Having posted about the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding my daughter over the past few months, I feel I must not neglect to update you on – well, perhaps not the happy ending as such, but the happy middle. Or perhaps just the happy. So brace yourself for some more nipple-talk.
As my daughter refused to feed from the right breast in the first few weeks of her life, I was feeding from the left breast only and expressing from the right to try and keep the milk supply up in the hope she would go back to it eventually. Inevitably, this meant my left breast was getting incredibly overworked, and it wasn’t all that comfortable to begin with, so I ended up with a very sore, bleeding nipple.
A few weeks later thankfully the baby decided the right side was worth another try and she went back to feeding from both breasts. Sadly, the damage was done and I was still in agony on the left side. Besides the pain from the open wound, I developed shooting pains in my breast that continued even if I wasn’t feeding. I was backwards and forwards to the doctor’s about this: to get repeat prescriptions for a gel wound dressing that I wore under my normal breast pad to help the wound heal and to stop it sticking to the pad; then for antibiotics in case it was mastitis; then for thrush cream in case it was thrush; then for the right thrush cream that was suitable for breastfeeding etc.
Finally, I made a big effort to get to our local Mum2Mum breastfeeding support group one Monday. The breastfeeding consultant had a look at my nipple. She thought it looked like contact dermatitis – perhaps something was irritating the sensitive skin? Then all eyes turned to my saviour: the gel pad. It was peeling away from its backing, its consistency compromised by regularly being drenched with milk. “It does that,” I said, defending it weakly.
I chucked it in the bin. I used massive amounts of lanolin on the nipple to stop the wound sticking to my breast pads. Within a week, the wound had closed up, the shooting pains in the breast were mostly gone and the angry red rash around the areola was gone.
Two weeks after I abandoned those wound dressings breastfeeding became, on the whole, comfortable, enjoyable and easy. As it should be. Now, about a month later, I am having a hard time remembering the agony I was in. To anyone who is struggling with feeding their baby, I can recommend finding professional help. Breastfeeding counsellors know more than your GP. Even my doctor defers to them as the experts on the subject. So get help and get comfortable! If it can happen for me, it can happen for you.
I feel on top of the world. I can even do ninja breastfeeding again: like feeding my daughter while walking to the gate for our flight to Nininand, to the slight dismay of my poor mother.