I just wanted to start a thread on some general breast feeding issues. I had several problems with our first born and I thought that there might be some others out there who are going through similar experiences. For a few weeks I really thought that I'd give breast feeding away, but I'm *so* glad that I didn't. I would just like to encourage anyone who might be feeling overwhelmed. There are so many tricks and techniques to breast feeding that you might never know about unless you ask the right person . So my story...
My first baby never really attached well while we were in hospital. I had very flat / inverted nipples and she has a tongue tie. We went home from hospital with a breast pump, as we had to express every feed. The first few weeks were very frustrating (and painful). I had cracks on my nipples that seemed like crevasses, but I was reassured when my lactation consultant (bless her) told me that each crack was making my nipples that little bit longer and easier for my daughter to attach to. I was always very leaky, so it was difficult to dry my nipples after each feed. I found that breast shells (plastic domes that hold your bra away from the nipple) worked really well and hastened healing for nipple cracks.
While we were expressing feeds and bottle feeding my breast milk, my baby developed "nipple confusion"; she didn't really know what to do with a breast when one was presented to her. Feeds were a two person effort (thank goodnes for my DH). I would try to breast feed her, she would refuse the nipple and get very upset, husband would bottle feed her and I would express for the next feed. The lactation consultant (again, bless her) suggested feeding with nipple sheilds. Bingo! the nipple shield was similar enough to a bottle teat that she knew what to do! Then after a little while longer we were able to start with a nipple sheild and take it off after a few sucks. I expressed some milk into her mouth and the light bulb went off! She finally realised what a breast was for. We then continued a normal breast feeding relationship until she was about 6.5 months old when I went back to work.
We also had low weight gains with our first daughter. Fortunately, our paediatrician is VERY pro breast feeding and suggested that we continued to work on our breast feeding technique. My lactation consultant again suggested a slight feeding variation that saved the day. Instead of feeding on just one or two sides at each feed, try "interlude" feeding. This is where you feed on the first side for 5-10 minutes and then go to the second breast for 5-10 minutes and then go back to the first breast to finish the feed. This ensures that the baby gets all that precious "hind" milk (the creamiest, fattiest milk) from the first breast, as the short rest makes it much easier for the baby to completely drain that breast. This technique kept our weight gain satisfactory and we did not need to complementary feed with formula.
After all that drama, I was sure that second baby would present far fewer problems. However she also felt the need to do some nipple rearrangement with similar *huge* nipple cracks developed in order to stretch the nipple (but only on one side thankfully). This created far less drama, I was able to feed on one side only when the pain on the cracked nipple was too much. It usually only required 24 hours for the crack to heal sufficiently to allow feeding and I pulled out my old breast shells to help that process along.
There were some days when I would have cheerfully given it all away, but for one reason or another, the benefits of breast feeding kept me in the game. I have never had a big emotional attachment to breast feeding, but I am convinced that all the drama I went through is be FAR outweighed by the benefits that both of my daughters have received from breast feeding . Please feel free to ask any questions, I can only tell you what my experience has been, but I hope that its benficial to even just one person.