Somehow, my daughter pulled a little chunk of skin out of my nipple, when we were first learning to breastfeed.
I didn’t really know when she was hungry or what her sounds or cues meant. So any time she whined, I put on her my breast. She was on the breast all the time.
On the second day of her life, and I noticed a black dot on my nipple, but I didn’t think much of it. But then while nursing, she somehow tore off a little piece of nipple from where the black dot had been. It left a hole in my nipple, which hurt and really freaked me out. I thought (and hoped) it would just heal.
But it didn’t—It turned into a huge gaping hole.
So, when my daughter was 7-days-old, I went to a lactation consultant. I needed help.
“You’re going to have to stop breastfeeding on that side,” the lactation consultant told me.
What? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I’m going to lose all my milk on that side,” I thought, as tears filled my eyes and I tried to swallow. “My baby’s only 7-days-old.” I started crying. “How am I going to feed her?”
I just cried and cried. I was so traumatized.
Then, while caring for a baby and feeling so stressed out and devastated, I had to go home and figure out the heck to work my breast pump and bottles. I had no idea how to use them. I wished I’d read the manual and taken the bottles out before having the kid. Instead I had to learn in the moment that I needed them.
Thankfully, my neighbor came over and showed me what to do. If she hadn’t, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown.
I didn’t want to lose my milk, so I pumped exclusively on the injured side. For three days, I was able to keep her satisfied by nursing on my good side.
Then one breast just wasn’t enough. So, at 10-days-old, I gave her pumped milk in a bottle. From there, I just kept nursing her on one side and I pumped on the other.
My pediatrician cautioned me not to let her use me as a pacifier. “If you have a choice between giving a pacifier and damage to your nipple,” she warned, “Then give a pacifier, because you really want to prevent damage to your nipple.” So I gave her a paci.
I kept up the nursing and pumping for five weeks. I thought the hole would never go away.
But it finally healed.
And, when she was six weeks old, I put her on the previously injured breast. I quickly checked to see if the hole was open again. It wasn’t. So, I let her go for longer. Then longer.
It worked—I was breastfeeding on both sides.
I never made as much milk on the side that I’d pumped. But, I was still able to feed her breast milk exclusively, through all of that.
At six months, I felt great about breastfeeding. My daughter would tug at my shirt as soon as I came home from work. It was so soothing for her. And it wasn’t at all stressful for me, anymore—I enjoyed it.
We nursed until she was 16-months-old. I waited until I felt both of us were ready.
People made me feel like I shouldn’t give a paci or I’d have breastfeeding problems, forever. I would say, don’t be afraid to give your kid a paci or a bottle of pumped milk, if your nipples are being damaged. I gave her a pacifier on the second day of her life and never had a problem with her refusing the breast.
I also didn’t have a 3-month-old baby who wouldn’t take a bottle, when I was ready to go back to work, which is so common. My next kid is getting a paci right away and a bottle after probably seven days.
I’d always heard people say breastfeeding gets easier after three weeks. I’d say six weeks. And, it’s a really hard six weeks.
But, if you can just hang in there for six weeks, it’s going to work out. It’s going to be wonderful.
This is the story of a brave mama who was willing to share her story to help me, when I had trouble. Now she’s shared it again to hopefully help other moms out there. Thank you to her! If you want to receive Mama Lovejoy articles automatically through your Facebook feed you can, by liking the Mama Lovejoy Facebook page.