leaking-breastmilk

New At Breastfeeding? – What I Wish I Knew Beforehand

When I fully decided to breastfeed my child, I had such a perfect picture in mind. I thought she would just latch on and drink while I would sit back and enjoy our bonding time. I thought it just came naturally.  I was shocked when it didn’t go exactly like that! You may have read my post where I mentioned that I didn’t get to feed my baby until about four hours or so post delivery.

When I finally held her to feed her, I felt awkward. I was new at breastfeeding:- maybe that’s why it felt odd to me. I wasn’t sure that the positioning was quite right and my hands didn’t feel very comfortable. I was just hoping she was latched on and getting something.

Prior to my delivery, I attended a couple Lamaze classes to help prepare me for the experience. One of the classes dealt with different breastfeeding positions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for what I was soon about to face.

Constant Feeding

I’ve heard it said that “babies feed often”. In my mind, often was about every 3 or 4 hours so I wasn’t too worried about losing much sleep. Even when I went into recovery, my daughter didn’t feed four about 4 hours after our first feeding. Then it all came crashing down on me; every 45 minutes to an hour! I was not prepared for that at all. Looking back now, I think she was catching up on some sleep and tricking me into thinking that this journey would be smooth.

Every 45 minutes…like clockwork… My exhaustion when through the roof. I was a walking zombie. I was just a milk machine. The first few weeks, I felt like my days were spent with a tiny human attached to me 24/7. The nights were worse. She would be feeding every 30 minutes. As soon as I thought I got a little break, she would be searching for her milk.

Every evening at about 4 pm, my nightmare began. My daughter would be forever fussy and forever feeding. They call it cluster feeding. During those days, I felt as if I was going to lose my mind. I had an oversupply issue, but I began wondering if my baby wasn’t getting enough milk.

I just couldn’t get her to settle for a long period. Any chance I got to shower, I would break down in tears. It was too much. Thankfully, it eventually got better.

As a new mom, I wish someone would’ve explained exactly what constant feeding meant. Or at least the why behind it. Then I could’ve been a little more mentally prepared.

When babies are born, their stomachs are very small which means it takes very little to fill them. Breastmilk is easily and quickly digested which results in baby getting hungry faster. Newborn stomach sizeHence, it seems like all you do is feed your baby.

As baby’s stomach gets bigger, he takes in more at each feeding and is able to go for longer periods between feedings.

Sore Nipples

With constant feeding comes sore nipples. There was hardly any time between each feeding for my nipples to get a proper rest. After day two of breastfeeding, I was ready for some type of relief. My daughter had a very aggressive suck in addition to feeding frequently (ouch). Thankfully, I didn’t experience cracked nipples.

I had procrastinated when it came to buying a nipple cream so I was in the hospital with absolutely nothing. But guess what? Breastmilk actually makes a cost effective nipple “cream”.

After each feed, I hand expressed a little milk and rubbed it into my nipples until it was dry. This was very soothing at first. When I got home from hospital, I used coconut oil. Other people swear by lanolin nipple cream.

Sore nipples are a very common breastfeeding issue and can be the result of a bad latch so be sure to check that your baby is latched on correctly.

Finding A Good Position Is Important

Finding a good breastfeeding position is key to getting a good latch which reduces the chance of experiencing nipple soreness. Not only that, it takes the strain off your muscles and helps you relax for a better nursing session. Having a nursing pillow helps getting and stayin in position easier and alot more comfortable.

I thought that I just had to put my baby on my nipple and she would suck all the milk she wanted until she wanted to stop. I played around with different breastfeeding positions for a while before I found my “go-tos”.

Engorgement

This is the most painful thing I have experienced while breastfeeding. The day after I came home from hospital was when it began. My milk came in before I was discharged from hospital but I never got the “full” feeling. Whenever I was checked, milk squirted out so I knew it was there.

My first night home was like any other night after the birth of my daughter; feeding around the clock. But in the morning, something was very different. My breasts were extremely swollen. Not just my breasts, but under my arms. And it was painful.

I didn’t know what was happening so my husband and I were searching all over the internet and we called two medical facilities. One facility scared me. When I explained what was happening, the nurse, in a rude tone, told me that I needed to “get that milk off” or it would make me sick. What? Sick? Why? What’s happening? I went into panic mode.

My perfect plan to exclusively breastfeed my daughter seemed to have been falling apart quicker than it started. The second hospital I called was a lot friendlier and told me what was happening and what I could do to relieve it. It didn’t include quitting breastfeeding. I was relieved.

My cousin, who is a nurse, came over when I called her and told her what was happening. She made sure I didn’t have a fever and she got to work trying to soften my breasts.My breasts were hard and lumpy and the slightest touch was extremely painful. My day was filled with “ouches” and lots of tears.

As the day went on, I was trying to express milk and feed my baby as often as I could but the milk seemed to be filling up faster than it was being removed. The pain was overbearing. It took about 7 days before things leveled out for me.

Oversupply

Oversupply is a thing! I’d spend a lot of time worrying that I wouldn’t have sufficient milk for my daughter. Meanwhile, my body had other plans.

I can’t say I wasn’t happy to hear I had an oversupply because I was. But there were some issues that followed. One being that my daughter was getting gassy a lot.

With the help of my breastfeeding specialist I was able to work around my oversupply and help my daughter be gas-free. I’ll probably write a more in depth post about this.

Leaking

With oversupply came leaking. If I knew I would be such a heavy leaker, I would’ve stocked up on more breast pads. I ran through two boxes in less than two weeks. It seemed like the slightest thing caused my milk to flow at not so convenient times.

If my daughter cried, I would leak. If I was showering while she was hungry, I would leak. Sometimes it would actually be a spray of milk.

During the night I would wake up with my clothes and sheets soaked in milk. Milk was just everywhere.

Whenever I left home, I had to ensure that I packed at least 3 extra pairs of breast pads and an extra top. It was a given that at any time, my milk would start dripping and I would end up smelling like a walking milk machine. That was very embarrassing at times.

Can you imagine everyone else around you smelling fresh and clean while you just marinate in a fresh milk bath? I wouldn’t change a thing about it though because it is all for a good cause.

Although I was taken by surprised by these situations, I’m happy that I always found a way to work through them and continue on my journey.

What was the start of your journey like? What are some things you weren’t prepared for? Leave your comments below and let me know!

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14 Comments

  1. Sujandar Mahesan says:

    Clearly this was not for me but my aunt just had a new baby and I thought this article would be helpful for her, So I shared this article with my aunt. She called me today and she thanked me for sharing this with her. She said she learned a lot of things that she hadn’t knew before reading this article.

    Thank you for posting this.

  2. Lok Which says:

    This is really interesting. This is a must read for every woman and every lady who wants to have a kid of her own. This post has really educate me . many women do not look for a good position before breastfeeding their kids just because they do not know how important this is. I know I’m not the only that has been educated. Thanks for sharing this post .I will strongly share this post so that women and ladies can educated on this.

  3. Melissa says:

    Hi, it just goes to show how different everyone’s experiences can be! I must say your image made me giggle but as I was reading your story I realised that must have been quite difficult for you during that time when your body was creating an oversupply. 

    I had the complete opposite issue to you with undersupply. I don’t know whether it was my circumstances, or my body, or what happened. I’d had a very complicated and distressing twin pregnancy, I even had surgery during my pregnancy which saved their lives. They arrived prematurely and were yet to develop the sucking mechanism which meant they were tube fed for the first few weeks. And alas, breast feeding never really worked for me. Most of my fellow mama friends in NICU were pumping and storing masses of milk in the fridge. I however could not and I’d wondered what was wrong with me. I had to keep reminding myself that my children have survived and are healthy, and that they just need to be fed, the mechanism was going to have to be irrelevant. 

    I applaud all mums who can breastfeed their children, it was something I could never do 🙂 

    1. Tekyia says:

      I’m sorry to hear that you had a difficult pregnancy. 

      Sometimes there are situations out of a woman’s control that affect her breastfeeding plans but it is in no way a reflection of her as a mom! Doesn’t meant anything is “wrong” with her. It just didn’t work. It’s better to have baby fed, happy and healthy.

  4. Chrissie Spurgeon says:

    You certainly had a difficult start to breastfeeding, but I don’t think that anyone really has it that easy at the start.

    With my first baby, I had to contend with the outdated attitudes of my mother and grandmother who staunchly maintained that babies should go for four hours between feeds! So I ended up with massive feelings of guilt, but needless to say I did not wait for four hours – the only way, as you found out, is to feed on demand, and a breastfed baby will not take more than she needs.

    I found that I was much more relaxed with my subsequent babies, as I then knew that my way was the correct way, and I fed my last baby for almost four years! In fact, I fed them all until they wanted to stop, and he just didn’t!!

    When one of my daughters has her first baby, he was born with a kind of layer of skin on his upper lip – I forget the correct term, it was not a hare lip – and this prevented the baby from latching on properly. Breastfeeding was agony for her, but she was absolutely determined to continue with it, and did so for eight months, the skin having been removed when her baby was about four months. But by that time the baby had got used to having trouble feeding, so it was no easier for my daughter. I had such admiration for her determination. She had a far easier time with her second son.

    I still maintain that breastfeeding is always the best thing for babies, and for mothers it can and should be a truly amazing experience. Once you get over the first few weeks, of course!!

    Chrissie 🙂

    1. Tekyia says:

      I think that others need to be more supportive rather than offering unsolicited advice to new mothers. It was tough for me having people constantly questioning me or telling me she wasn’t getting enough. Like you, I had to figure out that she takes in exactly what she needs.

      I think the condition you’re refering to is a lip tie. There’s also a tongue tie and both can affect the latch. The sooner they are fixed, the better. But kudos to your daughter for pushing through!  I can’t imagine the pain she must have felt.

  5. Your opening picture of the statue made me laugh, perfect! Breastfeeding was terribly hard for me. Like you, I thought it would be easy and natural. That’s the way it looked when my sister did it. There were times when I would stuff a washcloth in my mouth to keep from screaming. It was awful! I called the hospital and they sent someone to give me some tips. It helped so much to sit in the right position and use a pillow! I’m so glad you are putting this out there so others won’t have to go through such a hard time.

    1. In the pictures, it definitely looks so easy! Until you’re in the situation. Maybe all hospitals should look into having a specialist so that moms who choose to breastfeed could be given help from early.

  6. I was in the same assumption when I began to breastfeed my baby, thinking it would be all fun and dandy… was I wrong!

    First, it was super awkward having another person come into the room and literally touch my nipple to show me better ways to feed my baby, he(baby) was very stubborn and didn’t seem to latch correctly and I was doing a great job either.

    It was frustrating, that was just the first few days in the hospital. Then trying to continue when I got home was even more crazy, sore all the time, came down with the “flu” like symptoms from a blocked duct, even bleeding nipples… (sorry TMI) but its the truth!

    It’s not easy… for some of us at least. I then switched to pumping, that wasn’t too fun either, but I made due and stuck with that for about 4 more months when my supply nearly dissipated.

    That was kind of devastating to me, because all your doctors and “teachers” push breastfeeding so much on mothers, kind of making you feel like if you switch to formula your taking the easy way out.. So I felt kinda defeated.

    I soon came to realize as long as I’m feeding my baby and he is healthy then I’m doing a great job as a mom.

    That turned into a longer story than I anticipated but I just wanted to share with y’all!

    1. Super awkward doesn’t even describe it! Hahah. The first time I was checked I was hesitant to open my duster. I was wondering why a stranger need to touch my breasts. Not to mention, she wasn’t the most gentle when she checked either!

      I agree that it’s not easy and some people never get the hang of it and that’s OK. We have enough pressure as moms so adding guilt to mom who have a hard time breastfeeding is just wrong. Fed, happy and healthy baby is important 🙂

  7. sandy says:

    I never knew how frequent babies breastfed. I am shocked about how little time in between feedings. Thank you so much for this information. It is sure very helpful to know before I have my first baby. I’m always constantly worrying about everything and I’m pretty sure I’ll worry even more but this post did help me understand many things and I thank you for that!

    1. I’m glad to have helped 🙂 Stay tuned

  8. Girl! I went through every. single. thing you mentioned in this article.

    I had two boys. And with both of them, I experienced engorgement to the point I was scared it would turn into mastitis. But I learned to let them nurse on the engorged breast often. I also put pressure on it. This helped to release some of the milk as well. Pumping was also helpful. Can’t let all that liquid gold go to waste!

    And I definitely feel your pain about nursing often. My 5 month old is constantly eating. He’s been this way since birth. No wonder he’s almost 20 pounds. It’s funny because when we were at the hospital and a nurse would come in to give him a bath or something and they would see him eating. They would come back 45 minutes to an hour later and he’d still be eating!

    Breastfeeding positions are definitely important. With my first, I would feed him in an awkward position that ended up making his head lean to one side for a while. I felt terrible, but it corrected itself eventually after I made some changes to the positions.

    Anyway, I wish I had come across this article before I started breastfeeding. Like you, I also thought it would be a breeze.

    Thanks for sharing!

    B

    1. Both my breasts (and nipples) were engorged so it was quite painful to nurse but I fought through. Pumping wasn’t very helpful to me because I filled back up very fast. The first set I pumped, my daughter refused to take it from a bottle so I was essentially pumping and dumping.

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