Even After A Clogged Milk Duct, An Infection And Surgery, I Was Guilted About Formula

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When Elaine learned that she was pregnant with her first baby, she describes herself as “determined” to grant her baby every possible advantage. From the moment of that positive pregnancy test, she was endlessly researching all facets of pregnancy and care for a newborn, avoiding soft cheeses and opting for an all natural, drug-free water birth. A big believer in the “breast in best” chant, breastfeeding was definitely on her parenting agenda as she tells me that she never even “considered” formula feeding.

“I was even secretly smug when I found out a co-worker formula-fed her baby,” says the mother. “I thought my kid would be so much better off than hers just because I would be breastfeeding. This sense of smugness would later turn to hardcore guilt when co-worker gave me advice on which formula brands were best and told me where to get coupons and the deepest discounts.”

Yet, Elaine would ultimately encounter many challenges on her quest to breastfeeding, including a painful infection and a mastectomy.

Right after the birth of Elaine’s daughter around Christmas time, she was blessed with quite the holiday gift: a helpful and kind lactation consultant at the hospital who boosted Elaine’s confidence in her decision.

“The lactation consultant made me feel empowered by my choice to breastfeed,” she remembers. “I felt my baby would be less likely to get sick, less likely to become obese, and more intelligent than her formula-fed counterparts. ” [tagbox tag=”breastfeeding”]

The first few weeks of nursing her baby girl went well. Aside from both the standard holiday stress and entertaining company, Elaine was constantly excusing herself to go breastfeed. As the days rolled by though, she felt so assured in the decision that she was making for her daughter’s health and genuinely enjoyed the connection with her child. Yet, when her daughter turned five weeks old, Elaine discovered a plugged milk duct in her left breast.

She called a lactation hotline, provided by her lactation consultant, and the expert recommended using hot and cold compresses and to nurse frequently from the plugged breast. Elaine followed the instructions, but found that the plug was worsening. Within a couple of days, her breast began to take on a “red-ish hue” and a hard lump began to form. Two days later, she was in her doctor’s office with what she describes as a “hard, red lobster breast.”

After several other doctors on staff examined her and ordered a same day sonogram from a pimple forming under the infected breast, Elaine was told that she needed emergency surgery.

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