I've finally gotten the kinks out of my website editing tools, so I'm able to post here again :)
Its my 3rd week of being a mom and the biggest learning experience so far has been in regards to breast feeding. Its true what my book says, breast feeding may be the most natural thing in the world but it does not come naturally to either mother or baby. Aside from trying to learn how to get the process to work for Evy and I, I'm also tackling the natural side-effects of breast feedings. They are listed below, in the order I've experienced them so far.
Side effect one: Sore nipples. What they say, about how "it should never hurt if you're doing it right" is not true. I know that I've got Evy latched on properly - my nipples are just not used to the whole thing yet. Not wearing a bra is uncomfortable on my nipples, but it has other advantages so I flip-flop often.
Side effect two: Engorgement. This is when a woman's milk "comes in" (because as some may not now, you do not have milk when the baby is born - it takes up to five days) and for some it "comes in" with a fury. It did for me. It was a Wednesday when I woke up feeling fine and by the end of the day I was in so much pain! My left breast felt like a rock and it just got worse. I really regret not having my electric breast pump purchased and available to me because as I found out, if you become TOO engorged then a baby cannot nurse off of your breast because your nipple basically flattens out from the pressure. So I was unable to have Evy nurse the milk out, unable to express it manually, and if I didn't do something soon it could lead to a breast infection. Those few days marked the first breakdown I've had so far. Mix intense pain, frustration at not being able to do anything about it, and then add the fear of an infection that might prevent me from breast feeding at all and you can understand how I could have broken down. But in the end it all worked out. I borrowed (and eventually burnt out the motor of) my sister's over the counter single breast pump and expressed some, plus I got some help from a breast feeding hotline, and in the end Evy was able to nurse it back to normal. A few days later my breast pump arrived, unfortunatley for the $50 I paid for express shipping - too late to help with the engorgment.
Side effect three: Leaking breasts. I'd heard other women tell tall tales about how they would start lactating at the sound of a baby crying, and I always thought they were exaggerating. They were not. I'm assuming that my milk production will taper off, but as of right now when Evy cries my overly-full breasts immediately start to leak as though answering some - ironically - unspoken command. All of the breast feeding books tell you not to use breast pads in your bra that will hold moisture, but I just can't do my laundry quick enough to keep up with my spotting so I have to use the kind that hold moisture and just change them often. Expensive, but necessary. A funny part of leaking breasts is the fact that I habitually squirt milk right now. Its a bit annoying most times, but funny other times :) When I'm in the shower, I squirt. When Evy is feeding, I squirt - which wouldn't be a problem but Evy likes to take her time. She starts my milk flowing with a few good sucks and then wants to mull around my breast for awhile. In the meantime I'm squriting milk everywhere and have had to clean it out of her ear and eye. Good thing breast milk is good for just about everything :)
But aside from the side effects, the breast feeding is going good! I'm also pumping my milk right now and building my store for when I go back to work. You can store frozen breast milk for up to 4 months! I'm still resigned though not to give her a bottle until after six weeks though. I know she can latch onto my breast well, but the fact that she mulls around my breast and unlatches often makes me concerned. Maybe that's just Evy, but I don't want to chance any nipple confusion if we can.