Hi everyone, this is my first post. I've been trying to breastfeed my 4 week old since birth and can't seem to get the hang of it. This is going to be a little on the long side as my frustrating breastfeeding journey is lengthy. I'm just looking for more advice on what to do. I breastfed her within an hour after birth, even though I had a c-section the nurses were wonderful about meeting my request to breastfeed as soon as possible. Right away she had trouble latching on because I have flat nipples. Eventually we got her on there, but she kept slipping off. The LC at the hospital gave me a nipple shield to use, which worked well for a few days, but then it started to get in the way. I couldn't get it to stick properly and the baby was collapsing the tip of it because she wasn't on there far enough despite my many attempts to get her on there properly.
After discharge from the hospital the baby went for her first check up 3 days later and lost 10% of her birth weight and her doctor was concerned so told me to supplement with formula. Which we did and still do during the night when she's exceptionally hungry. She is a big baby, over 9 pounds at birth so it's not like she was getting too skinny, the doctor just didn't want her to lose anymore weight. Four days later when we went back she gained 2 ounces a day, which was great. Meanwhile, I continued to have issues with her latching so I called the LC at the and asked if I could come in for help. During the visit we were able to get her to latch, but she was upset that the milk wasn't flowing fast enough and would pull away crying. The LC set me up with a tube device (the name of it is escaping me), I clipped the tube filled with formula to my shirt and the other end was taped to my breast so baby got a faster milk flow. It worked wonderfully while there, but once I got home with it I couldn't get it stay in place and it became another object of frustration so I stopped using it.
The next day I said to myself that I will get the baby to latch without any contraptions and to my surprise it worked! She latched on and for the rest of the day I had no problems getting her to latch. Then by the next day I was so incredibly sore, obviously she wasn't on there correctly and I didn't know it. The pain became so bad when she would latch that I literally would scream. One time my husband came running in the room thinking I was seriously hurt. I couldn't tolerate the pain any longer and decided to pump and feed her by bottle. I was aware of the risks of doing this because of nipple confusion, but I was in so much pain... not to mention sleep deprived and incredibly frustrated because breastfeeding wasn't working out. I literally dreaded feeding time... which brought me to tears because I wanted and still want so badly to enjoy breastfeeding my baby.
I went back to the hospital and saw a different LC and she showed me how to get the baby to latch by making a "nipple sandwich" and pushing the baby on. It worked well there, but once again when I got home I couldn't get her to latch properly. The latch looked good, lips were flanged out and open wide... yet it still hurt. It pinched every time she would swallow and I would hear a clicking noise at times. I had blisters and extremely tender nipples. I went back to pumping and feeding her by bottle so I could heal again. In the meantime while pumping I developed a cluster of clogged ducts on the top of my left breast. I kept trying to relieve this by putting a warm compress on my breast before and during pumping. It wasn't working and they were only getting harder and more painful. So I went out and bought a larger flange and thankfully had immediate relief. The larger flanges are technically too large though as my whole areola is sucked into it. I continued to use it though since it was what got the milk flowing from those ducts. After a week or so of straight pumping I wanted to attempt to breastfeed again, but I told myself not to get so frustrated if it doesn't work out because at least she's getting the breast milk by bottle. These occasional breastfeeding sessions were going well, even though again she still wasn't latched properly, but since it was only a couple times a day the pain never got to the point where it was unbearable. This past week I've been attempting to breastfeed her more often... several times a day. Now she doesn't want to open her mouth wide enough, I guess because she's gotten use to the bottles. Eventually she will open wide, but it takes a lot of coaxing and me gently pulling on her chin. However, no matter what I do I can never get the nipple far enough in her mouth. Yesterday I did manage to get her on there far enough and for the first time I didn't feel anything... just a gentle tugging. No pinching, no noises and I was so excited. Two seconds later she slipped down to her usual spot and the tenderness returned. To top it all off that same cluster of clogged ducts has returned and pumping/breastfeeding isn't relieving it this time. I tried to put the baby on that breast again and after a half hour of attempting to get a correct latch I decided to give up. I'm really close to just giving up entirely on breastfeeding and giving her formula. It hurts me so much to say that, but I don't know what else to do. I've tried so hard to make this work and we can't seem to get the hang of it. I've read tons of information on how to get baby to latch correctly, I've watched videos and looked at pictures and I just can't seem to get it. Any suggestions on how to get her to latch properly would be greatly appreciated. Also, any idea on how to relieve this cluster of clogged ducts? The pump is an Ameda Purely Yours, so I'm surprised it's not draining the milk better. Thanks in advance for reading this and offering your suggestions. Even if it doesn't work out, it feels nice to vent!