On Breastfeeding: Paying It Forward

11 10 2011

I read a lot of blogs.  It’s kind of an addiction.  I found many of my current reads by seeing what other bloggers are reading, but I also found some while seeking out specific information, particularly when I was pregnant and after my miscarriage.  Not surprisingly, I read quite a bit from other moms, like this one.  So even before I was pregnant with Hazel, I had read about multiple breast feeding experiences.  And that helped me form a realistic expectation of breast feeding.

I don’t think that any of my blog readers need breast feeding advice or support, but I feel like maybe someday, some new mother might be searching for information on something like “why my four-week-old can’t survive twenty minutes away from my breast” and will find this post helpful or encouraging or maybe just a much-needed distraction from the cracked, bleeding nipples and screaming infant.

Breast feeding has gone smoothly for Hazel and I, although I was prepared for a poor latch, for insufficient milk, for sore nipples, for mastitis… And I might not escape mastitis, but we got off to a great start.  We hit a rough patch at 3 days, when my milk still hadn’t come in and the baby was HUNGRY, but by 4 days, I had ample milk.

Now we are at 4 weeks.  Not all has gone smoothly.

About a week and a half ago (you know, like half her life time ago), Hazel began having fussy evenings.  Okay, like, REALLY FUSSY evenings.  And she also began having periods where she would repeatedly try to nurse, but would pull off and scream (like, REALLY scream) over and over.  And over and over.  Over then next week, her fussy period extended to early evening, then late afternoon, then to essentially ALL DAY.  She was nursing more and more, as well.  Finally, last night, she spent TWO AND A HALF HOURS nursing.  And not after a long nap.  After a whole day when I couldn’t get her off my breast for more than twenty minutes.  After her nursing spree, she went into another two and half hours of screaming-trying-to-nurse-screaming-screaming-SCREAMING fit.  Well, no shit.  If ANYBODY drinks for two and half hours straight, they’re bound to end up with a hell of a belly ache.

Which is truly awful.  Having a baby in discomfort and not being able to fix it is probably the WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD.

Luckily, I had gone to the Le Leche League website and done some research during one of the baby’s twenty minute cat naps.

Diagnosis?

Classic Over Production.

AKA One of the Circles of Hell.

Here’s the thing: in the past few weeks, a couple of people mentioned to me that I seemed to only be nursing on one side.  I explained that our lactation consultants had told me to drain one side before moving to the next during a feeding, and nothing more was said.  Certainly, nobody was criticizing me or telling me to do something differently.  But it caused a crisis in my own confidence.  Maybe I was doing it wrong?  If the baby falls asleep after ten minutes and sleeps for twenty, when she wakes up, is it a new feeding?  How do I know when a breast is empty? And so on, until pretty soon, I was switching back and forth from fairly often.

Which increases milk supply.

Which does not help with overproduction.  In fact, can cause it.

And then, as she got fussier during feedings, I began to switch constantly, trying to find a breast and position that would soothe her.  EPIC BACKFIRE.

Added to that, at three weeks, Jason and I decided to introduce an occasional bottle.  Which means pumping, which can contribute to overproduction.

Luckily, there is a fix, and we are working on it; oh, yes, we are working on it.  It can take anywhere from a day to a week to (gasp in horror) twelve weeks to slow down milk production.  We are really, really hoping for a day.

Rather than summarize the facts, if you need information on overproduction, head over to Le Leche League.

But if you hang out with me, and only see me nursing on one side?  Yeah, I know she already nursed on that side.  And you know what?

That’s exactly what she’s supposed to be doing.

 

UPDATE:

While block feeding helped, it didn’t resolve all Hazel’s feeding problems.  She was no longer getting that end-of-day bloat, but she still had a lot of times during the day when she seemed really uncomfortable, and would attempt to nurse but then arch away and scream.  The pediatrician and our LLL rep both suspected reflux.  Which has caused an ongoing effort to get the baby some relief, and some time during the day when she is awake without either nursing or screaming.  And which will generate a post all on its own, as soon as I get a little sleep!

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2 responses

4 11 2011
Karen

Carter had the exact same problem. It took me 3 months of a baby screaming with stomach pains and gas bubbles to figure it out. When he had green poop for a week straight, I finally googled it and wound up on the LLL website. Turns out we were already block feeding, but I had to get a bit more drastic with it. After a few days of nursing from only one boob for 12 hours at a time, we were cured. It’s funny, there’s tons of information out there on underproduction, but I had no idea that OVERproduction could even be a problem. I had read a book cover-to-cover devoted solely to breastfeeding (Ina May’s Guide), and not once did it mention overproduction or foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. Thanks for mentioning this to other mommies that might not have heard of it, either. I sure wish I had found out what the problem was, sooner!

12 11 2011
jaimey

Grayson has reflux and I suspect Torin does too, but not as badly. I am making him a hazel wood necklace which is supposed to homeopathically help with that. I had my chiropractor look at him today while I was there too so I am hoping for a bit of relief. Keep you posted… I have overproduction on one side and Torin gags and sputters and gets very angry with me when I let down. 😦 I end up nursing on the other side more to make up for it and in hopes of not gagging him.

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