How Breastfeeding Almost Killed Me
Chasing my toddler around the house has become part of my daily routine. While I love the independent person she’s becoming, I do occasionally long for the days that she was a tiny infant resting peacefully in my arms. I know those memories also came with sleepless nights, lots of diapers and tears, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The one thing I would not do over? Breastfeeding.
The first two months of my daughter’s life were the absolute worst of mine. It started in the hospital when I looked at the nurse, horrified, as she asked if I minded her giving my baby formula. Of course I minded! I wanted to breastfeed. I knew all the statistics; I had talked with the doctors; I knew that breast milk was liquid gold for babies and I wasn’t about to let mine drink from a bottle. I tried to breastfeed every two hours while we were in the hospital, which was exhausting for everyone.
When we got home, it was the same. I even pumped religiously to really establish my supply. I attended a breastfeeding class and read an entire book on the subject while I was pregnant. I knew this was going to be a tough journey, but I also knew it was best for my baby.
After a month of calling lactation specialists and talking with doctors about my daughter’s latching on issues, I finally decided that maybe bottle was best. So I switched to pumping exclusively and, although I was disappointed, I was still proud that my baby was getting breast milk.
Then, one day as I sat in the chair pumping, I noticed that I had a large lump in my breast. It was tender and warm, but I assumed it was just a milk duct and decided to pump more on that side.
Days went by and the lump felt the same, so I called the lactation nurse again. She assured me that it was a duct and to use warm packs and pump. More days went by and the lump remained unchanged, so I called the doctor. After an exam, he also said he thought it was a duct but sent me to a specialist to be sure.
The following day, I showed up to the specialist with baby in tow. She decided that no amount of pumping was going to fix this and did an office procedure to drain it, assuring me that I’d feel much better. Later that evening, the pain was unbearable. I started running a fever and my entire chest was bright red. The next morning I could take no more. I called the specialist and went in right away, again with baby in tow. By the time I made it to her office, the redness was moving down my arms and spreading up over my face. She took one look and admitted me to the hospital. A transporter loaded me up with a baby in my arms and wheeled us back to the exact room we had been on her birthday. My husband met us there and before I knew it, I was being taken in to surgery, some of the scariest moments of my life.
It turns out that the clogged duct had created an abscess. The bacteria entered my body causing a massive staph infection. I had surgery and was on antibiotics for weeks. If I hadn’t gone to the specialist, I could have even died. That’s right, breastfeeding almost killed me, literally.
I still support breastfeeding, but with the stipulation of listening to your body. Too many times nurses downplay breastfeeding problems because they don’t want you to quit. Don’t quit, but if you have a problem, seek help and make someone listen to you if it doesn’t feel right. Everyone knows that breast is best, but it has to be best for you, too.
Kiley Roberson is a full-time working mom with an adorable and energetic toddler. She and her husband Chad live in Sapulpa and when she’s not chasing her daughter or reading Good Night Moon, she’s busy writing. Kiley is a communications specialist for SemGroup Corporation, a graduate of Oklahoma State University and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in mass communications at OSU-Tulsa. Kiley is a former news producer. Writing is her passion and she loves sharing her stories of parenthood one adventure at a time.
Breast Abscess: While plugged ducts are fairly common, they can turn in to mastitis, or a breast infection, which will make you feel ill with a fever, or flu-like symptoms. Breast abscess is very unusual, but it can occur if mastitis is not treated quickly or correctly. It is a very painful, localized infection containing pus and must be treated immediately. This is done by surgically draining or aspirating the breast. Information from www.lalecheleague.org.