Monday, 5 January 2015

My Breastfeeding experience 8-12 weeks- #3 Feeding, bleeding and one handed reading - Positive Steps and Tongue Tie revision

I write this one handed, with a baby on one breast, and a loaned electric pump re creating the sound of a noisy printer on the other. I have been loaned an electric pump from the hospital, to try and get my supply in my sore side up. At first I definitely rebelled the idea, as I felt like a cow being milked; completely unnatural, filling me with dread. However after slowly easing myself into it; I think it is working. I am still only getting an ounce a side, but I am pleased enough with that. 

Another positive is the Tongue Tie revision. I was extremely apprehensive about the procedure, but it was very quick, the frenulum was cut with scissors, not the laser, but he was actually more upset that the lady had taken him away from me, than at the actual procedure itself. A bit of gauze to stop the bleeding later, and he was fine and feeding on the boob. I can't say it was instantly different, as there was so much bruising, any attachment was going to be sore, but since then it has certainly been better. 

The biggest change is that feeds have gone from being 45 mins to an hour on either side, to merely 20 mins a side, and he managed to put on 12 ounces in just over a fortnight at his last weigh in! That really was music to my ears!

If all that positivity wasn't enough, his 'wind' and tummy pain seems to have dramatically reduced, since the revision, but also since changing my diet. I am a vegetarian, and I eat a LOT of vegetables and hot sauce. In fact I eat hot sauce on everything, I carry it in my bag for restaurants and even have it instead of butter on toast....but I won't be for a while now. I have been researching the affects of food consumption and how, or if it travels into the breast milk, no one seems to be certain, but cutting out the majority of the vegetables and spicy foods seems to have helped dramatically. I tested it and had cabbage one day, and he was bad again. So bread, potatoes and pasta it is... my baby weight won't be going anywhere quickly!

My local breastfeeding group has been a nice support recently, and although I was very defensive of the idea, it's nice to share my experiences with like-minded people, as non of my friends breastfeed.

 I have now reached my 3 month feeding marker today! I made it, but  I am not giving up now. I wan't to sit back and enjoy it, as hopefully we are on the right track! We still have the occasional tempered headbutting of the armpit, and face planting into the breast... but I think i'd miss that if he got too proficient!

Friday, 2 January 2015

My Breastfeeding experience weeks 5-8 - #2 Feeding, bleeding and one handed reading - Struggling on

I'm beginning to think this breast feeding business is a bit hit and miss, with a lot of dependant factors. There are so many things to consider: firstly there are the basics - being your breast shape, nipple size and then breast size, nipple shape. After that there are tongue ties and lip ties, of which my boy has both. Then there are the implications of the bad latching, causing cracked nipples, open wounds, engorgement, mastitis, bleeding, thrush, blocked ducts, other infections plus supply issues etc.

So in these few weeks 5 - 8. Ting has had Thrush of the mouth - little white lumps on the inside of his mouth, and therefore we are both being treated with creams. Apart from the obvious visual nipple trauma and bleeding, after feeding I have severe stabbing pains in my breasts, apparently caused by the infection... it's not getting easier. 

I had said from the beginning I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for 3 months, and it's horrible because I find myself wishing the weeks away, as I feel I will be less disappointed in myself if I make it. I can't help feeling cheated though. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I enjoy it; but I want it to always be a bonding experience like no other. Providing nourishment and comfort for my baby, soaking up the released oxytocin, feeling warm and fuzzy, in your special nest, with the perfect being I created and grew.

As I said in my last breastfeeding post; I have been engorged,  and had significant tissue trauma and bleeding, now were fighting thrush and suffering with blocked ducts. Its painful, but mainly annoying as its like having a blocked shower head, meaning he is not getting his milk as quickly as he could. If you mess with the nipple and squeeze a bit, there are little tubes of milk that come out, but I am usually to sore to try and clear it. For him it must be like sucking a pea through a straw!

He is really suffering with wind, and I don't know why. It could be the tongue tie affecting his latch, my diet maybe, or just colic, but he gets so uncomfortable its heartbreaking. It also makes him clamp down hard on my areola. Fun!

Due to me being so sore on one side (my left side has been much better throughout) I have tried pumping, but I can't say I've been particularly successful with that either. I've gone through 2 Tommy Tippee hand pumps which were useless, and then settled on an Avent manual pump, which is great, but I only manage to extract an ounce at any one sitting, I get a little bit extra hand expressing. I need to keep my supply going, but it really is a full time job. I've also started taking a Fenugreek supplement, after doing some research. Its quite expensive at  £10 for a tub of capsules from Holland and Barret's, but if it works, it will be well worth it (it does make you smell a bit like maple syrup though.)

I've realised feeding your baby really does take over your life, but that's what I signed up to; this little persons needs have to come first, forever. Yet that hasn't stopped me feeling awkward a few days in, with a house full of visitors... Lucky my closest family don't judge me for walking around topless!

Sometimes I feel like were trying so hard, yet we're just not as perfect at this as I'd like, and for his sake I should just combine feed, yet then something happens to make me stick to my guns. I am hoping to just let things flow and hopefully they will progress naturally, as having what feels like the breastfeeding enforcement SWAT team at my door or on the phone all the time... gets overwhelming to say the least. I know they are only trying to help, yet when you are hormonal, passionate and emotional, it just feels like they are criticizing and interfering, when you really are doing the best you can. 

We have an appointment with a feeding specialist, and an appointment to have his tongue tie revised, in the next week or so ... so wish us luck! 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

My Breastfeeding experience weeks 1-4 - #1 Feeding, bleeding and one handed reading - The introduction


Grab your water and snacks and sit comfortably... you never know how long it will take!

There I was heavily pregnant, envisaging my soon to be future, and no doubt about it, I was going to exclusively breastfeed. The midwife would plonk a lovely pink screaming baby onto my chest, and he would snuggle close into me, and latch onto my breast, skin to skin, in a perfect and harmonious moment, completely as nature intended.

Unfortunately, my birthing experience was much more traumatic, and breastfeeding well that came free with it's own selection of traumas too...

I'll give you a bit of background...
In brief my planned water birth did not go to plan, I was going to have music (every track pre arranged) candles flickering and aromatherapy oils massaged lovingly into my back. It would be uncomfortable, and dare I say painful, but with a clear yet focused mind I would breathe calmly and with a strong enough push the baby would pop out.
How wrong I was.

10 days past my due date, measuring large with back to back positioning, I went into labour enduring contractions 2 minutes apart, from the start. I was suffering from an infection the hospital diagnosed quickly and was informed my waters had likely broken days before. Long story short and some gas and air later, I was speedily induced. There was plenty of pushing, forceps, an episiotomy, emergency buzzers, a trip to theatre, bags of blood and a stay in high dependency; but we got there in the end.

Rousing to some kind of drugged normality, I had not yet held my beautiful 10lb 5 baby to my chest, and for a few days was too poorly to feed him. So this feeding business hadn't really started on the right foot.

A few days in to my hospital stay, I managed to feed him (of a fashion) yet he was very unsettled. Every time he was attached, he would fall asleep within minutes. Whether that was the antibiotics he was on, or just the comfort and tiredness after such a stressful entry into the big wide world. He struggled to latch from the very start. I had put it down to him being 'confused' as he was used to being fed donor milk from a cup; yet he also had a Tongue Tie.

I left the hospital engorged and throbbing, so on my first night home, I sat with warm flannels on my breasts, just letting the milk run out. This definitely helped, and I continued to feed him; acquiring more nipple trauma by the day.

On my first home appointment with the midwife, she weighed him and he had lost 9% percent of his body weight. I was assured this was normal, especially with such a big baby, and to keep feeding him on demand. For the first 4 weeks he was feeding almost constantly, with only an hour at times between a 2 hour feed and I had been in agony.

I've been very lucky to have such support from my family; cooking me nutritious meals, and cutting them up for me; so I could manage to eat one handed. This is one of the reasons I have been compelled to persevere, I have a great support network, I am not working, I don't have other children, and have nowhere more important to be; I feel I have no excuse to give up, as Breastfeeding is something that is really important to me. However what  I can say, is that I now understand why people give up 3 days in, 3 weeks in, and more..

Apart from support, It takes a certain level of what only can be described as damn right stubbornness. sheer determination and tenacity, plus the ability to shut your eyes, curl your toes and rock forward and backwards through the pain...

Breastfeeding is what is best, no question, and it is meant to be second nature, a pain free experience, completely natural and I know some people are experts; fine artists, skilled traders; making enough milk to provide for their baby, your baby and the neighbour's baby; but unfortunately that's not me...yet any