocin to induce labor. Just 8 hours later, I was holding my beautiful baby boy. There were no complications and he latched on like a pro. The nurses were amazed that everything came so naturally for my son and me and that nursing was so easy.

Within a week, I had to bite my lip to keep from screaming in pain every time he latched on. His latch was proper, and he was staying latched right throughout the nursing session, but my nipples were cracked, bleeding and pain was shooting through my breasts during and after every feeding. After doing hours of research online, I went to a lactation consultant who suggested either prescription medication or gentian violet for thrush.

Thrush is a yeast infection. Some of the symptoms are pain in the nipples, cracked or bleeding nipples, burning during or after nursing in the breasts, and shooting pain during and after nursing. The symptoms may be cyclical with periods of no pain (for me it was a week on and a week off of pain). If you have any of these symptoms, please for your own sake look into thrush! Especially if you were put on antibiotics during labor, which throw off your body’s natural balance of good and bad bacteria and allows yeast to grow, look into the possibility of thrush.

Being poor college students at the time, I decided to try gentian violet. If you haven’t ever used it, try not to…it’s a mess. You have to rub it on your breasts and throughout the baby’s mouth after every feeding, and it stains anything it touches. I still have a purple towel from this experience. After over a week there was no improvement.

My sister in law knew my pain and suggested going to the doctor, who gave my nystatin cream. This did not work either. Nor did the oral medication. Nor did the natural treatments found online. Finally, I called the doctor in tears after another painful nursing session and the nurse suggested Newman’s Ointment. Because my pain was cyclical, giving me periods of respite from my pain, I kept thinking it was done, so I would press on. After literally months of struggling with thrush and the associated pain, I found relief…Newman’s Ointment did the trick.

The joy I was finally able to feel in nursing my child was amazing! I went on to nurse for a year before I chose to wean him. Was it worth all the pain? Yes, in the end, for me the benefits of breastfeeding far outweighed the negative aspects. Is it the same for other mothers, no. Breastfeeding is a very personal choice!

Know your options…know your possibilities. If nothing else, ask other mothers. Ask if they have had this problem. Nursing is still such a controversial issue that it’s not really talked about unless someone brings it up. You have to ask to learn! If you have struggled with nursing, there is no need to be ashamed! Help other mothers get through their pain and struggles by sharing your story!

If you would like to read more of my story, please join me over at What I Live For!

I love your blog! Thank you so much for providing a place to spread the word about breastfeeding. No one tells you how hard it might be. No one tells you of the pain, the insecurity, the embarrassment! Thank you for telling others!

Judy, 24, K 3 and C 18 months.

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