Saturday, December 1, 2012

Adventures in nursing

A blog written in hindsight, about my misadventures nursing my first two children.

With Kawika, had I known about the 3-week-old growth spurt, cluster feeding, and the cycle of milk production, I'd have been fine. We had to use a shield because he had trouble latching onto my flat nipples, but I didn't mind and he didn't mind. We were nursing comfortably up until that point where he started cluster feeding. And I panicked, thinking my supply had dried up or he wasn't getting enough, and I started supplementing with formula. After that, my supply really did tank, and then I went back to work and dried up instantly. He did just find on Enfamil. I mourned that loss, more so after doing extensive research on nursing and newborns and realizing what had happened.

Liloa was different in that every nurse and LC we saw (5 total) in those early days agreed that he had a great latch. Our technique was perfect, good job! And we didn't need a shield, even with my flat nipples. But it hurt like... FIRE. Needles. Nails. Cheese grater. And after less than a week, my nipples were so cracked they bled. I had canyons across both nipples stretching onto my areolas. I bled during nursing, and cried, and bled when I pumped, and cried, and all the lanolin, gel pads, ice packs, heat packs, and shields did NOTHING to help. It got to the point where when he'd start showing hunger signs, I'd cry, just THINKING about the impending pain. So I stopped nursing, and gave him a bottle. The Similac was hard on his stomach; he got very gassy and constipated and I felt terrible, knowing I had what he needed and I couldn't bring myself to give it to him because of my own pain. I intended to nurse him again, bring my supply back up, resume that relationship that I really, REALLY wanted, just as soon as those fissures healed a little. 

I tried. I didn't want to wait too long, for fear of supply issues. I took herbal lactation blend supplements, ate oatmeal, and pumped when I wasn't nursing him, to try to maintain some milk. And it still hurt. So. Bad. But as soon as I'd healed a little, we tried nursing again, with a shield this time, and I was back to the unbearable pain. So we took another break, a little longer. During this break, we switched him to Similac Sensitive, and he was a much happier baby, and by the time those huge, deep cracks had healed and I'd gotten over enough fear to try again, Liloa wasn't really interested in nursing anymore. He got what he needed faster and with less effort from the bottle. Thus ended my attempt at nursing my second child. 

In hindsight, I think his latch was good - to start. But then he'd slip down. I don't know if he'd get lazy, or shift around during feeding, but his latch would change to a bad one and I didn't notice. I didn't take him of and relatch him, because I was just so grateful that he was eating at all. And it's so hard to see those things in the middle of that postpartum haze where everything seems blown out of proportion. I was hurting from a third degree perineal tear and episiotomy, and it hurt to sit. Kawika was only 18 months old and needed more of my time and attention than I could give him. Chris had to go back to work, and my mom was... busy? I needed so much more help in that time than I got. 

Maybe next time will be better.

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