Part One: I wrote this shortly before his 1st birthday
Our Nursing Story (written May 2007)
The first time I nursed G was about 20 minutes after he was born. There were some complications so I didn’t get to nurse right away like I wanted to. I remember that he nursed on the right side first, and for about 20 minutes. The lactation consultant who helped me latch him on to my right side left and my Doula stayed and kept a watchful eye as I offered the left side. He nursed about 10 minutes on that side and then promptly passed out.
Exactly what happened after this is a little fuzzy to me, I do remember that in the first 24 hours he didn’t nurse a lot. I was surprised at how little he nursed, maybe 4 or 5 times in the 24 hours. He also took a fancy to my right breast and refused the left for almost a day. I just kept trying. I offered the left first, I let him nurse on the right and then offered the left, I tried different positions, and every thing I could think of. About the time I started to worry about it affecting my supply and worrying about him not nursing much, he started nursing up a storm.
The second day, he FINALLY took the left breast at about 8pm and nursed (both sides) until about 8am the next day. I did get about 5 minutes of sleep here and there! I didn’t have any pain the first few days of nursing.
I had a botched half epi [wet tap] and I didn’t have much of a spinal headache till we got home. It was unbearable to sit up at any angle. I was forced to nurse laying down, this combined with the fact that I was suffering from a constant headache, reeked havoc on our latch and resulted in cracked and bleeding nipples. I knew that it was from a bad latch, my head hurt worse than my nipples and as long as my baby was nursing I didn’t care.
G was slightly jaundiced and we had an appointment to see our ped 24 hours after we were discharged from the hospital. I was very out of it, but gathered that G had lost more than 10% of his weight. He was a pretty big baby (9lbs 7oz) so she said to come back at the end of the week to just make sure he was gaining. His jaundice had gotten much better and there was little trace of it.
From there we went straight over to the ER to get me in and have the “repeat epidural” done to correct the leaking hole in my spine. We tried to contact our midwife but since I was admitted immediately my records didn’t get over before I talked to the attending doctor. This is where things got interesting. I had talked previously to the anesthesiologist about doing this procedure, and decided at the time that I didn’t want it done because I wasn’t having severe complications. Now I was, I couldn’t function and I was miserable. [I hadn't shed a tear in labor or delivery and now I was bawling] The attending doctor outlined what I could have done, and mentioned that if I had the “reverse” epi done that I “could not” breastfeed and would have to pump and dump for an unspecified amount of time. I freaked out. No one had mentioned to me before that I would have to stop nursing, my milk had not come in yet, and I knew this was a critical point in our breastfeeding relationship. I stressed to him that I would not stop nursing and that I wanted to know what all of my options were. The reverse epi was the only procedure to correct the mistake, and it ran with the same complications that the initial one did (which of course I was currently experiencing). He could also drug me up (for the pain I was in) and wait it out (NO NO NO) or I could wait for it to end sans drugs and there was no time line – could be hours, days or weeks.
Had I been in my right mind here, this wouldn’t have been as big a deal. I could have thought to ask more specific questions and get some answers. I had probably 4 hours of sleep in several days, just given birth, and had a mind altering headache.
So I told him to give us some time to make our decision. I was seriously considering how long I could take the pain, could I go on like this for weeks? I had my husband go outside and call our Doula about breastfeeding before and after the procedure. That phone call alone was worth all the money in the world. She said that she had known no adverse effects to feeding before and after the procedure and to ask to speak directly to the anesthesiologist who would be performing it.
So that’s what we did. When the anesthesiologist came in he said that I would only be unable to breastfeed during the 10-minute procedure itself, duh, because you can’t move. That after it was done I would be able to nurse immediately. If I did take a mild sedative (which he recommended and I took him up on) that I should wait a few minutes until it wore off to nurse.
So I had it done, felt almost immediate relief and nursed G soon after, we then got the heck outta dodge.
I was then able to sit up and look down; with the spinal headache this was nearly impossible because of blinding pain. I corrected his latch and after about a week, my nipples healed and there was no more pain.
My milk came in on day 4 and 2 days after that we had a weight check with our ped because of him losing more that 10% of his birth weight. On the Tuesday of that week he had weighted in at 8lbs 3 oz - and 5 days later he weighted 10lb 1 oz. Our ped did a bit of a double take as she looked at his chart, he had been weighed by the same person, on the same scale, in the same state of nakedness - so he really did gain almost 2 lbs back in 5 days.
After all of this we snuggled in at home and kept nursing, I had to go back to work part time at 3 months, so we waited until about 6 weeks to introduce a bottle. I didn’t have any trouble pumping 3-4 oz in one setting and he didn’t have any trouble sucking down the bottle either. We did go through several nipple types before we hit on one that he seemed to prefer. We did also use a pacifier when I went back to work; he never used it for anything other than going to sleep and weaned himself at about 7 months.
I have never had any big issues pumping, I went though a bought of not pumping enough. My 70oz strong freezer stash held me over, and when I was down to only 3oz in the freezer I suddenly started pumping enough, and since then I've had enough to put a little back everyday I pump.
Recently at 10 months I started noticing teeth marks at the base of my nipple, and it being a little bit more uncomfortable to nurse. His top 4 teeth are coming in and I think that maybe latch is getting a little sloppy. I mentioned this at the last LLL meeting and one of the leaders took a look at him and he has a top frenulum that goes all the way down in-between his two front teeth. I had never noticed this before; of course he's not much for letting me examine his mouth either.
So this is where we are right now, my goal was always to make it to a year and then see where we were. I think we are just going to play it by ear from here, neither of us are thinking about the “W” word yet.
My mom told me when I was pregnant that there was nothing else in the world like nursing your child, and she was right.