Monday, September 27, 2010

Calling All Expert Breastfeeding Moms!!

Jaelyn will be 2 weeks old on Tuesday of this week. Making the adjustment from one kid from two kids has been quite a trip! I had several concerns about how Jackson would react to having a sibling and how he would react to ME dividing my attention between him and another child. The first jealous reaction Jackson had was actually when we were still in the hospital. However, it wasn't towards me - it was towards my husband. Paul was holding Jaelyn and immediately Jackson perked up and ran to him, "Baby Down, Daddy - Baby Down!" Thankfully that was the last we saw of that. Now, he will ask one of us to put the baby down only if he wants something that requires our assistance. Over all, he is adjusting very well. The first time he saw me nursing Jaelyn, he acted concerned. He wasn't quite sure what he was looking at and I explained that Jaelyn gets her milk from mommy, just as Jackson gets his milk from the frig :P He was a little freaked out at the breast pump - but who isn't the first time they see how that works?!? RIGHT?

Nursing has been a difficult task for Jaelyn and I. Jackson and I were slow learners as well, but I don't recall the uncomfortableness lasting this long with him. I guess I wrongly assumed that this time would be easier since I had breastfed one baby already. Sure I knew the positions and how to correctly get her to latch on - but in the end, she's still a different baby and nursing is a learned skill for some. Jaelyn nursed perfectly right after being born. But the next morning was a different story. Because of her jaundice, I attempted to fed her even during her sleepy states just to encourage more poopy/wet diapers. A few things I have learned: 1) Babies in high risk bilirubin levels are even more sleepy than normal newborn babies. 2) Trying to breastfeed a very sleepy baby will tear your nipples apart!!

Needless to say, after 4 days of my good intentions to get more colostrum/milk in her system - my poor boobs were in sad shape. I was prepared for this ahead of time and started wearing nipple shells right away to prevent friction from my bra. That did heal alot! I tried nipple shields and they weren't for me. I was advised to see a lactationist the day after we were released from the hospital. She had concluded that my nipples were so badly damaged that I could no longer tell the difference between a proper and improper latch. From what she saw, Jaelyn was latching on correctly. But I was still in so much pain, didn't help that the swelling made it nearly impossible for her to stay on the breast. The consultant told me to pump and bottlefeed for a few days to allow time for my breasts to heal. So I did that from Friday afternoon to Monday night when I felt I was healed enough to try again. During that time however, I was miserable! I absolutely hated pumping every 3 hours. I was still very swollen so I had to pump each breast one at a time because I needed to do compressions to help express the milk. Come Monday - my body was used to completely emptying my breastmilk every 3 hours. This was a problem because when I started breastfeeding her again - I would be lucky if she was drinking 25%-50% of my supply. Within 30 mins after her feedings, I was painfully full again. This is slowly getting better - but often times I still have to pump out milk either at the end of the feeding (because she didn't take enough to comfortably soften my chest,) or in the beginning of the next feeding to soften it enough to get her latched on. My breasts haven't been completely emptied since those days of pumping and bottlefeeding. So I assumed that my body would get the point by now and stop producing SO MUCH. Maybe all these issues are completely normal and you all are reading this thinking, "Yeah April - THAT's breastfeeding!!" But I just don't remember it being like this with Jackson. I don't recall it taking so long to regulate the appropriate amount of milk to produce.

Am I just extremely impatient?

Do you remember having to express after each feeding (still at 2 weeks) to make yourself comfortable?

Did you ever find yourself pumping off a little before the feedings?

After any initial nipple damage was healed and your baby was latching on appropriately, was the first few mins of nursing still extremely painful? I find that even when I'm not engorged, the first few mins of her proper latch on are painful - like "take my breath away" painful. This does subside and go away after a few mins. My nipples are NOT getting damaged, so I know her latch is correct.

Is your let down painful? I have read that some women don't even know their milk is letting down. I feel my let down all the time, it feels like my boobs are exploding from the inside out! It's even more painful when I am already really FULL -

I am on a prescription for vasospams. Know what that is? Blood constriction of the nipples - the nipples turn white and even blue when the blood can not flow back. Those symptoms of the condition isn't the problem. What's bad is the intense crushing sensation in my nipples. It feels like they are being pinched - OUCH! This comes after each feeding and after I take a shower - any time I feel cold. It's horrible! I dealt with this condition for about 5 weeks with Jackson because I didn't know it wasn't normal. This time I asked for the prescription while still in the hospital. The medicine doesn't stop the constriction or color change, but it does take the pain away... thank goodness something does. When I would breastfeed Jackson at night, I would crawl back into bed with a heating pad on my chest to keep me warm and help the pain.

I am a sad case! I am envious of mother's who are able to easily breastfeed their babies. I am jealous of those babies who just catch on so easily. I wish I was a graceful breastfeeding mom who would confidently nurse my baby whereever I wanted. I still need a third (maybe 4th) arm while I nurse.

I hate that it sounds like I am whining and complaining about these problems. Breastfeeding isn't easy for me!

I would really be encouraged if I could hear your stories. Can you share with me your troubles and how you solved them?

I need to hear that I am not the only mother who has troubles breastfeeding.



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12 comments:

Jennifer said...

Isn't it hard sometimes?!?! I had a rough time with Ian. With Eli, there were no problems...I couldn't believe how easy it was! But like I said, Ian was another story. We were great until the day we left the hospital, it was like when we got home we had never nursed before. I could hardly get him to latch on, so when he did, even if it wasn't a proper latch, I didn't stop him and I paid the price. I never got so sore that I couldn't nurse, but for about a week it was awful. I was scared to pump and feed him because I wanted to avoid nipple confusion. I finally met with the LC and stopped allowing Ian to nurse without a proper latch. I did have problems with seeming like my breasts were never empty, but the LC assured me that it may take up to a week or two for my body to regulate the amount of milk I was producing. I think it took just over a week after seeing the LC to get everything worked out. Give it time...I know that is easier said than done! Good luck! Hugs to you!

MiaS Photo said...

It definitely is not easy. After a week home from the hospital my son and I still didn't have the latch right and my son was so frustrated he just screamed non stop. So I started pumping instead and gave him the breastmilk in a bottle. It made us both a lot happier.

Brooke said...

You are not being impatient. In fact after reading this post I feel like I didnt struggle enough when I began bf my lil guy. He is 9 months old now but it seems like just last week we brought him home.

That being said I had a rediculously easy breastfeeding transition in comparison to yours. I do remember the first few minutes of nursing being pretty uncomfortable for a few weeks and then it gets better. The one thing I did that helped allot was I took black tea bags and steaped them for a few minutes. Then I put them in the fridge for a while. After they were cold I would stick those things in my bra with a disposable bra sheild and oh my did it feel good. My doula told me that there is something in the black tea that helps with the soreness other then just the cold.

All I can do is offer you support and say that you are doing so good sticking with the nursing. It will be so worth it once things get to a more "normal" state. I would keep doing what you are doing as far as pumping to get yourself comfortable and thats it. I think I remember being told it can take up to three months to actually establish a regular milk supply.

Have you contacted a La Leche League leader yet? I know they will offer advice via email or over the phone if you arent ready to go to a meeting. Good luck and let us know how things go with your little girl. I hope you are feeling like a nursing pro in no time.

Kelli said...

Just going to copy and paste this again because I think it could REALLY help you!!!

Welcome home! LOVE reading all the details of little Jaelyn and Jackson! Just wanted to let you know that a couple of my friends are LLL leaders and would be more than willing to come to your house and help you out with getting her back to the breast, it would be so much easier for you! I am part of our local La Leche League group (there is actually a meeting tomorrow morning at 10am at All Saints Church downtown Appleton!!!) and our leaders are amazing! They will even come to your house if you are not comfortable going out with the 2 of them alone yet. Please consider contacting them because I really think you could use their help and to be honest their "job" is to help with breastfeeding!!!

Alice is one of my close friends here is here email address. Alice hoffmana19 at gmail.com. She was so helpful for me after Lilly was born! If calling would be easier for you please contact me and I'll get her number to you!

There are more leaders who could help you at any time too! Sara and Maggie are both amazing moms and amazing resources about breastfeeding!

Veronica said...

Just read the previous comments and love all that Kelli said to you. I think you would really benefit from having hands on help from someone in person. I KNOW firsthand how hard establishing the initial breastfeeding relationship can be.

With my first, I had one week straight of no clue what I was doing. I cried everytime I had to feed her. Went back to the hospital to get help as I was pumping after each feeding because that's what I left the hospital doing and just never stopped. It also created an overabundant supply so I know how you feel there.

Just know...it WILL get better. Hang in there and remember that you are only two weeks in! Even in perfect circumstances, things are still tough. I remember with my second, she had a rough time too and I got so upset with myself thinking that I should know what I was doing by now, I'd already been there before.

As for the pumping at this stage, I would agree that it would be good to pump just to relieve the pressure but not so much that your taking a ton of milk out. Also, about let down, I am one of those that feels it EVERY time. It's like a blood pressure cuff around my boob and while I'm nursing from one, I'm leaking like crazy with the other.

I will pray that you'll be able to get through this and it will get easier soon. You are an awesome mom and doing a wonderful job!!!

The Tolf family said...

Breastfeeding is definitely not easy. I just want to you encourage you that you are doing so great perservering through the pain and continuing to nurse your sweet little girl. I agree with the comment above that you should contact a LLL leader in your area. They love to support moms and have a lot of great free information that could help you so much. I am a LLL leader in WA. I would just really encourage you to call someone and get that extra help. There are definitely some things that the initial pain could be from. But I really just wanted to comment that you are doing a great job and breastfeeding is hard so reaching out for support and keeping on giving your daughter the best is just so awesome. You are a great mommy!!
~Becky

Holly said...

We're about a week out and my nipples are still painful with the initial latch on. I'm hoping that it will slowly get better. Lainey has seemed to latch on well but she nurses constantly! So I'm trying to adjust to that b/c Kyndra wasn't a constant nurser.

For me, I am trying to pump when I can but it's hard since she's always nursing. I just want to build up a good supply before I go back to work. It can be a pain in the butt to pump on top of nursing. I'd say just pump enough so you don't feel so full and uncomfortable and that's it unless you're wanting to build up a supply in the freezer.

Don't you wish your body could adjust quicker with your milk levels?

Wish you had an easier time w/ BFing. Hopefully it won't take long to get past these difficult stages and you can get to the place where it is more comfortable.

I wouldn't say my let down is painful. More tingly than anything else. Sometimes I can feel it more strongly than other times and during the stronger times it can be uncomfortable.

You're not impatient, you just want to have a good experience w/ BFing. We all want that!!

Maybe you can get someone like a LC to come to your house and maybe help in some way?

roses1217 said...

April,
This all sounds so familiar. I had so much trouble nursing! I had so much milk that my son couldn't latch on until I expressed some or pumped. Even with pads in my bra I would leak through all over my clothes within 2-3 hours. He didn't take any more than my let down - and I assume that is because I had so much milk it was probably all he needed. Then, that led to engorgement and lots of pain and big, hard rocks in my breasts. I know that a large part of breastfeeding is the connection you and your baby have. But I was so lost and feeling like such a failure that I completely resented feeding time and cried through it, EVERY time. So, I began pumping. It definately is a lot of work because you have to clean all of the pumping supplies in addition to the bottles. And don't forget the extra 30 minutes of pump time before feeding. BUT, I got into a great rythym with it and actually only needed to pump 3 times a day with a hospital grade double pump. I had enough milk to feed my baby (and he ate a lot!) and I had a great stock of milk in the freezer for him. I was able to stop pumping a few months shy of a year but continue feeding him until his birthday because I had such a great supply. I also used the milk to prepare some of his homemade baby food. My husband could help me feed him with the bottles and he got what was so important to me, which was breastmilk. I didn't dread feeding him, and instead I loved it. Pumping is not for everyone and it is a lot of work. For me, it saved us and our breastmilk rather than formula relationship. Just a thought. They also have hands free hospital grade double pumps. They are expensive, but still way less than buying formula and sometimes your insurance will even pay for it.

Kelli said...

Glad you'll keep any LLL leader in mind, they are all amazing around here :)

The tutu pictures were taken in my living room by me :) but the header and the pics on the sidebar are from the Picture People! Good eye! We LOVE them there! (I used to work there before I had Landyn)

The Jeffers said...

April,

All I can say is I agree with everyone who has said it's not easy. (it seems that way weather this is your 1st or 10th time!!!) When I was pregnant with Dallas people would ask if I "planned" to breatfeed. I would say of course, why wouldn't I plan on it?? Such a silly question because I saw SO many people do it like it's nothing, I even nannied for a woman who had 4 children, the 2 I watched were twins and she would of course fed them both at the same time. So, I just had it in my head that I was going to do it and it was going to be easy. Boy, was I wrong!!! Here's my story....since I have a pretty big chest to begin with, once my breasts were filled with all that milk, they were SO heavy, I couldn't believe it. None of my clothes or bras fit, I was SO uncomfortable:( I wondered how my little man was going to drink all that milk and how I would position him to make it even possible for him to do so comfortably. Plus, it didn't help that in the hospital that stupid DVD they have you watch says 100 times, "breastfeeding should feel comfortable"...YEAH RIGHT! When you hear that (or when you remember with your first, like you, that it wasn't so bad) and it DOES feel terrible, you think you are doing something wrong. My nipples were also VERY sore, bleeding, cracked, AND I had the toe-curling pain when he would latch on at first too. After we were home for a couple days we too went back to the lactation consultant and she said he was doing it right, it was just going to be a matter of time before I got used to how it felt because it doesn't feel natual right away. Anyway, in the end I only ended up BF him for about 2.5 weeks. I felt so horrible at first, like I gave up and like I was being a bad mom. But then Michael, my mom, and even the nurses told me that I wasn't. They all said, breastfeeding just isn't for some people, just like some babies don't get it either. I also told myself that they wouldn't make formula that isn't safe and healthy for babies (let's not think about Similac right now, I thank God, have always given Dallas Up and Up..the Target brand and he has never had a problem with it) although I know it seems better to give them mother's milk and it is of course cheaper, but let's face it, sometimes things don't work out the way we want them too and sometimes they do! I know how strong you are and you will get through this tough time as you have many other tough times:) I have faith in you!! I'll be thinking of you lots and hope that things get easier and don't forget, you are going through so many changes right now, adjusting to life as a mom of two, but just be happy that you get to stay home, enjoy both of your babies, and you have the BEST job in the whole world. I wouldn't change it for anything and I know you wouldn't either!!!

Love and hugs,
Alyssa...you BF from across the creek!!!

Kate said...

I won't really be any help because Molly ate so often that I never had anything to pump! And I never felt my let down. I am praying for you and thinking about you girl!

AFD said...

All I can recommend is don't pump at the end to "empty" out completely or your body wont be able to regulate your supply correctly...your body will think that Jaelyn is drinking all of that, know what I mean? Keep it up, you're doing great, and you know it get's easier...you did it before! Love you!