When I went into Labor on 6-30-07 at 8:30am, I got a pretty good night sleep the previous night. That is to say that I sleep on the couch, in the upright position for a few hours at a time. In between the 2-4 hour bouts of rest, I was up and around the house. Usually thirsty, or having to use the bathroom. But, occasionally just wandering around the house, or reading. The last months of pregnancy were like this.
I am having a really hard time breastfeeding (and think that by pumping those few times in the beginning sabotaged myself), and have thought about giving it up completely over the last week. It is causing me serious amounts of pain and tears, and making me upset at Elliott (when I clearly know it isn’t his fault).
My problem is that I have an over-active let down. The milk flows out too fast for the baby to handle, and he has taken to clamping down on my nipples (often times not letting go even with my finger totally inserted into his mouth), fighting me when feeding, and has a serious amount of gas. The large amount of foremilk that he is forced to ingest has a lot of lactose, that his system has difficulty digesting effectively. He is spitting up often and fussing due to the substantial amount of gas and intestinal discomfort caused by the over abundance of lactose.
I feel horrible for him, and want to comfort him. But, it seems the very thing that would give him comfort (the breast) is the thing that is causing him (and me) the most grief. This hurts my heart to no end, and the guilt associated with not being able to give him what he needs is eating away at my innards.
I went to a breastfeeding support group last week. I called La Leche League twice and didn’t get a call back (and their schedule is posted on-line but with no address or email address), I called UCSD to speak with someone and didn’t get a return call. I am thinking about contacting a lactation consultant. But, at $60/hour…it seems a little pricey. But, I am desperate. I don’t want to sabotage our breastfeeding relationship.
The best website and info I found so far was below and on the WIC site. I bought some contraption to help heal my nipples. I am going to try nursing on one side for several feedings and try the modified feeding position as well. If all else fails, I am going to contact a lactation consultant. I promise not to give up at least for another couple of weeks.
Summary of Strategies to Reduce Rate of Milk Production and Force of Milk Ejection:
Nurse on one side for a each feeding, continuing to offer that same side for at least two hours until the next full feeding
Gradually increase the length of time feeding from one breast if necessary
If this strategy is not effective, try the method of thoroughly pumping breasts and then feeding on one breast until unbearably full (described in detail above)
If the other breast feels unbearably full before you are ready to nurse on it, pump or hand express for a few moments to relieve some of the pressure
Use cold raw green cabbage leaves or a bag of frozen peas to reduce discomfort and swelling
Feed baby before he becomes overly hungry to minimize aggressive sucking
Try alternate nursing positions
Mother leaning far back
Side-lying (letting milk dribble out)
Use scissors hold or the side of your hand to compress ducts to reduce the force of the milk ejection
If baby chokes or sputters, unlatch him and let the excess milk spray into a towel or cloth
Allow baby to come on and off the breast at will
Burp frequently if baby is gassy
Certain herbs and drugs, used judiciously, may be helpful in reducing milk production
1. Stretch marks hurt when they are healing
2. Nursing/Breastfeeding is not intuitive (more on this later)
3. Motherhood is awesome (and trying)
4. Babies generate a TON of laundry
5. Everyday I learn something new about parenting, about myself and about Elliott
6. When Elliott cries, the dog looks stressed out
7. Healing from a C-Section is difficult, in ways that Mom’s don’t have time to talk about
8. I always wondered why Mom’s, after they gave birth, didn’t talk about their recovery and their personal struggles. It is because they don’t have time to worry about it, and even less time to blog about it
9. Everyone thinks their opinion is right
10. One yawn means-I need a nap RIGHT NOW (or else)
Elliott and I made our first solo mission out of the house together today. We went to UCSD, and attended a Breastfeeding Support Group. It wasn’t really a support group in the classic sense, it was more like a hands on with a lactation consultant, where other Mom’s are too. There were 3 Mom’s there, including me. One was there with her husband and Mom, and 4 day old baby. The other was there with her Mom and her 9 day old babe. Elliott and I were there together. He is 3 weeks and 2 days old today. I cant believe how fast the time is going.
So, I spoke with a girlfriend, and did some searching on the WWW, and discovered what appears to be my problem. I have an Over Active Let Down… We fit all of the criteria.
So, tomorrow I am going to call UCSD and make an appointment with a lactation consultant. I may also consider attending a La Leche League meeting or a breastfeeding support group. They meet on Tuesday and Thursday in my hood. I didn’t think that breastfeeding would be so difficult…
It seems like it should be intuitive, and a natural organic process. But, there is a big learning curve that I was completely oblivious to. Which is a theme that I am encountering often these days. I discovered a little nub of info about myself lately. In the past, when it came to other people and their kids…I always turned a blind eye, and tuned all things kid and parent out.
To all my friends who I didn’t pay attention to when you were pregnant, nursing, struggling, parenting…I am sorry. This is hard work and I should have been a better friend.
Come Monday, my hubby goes back to work. And so ends his 3 weeks of paternity leave. I am not sure how I would have done it with out him. Between recovering from surgery and trying to take care of a newborn, and a household… I am lucky to have survived (insert light drama here). Or how I am going to fare when he goes back to work. Having him home is a little like having a safety net for me as a mom. I am looking forward to being on my own, and having our own routine, but I am also a wee bit nervous about being alone, and not having someone to hand off to.
Hubby and I in the course of my pregnancy, and even more so now (since Elliott’s been born) are reminded about how lucky we are. Lucky to be a married couple with a new baby, and not single. Lucky to work so well together as a team, lucky that we both welcome the changes and the challenges.
We are grateful not to be single parents. We often talk about how difficult it must be for single parents to cope, to get anything and everything done, and to be good parents on top of it. I personally can not even imagine one day as a single parent (or pregnant person).
I have a tremendous amount of respect and new found understanding for folks that go at it alone. I wonder how my Mom did it with 2 girls. She was married off and on, but spent a while being single, or in between marriages. Power to the single peeps.
I often feel bitter about the fact that women bear the brunt of the ‘burden’ of child rearing (please don’t read this as regret or anger towards my son or my decision to have children). From their conception, we as women are limited in our activities (food restrictions, medication, alcohol), our mobility (exercise, movement, sleep), our consumption, and our freedom. After the pregnancy, we are further tied to them via breastfeeding, diaper changes and the endless soothing and nurturing that is required. Later we are bound by morality and lessons, school schedules, and play dates.
In a moment of frustration and bitterness at my husbands freedom to do whatever he wanted (he spent the majority of the day on the computer working, and the evening watching baseball–although in all fairness he did take the dog to get washed), but get nothing done (I asked for a couple of simple tasks-my honey-do list was small and had carried over from several days ago). I asked him for one day to sit with me, and not move every time I had to breastfeed. I wanted him to know what it felt like to be constrained (perhaps he would be less frustrated when I asked him for something). He basically laughed in my face, and said no. Just as well. Who would get me water if he was tied to the couch too. But, then again who is going to get me water come Monday when he is back at work?
I do not want to imply that I these things aren’t done willingly or with love for my son. I just want to bring to light the great amount of sacrifice and selflessness that it takes to be a good mother. I wonder with all that we give up, why it is also accompanied by such vast amounts of guilt and grief.
Are we giving enough time to our child, did we handle that situation correctly, could I have done something different, given more, shown more patience, love, or guidance…The list is endless and the guilt never ending for some. It is a tight rope to walk, and unless we all find balance both in parenting and in our marriages, we are bound to fall.
Who gives to Mom’s? Who makes sure we are alright? Who nurtures us? Who takes care of us when we are sick, or sad, or lonely? I am working the details out now, and hopefully will be able to find my balance soon.