Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Come out, come out wherever you are....

Or rather whatever your story is... 
Obviously we have had no new submissions for stories in a while.
Do you have a favorite moment that breastfeeding was a part of? 
A funny story? ( I rememeber when my baby was 2 months old he slept for more then 5 hours for the first time.  I woke up terrified, not because I thought something was wrong with him, but because I thought I had spiders crawling all over me!  Nope, just my overfull breasts leaking and dripping down my neck.  I hate spiders!!) 
What was it like the first time your baby latched on? 
How was breastfeeding different then you thought it would be, or is it? 
Was breastfeeding smooth sailing for you?  Or was it a rough beginning?
Did you set goals for yourself?  Did you meet your goals?
Why did you choose to breastfeed at all?
What was it like when you stopped breastfeeding?
After you had your first child, is there anything you would do differently to prepare to breastfeed your second baby?
Any babywearers wanna share about learning to breastfeed while babywearing? 
Did your family support you, or did you have to fight for your right to breastfeed your baby? 

Anything is welcome.  Please take a couple minutes from your day to share with all us mamas!  If you know a mama friend who has a great story - please share this blog with them and encourage them to share.  Looking forward to hearing more wonderful stories!  Thanks for taking the time to share them with us.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pumpers are Breastfeeders, Too!

When I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I had this perfect picture in mind of how we would bond through breastfeeding soon after birth. However, things didn't go that way at all. I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia and had to be induced at 34 weeks. After delivery, my daughter (all 4lbs 11oz of her) went to the NICU with my husband, and I went into surgery for a D&C (placenta wouldn't deliver). Other than a brief moment right after she was born, I didn't get to see her until the following afternoon. She was in the NICU for a total of 23 days, most of which were spent figuring out how to eat. We attempted to breastfeed and she did okay with latching on, but it took a lot of energy, so she got most of her food by a tube that went through her nose, down into her stomach. Leaving a newborn in the hospital is heartbreaking, so we decided to let her try drinking expressed milk from a bottle to see if it would get her home faster. It worked, but ultimately it undermined our breastfeeding efforts. Later attempts to put her to breast resulted in a screaming baby and a stressed-out mommy. I'd been pumping since the day after she was born, so I decided to simply continue, becoming an Exclusive Pumper (EPer).

Life as an EPer has a lot of challenges. Not only do I have to worry about warming milk and feeding my daughter when she's hungry - I also have to make time to pump. At first, this was every 3 hours! When we leave the house for extended periods of time, I have to make sure to bring all of my pumping equipment (pump, bottles, storage bags, etc). It's like combining the physical work of breastfeeding (minus the biting) with the chores of formula feeding! And the places I've had to pump.... When my daughter was still in the NICU, I was in my brother-in-law's wedding. At the reception, I had to pump in a utility closet with my sister-in-law guarding the door!

Despite all the complaining I could do about EPing, I'm so glad I've been able to provide breast milk for my daughter, particularly since she's a preemie. She hasn't set any records for growth, but she's on the normal growth charts and is thriving! Since reaching my goal of 6 months, I've begun to slowly wean from pumping. I'm down to 4 times per day, producing 1/3 to 1/2 of what my daughter takes in. If we have more children, I hope to be able to breastfeed, but I'm very proud to have stuck with pumping this long!

Rebecca (age 26), mom to Norah (6 1/2 months)

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Nursing Through the Pain"

I always knew I wanted to nurse my baby, ever since seeing a picture of my mom nursing me the day I came home from the hospital. She always talked about how wonderful it was, how she wouldn't have done it any other way, even though it wasn't the norm when I was born and people thought she was crazy for doing it.
Leo arrived ready-made with a super-strong suck. The first time I put him to my breast, it was wonderful and strange at the same time, to know that I was nourishing this small person. But over the course of our hospital stay, things got difficult. The first day of his life, he slept all day. Then, that night, he tried to make up for lost time. He fussed and nursed on and off for over 5 hours. My nipples began to ache, a premonition of what was to come. When I thought he was finally done, a nurse came in and he was rooting. She looked at me strangely and said "your baby is STARVING". I cried, because I had been trying so hard.

The next day, he was circumcised. And would not open his mouth for the breast all day. He squeezed his little lips together and nobody, not me, not the nurses, not the LC, could get him to open up. When we got home, my husband tried to give him a bottle, but he wouldn't take that either. Then he cluster-fed all night.

Because of Leo's strong suck and an improper latch, my breasts became horribly injured. The left nipple boasted a deep wound and throbbed even when he was nowhere near the breasts. I would cry if I even heard him start to wake up, because I was dreading the feeding so much. Each time he latched, I would scream and burst into tears. It was, by far, the most painful, horrible thing I had ever endured. My nipples cracked and bled, and when my reflux boy would spit up, there were pink flecks of blood in it.

When Leo was ten days old, I couldn't take it anymore. My pump was on its way, but I decided to go to Target and buy a manual pump. For two days I squeezed that thing day and night and fed him with bottles, to let my nipples heal. Then, we met with an LC who helped me get our latch right and told me it was okay to rest my breasts as needed and just feed him on the right side, which was slightly less painful.

On the day Leo turned two weeks old, my mom passed away after an eight-month battle with lung cancer. My mom was my best friend, my rock, the most important person in my world. The weeks after she passed were some of the darkest of my life. I developed an allergy to oxytocin from breastfeeding, and this resulted in a rash all over my body, from head to toe. Leo was eating every two hours or sooner, and I remember sitting in his nursery, sobbing, aching with grief, my nipples screaming in pain, and my entire body itching to the point of pain. Even in the few short intervals when he slept, I couldn't rest because of the itching.

When he was three weeks, I remember reading that for most women, latch pain gets better around six weeks. I couldn't begin to imagine making it to that point. I set six weeks as my goal for breast-feeding. If I could just make it that far, I would let myself quit.

But lo and behold, by six weeks things were starting to get better, so I said "okay, two months". The rash went away, my nipples began to heal. I kept thinking about my mom, a young mom away from her family, nursing me, her first daughter. I knew how proud she would be if I stuck with it. And I'm so, so glad I did. And despite everything I've accomplished in my life, I may be most proud of this. It would have been so easy to quit. I had so many excuses. But I didn't. And I'm so proud of myself.

Now, Leo is almost seven months, and my supply is dwindling. I cried at work today when I only pumped three ounces and he needs six per bottle. But I know I can do this. I will take supplements, drink water, eat oatmeal, do whatever I have to do, because our nursing relationship is so important and special to me.

Kate, mom of Leo, 6.5 months

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Breastfeeding May Be 'Natural', But It's Not Easy!

Neriah started bouncing her way to the breast as soon as she was placed with her chest on my chest. It was so cool to watch!! She made her way to the left breast, and my doula began to help me get Neriah latched on. As soon as she latched, the nurse came and took her away to do all the wrapping, weighing, etc.

A couple hours later, a nurse came in to help me get Neriah latched. While we were attempting this, Neriah's face froze and twitched, while her eyes started shaking back and forth. The nurse took Neriah and put her back in her 'bed' while she went to get someone from the NICU. The NICU lady took Neriah away to observe her for the night. There Neriah was given a bottle of formula. I don't recall being asked about this.

At home, less than 24 hours after Neriah was born, I attempted to get her latched again. It hurt SO badly, which is a sign of a bad latch. I couldn't for the life of me get Neriah to take more than the nipple... OUCH. We called the doula, who came to help. We still couldn't get her latched. I started expressing colostrum and the doula showed me how to feed Neriah with a spoon.

That night was the worst. I was expressing SO hard, I majorly damaged/bruised my breast tissue. I was desperate to feed my baby! Neriah screamed all night, until finally at 2:30am, we called the on-call midwife who told us it would be fine to get some formula and cup feed it. I was so upset! The last thing I had wanted was to feed my baby formula.

The next day our doula came back with a friend who donated some breast milk to us. What a blessing to be able to feed Neriah breast milk instead of formula!! Apparently, Neriah had a small mouth, and couldn't fit enough of my breast into her mouth. We started to feed her with a syringe. I couldn't do it. Neriah would get frantic and move so much, I would bash her gums with the syringe. It made me sick to my stomach. I was also so devastated that I couldn't feed my baby that I cried all the time. The first week or two of Neriah's life was me crying and regretting having her. My poor husband had to do all the feedings, and I was so upset that I couldn't feed her, that I couldn't even be in the room while he did it. I was so mad at Neriah, and I felt jealous that my husband loved her so much, whereas I didn't feel like I did.

I started pumping right away, and my milk came in on day three I think. I was lucky to produce a lot, and had enough to feed Neriah all breastmilk. No more formula!!

After a couple of days, we got a tube thing that attached to the syringe so we could tape it to our finger and finger feed her. That was SO much easier because there was no way to injure Neriah's poor mouth. We began to get into a rhythm with finger feeding, and I started to feel better. I offered my breast at least once a day, which always ended in both Neriah and me bawling out of frustration, and me passing her to my husband to feed. It was horrible.

We finger fed Neriah for three weeks. She got so much air and would cry out of pain because of the gas. The syringe was a 20cc syringe, and Neriah sometimes ate close to 200cc's. Feeding her sometimes took close to three hours because we constantly had to burp her, refill the syringe, and warm the breastmilk. It was so tiring. By the time we were done with a feed, it was almost time to feed her again.

Everyone kept telling us that she would eventually get it. All I wanted to do was give up and giver her a bottle with formula. I hated pumping every two-four hours. Sometimes I would miss a pump, and I was so scared my supply would dry up. At the same time, I almost wanted it to so I could just give up. Neriah had successfully latched on a couple of times, which kept me from giving up. I knew she COULD get it.

Another thing that kept me from giving up was the midwives. I couldn't face going to an appointment and telling them I was bottle feeding formula. I had it in my mind that I would give up after my last, 6 week appointment.

The midwives referred me to the breastfeeding clinic in our city. We went in to show the doctor what Neriah would do at the breast. She would latch on, suck for a bit, pull off. Repeat until she was screaming in frustration. Well, at the clinic, Neriah latched on right away!! I was SO mad! She had done this previously at the midwife's office too. Luckily, she didn't stay on long, and the resident got to see a little of what she usually did. The doctor came in and told me to use the nipple shield. I had tried this before, and it hurt SO badly. I did not want to use it. They tried to get Neriah to latch on the shield so that it wouldn't hurt, but it still did. They still wanted me to use it and they made me an appointment to go back in a week. They also gave us permission to use bottles. What a blessing to not have to finger feed anymore!! Though it took some time for Neriah to figure out how to use a bottle, it was still easier than finger feeding. Unfortunately, the doctor there made me feel like a failure and looked at us like we were crazy that we had finger fed for so long. We were just trying to do what was best, which our midwives, doula, and people from Le Leche League had told us would give Neriah the best change to eventually get on the breast.

Neriah didn't latch on once after the clinic appointment. When we went back to the clinic, again, Neriah latched on right away and had a full feed on both breasts. The doctor acted like it was my fault for not trying hard enough. Was she aware of all I had been through?! That we were so determined to breastfeed that we finger fed for three weeks?! Both appointments made me feel dumb, and really weren't that helpful.

However, after that second appointment, when Neriah was four weeks old, she finally started to get the hang of breastfeeding!! We were still using the nipple shield, but that was okay. I was so excited and proud of my little baby!

I weaned Neriah off the nipple shield the next day because I knew it could mess with my supply among other problems. I am SO glad I didn't give up!! It was still hard for a long time, but Neriah stopped taking a bottle as soon as she took the breast, and we haven't looked back. When she was four months, I finally felt that I enjoyed breastfeeding, and it had finally become the 'bonding' experience everyone says it is!

Nikki, 25
Neriah, Almost 7 months