I haven’t really talked about my experience with breastfeeding on here, but I think I’m finally to the point where I can share my story. I was really excited about breastfeeding, and we had a really good start in the hospital. When we came home with Addie, I thought breastfeeding was going really well. At her one week appointment, she had gained back her birth weight plus some! Of course, I was kinda sore, and my nipples started to crack and bleed a little, but it was definitely manageable.
About 2 weeks after Addie was born, I started to feel kinda sick. My husband had just gone back to work, and he started immediately working 14-16 hours shifts, so I was kinda working overtime, taking care of Addie and the house mostly by myself. Over the course of two days, I got really sick; I had a fever and I thought I was getting the flu. I couldn’t sleep, breastfeeding became super painful, I was nauseous, I had bodyaches, and I got red streaks on both my breasts. My husband finally took me to the ER after two days of being really ill, and I found out I had a bad case of mastitis. I was admitted to the hospital (initially only overnight), and because I wasn’t responding to oral antibiotics, I had to stay in the hospital for almost four days total on IV antibiotics. I was lucky I didn’t have an abcess because I would’ve had to have surgery, and probably would’ve been out for longer.
Those four days were the hardest I have ever been through. I couldn’t see Addie because the hospital has a policy of not allowing anyone under 16 on patient floors. My husband was working ridiculous hours, so I only got to see him like twice during my whole stay. My mom was able to come up and take care of Addie , so I basically spent all of my time on the phone with her or crying in my room alone. I missed my baby so much and I couldn’t be with her. My doctor said it’s best to nurse through mastitis, but I couldn’t, so I pumped instead. Honestly though, at that point, I didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. It was too overwhelming, so the day before I went home, I started to let my milk dry up. When I got out of the hospital, I formula fed instead.
I wish that I would have had more information on the complications that can come with breastfeeding. Mastitis is only briefly mentioned in most birth books, and it didn’t come up at all in my birth or childcare classes. I wish I had heard about how to prevent mastitis, along with what symptoms to look out for. I wish I had received more support both during my hospital stay and after I got out of the hospital; I might have continued breastfeeding instead of letting my milk dry up.
Being separated from Addie was so difficult, but even after I got out of the hospital, I was “mourning the loss” of breastfeeding, as a good friend put it. It’s taken me quite a while to come to terms with formula feeding, and I’m finally feeling better about it since Addie is growing like crazy and pretty healthy. But even now, when I think about having more babies and possibly breastfeeding in the future, I feel really anxious and scared about it. I’m not sure I will breastfeed in the future, just because I am so worried about repeating my past experience, even though rationally I know that is unlikely. I just don’t think I could go through that whole ordeal again, and the emotions are still somewhat overwhelming for me.