Monday, November 8, 2010

Got Milk?

Officially started my milk stash and am super proud of the over 2 oz sitting in my freezer!  My goal is to continue to exclusively breastfeed once returning to work.  This means I will be pumping to build up a supply for daycare.  The hope is that the freezer stash is for emergencies and that each day at work I will be able to pump enough for the next day.....really wishing we got 1 year maternity leave like some other countries.  We are not very supportive of nursing here, and so many women quit because of all the barriers.  Breastfeeding is so simply, but not easy!

Not only is maintaining a supply after returning to work difficult or at least a pain in the a**, but the beginning can be tremendously hard.  Breast pain, engorgement, late supply, low supply, no supply, over supply, foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, baby food allergies or sensitivities, baby wont/can't latch, infections (mastitis, thrush), injuries (cracks, blisters), nursing in public criticism, criticism in general, nursing wear issues....the list goes on.

I was lucky, L latched on right away.  We did skin to skin shortly after his birth, and he found the nipple and knew what to do.  But thats where my luck ended.  I have sensitive skin, L has a strong suck (probably most babies do, but I have justify the pain with his being extraordinarily strong), and my nipples were mangled by the time we left the hospital (despite a good latch).  Because of my birth (traumatic and a topic for another time), my milk took about 5 days to come in (usually it's 2-3 days).  Poor L was getting dehydrated on just the colostrum and lost more then the usual amount of weight.  The pediatrician recommend 1 oz of formula after breastfeeding till my milk came in, his words, "we don't want him to dry out too much".  Fortunately I only had to do it for one day (wish I had just waited), my milk came in the next day.  

So my milk was in, things started to improve pain wise, then thrush came.  I had a feeling we would deal with this since I had a lot of the "rick factors" (traumatic birth, nipple injuries, antibiotics (during birth and after), anemia after the birth, taking allergy meds).  To try to prevent this I took probiotics, but it didn't work.  Thrush is pure EVIL, it's not dangerous necessarily, and doesn't bother L.  It does however cause breastfeeding to be excruciating for me.  To make matters worse, it can be very difficult to get rid of, and yes of course ours is difficult to get rid of.  We tried the natural methods, and even some Rx, to no avail.  It's taking a combination of strong Rx and natural stuff to get rid of it....and we are still battling it today, though it's better because of all this info.  I keep saying to D, "having a newborn/breastfeeding/sleep deprivation wouldn't be so hard if it wasn't for this thrush!".  Being in pain almost constantly, and dreading feeding my precious little boy is not fun.  And I have gotten quite a few comments like "just use formula, stop breastfeeding, take a break for a few days".  I am absolutely determined to continue to exclusively breastfeed, and I don't see pain that will get better as a reason to stop.  The best advice that has kept me going, don't quit on a bad day.

L also has a sensitive stomach and we realized that cutting out dairy from my diet helps a lot.  Some babies have a milk protein sensitivity.  This means that when a breast feeding mom eats dairy, the type of protein that gets passed through the breast milk bothers the baby, symptoms can be mild to severe.  L's symptoms were not severe, he was gaining weight nicely, no blood in his poop, no rashes.....but they were bothersome.  We saw improvement pretty quickly once I cut out dairy. 

Now avoiding dairy is much more difficult then one would initially think.  I've come to the conclusion that processed foods are disgusting (but I still indulge in some chex mix and fast food).  Basically there's way too much crap in them that you don't need to make the product. Going dairy free means I can't eat breads/buns/fries/veggies, and so many other things that you wouldn't believe at restaurants/delis/stores.  Why there is milk/whey/butter, etc in all these products doesn't make sense to me, and luckily there are brands that use the simplest recipes.  And I'm still on the look out for a probiotic (for help with the thrush) that wont contain any milk proteins.  It has been nice because we cook a lot more at home, but it is another hassle/barrier in the world of breastfeeding.  

With all the stressors, I still can say I love breastfeeding.  It's a wonderful bonding experience with my son, I love knowing I am giving him the best nutrition/antibodies, I love that 90% of the time nursing solves all of L's fussing, and helps him fall asleep.  

Some resources that I have found invaluable:

Kelly Mom - THE place for breastfeeding info on the web
Dr. Jack Newman's Handouts - Breastfeeding specialist
Dr. Jay Gordon's site - Pediatrician 

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