Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nursing Story with Little Man

I was asked by a friend of mine to type out my nursing story with Little Man. We had many struggles in the early weeks and she is a lactation counselor and thinks my story can help encourage others. I am going to share it with you also, in case anyone needs encouragement!


When I found out I was expecting in February of 2007 I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I started to collect books and information on nursing. My sister had just had her third child and she passed all her books onto me. She also gave me a “show and tell” on the basics of nursing. It looked easy!

Over the course of my pregnancy I read the books and thought “this will be so easy”. I took the hospital breastfeeding class in September. “It’s natural, and if it hurts, you are doing it wrong”. The lactation consultant made it sound like we were going to have no problems at all. “Piece of cake”, I thought.

My son was born on October 10th. Even though I knew it was best to put the baby to your breast immediately, I was so worn out from the long labor and delivery that it was about an hour after he was born when I first got to try to nurse him. I tried for a few minutes, but every time my son latched on, he fell asleep. The hospital nurses were pushing to bathe him because he was getting a temperature, so they took him away.

Once we were moved from the labor and delivery room, into the recovery room, they brought my son back to me. My midwife came to check on us, and saw me trying to nurse. She looked at my nipples, and said “they are erectile tissue, rub them and they will stick out”. Little did I know, that was not true in my case. My nipples were not sticking out! The midwife left abruptly after giving me that one piece of advice. I was left alone with my son. I kept trying to nurse him, and he just kept sleeping.

The next morning the hospital lactation consultant came by to see me. She worked with my son and I trying to get him to nurse. He would latch on, and then promptly fall asleep. She tried all of her tricks to wake him up. Rubbing his head, cheeks, tickling his toes, getting him naked, but he just wanted to sleep. She said he was probably just tired from birth and to let him sleep it off, that he would nurse when he got hungry.

I tried all day to get him to nurse. He would always latch on with a perfect latch, but would fall asleep as soon as he latched. I finally decided at about 3 am that this was not working and pushed the “nurse call” button on the hospital bed. The nurse that came in was a God send! She watched me try to nurse my son. She saw that he was latching on, but falling off, or falling asleep shortly after latching. She left the room saying she would be back in a minute.

A few minutes later she came walking into my room with a bag of stuff! She brought me a hand pump to try to pump a little, nipple shells to wear to pull my nipples out when he was not nursing, a syringe to try to feed him from, lanolin and some sugar water to try to get him to suck once he was latched on. She worked with me for hours! We kept trying. He would latch, and we used the syringe to give him a few drops of sugar water to try to get him to suck. This worked, and for a minute or two he would nurse! Then he would drift off to sleep. I thought we had it down!

We were released from the hospital three days after my son was born. He had jaundice but the pediatrician said that it is common, and to not really worry about it. He would test his levels again the next morning, and just to feed him when he is hungry. Well, the next day his levels were thru the roof, and the pediatrician then told us to feed our son every 2 hours. I told him we were having problems nursing, and he said to pump or use formula. I did not want to use formula, so I went to the store and bought a breast pump. His jaundice levels were so high that his pediatrician wanted to put him in the hospital but he ordered the biliblanket for home care instead. My son had to stay on the biliblanket 23 out of 24 hours a day.

I stopped trying to get the nursing to work, and focused on just feeding my son. For four days I pumped every meal for my son. We had nurses coming to our house every morning to test his jaundice levels, and by the fourth day they were finally low enough that we no longer needed the biliblanket.

After the jaundice was under control, I started trying to nurse him again. He was still so very sleepy that he would fall asleep every time I put him on my breast. I kept trying with the sugar water drops and even started to put a few drops of milk into his mouth with the syringe to see if he would suck. It was not working! I was getting so frustrated and upset that he did not want to nurse. I felt alone, and felt like a failure that I could not even feed my child in the way I wanted to! I went to the store and bought a can of formula. When I got home, I made him a bottle and cried when I was feeding it to him. I knew this was not what I wanted to do, but I did not know what to do to fix our nursing relationship.

I talked to my husband, and he reminded me about the lactation consultants that the hospital had. He suggested that I call them, so I called them when my son was about two weeks old. I was determined to make nursing work, and I was tired of pumping! We met at her office. She took one look at my nipples and saw the problem. I had severely inverted nipples. I remembered hearing something about that at the breastfeeding class I took before my son was born, but I was too embarrassed then to ask about it. She gave me some nipple shields and he latched on and actually started to nurse! She did a weight check before and after he ate, and he had ate an ounce in 40 minutes of nursing. I was so happy that he actually nursed!! When I got home, I threw out that can of formula!

During the next week I mainly only pumped. I would try a few times a day to get my son to nurse with the shields. When either he or I got frustrated I would just give him a bottle of pumped milk.

A week later we went back to the lactation consultant for a follow up. She did another weight check, and he was the same weight that he was 8 days prior. He gained no weight in 8 days! She told me to try nursing him every 2 hours, and to pump when I was done nursing him. I was overwhelmed and overtired. I wanted so badly to be able to nurse my baby, but did not expect all the problems.

During all of this, I was having pain. Pain when pumping and when nursing. The pumping pain we figured out was because I have large nipples, so I ordered larger flanges for the pump. That helped with the pain. Looking back, I think a lot of the pain was my nipples being pulled out.

When my son was 5 weeks old, we went back to the lactation consultant for another weight check. I was excited because we had been trying to nurse at every feeding, but also still bottle feeding the pumped milk. I knew he had gained weight. I was crushed when she told me he had only gained one ounce in 6 days.

We took my son to the pediatrician for his lack of weight gain. He had also started spitting up massive amounts of milk after every feeding. Just before he was 6 weeks old he had an upper GI test done. He was diagnosed with moderately-severe reflux. He had gained 3 ounces in the course of the last week, which was good for him. We started him on medicine for the reflux and also tried to keep him upright after every feeding to reduce the reflux.

At this point, I decided I would quit nursing at 6 weeks if my son was still not nursing from me. I needed something for my sanity, a breaking point. When my son was 6 weeks old I told my husband that I was going to quit nursing tomorrow, and tomorrow would come, and I would tell him the same thing that day. I just could not bring myself to give up! I knew we could make this work! I was just taking it a day at a time, nursing day to day.

I saw the lactation consultant again around 7 weeks. She was asking how I was feeling emotion wise. She knew before she asked that I was not good. I was SO determined to breastfeed, and was having all these problems. I felt like a failure that I could not just latch my son on, and have him thrive with nursing from the breast only. I hated having to pump after every feeding! This was leading to postpartum depression. She sent me to my doctor, who talked to me. She told me what I was feeling was totally normal, but that I needed something to help get my emotions back on track. I agreed, and she wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant.

After that I decided to throw out the shields and make this work! My left nipple was finally no longer inverted and he would nurse on that side. Things slowly started getting better. My son was getting the hang of nursing, and I was feeling better.

At 10 weeks old, I was still pumping, but only for the night time feedings. We did some traveling for Christmas at this time. While out of town, I decided to give up the pumping, and get him to only nurse. Once back in town, I stepped away from the pump and my son did so well. I think the pump was my crutch. I wanted to make sure he was eating enough, and that is why I still wanted to pump, because I could see how much he was eating.

At 11 weeks, we were finally pump free, pain free and nursing full time! I felt on top of the world. I loved the feeling that I was providing everything that my son needed and we were bonding so well. We had everything under control! He was gaining weight and thriving and I was feeling better!

He was exclusively breastfed until we started solids at 6 months, and nursed until he was 14 months. Thru all the struggles, I am very proud to say that I stuck it out. I had it in my mind that there was no other option than breastfeeding. I am very stubborn in nature, and this worked to my favor when going thru this. I also had an amazing support system in the lactation consultant. She was always there for me when I needed her. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Don't be like me and be embarrassed to ask about things. I know now that there are things you can do to pull out inverted nipples before the baby is born. The lactation consultant that I saw was free thru the hospital but I would have paid any amount to get my son to nurse! Make sure your partner is supportive of you nursing. At any point, if my husband would have said to give up, I would have. He was always by my side supporting me.

I got pregnant shortly after my son weaned and was so excited to have another nursling coming. I knew that the problems I had with my first were not going to happen with my second, since I no longer had the inverted nipples. My second son was born quickly at home, and latched right on shortly after birth. We did have a few bumps in the first few weeks, but he is now 3 months old and an awesome nurser.



SouthernMama said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing. I have so much respect for women like you who stick with BFing despite great difficulty!

Ktietje85 said...

Thanks for participating in the breastfeeding stories carnival! It's great to hear how much you were willing to go through to make your nursing relationship work!