Being a new mother is full of ups and downs, which is why it's always nice when women get real about the experience. Especially when they talk about how dreadful breastfeeding can be sometimes. This week, Lauren Paul opened up about her breastfeeding struggles on Instagram and, really, it will make you cringe if you've had mastitis or can't imagine what breastfeeding is like for some women. For everyone that has a lovely, joyful breastfeeding experience, there's another woman out there who may consider it a nightmare. Paul is somewhere in between.
Lauren and Aaron Paul welcomed their daughter earlier this month, so they're right in the thick of it. Lauren posted a picture of their baby on Instagram and wrote that she always heard new parents talk about how much they love their kids, but that she could never really "wrap" her "head around how deep that love could really be."
She added that now that she has her daughter, she knows that "it’s all true," according to People. Paul added, "She is everything. My world. Sometimes I just stare at her and cry over how precious and pure she is." But that doesn't mean that it's been all cooing over the crib and marveling at how small her toes are.
The new mom wrote, "While it’s been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, I have developed Mastitis twice within 3 weeks." Her mastitis, which is a plugged milk duct that gets infected and can give you flu-like symptoms, was particularly rough. Paul wrote that she had a fever of 104 degrees the other day. But it's not (just) the symptoms that make mastitis so rough. It's that no one talks about this until after you give birth. Paul wrote:
What I keep coming back to is the fact that I feel like all these very common issues that can come up immediately after having a baby are not really talked about and being here now, I’m feeling a responsibility to share this so that any new mamma-to-be reading this is aware of these potential issues. If I could give an upcoming mother any advice for this chapter it would be to become well educated about breastfeeding.
Paul recommends that women do research and talk to other moms since, "there are so many things that can happen...an oversupply of milk leading to infection, your baby having trouble latching, having an undersupply... being aware of this will be so helpful so that you will know how to avoid or handle these things."
The experts agree with her, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 22 percent of new moms exclusively breastfeed their babies for the recommended full year after birth. And while some women don't stick with it because they can't produce milk because of their glands, take certain medications, have specific infections, or simply don't want to breastfeed, a lot of women give up for many of the reasons Paul listed.
A 2016 report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found that mothers who receive more counseling in the hospital right after birth about breastfeeding or attend breastfeeding classes are more likely to stick with breastfeeding as exclusively as possible.
Having someone explain mastitis to you, for example, and inform you of how to prevent it (although that's not entirely possible all the time, according to SELF) could help a new mom stick with it. Or even help her make her decision to not breastfeed at all and go with formula-feeding to never have to deal with it to begin with. It's all about having choices, right?
Being a new mom is hard, and being laid up with a case of mastitis is a great way to scare you off the whole ordeal. Paul feels that pain. She concluded in her post, "You are not alone.And because it’s been on my mind, to all the single parents out there raising babies and children, you are an actual superhero. You are THE superhero. Never forget that."
As a new, breastfeeding mom, managing not one but several cases of mastitis in just a few weeks and the fact that Paul has the energy to empower other moms has me thinking that she's sort of a superhero, too.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.