Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Personal Journey through Breastfeeding, Part 2

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all!  Now back to my story... (and in case you missed the first part, here's the link.)

You'd think there'd be no issues the second time around because I knew what I was doing, but my baby #2 needed to learn how to latch too.  In came the sugar water.  I'm telling you, it's nearly a miracle cure in those first days. 

My milk came in when she was four days old, the same day we decided to go home to see my grandfather before he passed away.  That was physically and emotionally painful, but very much worth the effort.  I was able to tell my grandfather goodbye in person. 

Once my milk came in, I faced hyperlactation.  Most every time I went to nurse my daughter, I sprayed her in the face, and she'd choke and gag.  I learned to lay flat on my back, allowing her to nurse from above, before going to a regular nursing position.  It enabled "Bug" to control the milk flow.  It took a couple of months to get my supply adjusted.  The problem with hyperlactation is that there's an imbalance of foremilk and hindmilk (the fattier portion).

Well worth all the work, we were also very mutally happy with breastfeeding.  Again, I was pregnant before weaning my second daughter.  I nursed for another five months before weaning her at twelve months.  This was a more sad occasion for me because once I began the weaning process, Bug just up and decided she wouldn't nurse anymore once I had her down to just one feeding a day.  This was unlike my first, who allowed us to have a picture of the final feeding.  I can't even remember the final feeding with my second because she decided she didn't need it if I was only going to offer it once a day.

With my third child, something was up from the very beginning.  She wouldn't latch well at the hospital, but I didn't stress because I knew it takes time.  She seemed to prefer to lay on one side of her body, but I didn't know that meant anything in particular. 

We were in the midst of packing to move when I brought her home from the hospital.  My husband and I struggled at every feeding.  Little Minute was such a wonderful baby, but she cried at every feeding.  I took her to a lactation consultant pretty quickly, as there wasn't one at the hospital where she was born.  I was so angry because the LC immediately put a bottle in her mouth!  I had been working too hard for that!  She gave me a nipple shield, which seemed to help for a couple of weeks.

Once we moved (my daughter was three weeks old), things were getting pretty hard.  My daughter cried a good bit, but seemed pretty satisfied during meal times.  I took her to a lactation consultant because she still wouldn't latch without the nipple shield.  This LC weighed her, and my heart sunk to see that she weighed what she did at birth.  The nipple shield doesn't allow enough stimulation of the nipple, so my milk supply was diminishing, and my baby wasn't thriving.  It took a couple of visits, but the LC was able to determine that Little Minute had a slight case of torticolis, meaning one side of her neck had underdeveloped muscles.  She couldn't pull the nipple enough to draw milk, and it also took her a very long time to take a bottle.  I was able to take her to a physical therapist just once to learn the exercises she needed to correct her condition, but I always had to supplement this daughter with formula.  My heart broke, but I was glad to live in a world where I could care for my daughter.  If this had been a few hundred years ago, I imagine she could've died.

Oddly enough, even though this child had to be supplemented, my menstrual cycle didn't return until after she was weaned completely, so I actually made it an entire year without getting pregnant again!

Baby #4 is my only boy thus far, and he is also the only one who seemed to be born to nurse!  There was never a need for sugar water because he always latched correctly from the beginning!  I had prayed for this after my Little Minute had such difficulty.  All during my pregnancy, I prayed God would make my boy a good eater, and He answered above and beyond what I ever expected.  Had my son been my first child, I would've thought breastfeeding is so easy and not been able to understand why women give up before their babies have time to learn what they're doing.

That's not to say there weren't issues.  I experienced thrush for the first time with my boy.  Thrush is a very painful yeast infection that affects the nipples and usually, the inside of a baby's mouth.  It's a pain to treat, but I can laugh about it a little now.  Here's a pic of my purple-faced baby while we dealt with it. 

Just as it was with all my babies, the hurdles were worth jumping as we nursed our way to a year.

I love breastfeeding, and I encourage it for the health of mom and baby.  Breastmilk is exactly what God designed for human baby consumption.  It is living with active cultures that contain healing properties.  I've put it on cuts rather than putting on topical ointments.  With my three children that were exclusively nursed, I've always lost more weight than I've put on during pregnancy because of the 500 calories a day that can be burnt through nursing.  My breast cancer risk is greatly reduced.  My children are bright and appropriately attached to me.  I'm thankful God gave this gift of bonding between mother and child.

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