Breastfeeding: Natural but Not Easy

I can’t believe it’s almost been one month since little Enzo was born. These last few weeks haven’t been easy to say the least. Enzo is a great baby (though we had some sleep issues in the beginning). We are starting to truly figure him out and he’s getting more interactive with us which is so fun. Our major struggle right now is breastfeeding. I’m going to try and capture all that has happened with this over the past few weeks as best I can in hopes that it may be helpful to others. If you don’t want to hear about breastfeeding or boobs, I recommend you do not read on. This is also long but a lot has happened over the past few weeks.

In the hospital Enzo was able to eat well however his latch was never quite right. My nipples always came out looking pinched meaning he was using his gums more than his tongue. This caused a lot of pain for me and my nipples were really sore and pretty damaged from the start. Despite this we continued on hoping that it would get better. I saw two lactation consultants in the hospital and one at our pediatrician’s office and they all said his latch looked good and that it should get better once my milk came in. Unfortunately it didn’t.

About one week after he was born I started getting these large swollen and tender spots on my right breast. I called the lactation consultant and she said it was probably a plugged duct so I used hot compresses on it and massaged as much as I could trying to work it out. It just kept getting larger and my skin started turning really red and hot. I went to my doctor and he diagnosed me with mastitis, a type of staph infection in the breast. I started antibiotics right away and was scheduled for an ultrasound the next day.

At the ultrasound, they said it was just dilated milk ducts and not an abscess (which is what my doctor was looking for). My doctor then reviewed the results and wasn’t convinced that there was no abscess so he scheduled another ultrasound for the following week. It turns out the lumps were larger and before I knew it I was at my doctor’s office on a Friday getting multiple needles poked in me to drain as much fluid as possible. They also had to make an incision on my breast to release the largest abscess which was 8 centimeters wide.

They packed the incision with this thin gauze like bandage and told me that the next day we needed to remove it. I didn’t think much of it but when I started to pull, it hurt so bad I knew I couldn’t do it myself. I sobbed uncontrollably as Joe pulled on what looked like a magician’s scarf from my breast. As painful as it was for me, I know it was equally as hard for Joe to do it.

On Monday I went back to the doctor and they drained more fluid with needles and then made another incision on my breast. They tested the fluid to determine what type of bacteria it was and it turned out to be MRSA which is an antibiotic-resistant form of staph. Fortunately there are antibiotics that help but the one I was on wasn’t working. I switched to a new medication and have now been on it for a few days.

I then went back the next day so the doctor could remove the packing (since Joe really didn’t want to again) and they drained more fluid with needles and out of the incision. This was probably the most painful visit I had yet. Today (Wednesday) my doctor said we needed to take the packing out of the now two incisions ourselves. Knowing what to expect made it a little better but still really painful for both Joe and I. I go back to the doctor tomorrow where I’m guessing more fluid will be drained. He told me Monday that he thought by next week this would be over and all would be a bad memory. I’m hoping he is right.

Throughout all of this I’ve continued breastfeeding. My supply on the infected breast has definitely gone down but I’m fighting to maintain the supply as much as I can. I’m working with another lactation consultant who has been really helpful. She recommended we get Enzo checked for “tongue tie” in which the skin under the tongue is tight and doesn’t allow them to raise it up to the roof of their mouth. A pediatric dentist use a laser to cut it and I was really hoping that would help with his pinching while eating. It’s been a week and he is still pinching. Our next steps with this are to pursue chiropractic care for him (just his head and jaw, not spine). Also to really focus on getting him latched on accurately each time. I’m really determined to make this work because I’m not sure I can go through another infection like I have.

We’ve had some type of appointment almost every day over these past two weeks and it’s exhausting. I know that through all of this God has a plan. Whether it’s for me/us to accept that we are not in control or to truly rely on him when we can’t do anything but trust. As badly as I want to breastfeed Enzo, if I end up having to pump/bottle feed or supplement with formula I have to be okay with it. We are slowly but surely getting better and some feedings are great and I feel good. Others are a struggle and I feel like I’m fighting with Enzo. I constantly have to remind myself that nothing is his fault and not to get frustrated with him. Despite all of this he is doing well and growing. He’s one hungry monkey! I’ve also caught myself getting so upset or caught up in what’s going on that I haven’t enjoyed having a baby. That’s the saddest part for me but it has gotten better over the past few days. No matter what happens, I know I’m giving him the best I can offer and will continue to do so as long as I am able.

Any mommas out there struggled with breastfeeding?

 

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