Milky Smiles {Feeding Your Baby Series}

Breastfeeding my children has been one of the more emotionally-driven parenting decisions I’ve made.  Before my son was born, I had decided that his nourishment would come – at least for the first six months of his life – solely from me.  The same held true for my daughter.  Thankfully, long-term exclusive breastfeeding works for my family, and for my body too.  I nursed my son for 15 ½ months, gently weaning him when my husband and I decided we wanted to grow our family, and now, my 10 month old daughter and I are going strong.  So, while I consider our breastfeeding journeys to be successful ones, the road to success was not an easy one.

Feeding your Baby

Almost immediately after my son’s birth, I experienced incredible pain every time he latched onto my cracked and bloody nipples.  Days after his birth, I developed mastitis and cringed and cried nearly every time he nursed.  I remember squeezing my husband’s hand during our many, many middle-of-the-night feedings because the pain was unbearable.  Like many new moms, I was exhausted, physically and emotionally drained, and felt overwhelmed by the thought of being my child’s only (chosen) source of nutrition.  And in my darkest of moments, I wanted to quit.  Many, many times.

Thankfully after reading many how-to latch a baby articles, trying different nursing positions, speaking with seasoned breastfeeding veterans, and many, many applications of nipple ointment, the pain began to subside and I began to love breastfeeding my babies (I had a rough breastfeeding start with my daughter too).  More importantly, just as I wanted to quit the most, I remembered my I started breastfeeding in the first place: it felt natural and beautiful.

I could innumerate the hundreds of reasons why I love breastfeeding, but here are some of my top ones:

  • the cuddles, the bonding, oh, my!  – there’s nothing sweeter than feeling my baby snuggled up to my chest, happily and eagerly nursing away, looking contently, peacefully, and sweetly into my eyes.
  • the smell of sweet, milky breath is simply intoxicating.  Oh, and those milky smiles are to die for!
  • it gives me a sense of peace and calm I find nowhere else.  In the midst of a chaotic day, knowing that I’ll get some quiet, blissful time with my baby helps me re-center and re-group.
  • breastfeeding fills my heart with love and my babies’ bellies with the very best my body can offer.
  • there’s something wonderful about breastfeeding that cannot be fully explained.  It makes me proud knowing that my body has nourished and sustained my babies outside the womb.  And it, once again, leaves me in awe of the female body.

Because much of my breastfeeding success is due to the many very helpful breastfeeding resources available, I wanted to share with you those to which I turned often, in hopes of them being helpful to you as well.

The Nursing Mother’s Companion

La Leche League

Kelly Mom

Lisa Ross Birth and Women’s Center (through their lactation consultants, you can gain access to their Facebook breastfeeding support group)

How has your breastfeeding relationship(s) been?  Did you struggle too?  What did you find to be most helpful in overcoming any challenges?

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7 Responses to Milky Smiles {Feeding Your Baby Series}

  1. Jenny Greene January 27, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Aw, sweet Francesca. What adventures these little ones take us on!! I, too, had a rough start and was SO ready to throw in the towel. It was my husband who got me through the first three months of an incurable yeast infection that made nursing a complete hell. Sorry… but it was. I would often want to give up and he would so sweetly and sternly (as only an encouraging husband can do) look at me and say, “Babe… you have made it this far. And you are so strong. You can’t give up now. You can do this.” And you know what? I did! For fourteen months. It was hard, but like you, I don’t regret a moment of it. Thank you for sharing! We loved Lisa Ross, too… even though they ultimately weren’t able to help us. But hey… sometimes you just need someone to listen and understand you!

  2. Francesca January 27, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    Jenny, I’ve heard yeast infections while nursing are horrible! It’s a testament of your love for P that you continued on…good for you! And, yes, an encouraging and supportive husband goes a long way in one’s breastfeeding journey!

  3. Jessie January 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    I never comment on blog posts, but after reading this I can relate very much to your experience and wanted to share my own experience. I have breast fed both my 2yo son and 4mo old daughter and both times, I had cracked and bleeding nipples, very painful nursing then thrush (a yeast infection that is in both the baby’s mouth and on my nipples) and with my son I also had mastitis. Though he had thrush maybe 3-4 times, I was able to nurse my son for 14 months until he weaned himself. Thankfully, because I recognized the nipple pain from thrush that I had with my son, I was able to treat it right away when my daughter got thrush at 1 week after birth! From the way you describe your experience, Francesca, I wonder if it is possible that your baby may have had thrush. My 4mo old daughter has had thrush most of her short life despite trying everything I could to treat both she and I, and also changing my (already pretty healthy) diet to limit sugar, starchy carbs and any other foods that feed yeast. My babies had/have recurring thrush because of a lack of good bacteria in my gut (killed off by antibiotics found in our dairy and meat). Sadly, many pediatricians do not know how to correct this complex problem of yeast overgrowth in me that affects my milk and therefore my babies, resulting in lots of gas and lack of good bacteria in their guts. The best treatment I have found so far, after trying many treatments, is taking grapefruit seed extract pills, letting my nipples dry after feeding, then applying All Purpose Nipple Ointment which is an antibacterial and Antifungal. I do these things every day to keep the yeast under control, but one sugary food can send us back into another episode if thrush. When I see white on my daughter’s tongue and nursing starts becoming painful, I give her oral Nystatin, which seems to help her the best. I have read so many websites and books and after much prayer, one of the best resources I found for this problem is:

    I have gone into great detail (sorry!) but I hope anyone reading this who struggles with nursing pain and/or thrush will find it helpful.

  4. Jessie January 27, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    I also forgot to mention that I am taking a probiotic with acidophilus daily, incorporating plain organic yogurt into my diet as much as possible and trying to learn more about eating fermented foods, which contain good, yeast-killing bacteria.

  5. Francesca January 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and your advice, Jessie! It’s possible that I too had thrush with my son, as I was put on Dicloxacillin when I developed mastitis. He never did show any signs, nor did my nipples, but it was incredibly painful nonetheless. It’s remarkable how much what we eat affects our overall health. I try to eat lots of plain live bacteria yogurt and drink kefir. My daughter was on three rounds of antibiotics in December and I think it was due to both of us eating yogurt that we managed to stay away from thrush…

  6. lauren February 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, Francesca! That pain sounds horrible — impressed and proud you kept it up! I agree with you that support is the biggest factor in successful breastfeeding!

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