Breastfeeding: Why it’s Not For Me
Breastfeeding…It’s a very sensitive subject with some mothers.
I already know I may get some hate mail or readers that will hate me for this blog post, but I felt the need to write this blog and share my story with other mothers out there.
I need to tell my story, my confessions, and get it off my chest…because, well, no one really knows what happened to me or what I went through.
Now let me get one thing straight!
I am NOT against breastfeeding! I repeat I am NOT against breastfeeding!
I know that breastfeeding is the absolute best thing for your baby. Also it’s how God created you to be. God formed you and designed you to naturally feed your baby.
But sometimes when you’re a new mom for the first time, you’re not sure if breastfeeding is for you.
I’m going to tell you my story, my very personal confession on why breastfeeding is not for me. Or as I tell people, how I failed at breastfeeding.
Buckle up! It’s one heck of a story!
During my entire pregnancy I was not sure if I wanted to breastfeed our baby. The thought of breastfeeding just didn’t sit right with me. I really did not want to breastfeed at all! My mom did not breastfeed any of us as babies. She told me she tried but we never latched on. So my brother and I were all formula fed kids.
I had a few mommy friends tell me how breastfeeding is so awesome, how they loved the experience, and how I would love it too. I had some friends tell me the benefits of breastfeeding, how they are able to pump at work, what you do when you’re out & about with baby, and what to do when you have to nurse the baby in public. They all gave me great encouraging advice that made me consider trying to breastfeed.
But the thought of me actually doing it still wasn’t for me. Manny asked if I could at least try it and see after baby was born.
The more I thought about breastfeeding the more I actually started to stress out about it. At the time I worked for a very busy oncology/hematology office as a medical assistant. I was the only medical assistant for 3 doctors. Working full-time all I did was fill exam rooms for the doctors, draw blood, stick fingers all day long. Sometimes I would barely get a lunch break! And as I started to think about pumping my milk at work, I realized there was absolutely no way I would be able to pump to feed my baby. Especially with me being busy all day long. There was just no way!
But I said to myself that I would still try it, even though I didn’t want to. Maybe I’ll have a good experience like all my other friends. Or maybe I will not be able to nurse my baby and only formula feed. I had all these thoughts running through my head.
Well the day came when I gave birth to Aiden.
I was a new first time mom. Everything was new. Baby was new, your third degree episiotomy down there was new, and recovering from that was a whole other experience.
I thought as a new mom, nurses and staff in the hospital would try their best to keep you calm and have you enjoy the new experience of motherhood while you are there and recovering.
After I delivered Aiden, I had trouble walking from my third degree episiotomy. I was in agony! I was not able to walk for 2 full weeks! All I wanted to do was ice my you know what and not move. As well as knock out with some Percocets to take away the intense pain.
But no! That was not happening in the hospital.
Lactation nurses kept bothering me trying to get me to nurse Aiden. I was open to their advice and trying to get Aiden to latch on, but he was not latching on at all, which I figured would happen.
Let me put it to you this way. I normally don’t have anything that sticks out of my boobs unless I am cold. My nipples just don’t stick out unless I’m cold. Then when my body warms up, they disappear or go back in. So trying to nurse a baby with nothing for him to latch onto was very difficult.
Lactation nurses were trying to get me to use a nipple shield that would go on me. They tried having me use a breast pump so my nipples could try to come out. None of these options were helping me. And at the same time I was not feeling this whole breastfeeding thing. Like I said it just wasn’t for me, and Aiden was starving. I gave in and said, “feed him a bottle, I don’t want him starving if I’m not able to offer him anything yet!”
During my few days at the hospital I kept being badgered by lactation nurses, trying to get me to nurse Aiden, or use the breast pump. Usually your milk comes in 3 days or so after giving birth. But no, these nurses wanted to get something out of me right away. I didn’t even have colostrum coming out of me while I was in the hospital.
I felt like these nurses were sucking the life out of me, and were not respecting my wishes to not breastfeed. I had such a hard time recovering in the hospital due to this whole badgering ordeal.
Of course on day 4 of postpartum, the day I had to take Aiden to his doctor check up, my milk comes in. And my boobs were killing me!
I had to take my bra off for relief and I was constantly leaking. On the way home I stopped at Babies R Us to purchase a breast pump.
Now you have to understand what I was physically feeling. This was a whole other feeling I’ve never felt before. I was not only engorged, but I was leaking, in pain, and throbbing. I knew if I purchased a breast pump and pumped out my milk I would get some relief.
When I got home, I literally handed Aiden to my mom in his car seat and shouted, “I NEED TO PUMP!”
As I sat in my room pumping I started to feel some relief, but not the relief I was looking for. I had no idea that when you breastfeed or pump, it triggers uterine contractions. I started to cry with frustration. Between the breast pain, uterine contraction pain, and recovering from the episiotomy pain, I was done! This was not the experience I was looking forward to that I was promised. And another reason this was not for me.
My pumping and feeding schedule for Aiden was totally insane. I had to pump whenever I was full, and of course it wasn’t the time for Aiden to eat. And then when I would try to rest after pumping, Aiden would wake up to eat. I was getting no rest at all. Even during the night. And the more I pumped, the more uncomfortable I felt. Plus, whatever I was pumping, nothing much was coming out. It was so painful. I kept telling myself I don’t want to do this. This is not for me. And the times I did not feel like pumping, I was giving Aiden formula.
After a week of pumping I did not find it enjoyable at all! The feeling of your breasts constantly engorged, throbbing, your nipples cracked & bleeding, on top of not being able to fill a bottle with much of your own milk is somewhat frustrating. The feeling of my boobs being engorged never left my body. And after a week I started to develop a fever. I felt absolutely horrible. I had a 104 fever and was not able to pump due to the intense pain my boobs were in. I had to have Manny take the night shift to feed Aiden.
My doctor gave me antibiotics for mastitis. I had no idea what it was or had never even heard of mastitis. And yet I was a woman who worked in medical. After being on antibiotics, I started to feel a little better. I continued to pump what I could, but I still didn't have much coming out of me. Whatever I was able to pump out was not enough to feed Aiden. Thank God I stocked up on formula. Because that is what kept this kid full when he was hungry.
By week 2 postpartum, my fever returned with a vengeance, and my energy level dropped. I knew something was wrong in my body. I knew it was my boobs. They were severely swollen, rock hard, red in different spots, hot to the touch, and constantly leaking. I was leaking so much that I was going through 2 boxes of breast pads a day!
I called my ob/gyn and told them how I was feeling and knew something was wrong. Thank God they told me to come in right away. Even though I was the last patient seen, I knew my doctor would see me and hear me out. The ob/gyn practice that I went to is a father/daughter practice. Father & daughter both deliver babies. Dr. Gary Kaye, the father, was the one who delivered Aiden (and Nolan too).
On this special visit, I saw Dr. Alissa Kaye, the daughter. She looked at my breasts and her immediate response was, “Jackie what the heck did you do to yourself?!” I broke down and started crying. My exact words were, “I didn’t want to breastfeed! This was not for me! I said I would try it, but I didn’t want to! I didn’t want to do this!!!”
As Dr. Alissa Kaye examined me, she said that my severe mastitis was very bad. The worst she has ever seen. She told me that I may have to go into the hospital for IV antibiotics. I was in shock. But she wanted to get her father’s opinion and see if he thought the same as her.
Both Dr. Gary Kaye & Dr. Alissa Kaye came into the exam room, and Dr. Gary Kaye looked at me and softly says to me, “Jackie what the heck did you do to yourself?” As he continued to look at my breasts and feel, the tears kept streaming down my face, I could not believe I was experiencing this as a first time mom. An experience that was not pleasant, and something that I do not wish on any mother.
Dr. Gary Kaye said to me, “Alissa is right, you need IV antibiotics, you have to be admitted into the hospital. This mastitis is really bad!” I asked him if I was able to bring Aiden with me as he was only 2 weeks old. He told me no. I was in shock and could not believe I had to be admitted into the hospital, and had to be separated from my baby for the first time.
I went home, packed a hospital bag, not knowing how long I was going to stay in the hospital. I showed my mom where I had Aiden’s diapers and formula, that way she was prepared. We picked up my sister-in-love, Smitha, as she was planning to stay with me in the hospital as Manny had to work the next few days.
As we drove to the hospital I sat with tears streaming down my cheeks. I was separated from my newborn, I wanted to be alone and process this situation I was going through, but I couldn’t with my sister-in-love tagging along.
As I got admitted the nurses brought me my IV antibiotics and started the IV drip. As I laid in my hospital bed with high fever, hard, painful, leaking boobs, I started to feel something. I started to scratch my neck. Then the scratching slowly intensified. The itchiness spread from my neck, down my chest, to my breasts. I knew I was having an allergic reaction of some sort to the IV medication.
As my sister-in-love, Smitha, saw what was happening she saw my skin turning a bright red color. She immediately ran to get the nurses. The itching and burning sensations I was feeling rapidly intensified! Now I am literally screaming for relief. As I’m drastically scratching my chest and breasts I shouted, “Oh my God! Help me! Cut them off! I’ll get implants, just cut them off! Or knock me out!!!”
I cannot describe the amount of pain I was feeling in my breasts with the added itching and burning sensations from the IV. The nurses came to the conclusion they needed to slowly drip my antibiotics with an added bag of saline. Once they did that I was okay. I asked for painkillers and a sleeping pill to knock me out and put me out of my misery.
During my stay at the hospital I called my mom every few hours checking on Aiden. I kept telling my mom what to do with him, and of course my mother would tell me that she’s had 3 kids and she knows what she’s doing. I couldn’t help it. I was in “mama bear” mode since it was my first baby and my first time being apart from him.
I spent a total of 3 days in the hospital receiving IV antibiotics. I felt so much better. My breasts were no longer engorged or swollen. They finally felt like normal boobs again.
I recovered just fine after being discharged from the hospital, but every woman who I tell my story to has always said they’ve never heard of a new mom going through what I went through with mastitis.
Mastitis is no joke. If I encounter a new mom on the fence of breastfeeding and formula feeding, I just encourage them to try to breastfeeding. And when they try it they’ll know whether it is for them or not.
Now I think after what I went through with breastfeeding and pumping, that I at least deserve an “A” for effort and for trying. If you don’t think so, well then you can get over it. I can say I tried and was not comfortable with it. It just wasn’t for me.
Kudos to all the moms out there who continue to breastfeed or pump through mastitis!
You guys rock!
Here I am now, 9 months pregnant with my 3rd baby, and I’m sure you’re wondering if I’m going to breastfeed. Of course not! Manny asked me to try again after I had Nolan. And I said no. This time around he asked again, and all I said was, “If you’re not breastfeeding, I’m not breastfeeding.”
Manny always says just try again. All I have to do is remind him of what happened the first time, and make him realize that if I go back into the hospital again for IV antibiotics, he’ll be the one home alone with 3 kids. His immediate response is “never mind.”
If you’re not sure if breastfeeding is for you, just have an open mind and try it. You may have a pleasant experience with it than I did. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it, just be blunt and tell your lactation nurses it’s not for you and to leave you alone! That’s it!
If you want to try it, read up on other blogs or materials to help make your experience pleasant. Talk to other friends who have had a great experience with breastfeeding. Get tips from them. Find out what worked and did not work for them. Every woman is different.
I do NOT want any mom going through or having to experience what I went through.
As far as I know, no one has ever experienced something like this but me. And if you did experience something like what I went through, I would love to hear your story.
As I try to close out this blog, I hope that my true confession and journey with breastfeeding kept your interest.
Please share this blog and pass it along. You never know who might be able to relate to my story.