The pain that I felt that day was unlike anything I’d ever experienced….and I’d just had an 18+ hour labor.
“So, I assume someone’s spoken with you about what happens next? Engorgement?” the doctor asked me in the recovery unit.
“I’ve read about it. That’s when my milk comes in?” I replied as I desperately tried to get my newborn to latch.
He went on,“Yes and it may get…you know….” as he gestured with his hands out in front of him that my boobs were, in fact, about to get huge.
I wish I knew what that really meant.
I wish I knew that, when I got home a couple days later, my boobs would get as hard as my granite countertops and not even a pump or continuous feeding could relieve my pain.
I wish I knew how many minutes I’d lose not bonding with my baby.
I wish I knew how many tears I’d shed just trying to get from minute to minute.
I wish I knew that my butt would bruise and my legs would swell and atrophy from all the time spent in bed trying to feed through the pain and confusion and frustration.
I wish I knew about the veins, the bumps, the blebs, and the clogs.
I wish I knew about the pain.
So much pain.
This was not in the books or the classes or the articles or the appointments. Always medical jargon, never real talk, never solutions. LC? Unreachable.
The forum mamas said I could use my knuckles to massage the clogs, or the bristles of a comb, or the end of a vibrating toothbrush, or a vibrator.
Oh, well. I tried them all because I was so wildly desperate. I never read about any tools specific to breastfeeding in all of those parenting articles I’d seen so I did what I could with what I had because that’s what you do, right?
This was my life for months.
Comb, toothbrush, knuckles, pencil erasers, tears. I think at one point I even used a rubber dog toy.
Then, I woke up one night absolutely drenched in milk and sweat.
A cheeky little clog had taken a really intense turn as I slept.
The fever woke me up.
“Are your breasts red? Hot? Tender?,” the on-call doctor asked on our 2am phone call.
“I think so. All I know is that I have intense chills and I’m in excruciating pain. How do I make it stop? What should I do?” I begged.
“Ok, well, I’m not sure if we should medicate just yet. Typically, with mastitis….” his voice trailed off.
Surely, this can’t be serious, right?
Now it’s 3am and my shower comb is not saving me.
So, I panic-Google something like “boob clog pain heal mastitis fast.”
If I don’t figure this out soon, it’s going to get really bad.
Then it appeared on my screen in all of its beautiful teal glory — a lactation massager.
Say no more. See you tomorrow my sweet savior.
I rip open the box and out pops the cutest little contraption I’ve ever seen and, to my immediate relief (and my poor husband’s), it works. Just the right size, just the right settings, quiet, waterproof.
A few minutes is all it took to start my healing process. Tears of discomfort quickly became tears of hope.
This thing saved me.
Those few months after my baby boy arrived were the most debilitating of my life. A time when I was supposed to relax, heal and bond with my son was mostly spent doubled over in pain on the floor of my shower with a stupid comb in my hands that, mind you, left some sketchy looking scratch marks on my boobs that made it look like I’d held a fidgety kitten without a shirt on for just a little too long.
For most of us mamas, this is the excruciating reality of breastfeeding, but it shouldn’t have to be.
The pain, the shame, and the confusion of thinking you’re prepared for your big moment but being totally blindsided by your body and left without any realistic, reliable solutions.
The thing is, those solutions exist. They’re just not talked about enough.
If you’ve ever seen an article about breastfeeding, chances are it looks something like this: Headline, “Stimulate. Skin to skin. Diet. Latch. Express” and a couple of expert quotes.
This one-size-fits-all approach to breastfeeding education is not helping us.
We need REAL solutions. Tell us exactly what works. TALK ABOUT THINGS LIKE THE LACTATION MASSAGERS so we’re not left using vibrators and dog toys for stimulation, control, and comfort.
In my case, I truly thought I was ready. I studied, I took the classes, I read so much! What was supposed to be a beautiful bonding experience with my child quickly turned into the most frustrating and painful experience ever.
Even once my breastfeeding journey came to its natural end, I continued to ask myself “Where did I go wrong?” That shame weighed on me a ton. How twisted is that?
How are nursing mothers supposed to be successful in this, especially now that the AAP’s recommended guidelines for breastfeeding just went from 6 months to “two years OR BEYOND”?
Nursing mothers need support now more than ever and, with August being National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, it feels like the perfect time to shed more light on this topic by sharing my story.
But, here’s the thing —
Mothers need ongoing guidance, not just a month’s-worth. Particularly those who are new to breastfeeding and struggling to lactate / manage their supply and pain in the first place because, all of that? It happens really fast and it’s better to be proactively prepared than to be reactively scouring the internet for answers in tears at 3 in the morning.
In the end, what multiple doctors couldn’t help me with, I had to handle myself. All with the help of this one, compact, convenient, little massager….which also came with a free consultation from a Certified LC (cha ching!). This one tool that healed me from mastitis (yep, doc, that’s really what it was), prevented future pain, discomfort, and calls to the ER from my closet at 2am.
But, I shouldn’t have had to dig so deep for the information or panic Google or feel that lost, nor should any one. For a while I thought it was just situational, until I started talking to other mothers.
“It’s a sh*t show out there for moms. We’re fending for ourselves 24/7, it’s information overload and the info lacks,” said one mom friend. “I just wish that tools like this were talked about more.”
The lactation massager I found that night gave me back the precious bonding time I‘d longed for with my baby and allowed me to nurse on my terms. It’s also helping a ton of other women find relief well before they’re in pain and desperate need, including the many friends I continue to recommend it to. A lot of times I get the question, do lactation massagers really work? What I can tell you is they absolutely worked for my breastfeeding struggles- 100%!
In my case, I finally felt in control of my body and it’s 100% because of the company who invented the product that made that possible: LaVie™ Mom.
Their award-winning massager was originally released in 2017 as the first of its kind on the market. It gained so much traction that it quickly became an Amazon Bestseller AND established the lactation massager category on the e-commerce giant.
Today, it continues to go viral and spark conversation.
One mama recently racked up 4.1 million views, 574K likes, and over 3,000 comments in a recent video where she used the massager to support an early morning feed and was able to produce 15oz of output from ONE pump session. That may not be the case for everyone but, it’s just one of the brand’s many success stories.
I like to think I’m another.
I’m sharing this story with you because I’m doing what I can to help LaVie support other mothers around the world who want to find joy, comfort and confidence while breastfeeding, no matter how long their personal nursing journeys may be.
Yep, their product helped me so much that I knew I needed to help them get this massager into the hands of as many nursing mothers and medical professionals as possible, so I joined the team not long after I finished my breastfeeding journey and I promised myself I would tell this story.
So far, we’ve helped over 400,000 mamas (and 800,000 boobies!) worldwide find success while breastfeeding with that same lactation massager I once used and it’s been wow-ing moms everywhere.
LaVie massagers are also available in over 100 hospitals, lactation clinics, and WIC programs as it continues to be a guiding light for nursing mothers and medical professionals everywhere.
It certainly was my light in the dark and, for the love of boobs, I hope it can be yours too….now that you know about it :)
To further support breastfeeding mothers, 10% of profits earned from the popular lactation massagers and other breastfeeding support products during August’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month will go directly toward community organizations that support mothers.
Liz Fleming is a mama + award-winning marketer based in Pinehurst, NC. She is the founder of The Bloom Crew™, The Small Town Social® and a proud supporter of The Children’s Legacy Partnership and LaVie™ Mom. Her work has appeared in CBS News, Legacy Magazine, The Rising Tide Society, and more. You can connect with her online @mslizfleming | elisabethfleming.com