A Breast Ahead

I wanted to start things off by a) apologizing for being so absent from the Blogosphere (I have been reading many of your blogs, but I just haven’t had a chance to leave too many responses), and b) giving a shout out to a friend from my old blog, MissConception, who recently got a BFP (big fat positive, for those of you who don’t speak the TTC or trying to conceive lingo) following a frozen embryo transfer.  MissConception is a survivor, an amazing blogger and an even more amazing woman, so please check out her blog if you haven’t already and be sure to send her a big, heartfelt congratulations!

Now, onto the topic of today’s post…that’s right, I’m back to breasts.  I can’t help it, I recently developed mastitis so my breasts are quite constantly on my mind.  If you’ve been following my blog, then you are familiar with my breastfeeding woes and recent transition to full time pumping and bottle-feeding.  If not, let me summarize: everything that might have gone wrong for me with nursing, pretty much did.  I now exclusively pump, yet I’m continuing to experience the same discomfort and endless troubles on top of troubles – see above mastitis comment – that I did before.  Frankly, the only thing I seem to have going for me at this point is a high supply.

I can’t seem to understand where I’ve gone wrong, and why my breasts seem to rebel at every turn.  I try to help them, I do, but still they defy me: letting down, painfully, at random intervals, giving me clogged ducts, red, raw nipples, sore spots, and a frequent uncomfortable sensations – like nails on a chalkboard – when the milk is drawn out through my nipples.  I pump on the lowest settings, with a heating pad and well fitting breast-shields, I let my nipples “fly in the breeze” whenever possible, and I consistently use APNO and breathable, organic cotton nipple pads…oh my breasts, what more would you have me do?

So, I admit that though I shoot for every 3-4 hours I’m not always completely on top of my pumping schedule.  I will frequently go 5 hours without pumping, but generally, unless it is nighttime when my milk comes in, this isn’t a big problem for me.  If I go longer than 6 hours, yes, porn star engorgement ensues, and if I miss my nighttime pump (which I have been trying to slowly reduce in quantity) then I will for sure awaken at first light – in pain and misery – with rocks where my breasts used to be; luckily, my now slightly more rested body (Simran has started napping again!) seems to naturally awaken to pump at about 4am, even if the baby decides to sleep in, so this hasn’t been as much of a problem as it was when I was so exhausted I was sleeping through the initial discomfort.

My lack of success in healing with the pump has almost made me wish I had never stopped breastfeeding.  If I’m still going to hurt, maybe I was better off the other way.  Sadly, there is no return now.  Simran has stopped sucking and starting chomping, and those chompers aren’t getting anywhere near my breasts (even if she was willing to nurse, which she isn’t).  I cried when I realized this by the way, as it was truly THE END of the breastfeeding saga…odd how I could miss and mourn something that had caused me so much pain, stress and frustration.

“Yeah…that was never us.”

So, what is the moral of this story?

I am still at a loss as to what is going so awfully wrong with my breasts.  Why can’t I find a solution that works for them, why won’t they just heal and stay healed, and why can’t they just relax into that promised comfortable rhythm they should have reached back at around 12 weeks postpartum?  You know, that place where I should no longer feel engorged unless I don’t empty my breasts for 9 hours, and where pumping doesn’t hurt anymore, and where I can stop with the APNO and and nipple pads?

Will I ever get there?  Will my milk production and expression ever cease to be a difficult endeavor, or will it just be like this till I wean Simran off breast milk for good???

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About uncommonnonsense1

Stay at home mom of two.
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12 Responses to A Breast Ahead

  1. Nisha T. says:

    Sorry, you’ve been having such a hard time with breastfeeding–it really is SO hard and I know some people just have a harder time than others. How old is your baby? I know it took a good 14-15 weeks for things to really click for me.

    • Hi Nisha,
      Simran is almost 5 months, though I gave up breastfeeding before she turned 4 months and I’ve been pumping ever since. Things just weren’t improving, no matter what I tried and who I spoke to, so I thought I might do better with the pump. It is a little better than nursing, in terms of how damaged my nipples are, but overall, sadly not the improvement I was hoping for 😦

      • Nisha T. says:

        Sorry, commented from an old blog the first time.

        Anyway, I’m sorry it’s just not working, but you tried your best. I understand how you must feel though. Hugs.

  2. Erin says:

    Don’t feel guilty. My daughter nursed like a champ for about 3 months and then she became supremely disinterested. She definitely had the FOMO that you were talking about, and nursing just took too long. It didn’t help that at 3 months I went back to work so she had to have some bottled milk everyday. So I tried to keep nursing, and it often ended with both of us in tears. So then I moved to pumping. It was tiring to feed her and keep pumping, but I kept it up (with at least one attempt at nursing a day) until she was 6 months old. At 6 months, I finally threw in the towel. I felt like a bad mother, but then I read the actual peer-reviewed literature and it made me feel much better (rather than the rather arbitrary prescriptives thrown out by the La Leche League). She’s now 7 months old and smart and strong and healthy. And I get plenty of sleep and my boobs don’t hurt. I think that if SHE wanted to keep nursing, I would have kept nursing. But she made the call that she was over nursing, that was a fight I was too tire to wage. My only advice for the nips is to put lanolin on all the time, especially before showering. And, depending on your pump, you might consider different breast shields. I found that mine were too small and I got a bigger ones and that helped immensely.

    • Thanks for your comment and advice Erin! I am pretty sure I’m using the correct breast shield size, but sometimes I think I pump for too long and that causes more trouble. I am thinking of throwing in the towel after 6 months, but I haven’t decided yet. I don’t like to use too much formula because of the soy in it (soy and PCOS aren’t very compatible, and I worry about Simran developing PCOS herself), so I don’t know what to do.

  3. LisaB says:

    Ugh, that would be so hard. I know so many women who struggle. I think it’s amazing that you make a great effort though! All you can do is your best. 🙂 Happy Mother’s day, friend!! ❤

  4. Alissa says:

    Thanks for the shout-out hon! It’s so nice to still know you are out there reading. I am really sorry about your boob saga. This sounds very frustrating and very painful. Unfortunately, I have no ideas for you. I am already nervous about BFing…so this is my nightmare.

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