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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Amber's Breastfeeding Story

Here's a story from a sweet friend of mine, Amber, who attends church with us. I LOVE how real her story is and how I know so many of you can probably relate to many of the issues she faced (I know I can!) but how worth it the nursing relationship was for her! Don't forget to enter to win the NINE items I'm giving away here!!!

I say if I could get through what I did, anyone can! From inverted and cracked and bleeding nipples to tongue tied babies, I did it!! Dalton is now 13 and nursed until well over a year. Reagan now 10 nursed and sadly weaned herself around 9 months and Sawyer now 5 nursed until he was 15 months. I was the lone ranger in my family- no one nursed their babies! I muddled through on my own but was determined to get through the challenges. We discovered shortly after delivering him that Dalton was tongue tied. But boy, what he lacked in tongue thrust, he made up for it big time with suction!!! He was a round the clock nurser. About the time he was finished with a feeding, he was ready to settle into another. Little did I realize that he was trying to calm his gassy tummy. In retrospect, I simply didn't know baby's signs that he nursed for comfort and not necessarily hunger all those times. Because he was able to take a bottle in the hospital while I worried that my milk would never come in, we were both impatient with that process and I was pressuring myself that he was HUNGRY, the doctor insisted that she not clip his tongue. This was a suggestion the lactation consultant recommended to help him nurse mores efficiently.

The pediatrician that we were using was adamant that since he could take a bottle there was no point in putting him through that, especially since she had just performed his circumcision. I won't ever forget the fit she had in my room after the lactation consultant tried pleading our case. In hindsight I wished we had his tongue clipped then because now he is self conscience of this difference. Imagine licking an ice cream cone with a tongue you can barely stick out... But I digress. We are now facing having his tongue clipped 13 years later. If I could just interject one thing here, trust the mommy instincts the good Lord gave ya! If in disagreement with your doctor regarding your child's care, honor your feelings and stick up for what you think is best!

We actually ended up changing pediatricians when I was preggos with Reagan and I'm so glad we did. I later learned that Dalton's pediatrician was super supportive of nursing but clipping his tongue was one of many areas we didn't see eye to eye on. With Dalton's issue with being tongue tied and me returning to work after my maternity leave, I knew Dalton would have to be able to take a bottle and not just nurse. Oh how I wanted so badly to nurse but thought it wasn't going to happen. I would pump and barely get anything. What I didn't realize was that it can take days before milk will come in! The hospital allowed me to borrow a pump for a few days after bring discharged. I used it but got very discouraged with the amount I would get.

Reagan, Sawyer, and Dalton
When I was sent home my mother in law went to the commissary and bought several cans of ready made formula and a head of cabbage. I had read where a few cabbage leaves inside my bra and on the breast would help dry up the breast milk. I looked at the cabbage and the formula and just cried.... I wanted to nurse him and not give up so easily. I decided that I would give it one more try before putting the cabbage leaves in my bra... I settled as comfortably as I could- on an inflatable ring (there was a lot of pain sitting after Dalton's delivery and I highly recommend having one of those things!) I placed pillows all around me and got ready to give it one more shot. It was quiet painful at first. I honestly believe I had not learned the best way to help him latch on but then again, his tongue tie issue didn't help in that area either. But we made it! I think by that point my milk was beginning to come in and he was getting more of the hind milk I had read about. I could feel a flush during the process and I guessed that as being the '"let-down" effect I had also read about.

Pretty soon we were settling into our nursing relationship. It is a relationship for sure because it had it's ups and downs and has to be grown too!! Getting past the tongue tie issue and onto issues with my breasts was the next hurdle. Nursing is not always as easy for some as it is for others. I had no idea I had one flat nipple. No wonder he had such an issue latching on- we had yet another glitch to get over. As a remedy, I got to wear these lovely nipple shields to help draw out the nipple. They were hard and not so comfortable at first but then I got use to them. It helped relieve sore nipples too and wicked leaking milk that would soak right through the pads I would put in my bra. I ended up wearing the shields for several months later. Sometimes flat or inverted nipples can be corrected with these little devices and I meant that would be a minor inconvenience I would endure to help him overcome his issues- that and the cracked and dreaded bleeding nipples too.

 If you don't learn anything else before leaving the hospital with your new one, be sure you let the lactation consultant on staff help you learn latching on techniques. It will seem like the baby could choke on how much they'll need to latch their tongue around, regardless of the size if the areola but trust me, the more they can latch on, the healthier your nipples will be and less likely to crack and bleed. I learned this the hard way. I was only inserting the very tip into Dalton's mouth and OUCH! it felt as though I was gonna pass out the first week or so everytime he'd get down to the business of nursing. Needless to say when I went back to the hospital to return the borrowed pump, the lactation consultant and I had a powwow! She observed his latch and noticed it wasn't properly positioned. He was getting milk but was definitely killing me in the process. She helped me a lot and her advice was certainly welcome with me since I had no one in my family who could offer experienced advice in that department. I ended up purchasing a medela breast pump in the months to follow. They are excellent and I was able to pump up to nearly 12 ounces and overflow bottles within 20 minutes. He still had to take a bottle of formula at the sitter while I was at work because my schedule didn't allow enough opportunities to pump what he needed daily. I would nurse him at night and weekends. My milk production on Mondays were always more than the other days because it was primed so to speak from so much nursing over the weekend. So I could pump an ample supply on Monday. I also pumped and froze tons of milk while on maternity leave to prepare for when I went back to work and help him practice taking his bottle from someone else too. I think in the months to follow, not introducing him to cereal or foods helped with the milk production too. The doctor insisted that mother's milk is all they really need for the first year and that I could introduce him to cereal as late as six to eight months if I wanted to. We did only because it could help keep him satisfied at the sitter a little longer between bottles.

When I finished the school year I had a feeling I would have to continue a bottle of formula but it wasn"t necessary. My milk production picked right up and Dalton was plenty satisfied. It's amazing how God takes care if it all! Dalton was 6 and 1/2 months old when the school year came to an end and I decided to become a stay at home mommy. We continued our nursing relationship until he was 13 months old and loved every opportunity we had to do so.

I still had a few issues with the flat nipple when Reagan came along. She was also not nearly as interested in nursing as my boys..... must be a man thing! She came into our world shortly before we learned that my mother was dying with cancer. I would carry her and Dalton back and forth to visit and care for mama all while trying to establish a nursing relationship with Reagan. Emotionally I was drained. Trekking back and forth with a toddler and an infant nearly 200 miles and staying with mama for weeks on end didn't make for a great nursing start. Eventually Reagan would taste her first cereal in mom's kitchen at around 4 months old- much sooner than Dalton did. But it was more a matter of convenience. I might have to leave her with a family member to take mom to treatments or to the doctor and I certainly didn't want to leave an unsatisfied baby with someone without a way to satisfy her if she got hungry. Nursing Reagan did become a haven for me when I could do so. But it wasn't nearly enough for her and she wasn't nearly so interested. She probably also sensed the stress i was under as well. Mom died shortly after I introduced Reagan to that first taste of cereal and she began reaching for foods at the table early on as well. Reagan was pretty well done with nursing by the time she was 9 or so months old.

Amber with her wonderful family
I can get into my story of our next baby but that would take a whole lot of space here and it has a little bit to do with nursing. If you feel you'd want to know more about Addison Olivia, a baby we lost shortly after birth, I'd be happy and honored to share her story. But for now, I'll move on to our last baby.

Sawyer was born almost 5 1/2 years ago. I knew he would be our last and I would still be nursing him if it were socially acceptable... Hehe not really!!! I will say I had overcome the flat nipple issue and did not have to wear the nipple shields anymore but I did have a brief episode of cracking/bleeding. Yes, nursing is not for the faint of heart! Anyway, after our brief issue, we were smooth sailing and he snacked constantly- rarely ever settling in for a serious nursing session and this is how he eats even now! I called him my grazer. He was more interested in watching his siblings and nursed most proficient when they were off at school. And did I mention reflux? Oh yeah- he had it bad as did his sister. Looking back now i don't know how we got through it and it's funny that I had almost forgotten what a nuisance and worry it was. Sawyer had to take medication for it and I only wished poor Reagan had had it. This also could explain why neither of them got down to business to nurse like Dalton did. Eventually Sawyer came off the medication but not before a good nursing relationship got established. So for the next 15 months Sawyer basically snacked with his nursing sessions. To look at him now, that explains why he's so stinkin scrawny! ....and why Dalton is such a strappin big guy!

So there you go... Our nursing stories....

Advice: inflatable ring for sitting, lansinoh cream, breast shields for inverted or flat nipples (a lactation consultant can help determine if you have that issue) nursing bras- at least 3, medela breast pump

Devote yourself to the concept of nursing early on and ask for help!!! If I can get through my issues, anyone can! Enjoy every minute with them because the time flies by and you won't hardly remember the problems you might encounter. It is all worth the bond you'll experience with your baby. It can't be matched with a bottle. Happy nursing!

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