Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Agony and Bliss

Let me just start by saying I think this blog is brilliant. I truly hope that every woman who finds it shares it with someone because breastfeeding might just be one of the hardest things a woman will ever do.

At 37 weeks of my first pregnancy, my water broke. We rushed to the hospital and I was immediately put on antibiotics (I was group B strep positive) and pitocin to induce labor. Just 8 hours later, I was holding my beautiful baby boy. There were no complications and he latched on like a pro. The nurses were amazed that everything came so naturally for my son and me and that nursing was so easy.

Within a week, I had to bite my lip to keep from screaming in pain every time he latched on. His latch was proper, and he was staying latched right throughout the nursing session, but my nipples were cracked, bleeding and pain was shooting through my breasts during and after every feeding. After doing hours of research online, I went to a lactation consultant who suggested either prescription medication or gentian violet for thrush.

Thrush is a yeast infection. Some of the symptoms are pain in the nipples, cracked or bleeding nipples, burning during or after nursing in the breasts, and shooting pain during and after nursing. The symptoms may be cyclical with periods of no pain (for me it was a week on and a week off of pain). If you have any of these symptoms, please for your own sake look into thrush! Especially if you were put on antibiotics during labor, which throw off your body’s natural balance of good and bad bacteria and allows yeast to grow, look into the possibility of thrush.

Being poor college students at the time, I decided to try gentian violet. If you haven’t ever used it, try not to…it’s a mess. You have to rub it on your breasts and throughout the baby’s mouth after every feeding, and it stains anything it touches. I still have a purple towel from this experience. After over a week there was no improvement.

My sister in law knew my pain and suggested going to the doctor, who gave my nystatin cream. This did not work either. Nor did the oral medication. Nor did the natural treatments found online. Finally, I called the doctor in tears after another painful nursing session and the nurse suggested Newman’s Ointment. Because my pain was cyclical, giving me periods of respite from my pain, I kept thinking it was done, so I would press on. After literally months of struggling with thrush and the associated pain, I found relief…Newman’s Ointment did the trick.

The joy I was finally able to feel in nursing my child was amazing! I went on to nurse for a year before I chose to wean him. Was it worth all the pain? Yes, in the end, for me the benefits of breastfeeding far outweighed the negative aspects. Is it the same for other mothers, no. Breastfeeding is a very personal choice!

Know your options…know your possibilities. If nothing else, ask other mothers. Ask if they have had this problem. Nursing is still such a controversial issue that it’s not really talked about unless someone brings it up. You have to ask to learn! If you have struggled with nursing, there is no need to be ashamed! Help other mothers get through their pain and struggles by sharing your story!

If you would like to read more of my story, please join me over at What I Live For!

I love your blog! Thank you so much for providing a place to spread the word about breastfeeding. No one tells you how hard it might be. No one tells you of the pain, the insecurity, the embarrassment! Thank you for telling others!

Judy, 24, K 3 and C 18 months.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why Breastfeeding was the Best Choice for Us

Today I realized that we may be closer to the end of breastfeeding then I thought. While I have a million reasons to be sad about that, I am only feeling happiness. My son is 15.5 months old now, and considering our beginning to breastfeeding, I am thrilled to have made it this long. If you haven’t already done so, please check out my story about beginning breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding wasn’t easy for me, and I realize there are many situations when breastfeeding isn’t possible. Whatever your choice for not doing it, I would never judge you. My theory on parenting choices is two fold – Your baby, your body, your choice. And Happy Momma = Happy Baby. Please know this is not a post about formula vs. breastfeeding. This post is about me, and my baby and our choice to breastfeed. For me, Breastfeeding was the route I wanted to go, and best for both Squish and Me.

There are many benefits of breastfeeding. Here are the ones that have made breastfeeding such an amazing experience for us.

  1. The bonding time was/is indescribable. The first time he smiled at me while nursing, or the way he would touch my face, play with my hair, or simply just stare at me. The softness of his skin and hair that I got to stroke as he ate in the wee hours of the morning. Those are moments I would not trade for anything in the world.
  2. I suffered from Migraines prior to getting pregnant. Once I got pregnant my migraines all but disappeared. I feared after I had Squish they would return, but they didn’t (well I have had 3-4 since getting pregnant, but not nearly as severe or often as they used to be.) When I asked my OB about it, she told me it was the chemicals released during pregnancy and by breastfeeding those chemicals continued to keep my migraines at bay.
  3. While I didn’t lose my baby weight right away, I did lose all of it in a decent amount of time, with not dieting. I did start to change my eating habits after I had lost the baby weight, but the initial lose I attribute to breastfeeding.
  4. I love the convenience of breastfeeding. Once I got comfortable with it, and figured out what worked for us, I never looked back. Not to mention the money saved.
  5. For me, breastfeeding didn’t keep illness at bay. Squish was sick plenty. But we never did have any ear infection issues, and when he was sick I knew that I could always turn to breastfeeding as a source of comfort.
  6. Finally, (well there are many more things I loved about breastfeeding, and things that made it clear it was the best choice for us) but I loved that for 7 months my Squishy thrived on only my breast milk. He was constantly at the top of the growth charts. There was a real sense of accomplishment knowing I was able to satisfy my son’s nutritional needs.

While I don’t think breastfeeding for us will end tomorrow, or next week, I can tell that the end is close. Squish is down to 2 nursing sessions a day. One in the am, and one before bed, and honestly he could easily drop the bedtime nursing. I am so glad I stuck it out, and pushed through the hard times in the beginning. The moments I nursed my son are moments that will be with me forever.

the Baby Store PLUS September Breastfeeding Celebration

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You can also find me on my family blog at Family and Life in Las Vegas.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My “Baby Nurse” Story

“Baby Need Nurse” - one of the most common phrases heard throughout our house. Maggie, 3, and Emma, 2, are some of the biggest fans of nursing I know. Every time Baby Zylie (Zion), 5 months, cries or even whines or whimpers, they come to tell me that “baby need nurse”. Here’s my tale of breastfeeding continually for 4 years.

I married my husband, Jeremy, while I was 24 and he was 29. We were blessed to get pregnant either on our honeymoon or a few short days afterward. I never gave much thought to how I would feed the baby. I just took it for granted that I would breastfeed since it was what my mom had done and it was healthy and cheap. (We do like cheap around here.) Come delivery day, Oct 1, 2006, everything went well, not as natural as I had hoped but good nonetheless. Maggie nursed well from day one and never had any problems. When my milk came in I was slightly engorged but that subsided and other than a few leaking problems there was never any problem with breastfeeding. She nursed every 2 to 2 1/2 hours (including nights) almost until she was 12 months old. *Sigh* That’s a lot of nursing.

We found out that we were pregnant with blessing #2 when Maggie was 13 months old. I had had one cycle prior to pregnancy and yes were trying and had been since Maggie was a few months old. We want LOTS of children. I decided not to wean since she was still nursing so often. I was blessed to never have any breast pain or discomfort. I never noticed a change in milk, supply or type, throughout the entire pregnancy. Maggie never nursed any different. We did night wean her during the pregnancy so I could get some much needed rest. With baby #2 we decided to have a homebirth. For several reasons but one being that I had never been away from Maggie and she was still nursing and I could go on and on with others reasons.

Emma was born June 28, 2008 at home in a kiddie pool with no power during an electric storm in the “veil” with a head full of red hair. It was truly amazing. Total testimony to the way God intended birth to be. She nursed to sleep shortly after delivery and then Maggie came and snuggled in the bed with us and nursed to sleep as well. It was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life. She weighed 8 pounds and 8 ounces and was 22 inches long. One of the best things about nursing a toddler after having just given birth is that there is never (or at least not for me) a time of engorgement. It was wonderful. We never skipped a beat. Emma gained weight just fine throughout our time of tandem nursing. Maggie self weaned when Emma was 3 months which means Maggie would have been right at 2. There were never any complications while nursing Emma.

We found out we were pregnant with blessing #3 when Emma was 13 months old (sound familiar) and like before I had had one cycle and yes we were desperately trying to get pregnant. Just like before I never noticed a change nor did Emma have any reactions. This time we were planning a home-birth but I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 30 weeks so we decided to use a midwife at a local doctor’s office who does hospital births. She was great just for the record. The plan was to just have the baby in the hospital and then come home within 24 hours. Yeah, so much for plans. My water broke at 37 weeks 2 days and I didn’t go into labor. Long story short I had to be induced (nasty nasty business, this induction stuff) Baby Zion was born weighing 7 pounds 6 ounces 21 inches long (I think) and had poor muscle tone and very immature lungs and was rushed off to the NICU where he spent the first 11 days of his life. Horrible horrible horrible. We were not able to touch him the first day and not able to hold him until he was 4 days old. I was not able to nurse him until he was 9 days old. I pumped and I pumped until the hospital frig and freezer were full and they ask me to start taking the new milk home. : ) My 21 month old made a PERFECT breast pump for the extra milk. Once I was able to nurse he did just beautiful except for when his oxygen saturation levels would plummet while he was gorging himself on milk.

Finally when little man was 11 days old we were able to bring him home. He was back up to his birth weight on the day of our departure from the NICU and quickly started gaining.....and gaining. For a period of a couple of months, he gained a POUND A WEEK. Eck. Pure breastmilk, nursing about every 2 hours. When he was about 3 months old (which is when Emma self weaned, right before her 2nd birthday) I started trying to stretch his feedings out to about every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. With this guy, I have had all kinds of pain, lumps, blisters. He’s been such a challenge even during pregnancy. Thankfully he is very laid back on this side of the womb and such a smiling happy baby.

Right now he is 5 months and weighs a whopping 21 pounds and 3 ounces. He is strictly breastfed but don’t think that there aren’t days that I battle with supplementing. He’s my first baby that will take a pacifier (thank you NICU) and he will also take a bottle (with breast milk). I must admit that it is a challenge to carry around a large baby since I myself am small boned and not very muscular.

I have loved nursing my three children. I loved nursing throughout both pregnancies. I have loved nursing two bundles at a time but should the Lord bless us with another pregnancy I do not plan to nurse throughout this pregnancy. I would like a break and I would like to wear a dress (not a skirt and top) without first thinking “how am I going to nurse in that dress”. But who knows the Lord just might change my mind. There is nothing quite like looking down into that little face (or in this case big face) while they nurse and play with your hair, knowing that you are giving that baby the very best that you have to offer.

Should you desire to see this sweet and LARGE baby boy that I speak, or the red head born in the water, or the big sister to the circus, you are welcome to come and visit us at our family blog, Ponder The Path.

~ Emily, 28, mommy to Maggie, 3 (almost 4), Emma, 2, and Zion ,5 months, and Lord willing many more to come