I can't believe I'm actually going to write about this...but I feel like I must because hopefully it will help somebody out there! I want to talk about nipple vasospasm (and yes, I chickened out of writing the word 'nipple' in the title).
Vasospasm can happen in any of your extremities, like your fingers and toes, but obviously nipple vasospasm occurs in the nipples. It's not a huge deal. I'm sure plenty of women live with this condition with no problems ever, but it can complicate the breastfeeding relationship. With this condition there is a sudden constriction/narrowing of a blood vessel (in the nipple, in this case) that is extremely painful. It might occur a short time after nursing or in between nursings.
After reading up on it I believe this is what I have. I believe this is the reason breastfeeding was so painful with Liam for so long and why it was again painful with Isabel. There are a few things you can try to alleviate the pain including: avoiding the cold, covering the nipple as soon as baby comes off the breast, applying dry heat, avoiding caffeine, and changing your diet. There are even some medications you can try to help you out.
I wish I would've known about this way back when. I could have solved the issue with Liam right away and I would have been better prepared this time around to breastfeed Isabel. But I didn't. And while it's not too late, I really feel like I am just done. As I said in this post, I will continue to pump my breast milk for as long as I see fit, but I really feel at peace about not directly breastfeeding Isabel anymore. It's been over a week since she has latched on to me and I don't want to go back there. Do I feel guilty? A little bit, but I know she is a healthy and strong girl and I am doing my best to care for her and her brother at the same time. I'm discovering how I want to mother rather than how I think I should mother. My kids are my world and I love them fiercely, and whether I choose to breastfeed or not doesn't change that. I'm starting to make my own mental and emotional health a priority and I am certain it will make me a better mother in the long run.
I hope that this blog post will be informative to other nursing mothers and will help out someone who is at her wit's end wondering why breastfeeding isn't going as smoothly as she hoped. I know how frustrating it can be when everything should be going well with breastfeeding but it just isn't. And I encourage you to seek help from La Leche League or a lactation consultant (I can totally recommend one if you're in Miami!).