There, I said it. Breastfeeding is really hard. Haig Arthur is 3 months now and I can say so far that our breastfeeding journey has been interesting.
When Haig Arthur was born premature, the nurses recommended we try using a breast shield for nursing so he could have a better latch with his small mouth. While we were in the nursery, he was a very lazy feeder. He was losing weight so they put him on a feeding tube for a few days. When he was on the feeding tube though he almost always got my own breast milk. The night that my milk came in I thought I had two boulders on my chest. It was such a strange experience. I asked for ice packs and hot packs during the night to help with the engorgement. He gained more weight and they took him off the feeding tube but he was still falling asleep as he nursed so we gave him bottles of expressed breast milk so we could try and get out of the hospital sooner rather than later. When we left the hospital, he was doing great taking a bottle and breast.
Our first few weeks at home were alright. We had a couple troubled times of engorged breasts and a couple inflammations of blocked ducts. One time it was so bad, nothing seemed to work but I kept doing my research. I took hot showers and placed hot face cloths on my breasts. I nursed on my hands and knees which probably looked so ridiculous but it did the trick. As challenging as it was sometimes, and painful for the blocked duct I kept nursing. I knew Haig was gaining weight even using the breast shield, so we kept using it. Right before we left the hospital, the lactation consultant (who only came to help me once during my 10-day stay) bluntly said "well we should probably try and get rid of the shield before you leave". I was so upset. Here I was as a new mom and we found something that worked well for him to nurse and she basically wanted me to throw it in the garbage. Although it has been an inconvenience because I always need to have it wherever we go, the shield seems to work well for us, especially because Haig can still tend to be a little lazy while breastfeeding.
In late March I was struggling again. My nipples and breasts were sore and I was having strange sensations in them even when Haig wasn't nursing. I tried reaching out to a couple of supports but I was nervous about where to go and find help. I finally met with our prenatal instructor and she helped me very much. I went to see her with the intention of getting rid of the nipple shield for a more natural breastfeeding experience, but after she observed his feeding she made some good suggestions about how well he feeds with it compared to without the shield. She also said the sensations were just hormones and that I would know if something was wrong because these sensations would be more painful if I was having an infection. I have been nursing Haig more since we met with her but I also still give him a bottle so that dad can help us with this feeding experience. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy breastfeeding but it has been hard for me to like it some days. I just think for something that is suppose to be so "natural" it can really be tough.