Archive | July, 2013

My Breastfeeding Adventures: Nursing E in The Early Days

29 Jul

Cristin and E

Cristin and E

Breastfeeding was the least of my concerns while I was pregnant with E. I had already done it for 15 months with my first, we battled food sensitivity, flat nipples and nursed half way through my pregnancy. Should be no problem the second time I thought. Well, I was wrong. It took many attempts to get the first latch. When she did finally latch it hurt. Breastfeeding should not hurt, I remembered. I told my doula and my midwife as they were trying to help me, “She’s not latched right. It hurts. It’s not supposed to hurt.” I always had an initial pain when my first baby latched, but then all was well. This was worse at the beginning, but hurt all the time. I took her off then tried and tried again until she was finally back on. It was better this time, but still hurt. I wanted my baby to get what she needed, so I stuck it out. Our second night home it took 3 hours of trying to get her latched before I rummaged through the old baby things to find a nipple shield. It worked, thank goodness!

Over the next 3 weeks E grew thinner and thinner. E’s weight was now 8 ounces less than her birth weight, at 3 weeks old. I was in so much pain sometimes I wanted to cry. I relied on the nipple shield at night especially. There were times where I thought I couldn’t take the pain. I went to a LLL meeting, our second. We learned how to use the sandwich technique and got E’s weight to go back up again. Finally a week later, at 1 month old, she was back to her birth weight.

I started APNO and went to the ENT at the suggestion of BABE. The ENT found a lip tie and a tongue tie. He clipped both. For the first time ever, I had a pain free latch!

I stayed on the APNO for quite some time, had mastitis once, thrush once. After each remedy I felt, better, but not completely. I was sure my midwives thought I was nuts or something, but I knew something was wrong so I persisted. I always had redness, swelling, vasospasms and pain following the vasospasms for 4 mos. I contacted BABE again to pick their brains. I tried another treatment for thrush with no success, but something they said got me thinking. I wondered if it was a food sensitivity on my part. I quit drinking almond milk and within 2 days I felt much better. After about a week I tried some and the pain was back. Since then I have not had any almond milk and very little pain after 4 ½ months of constant pain. E still needs assistance with her latch, but her weight is near the top of the charts again.

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Megan and Charlotte

22 Jul
Megan and Charlotte

Megan and Charlotte

Let me start by saying that breastfeeding is hard. Really hard. But is also insanely rewarding. And it absolutely got me through the first three months that were filled with sleepless nights, colicky cries, self doubt and depression. That connection to my little one was like a life raft in a very stormy sea.

Breastfeeding is a commitment; it’s a lifestyle really. It doesn’t come easy. It comes with practice, which is a good thing since we get to do it 10 to 12 times a day in the beginning, or in my case every 45 minutes to 1 hour or so. Honestly I had to stop clock watching. You see Charlotte was a colicky (reflux?) baby who needed to nurse constantly. And she was dairy intolerant. And she was tongue and lip tied. And then we got thrush. And had a bout of mastitis. It seemed we had every roadblock in front of us to overcome in order to successfully nurse. Not to mention I struggled with a less than ideal birth that left me feeling inadequate, as well as having none of my family nearby to offer support, and post partum depression.

As a first time mom I could have easily given up. And I wanted to, many times. But I was committed. Fully. I knew that if I could just keep going, I could at least control my ability to give Charlotte the best nutritional start in life. So I enlisted the help of our wonderful LC with the BABEs for support and I just.kept.going. And let me reassure you it DOES get easier. It won’t happen over night. But one day you’ll be sitting there, enjoying the way your little babe curls into you, and you feel the warmth of your letdown, you hear that blissful sound of your small one taking in deep gulps of your milk, and you’ll know it was all worth it in the end. You see, your hard work pays off in ounces and pounds as you weigh your babe. You see them grow strong and healthy. It fills me with pride to see those things in Charlotte. We are now 6 months into nursing. She’s growing day by day. And our emotional bond is amazing. There really is nothing greater.

A Personal Story: Tongue-Tied and Breastfeeding

2 Jul
BenjaminNursing Joy

Joy and Benjamin at 10 months

I recently had my third son this past summer and was looking forward to breastfeeding him just like I breastfed my other two sons. Having had wonderful breastfeeding experiences with my other two boys, I was quite surprised when I experienced pain while breastfeeding with this baby. I knew that the latch looked right from the outside, but something was not right if there was pain. Jane Bradshaw, my wonderful International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and friend, always told everyone that breastfeeding should never hurt, so I started investigating other possibilities. I noticed that my baby seemed to eat all the time with hardly a break. I would sit for two hours at a time on the couch with a baby that seemed to eat and eat and eat and not feel satisfied. He would sleep a bit and then wake up hungry again. He was getting milk, but it seemed to take him so long to get it. That in combination with the pain was wearing down this mommy quick. So I made an appointment with Jane to do a weight check and a breastfeeding snapshot to see exactly how much milk he was getting in a feeding and also have her look at his latch to make sure I was not missing any problem areas.

The first thing Jane checked was his tongue. She noticed that he did not stick his tongue out of his mouth and it did not rise very high when he cried. These were two very good signs of the possibility of a tongue-tie in combination with the breast pain and long feedings. Sometimes you can see the frenulum visually, but in my son’s case he had a very deep rooted tongue-tie that was not easily seen until the Ear Nose and Throat Specialist found it underneath the web-like tissue. Even my son’s doctor did not see the tongue-tie because it was one that was not commonly seen with an initial look in the mouth. Thankfully he was getting enough milk to gain weight, but I had to work harder with pumping and compressions to get all the milk to him in a feeding (not to mention the pain I was feeling!). Jane suggested a visit to the Ear Nose and Throat Specialist in Lynchburg, VA, Dr. Andrea Kittrell. I made an appointment and had the procedure done that day.

No one likes to see their baby in pain and worries about having any kind of procedure done that would cause it. My son cried a little when he came back to the room from the procedure, but the pain afterwards was very minimal. He breastfed immediately and I felt a difference right away! No pain from nursing at all, right there at the doctor’s office. Jane gave me some post-procedure exercises to do with him to help him learn to use his tongue better, and he was soon sticking out his tongue with gusto and enjoying the new-found freedom to move his tongue. Feedings improved dramatically and there was NO pain.

Jane told me that tongue-ties are very common, and most are undiagnosed because moms give up breastfeeding because of the pain. Many people live with the pain of breastfeeding and just assume that it is normal and something to have to struggle through in order to give your baby the best food, breastmilk. I think of many friends and family members who pushed through with breastfeeding and eventually gave up around six months because it hurt too much or the baby was not gaining enough weight because they thought they didn’t have enough milk. I agree with Jane, it’s not supposed to hurt! I wish they would have gone to an IBCLC and got a solution to ease their pain so that they could enjoy the incredible bonding experience of breastfeeding their baby for as long as possible, not to mention the tremendous benefits of breastmilk for their baby. If you have pain from breastfeeding, make an appointment with Jane Bradshaw or another IBCLC in your area today to find relief.

Ben and Mom Joy-001Thank you to our guest blogger, Joy Rhodes.

Virtual assistant to Jane and Mom of three boys.