Whoever said that breastfeeding the second time round will be easier has got rethink it.
I had my fair share of challenges when I was a first time breastfeeding mum four years ago. From a baby who doesn’t know how to latch on and has the wrong sucking technique, to badly cracked and very painful nipples, I thought I had it bad. Despite all the pain at the beginning, I managed to persevere and breastfed my baby girl for 11.5 months.
Having conquered the challenges, I was determined to breastfeed my next baby.
Breyen was born tongue-tied and the pediatrician informed us about it on the day he was born. While googling about his condition, I knew that it wouldn’t be easy for Breyen to latch on properly. Not wanting to compromise the breastfeeding, we signed papers for Breyen to go through a simple procedure to correct his condition.
From there, I looked forward to a smoother journey of breastfeeding Breyen.
Alas! It was not to be!
Two weeks after Breyen was born, I started feeling unwell. It started with chills and aches on my back and I thought it was because my body was adjusting to waking up for night feeds.
After two days of feeling unwell, I decided that something was amiss because there was a growing pain on my right breast and I was feeling feverish. I shared my problems with a group of fellow mummy friends and at their suggestion, I went to see my gynae and was diagnosed with Mastitis.
I didn’t seek medical attention earlier as I mistook the pain as engorgement. By the time I went to see my gynae, I could even feel the pain when I was walking and my fever had spiked to 40deg C.
I only felt better after taking prescribed antibiotics n painkillers that are breast-feeding safe. On the second day of the course of antibiotics, the pain in my breast was finally gone but I was still feverish and could feel hard lumps on the breast.
I was in the midst of my post-natal massage at the time and wasn’t sure if i should continue with the massage because as I was worried that massage might worsen the infection. My fellow mummy friends encouraged me to continue with the massage. I told my massage lady about my condition and she showed me the right way to massage my breasts to prevent blocked milk ducts and to prevent having mastitis again.
Thankfully, my condition improved from there.
Just as I thought things were going smoothly, I felt pain in my breast again last week and this time, it was on the left. There was a painful lump and I was reminded of the mastitis experience from three months ago.
This time, I didn’t want to wait and went to see a doctor immediately. My family doctor confirmed that one of the milk ducts on the left breast was indeed inflamed. He commented that it was a good thing I had come in early, or it would eventually become mastitis again. I was prescribed breastfeeding-safe antibiotics once again.
I asked my doctor why the milk duct was blocked and inflamed, and he said sometimes it just happens. Okay, that wasn’t very informative.
When I got home from the clinic, I noticed a white spot on the nipple and decided to google about it. From my find, I found out that the white spot was called a milk blister and it was caused by a blocked milk duct.
So in addition to the prescribed antibiotics, I burst the milk blister and despite the pain, continued to breastfeed Breyen. As suddenly as the lump came, it went away after Breyen latched on and fed on the side that had an inflamed milk duct.
Only three and a half months of breastfeeding my baby boy and I’ve already seen the doctor twice with breastfeeding-related issues. Of course, these episodes are not going to deter me from my plans to nurse the baby till he’s at least one year old.
Last week was World Breastfeeding Week, and I hope that by sharing my experience, breastfeeding mums are aware of possible problems they may face. Do not ignore discomforts and seek medical attention fast.
One of the clinic assistants at my gynae’s office shared about one breastfeeding mum who chose to bear with the pain, and by the time she seeked treatment, she had needed surgery and was forced to stop breastfeeding.
While breastfeeding is a breeze for some, it isn’t the case for everyone. Also, just because you have breastfed before, it doesn’t mean your experience with all your babies will be the same.
However, that doesn’t mean that those with difficulties need to give up. As long as you are aware of how to treat or tackle your challenges, you can breastfeed for as long as you want to. Consult a lactation expert or a doctor if need be.
To all mums who have tried breastfeeding (be it for a week or for years) or are currently breastfeeding, great job!