The Engorgement; Being Patient and Learning to Feed Your Baby
Two days after giving birth I’m sitting on the couch with baby in arms and I’m wondering “is my milk going to come in? Am I going to be able to feed my baby from my breast and have that bonding moment? Am I going to be THAT mom that breastfeeds her little one in public?”. Of course, I had been trying to latch him on and he was getting the colostrum out, but when was my milk going to come in?? It was day 2 PP (postpartum) and by this time my nipples were so sore and cracked it hurt so much just to have a shirt on! But my baby boy was a hungry little one so I kept latching him on (which I was doing incorrectly, to begin with). On that second day of PP, the baby had a wellness check with the pediatrician. He had lost a significant amount of birth weight so the pediatrician recommended I gave him formula while my milk came in. I was so devastated! I felt I had let down my baby and seeing him chug down the formula because of how hungry he was broke my heart so much I couldn’t help but cry. I remember coming home and telling my family what had happened. Two of my aunts were there and began giving me advice while also scolding me for various reasons.
Coming from a Mexican household, the grandma and the aunts live by old maids tales and whenever something happens, boom! They have a remedy… so that’s what I got when they heard my milk wasn’t coming in and the baby had lost most of his birth weight. And it was all my fault according to them. Because I had a cup of coffee in the morning and caffeine makes your milk dry. I walked around the house with a tank top right after taking a shower and I’m not supposed to let the cold hit my back since it makes your milk go away. I hadn’t eaten oatmeal at all and that’s the first thing I should have done since it helps your milk come in. So there I was; double socks, sweatpants, long sleeve undershirt, sweatshirt, and a big bowl of oatmeal. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work but I was hoping and praying it would! Meanwhile, my baby was happily drinking his formula and I had discovered the wonders of nipple cream.
Sometime during the middle of the night, my breasts began to feel heavy but I didn’t think much of it. I fed the baby his formula and went back to bed. By his next feeding, my breasts were very heavy and began to feel sore. Could this be my milk coming in? Did the oatmeal really work?? I didn’t want to get too excited and my nipples were still pretty cracked so I decided to wait till the morning to see what happened. Truth is, it was the worst decision ever! By morning time my breasts were so huge, they had lumps on them! And my nipples
were barely there! I had no idea what to do I couldn’t try to latch the baby on because I barely had any nipples! Luckily I had an appointment at the WIC clinic that very same day. When I showed up the ladies could tell right away I was suffering from a very bad engorgement. So right away they took me into the feeding room and started working on me. They connected me to a breast pump, helped me latch the baby on, but the milk just didn’t come out. What was supposed to be an hour or less appointment turned into a three-hour long appointment. I was sent home with more formula and with a manual breast pump, along with the suggestion to take a hot shower and massage my breasts in hopes that the lumps will go away and let my milk flow. So that’s what I did.
I got in the shower and massaged my breasts. It wasn’t easy, it was very painful and frustrating. I finally began to see a few drops come out and I was so relieved. By the time I got out I was dripping all over the place. I ran over to the bassinet, picked up the baby and latched him right on the breast! I was doing it! I was breastfeeding my baby! It was an instant relief, all the pain, all the soreness, all the stress was gone. I finally had my moment and I couldn’t be any happier. Everything was worth it in the end. I don’t know if it was the bundling up or if it was the oatmeal or if it was simply my body taking its time, but next time around (if I have another one) I will bundle up, I will have oatmeal, and I will be more patient. If you see me around, yes I am THAT mom feeding her baby in public but I also prepare my baby’s formula on the table while eating out. Since he had been feeding from formula, I had to learn to alternate between breastmilk and formula and it’s worked out perfectly fine, although I do prefer to breastfeed exclusively throughout the day. My baby is now 4 months old, we have an amazing bond and he is as healthy as can be and is accomplishing all of his milestones and motor skills without any issues at all.
First-time mommy to an amazing little boy who is 4 months now. Still trying to figure it out while making my way through peds., counselors, and old maids tales. Something must be going right!