Jul 152011
 

Today is the final post in my Nursing Stories Series, for now. The first two posts were about why I don’t like Lactation Consultants and some tips and tricks for nursing with large breasts. You might also be interested in my thoughts on Nursing In Public and tutorial How to Make Your Own Nursing Bra.

NOTE
Please know that I’m not bashing Lactation Consultants as a whole, I think it’s a wonderful profession and doesn’t have the regard or the influence that it should have. However, I am talking about my experiences which were less than stellar. I think if there were more demand for LC services then by sheer experience the LCs I have come in contact with would have been better equipped to handle my particular problems. I hope that my negative experiences will not steer women away from using an LC, but encourage them to ask for second opinions and keep looking for answers until a problem is dealt with. I also hope that if I have problems with future children that I will not allow these experiences to keep me from asking for help.

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I was a bit naive when Jaron was born. I thought that after the tongue-tie issues with Aedyn, followed by a smooth and near perfect nursing relationship, my second breastfeeding experience would be a breeze. Boy was I wrong!

We got off on the wrong foot to begin with. After an unplanned C-section, an over-crowded L&D/Nursery, and nurses who wouldn’t release him to come back when they weren’t so overrun, I didn’t even get to hold Jaron until he was around 2 hours old and 100% zonked out. From the first session he would eat pretty quickly and then sleep…a lot. His latch was perfect, but he was nothing like the Dyson imitator that Aedyn was. I fed him as often as he would nurse while we were in the hospital. It seemed odd to me that he didn’t want to nurse to much, but when he was hungry he latched well and ate well.

My milk fully came in on the day I was discharged. Mild engorgement, nothing like I had with my first, but I’d expected that part to be easier. Jaron started being really gassy after eating, he was a pretty good burper, but for about 15 minutes after he finished nursing he’d fuss and make noises.

He was gaining weight and having the right number of wet/dirty diapers. So I wasn’t too worried, but his poop was definitely interesting. And on the couple times I changed his diaper mid-office session, it was really weird, frothy to be exact.

He also started to hurt my feelings. He wouldn’t comfort nurse and he’d sleep 6 hours at night. He wasn’t a newborn. He was a 6 month old in all of his patterns. Something didn’t feel right but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

I worried about him getting enough milk, he could never even finish one breast. I always felt full and uncomfortable. He never drained me. Finally I pumped just to get everything emptied out. It was then I started wondering about over-supply. I started researching.

Over-supply and foremilk/hindmilk imbalance often go hand in hand with over-active letdown. I didn’t have any letdown issues, so I kept looking. Finally, between reading all the info I could find on all three conditions and referring to similar troubleshooting parts of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, I realized that I was definitely dealing with over-supply and resulting imbalance. In a nutshell, just having large breasts dosn’t mean you make more milk than the smaller chested mom next door, larger breasts give you the potential, for storing more milk. Like pumped milk fat rises and settles against the walls of the ducts/glands.

When baby first starts nursing he gets the foremilk, the milk that the fat had risen out of. This milk is lower in fat and higher in lactose. Normally, letdown occurs and as the gland and ducts contract the fat is released into the milk and baby gets everything he needs and his tummy likes it. In cases of imbalance, so much milk is stored that the baby gets full before letdown, or before he can get to the fatty hindmilk. It means excess lactose in his system without the fat to break it down giving him frothy stools, gas, and tummy pain.

In some babies, it cause high/fast weight gain because they wan to nurse more often due to needing more calories. In other cases, like Jaron’s it caused low to no weight gain because they only nurse when they have no other option and eat as little as possible because it upsets their system.

Solution 1: Was only nurse on one breast a feeding. Well, I had always done that, moving on…

Solution 2: Nurse on the same breast for 2 – 3 feeding in a row (block nursing). Only pump on the other side to relieve pressure, but don’t empty breast. I saw some results on the first day, but it wan’t a complete cure. So…
Solution 3: Nurse on the same breast for an entire day and night. Pump only enough to relieve. This is walking the line with mastitis, but I really had no choice and it worked!
I was still pumping off quite a bit and because we don’t have a milk bank here I was just dumping it down the drain. Yep. I said that. And I did it. I don’t have freezer storage space. I offered it to women I knew in our church who had babies of a similar age, but in the beginning no one needed/wanted it. I didn’t know about Eats on Feets or Human Milk 4 Human Babies at the time. It made me sick to my stomach, but I didn’t know what else to do with all the milk.

I finally figured things out a couple days before Jaron’s 3 month well-baby visit. (Oh, by the way, he also developed thrush while all this was going on) Our Pediatrician mention the slow gain, but when I told him what I had figured out and what I was doing, he said that that was probably it and he wasn’t worried now that I had found what worked. (Thank goodness for pro-breastfeeding pedi’s!) As long as Jaron was happy, developing, showing that he was appropriately hydrated (diaper news) then there was nothing to worry about.

I called the LC at my OB’s office, to tell her what I was doing and see if she had any advice for me. Big mistake. Again. She didn’t listen to me and spent 15 minutes telling me to do things that I had just told her I had already done. Then finally told me to start full hormone birth control pills or take decongestants. I’m sorry, but have you ever seen me on Sudafed? Childcare would not be happening, even on OTC meds and I really didn’t want to deal with BC side effects, I’ve never been on a full pill before, don’t really want to experiment right now, thanks. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but she had the same condescending, self-important attitude that my previous LCs had, so add that experience to the others and you can see why I’m not all that impressed with LCs.

I went to my local La Leche League meeting. That wasn’t very helpful either. I appreciated the support, but the only help I got was being pointed to the same sections of Womanly Art of Breastfeeding that I already had memorized.

So, I kept doing what I was doing, still dumping milk for another couple of months. Then a close friend with a baby slightly older than Jaron got pregnant again. Her supply dropped and she took me up on my offer, then another friend also needed milk. At my peak I was nursing Jaron and pumping 18oz a day to supplement 2 other munchkins. It felt as if my body had a purpose for producing so much, and it was a nice feeling.Now we’re 8.5 months out. I’ve had a ton of issues with my pump, pretty sure the flanges aren’t big enough, but I didn’t realize the pump was the problem until I had to stop pumping. My supply started to drop for no reason I could think off about 3 weeks ago, or at least the amount I could pump dropped, and at the same time Jaron hit a growth spurt. Then I got thrush. Now I make enough milk for Jaron, but not really any extra.

I think I’d like to start pumping again, but now that all the pain has cleared up I’m not sure that I want to invite it back. I’ve also been thinking about becoming an LC. Maybe my experiences will help me reach the women that no one else has an answer for. It’s as difficult as anything to meet the criteria, but if I really got involved with LLL and became a leader there it would be doable in a few years…I’m still processing that one, so we will see…

And that’s it. For closure, the thrush has cleared up and other than Jaron trying to do headstands while he eats we’re doing great! Almost 9 months down and at least 9 more to go!
What are your thoughts on LC’s and becoming one? Have you ever considered milk-sharing?

Share your thoughts and come join me on Google+, Facebook, and/or Twitter!

Jul 142011
 

This is the second post in my Nursing Stories Series. The first part talked about Why I don’t like Lactation Consultants; you might also be interested in my thoughts on Nursing In Public and a tutorial How to Make Your Own Nursing Bra.

NOTE: Please know that I’m not bashing Lactation Consultants as a whole, I think it’s a wonderful profession and doesn’t have the regard or the influence that it should have. However, I am talking about my experiences which were less than stellar. I think if there were more demand for LC services then by sheer experience the LCs I have come in contact with would have been better equipped to handle my particular problems. I hope that my negative experiences will not steer women away from using an LC, but encourage them to ask for second opinions and keep looking for answers until a problem is dealt with. I also hope that if I have problems with future children that I will not allow these experiences to keep me from asking for help.

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Since I wrote yesterday’s post I’ve been trying to find the website that helped me so much. I can’t. Other than remembering vaguely that it had a lavender background, I have no idea what the URL is or what search terms I used to find it. So if you know of a good site for info and tips for nursing with large breasts please comment with the link or email me!
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Leg Supported Cradle

For this hold, use your forearm to support baby’s head, and support his body weight with your thighs.

Your opposite hand is free to support your breast or do other things.

As baby gets bigger (Jaron is 8.5 months in the pic) I find that it’s most comfortable for both of us to let his rear sit between my legs, so one thigh supports his back and the other his legs.

This is one of my favorites, I usually have the laptop next to me and can work one handed. Or cuddle a toddler.

Reclining
This is the lying down position but on an incline. I really dislike lying flat or lying on the couch to nurse because it’s hard to see Aedyn running around from that position.

So I make myself a nest of pillows and then lie on my side at about a 45 degree angle, Jaron lies next to me on his side supported along the same 45 degree incline.

Cross-legged
For this one, sit criss-cross applesauce, or Indian style (depending on what part of the country you’re from) with baby’s head on your knee or lower thigh.

If you need to you can add a pillow under that knee to raise baby’s head. I just sit up straight and I’m good to go. This leaves both of my hands free to fold laundry, read a book, write a blog…

Opposite breast while lying down

Simply move your body a bit away from baby and rotate towards the baby until your opposite breast is level with baby’s mouth.

I usually end up almost on my stomach, which is nice because I’m a stomach sleeper anyway. This is great when there’s a toddler up against your back and switching sides will wake the whole family!

Car Seat Nursing
This serves great on road-trips, I got it pretty well perfected when Aedyn was about 8 weeks old and I didn’t want to have to stop for an hour every 2 hours on a 20 hour drive.

Baby is strapped into a rear-facing seat, I loosen my seat belt just enough to lean forward and let him latch.

It’s not exactly comfortable, but can save a ton of time. It saved us 5 hours on that one trip!

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You will eventually create positions that work for you and your baby, but sometimes it’s just nice to have somewhere to start from. You’ll also find that as your baby grows, favorite positions will become awkward and things that didn’t work before are wonderful when they can hold their own weight or sit up alone. Nursing is a journey and unfortunately you can’t hit cruise control for very long; so just do what you need to do and don’t try to make your unique baby fit into a text book mold!

Tomorrow, I’m going to be talking about making too much milk, and how/why that meant slow weight gain for Jaron, where we are now, and what I’m thinking about doing next!

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Do you have any holds that you invented? Or any tips to share? Many on the holds I mentioned aren’t limited to large breasted moms, have any not-so-large moms tried them? What did you think?

Share your thoughts and come join me on Google+, Facebook, and/or Twitter!

 

Jul 132011
 

I’ve had this post sitting in draft since February 21st. I’ve come back to it multiple times, but this is the first where I’m not in tears or angry about how things are going. Now I’m talking about the issue instead of just incoherently venting about the frustration. Please know that I’m not bashing Lactation Consultants as a whole, I think it’s a wonderful profession and doesn’t have the regard or the influence that it should have. However, I am talking about my experiences; which were less than stellar. I think if there were more demand for LC services then, by sheer experience, the LCs I have come in contact with would have been better equipped to handle my particular problems. I hope that my negative experiences will not steer women away from using an LC, but encourage them to ask for second opinions and keep looking for answers until a problem is dealt with. I also hope that if I have problems with future children that I will not allow these experiences to keep me from asking for help.

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First nursing

My experience with Lactation Consultants (LCs) has not been a good. I’ve seen or talked to 3 different women and none of them were able to help in any way, any of the time. One of them even honestly told me that I was so well informed that I could probably do her job. I’ve visited my local La Leche League meeting and at my first meeting was answering more questions more thoroughly than the leaders. I’ve researched a lot I’ve read books, googled my mind out, watched videos. But either I’m weird or women with similar problems are keeping their mouth shut. Or like me, told that what they’re experiencing was part of the process. Or unlike me, giving up breastfeeding.

When Aedyn was born we made our first attempt less than 20 minutes after he appeared. I didn’t wait for help, I wanted to try it myself without interference from someone telling me how it “should” be done. The first try he didn’t have his mouth open very far, so, like I’d read, I pulled back before he could latch and tried again. The second time it was perfect, except I didn’t realize that newborns were directly related to Dyson vacuums. The nurses in the room were shocked and told me that they’d never seen a newborn latch so well, so quickly.

I had asked for a visit by an LC once I was settled, but she didn’t come until the next day, other than fussing at me for trying to nurse during the night without turning the light on (which she only knew because we’d missed the nipple and the mini Dyson had left a huge hickey on me) she didn’t have any tips and then tried to pile pillows around me that made me sit in uncomfortable positions and made it hard for Aedyn to get comfortable and stay latched. It was painfully obvious that she’d never had experience with someone who was a cup size L-M (yup, that’s me) and didn’t realize that I need different positions than “normal”. So after she left I just felt like it was a waste of time.

The next day her supervisor came in. This lady called Aedyn and I her best students. Umm, really? Because I’ve never seen you before, your associate didn’t help and just tried to make things difficult. I did my own research and learning, latched my baby on without help and was successfully nursing him without instruction or helpful input from anyone. Ok, lady, yeah, your best students, right. But I did ask her for help, I wanted to know if there were any positions for large breasted women that I could try, especially since I had had an urgent c-section and really couldn’t nursing side-lying because I couldn’t roll over or get up from that position without some intense abdominal pain. Nope. Nothing that I didn’t already know.  So my second question, I’m feeling a lot of pain when he nurses today, throughout the entire feeding. She checked his latch, he was fine, so I must just have sensitive nipples and need to just “get used to it”.

Thanks to Google I found positions that worked great for me and even more that made my life considerably easier.

Nursed out at 4 months

But the pain, the pain didn’t get any better. I didn’t “get used to it”. I called back and was told if his latch was fine and he was gaining weight/having appropriate diapers then it was just me being too sensitive. (Just a note: I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, I managed to recover from a c-section on nothing more than Motrin and even with the Motrin I was in tears every time Aedyn nursed until he was over 3 months old.) I would pump bottles for him when things got too bad just so I’d get a break for a feeding. He was gaining great and diapers were never a problem. I honestly answered other mom’s and our pediatrician’s questions when I was asked how it was going, but I guess they didn’t really understand how excruciating the pain really was. After about 3 months the pain faded and then finally disappeared. Aedyn and I went on to have a wonderful and very successful breastfeeding relationship until he was 13 months old, when I got pregnant with his brother and he weaned. I probably could have encouraged him to nurse longer, but it made me irritable and fidgety and my nipples were really tender again; all of which was normal and I kind of expected. So while weaning saddened me some, overall I was ok with it, and seemed to be too.

I didn’t find out until Aedyn was 2 what was causing that pain we had at the beginning, it was in a small paragraph in the troubleshooting section of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. He was tongue-tied. We knew that of course, and had chosen not to do anything at birth because it was a mild case, he was eating and gaining fine. We didn’t see the point of a procedure that he wasn’t really medically necessary until it became a problem. We decided that we would have the tie clipped if it seemed like it was ever interfering with his speech. Which it isn’t. What it did do was cause his tongue to not stick out quite as far as it should and rub against my nipple every time he sucked.

No one with medical/lactation training either knew or thought to mention this possibility, even though everyone knew he was tongue-tied. I didn’t know how to communicate the extent of the pain I had and when I mentioned it I felt like I was being whiny and a baby about it from everyone’s responses.

If I weren’t stubborn to a fault, and even more if we’d been able to afford formula, I don’t know if I would have kept nursing after the first four weeks. But we didn’t have the money. Breastfeeding was not an option for me, it was a necessity; so I made it work and I’m so glad I did! After that first 3 months, it was worth every minute!

Stick around for the next couple of blogs in this series about positions that I found that worked and then the new and different types of issues that Jaron and I had, why I still don’t like LCs, and how we’re doing now!

Share your thoughts and comments and then come join me on Google+, Facebook, and/or Twitter so you don’t miss any of the posts in this series!

Also check out my thoughts on Nursing In Public and How to Make Your Own Nursing Bra.

 

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