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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Breastfeeding Story

Zach and I took the available classes and I read several books on the subject so we felt pretty prepared. Well, even preparation doesn't prepare you for the reality! My problem with breastfeeding really is that "they" make it sound easy. Every book talks about how wonderful it is and that it "shouldn't" hurt. With childbirth, everything makes it sound awful. People talk about how painful it is. Books discuss how to mentally prepare yourself. So when childbirth actually came I was expecting it to be horrible! This made it seem BETTER to me because it wasn't half as bad as I was expecting. With breastfeeding, it's been the opposite. I expected it to be easy, wonderful, and something I'd love. Instead, it's so so hard and I think people should go into it knowing it's HARD so you're prepared for the work and will therefore enjoy it more.

I see why so many people give up because they expect it to be awesome and when it's tough they think it's something wrong with them instead of just knowing that it's tough for everyone!!!



Pain

The first couple of days I totally thought I was doing it right. He was getting enough to eat (pee was clear, lots of poopy diapers) so I must have been doing it right, right? Plus at the hospital not a single nurse or even the lactation specialist told me to change anything. They said he was latching on fine!

I had read that it's not supposed to hurt and if it does hurt then something is wrong. So I told the lactation specialist that it hurt. She said "on a scale of one to ten how bad is it?" I said a seven and she told me I was saying too high of a number! I wasn't joking though. It hurt when he latched on and the WHOLE time that he was on the breast.

I just figured it's because I have sensitive nipples and kept doing my thing. I never once stopped feeding him or tried to get him to wait longer to eat. I would be in so much pain that I would cringe and squirm each time. I also let out lots of moans and would try not to let Kye know it hurt but it was pretty rough! I literally couldn't even wear a shirt from Wednesday through Saturday, anything even grazing them was painful!
Milk In and Stress

My milk came in on Day 2! Very fast! But I had a feeling it would! My breasts were engorged and painful. They were HUGE and so so filled with milk. Mom suggested that I take a warm shower and let the hot water run over them. It felt so good. I also took two wash cloths and kept them on my breasts at all times. Luckily, the engorgement only lasted a day!

I was still nursing him as I had at the hospital once I got home. We bought a HUGE chair and I was using that in the nursery. I had a boppy, a pillow under my feet, and a pillow on each side of me to prop me up. I had the hardest time in that chair! I don't think it helped that the nursery had something wrong with the AC and it was SUPER SUPER hot in there. Plus, let's not forget I had a very sick dog and was waaaay too welcoming with company. I think the combination of all of that stress made breastfeeding even more difficult for me.

We ended up moving the chair into the living room (it's tan so it matches, thank the Lord) and put our red chair from the living room into the nursery (which is also matches!). That switch has made a big difference for me, plus I can watch TV while I nurse which helps me stay awake during those late night/early morning feedings! The AC people were really nice as well and came out and fixed the problem in the nursery!

I've also adjusted the amount of people who are in the room when I nurse. I ask people to be quiet or leave the room for a minute while he gets latched on, I think it helps me not feel so stressed or like I have to "do it" right. I don't even have Zach stay with me and help me anymore! I realize I LOVE Zach's help but when he helps me I don't even try to think for myself. I just totally rely on him which isn't good for something like this!



Cracks, Cracks and Blood

My nipples were pretty tore up. Again, I figured it had to just be them adjusting to a person sucking on them 24/7! But then I saw blood. While feeding Kye, a little bit of blood was on his face. This freaked me out and I checked him out and knew it was coming from me.

I'd see little spots of blood on my nursing pads (yes, you have to wear them all the time...annoying!). I also noticed huge chunks missing from my nipples, especially my right one! I knew something had to be wrong but I read and re-read What to Expect During the First Year and couldn't find a problem. I was holding him in the correct position and could only see the top of my "areola" so he had a proper latch. I just kept on "grinning and bearing it."

I read that ice water can help ease pain and get the nipple ready so at each feeding I'd dip my finger in a cup of ice water and put it over my nipples. I also used some cabbage from the fridge and it felt AWESOME. Don't leave it on too long because it can make you dry up but you can use it in 15 min intervals and it really eases the pain!

Flat

I had skimmed over the parts in my books about issues with breastfeeding and one I always saw was about flat or inverted nipples. I never ever read that part because duh, I don't have flat or inverted nipples! Well about Day 3 I remember looking down at my right breast and saying to Zach, Mom, and Mrs. Charlotte (yes I was like putting on a breastfeeding show haha), "This nipple looks funny." Of course to all of them it looked fine, but it's my chest and I should have listened to my gut.

A day or so later the other one looked the same and Kye was slipping over the nipple when trying to latch on so I read up on flat nipples and THANK YOU RACHAEL b/c she had given me some nipple shield things that you put on 20 min before feeding and they suction your nipples out so the baby can get a good latch. Sounds strange, it is. And it's annoying. I had to wear them for 20 MIN before he could EAT so he'd be hungry and the poor thing just had to wait it out. Also I had to wash them reallly good after each feeding and they would FILL with milk and practically leak so that was annoying too. Plus..as you can imagine..something suctioned to your boob isn't so comfortable.

Thankfully my issue only lasted a couple days and I was able to put them away, hopefully to never be used again!

Lightbulb!

Mother always does know best. From Day 1 she tried to get me to read through the breastfeeding packet they gave me at the hospital but I didn't want to bother with it. I'd taken the class, Zach remembered every detail, and the people at the hospital said I was doing fine so I didn't want to bother. Well I think it was about Day 4 after Mom had left and I finally read through it.

DING DING DING! A light bulb went off and it all finally clicked into place! I was doing it wrong! The biggest thing that helped me was knowing WHY it was hurting. You can try this at home! Put your finger in your mouth and feel the roof. Behind your teeth it feels super hard, my nipple was pressing against this area, causing pain. Move your finger back some and you can feel the roof turn soft. This is where the nipple should be placed and it won't be painful!
Here are the other tips that helped me:
  • Baby's head, shoulders, and hips should all be in a straight line
  • No head turning should be needed, baby should be facing the breast
  • Body should be pressed against Mommy's with feet, bottom, and shoulders all pulled in close
  • Align nipple with baby's nose, tilt head back a bit and touch chin to breast then move it away
  • Repeat step above until mouth opens wide then move baby into breast chin first pressing on baby's shoulders for that deep latch
I started practicing this...and basically read and re-read over the steps each time and it did start to get easier!!! It wasn't hurting as badly and I felt like I was doing a better job!

Lansinoh: A Gift From God

Someone at one of my showers had bought me some Lansinoh cream. I kept it but didn't really know what it was for. At the hospital they gave me two small tubes of it and told me to apply it to each nipple after each feeding. I did that each time, as I'm a good student, and didn't think much of it. Supposedly it was supposed to help with the pain and cracks.

Crissy came over one week after he was born and SHE helped me realize how amazing Lansinoh is. She said she applied it BEFORE AND AFTER each feeding. So I said "goodbye!" to the ice water and "hello!" to the Lansinoh. It has really, really helped! The stuff is $8 a tube and I am going through a tube a week which is crazy but totally worth it. Invest in a TON of the stuff before your baby is born if you can!!!

Mastitis

So I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of things. He's latching better. It's going more smoothly. I'm in less pain. Then on Sunday (11 days after he was born) I get a fever. I'm super in-tune with my body and I knew I was getting a fever. My eyes hurt and I got super cold then super hot. I knew right away that I had mastitis. I'd read about it in my book and I had the symptoms. Feverish and my right breast was very inflamed. It's caused by a crack in the nipple and the baby passing germs through the crack, so technically Kye gave it to me! I knew that with any breastfeeding issue the answer to the problem is typically to breastfeed more so I started him at that breast at each feeding through the night.

I was miserable the next morning. I called the dr. office and was so so so thankful that Stacy didn't make me come in! She called me in a prescription and Zach picked it up on his way home from work. It was the best $40 I've probably ever spent. I was worried about taking an antibiotic while nursing but they said it was safe for both of us and that the side effects included looser stools for him and an increased risk of yeast (thrush) for both of us. I have to finish out the entire prescription which is annoying because I have to take it at 10, 4, 10 and 4 each day. But I'm suffering through and feeling so much better! I'm so glad I was up on the subject because a lot of people just think they are sick and end up in the hospital because they don't treat the problem!

Sleepy Baby

Another issue with breastfeeding has been getting him to EAT. The child falls asleep at the breast and is super tough to wake up. At first, I just let him eat then sleep and would feed him again when he acted hungry again. Well now that I'm doing Baby Wise (more on that in a future post) I am not letting him eat whenever he feels like it. I'm getting a pretty good system down for waking him up! I completely unswaddle (or undress) him and will tickle him like crazy until he wakes up! It works okay but his feedings last anywhere from 30 min to an hour! I'm hoping that the longer he feeds, the more he will get to understand it, and hopefully he'll become a quicker feeder!

Pumping

I started pumping when he was about a week old. It's really awesome, although a pain! I pump twice a day. So after his morning feeding I wait an hour, pump, then he eats an hour and a half later, wait an hour, pump, then he eats an hour and a half later. So pretty much until after lunch I'm either feeding him or pumping but I'm averaging around 5 oz a day which is awesome. It's also very quick and easy. I have the Medela Freestyle and I recommend it! However, buy bras made by Medela because I have to change bras each time I pump since the comfy ones I wear around the house don't work with the pump.

It takes only 10 min to pump and it doesn't hurt at all. When my mastitis was at its worse, I had him completely empty my right breast (the one that had it) then I pumped my left. I wouldn't recommend always doing it that way but if I had it to do over I also would have pumped when I was engorged because it's supposed to help with that too. Feeling your breasts empty is super awesome. I know that sounds strange but it is! When he has a really good feeding or after I pump, my breasts feel so nice! I feel more relaxed and they are soft to the touch instead of hard and tender!

My first pumped milk! So proud :)
Never Give Up

I'm pretty proud of myself for not giving up! I think most people that have had the many, many issues that I have had would give up. But I am a planner so once I have a plan I stick to it no matter what. Plus I already bought SO much stuff for breastfeeding and it would be a huge waste of money if I gave up now! I know eventually it will get easier and I know I will probably end up missing it someday when it's over.

My reasons for breastfeeding are pretty simple: 1) it's the best thing for Kye. Formula fed babies are more likely to be obese in the future, have stinkier poops, spit up more, and breastfed babies typically get sick less often and have higher IQs. 2) it's best for me. Supposedly it will help me drop around 20 lbs (I've only lost 1 lb in a week though...so who knows). It also lessens my chances of getting breast cancer and being obese. 3) it provides such great bonding time. Even on the days when he WON'T stop crying, he is precious when he nurses. I get to see more smiles from him during feeding time than throughout the rest of the day. Even though it's kinda strange to think about him being at my breast, it's so precious! His little hands holding on to me is the sweetest thing and helps remind me that I am his Mommy! I'm the only one that can provide him that nourishment and, even when it's tough, it helps me know how important I am to my little boy!



Milk in my Mouth

Here is a little video Zach and Kye put together all about Kye's favorite thing to eat!

3 comments:

  1. I am so proud of you too for not giving up. Stevie was a "natural" at this, so I never had ANY issues with breastfeeding except for that I didn't have good results with pumping. I hope that Neela is a "natural" too, because I honestly didn't feel like "I" did anything, I felt like it was all "her". If Neela is not such a "natural" and is stubborn, I will be referring back to your breastfeeding blog post for tips. Have you tried nursing lying down yet?

    Also, a comment about the weight loss while breastfeeding, at my 6 week postpartum check up with Stevie I had lost all my weight except for 6 lbs (I gained 35 lbs and I didn't diet or exercise until I was 9 weeks postpartum). The only thing was though, that I hung on to that last 5 lbs forever, I read that nursing moms tend to hang onto that last 5 lbs for the body to be able to store up fat to produce milk, that is what I blame it on :) When I got pregnant (6 months later) with Neela I weighed 2 lbs more than I did b4 I ever got pregnant with Stevie. So I was almost there! Don't worry about the weight, it will come off. And just think, worst case scenario is that you would stay the way you are now and not lose any more and honestly that would not be a bad thing at all You Look Great!

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  2. haha the milk in my mouth video made my day... greg is still singing it....
    Rachael

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  3. Cracked me up!!! Now I'm singing "Milk in my Mouth" all day long. My students have to keep reminding me to stop!!!

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Reading your comments makes my day!



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