About a week ago my sister in law had twins. They are 2 months premature, but thankfully they are healthy and thriving. Being a natural birth advocate, there are so many things that bother me about her pregnancy and birth experience. The interventions started early and were numerous. It saddens me when I think about how her experience was lead by fear. When I think about those babies and the breast milk they may or may not get... It is almost too much sadness for me to bear.
But this sadness is not mine. It may not even be hers. Maybe she's perfectly fine with how the experience went; perfectly fine with her breastfeeding (or lack thereof, I really don't know). Given all the people in the world, there is a chance for every situation. Some people will breastfeed at any cost; for premies, for adopted babies, relactation, etc. Some birth naturally. The way to change the world is to be the change I want to see. Not mourn the decisions of other mothers.
The next time you feel bogged down by other people's choices - let it go. The only person you can control is yourself. You've chosen to breastfeed, and that's fantastic! Keep on doing what you want to do! The only people we should be concerned about are the people right in front of us. Those cute little babies, toddler, teenagers, (and eventually) adults we decided to bring into this world.
Some women experience breast pain when pregnant. During my first pregnancy my boobs wore so sore. Any pressure on them was agony and forget about direct water spray from the shower. Ouch! My second pregnancy wasn't so bad. I had breast feeding aversion but was able to nurse through it. There was some nipple pain but not enough to wean Chase. This time around, the nipple pain is so intense I am frantically looking for other reasons and possible solutions.
Thrush is the first ailment that comes to mind. Yes, my nipples are slightly pink and raw looking and yes, there are white spots on them. I started treating with apple cider vinegar rinse and anti-fungal cream. The two home remedies I have in the house. Grape seed extract is on order. Can't wait to try and see if I do have a bit of a yeast imbalance. The rinse and cream has helped so far. Also washing/drying my clothes on the hottest setting with a bit of apple cider vinegar in the wash helped.
Even after all this pain, I have nursed Desmond twice in the past week. Oh my god I cannot tell you the excruciating pain that I felt. However, the pain seemed to subside the longer he suckled. It still was about a 7/10 on the breastfeeding pain scale. But it was enough for me to remember how much I loved nursing. Looking at him suckle and snuggle against me, he looked so comforted and content. A million hugs couldn't equal what nursing is for my kiddos. I'm going to miss this so much when it is over. Thank god I'm having another baby! I get to nurse a little one all over again :)
This will be Desmond's first flight. He's scared of elevators so I can picture him having the same reaction to the plane. Hopefully, climbing around seats and the JetBlue back-of-the-seat tv's will be enough of a distraction to keep him from completely becoming terrified. Otherwise, I will have to do a bit of painful nursing to calm him. I don't use any covers, so I hope JetBlue doesn't have any snippy flight attendants that will attempt to kick us off the plane for nursing.
That would not be ideal. These last minute tickets were super expensive! Wish us good travel!
Boston, please don't dump too much snow on us. We'd like to get in AND out on schedule ;)
I asked my good friend Katie Rogers to share about her breastfeeding experience. Unlike me, she has a day job and has made it a priority to pump while working to exclusively breastfeed her 7 month old son Cooper. Let her be an inspiration to all the working breastfeeding moms out there! And now I'll let Katie share..
Breast feeding has become such a huge part of my life. I always knew I was going to boob juice my children, but never imagined how special it could be. I work full-time, so the time I get with my son is precious. He's now 7 months old, and nothing can describe the feeling I get when he's nursing and looks up at me with those big blue eyes. I did not realize the connection I would get with him. Since he's a boy, I've been all prepared to have him want daddy, since he looks up to him. I've found nothing comes close to him wanting boob. Cooper (my son) and I have a bond that no one else has with him and that to me is so special. I don't know how long ill boob juice, but I'm sure glad I went this route. I hate pumping so much! Being tied to a pump all day while trying to make meetings, classes, and get research done is next to impossible. I dream of the day I'm not tethered to a pump, but that also means I won't be boob juicing anymore and that's something I'm not looking forward to. Any mother out there who chooses not to breast feed will never know what they are missing.
It's been a few months since both Chase and Desmond have weaned. On the one hand I feel relieved. There is a great deal of pain nursing now and any time that I spend without pain is great. But I still miss it. I miss the closeness. I miss the feeling of motherhood, of nurturing, of being the absolute awesomest comfort to my nurslings.
There are ways that I've found to help satisfy the longing to nurse again. Many of these things might seem obvious but they weren't to me. It wasn't until our nursing stopped that these other ways to connect bubbled to the surface.
1) Hugs. Give them and ask for them. When your former nurslings come close, pull them in for a hug. Hug as long as they want to. Don't let go until they pull away. Close your eyes and enjoy the moment.
2) Kisses. Kiss them all over. I kiss my kiddos feet, bellies, hands, heads, you name it. My favorite time is late at night when Desmond is asleep and he's snuggles against me. I lean over and kiss his head. So precious.
Periodically I poke and prod my boobs to see how the pain is changing. A few days ago, in the shower, I checked my nipples. Lo and behold out came colostrum, aka, liquid gold! It gets its name, not only from its gold color, but its long list of benefits. When I express some colostrum now, it looks like gold thick liquid drops and more translucent thinner, but still gold tinged, drops. That day in the shower my pain level was surprisingly low. I thought it was a good day to try to nurse Desmond.
After my missing breastfeeding episode, I was way too excited to try it again. Desmond nursed three times. The first time he nursed it wasn't bad. Still painful, but manageable. I watched him roll his eyes, felt him get more and more relaxed until he fell asleep. The second time was later that day. Desmond walked up to me with a hesitant look on his face. He said "have milk" or something similar to that anyway. Usually he asks for "milk" but until that day having milk meant snuggling and squeezing my boobs and rubbing my belly. But this time I knew what he meant. He wanted to have some more liquid gold. Knowing the benefits of colostrum, I couldn't resist. Desmond would get it twice! Once when he was a tiny baby and now as a growing toddler. Chase got colostrum twice too.
I nursed Desmond again, and then again to go to sleep. The day after that he nursed twice. My pain level had increased ten fold. The last time Desmond nursed, I had to stop him. It had gotten too painful. The next morning, my nipples were bright red and super soar to the touch. Excitement got the better of me. I'm hoping regular applications of lanolin will help. It would be really great if I could regularly nurse Desmond again. Even if its only once a day.
Chase still talks about nursing. He doesn't really ask to nurse so much as he states that the milk hurts and he can't have any. The way Chase communicates, those statements are partially asking for milk. Put another way: "the milk hurts, and I can't have any. Is that still true?" Regardless of my answer, I feel if he could nurse, he probably wouldn't. I did offer to nurse the other day and he did for about 10 seconds. He still has hard times that nursing has helped get him through. When I comfort him now, I can see traces of our nursing days.
This morning, Chase was upset and banished himself to the bedroom. I sat with him and asked questions to help him work through what he was feeling. We ended up in the bed, curled up together in much the same position we were in when he nursed. His head was on my chest, my arm around him, and his arm around me. We talked and hugged and laid there until he was calm and wanted to leave the room.
I find it fascinating how nursing starts out as a physical connection. The transfer of milk to baby is the primary purpose of breastfeeding. Breast milk is the baby's food. Then breast feeding transitions to more of an emotional connection, through physical contact. Toddlers still benefit from drinking breast milk, but the primary purpose is emotional comfort. Once the child weans, the emotional comfort from curling up in past breastfeeding positions is still there. They touch your chest and feel your body and remember how comforted they felt when they were nursing. Chase may have stopped nursing, but he certainly hasn't stopped needing that breastfeeding emotional connection.
Nursing at night is a common point of contention. I've read and heard so many comments about baby sleep patterns that are completely opposite of my experience, I wondered if the commenters even had kids. What were they doing that made their experience so much different than mine? Did I figure out the magic that allows me to sleep and feel rested without night weaning?
At first I didn't trust my experience because I only had one child. That's only one data point. Kids are so different. Sleep patterns can vary wildly from one child to another. Then I had my second kiddo. And that's when I started to feel like I was some weird phenomenon. I nursed two kids, at night, on demand, and still woke up most mornings feeling rested. What was I doing so differently?
This is about nursing at night, not just sleeping right? Yes. I've realized that my attitude around their sleep habits have allowed me to nurse at night, on demand, and get the sleep I need too. Because we cosleep and I don't freak out when they wake me up at night, I can nurse and fall asleep nursing like I was never awake. I rarely wake fully. My mind and body have come to expect the night nursing sessions and have adapted such that I can be available to them in a zombie like quasi sleep state. My mind is lucid enough to get a nipple to the right place, then I'm off to sleep again the next instant.
A month or so ago the pain in my nipples was really bad. There were also white spots on them. I did some internet searching and decided I would treat for thrush.
I bought some grape seed extract from amazon. When it came I used it for one day. The typical grape seed extract remedy takes at least two days of dedicated application. We happened to be traveling so I was only able to get in a single day. It's hard to say if it worked. I was also changing my bras much more regularly and washing more thoroughly.
The pain did lessen. Desmond was able to resume nursing a couple of times a week. Was it thrush? I look back now and I'm not sure. There's also a decent amount of literature out there that says breast pain fluctuates during pregnancy. Would I have recovered had I done nothing?
A lot of times when breastfeeding "difficulties" arise, patience is the best medicine. Take a breath, think about the problem when there is no pain or frustration. It may not be a problem at all. It may be a situation that cannot be helped. Or at least not helped with anything other than time.
Breastfeeding is so important to our nurslings that we panic at the first sign of trouble. What kind of mothers would we be if we failed?! First, relax. Second, take a breath. If there really is a problem, there will be serious external signs; baby lost weight, or your nipples are clearly cracked and bleeding, or you have deep tissue pain that is unmistakable. I wasn't sure if my symptoms were thrush or not. Sure, I had pain. Sure, if I twisted this way or that in the light I could see white spots.
On our old, long since decommissioned, iPhone 3GS I found a breastfeeding log.
11/28 3:10a - 30min 4:20a - 10min 6:10a - 10min 8:50a - 40min 1p - 30min 2:30p - 30min 3:30p - 10min 5:30p - 20min 8:10p - 30min 9:30p - 10min 10p - 20min 11:40p - 10min
The log spanned the first 15 days of Chase's life. It is a simple recording of when he breastfed and for how long. The hospital nurses asked for this information each time they came to check on us. I suppose that's why we kept track. Thinking back, I remember transitioning to an app that allowed me to track these events much more easily. It also kept track of which side he nursed on.
What do you think about when you see this data? Does it look exhausting to you? Nursing round the clock, every 2 hours, sometimes for 40 minutes! Phew! When did I sleep?! When did I shower? When did I watch movies? The short answer is, I didn't. The long answer is, this data does a world of harm and no good at all.