Thursday, February 4, 2010

Breastfeeding Part 1

Baby is 5 weeks and 1 day old today. I've fallen head over heels in love with her. Even with the lack of sleep and the LOUD crying. Really, I can't complain. She seems to still be pretty laid back. As I've said before though, I don't really have anyone to compare her to. I've been around lots of newborns but spending 24 hours a day, every day with one has been a completely new experience.

The first challenge I had was with breastfeeding so I thought I'd write down my experience with that. If you aren't interested in the gritty details - please skip this post ;)

Pretty much right after Baby was born I started to nurse her. It was amazing that she knew exactly what to do. She laid on me and actually wriggled her way to my breast to start eating...very cool. My midwife and doula showed me a good position to try when first learning. It hurt but I assumed that the pain would be shortlived and after a few minutes I would be blissfully holding a happy baby while she nursed peacefully. I nursed her several times the first night and continued the next day. She latched on perfectly and I think my technique at holding her, though awkward for me, was pretty good for being new to this whole 'feed another human being with my breast' thing. The pain that I felt the first few times she nursed got worse. By the end of the 2nd day every time she would cry or fuss to be fed I would begin to panic. She would latch on and I would cry at how much it hurt. My nipples were bleeding and cracked. I called my doula in tears and asked for help. She was encouraging but, other than (wise) advice to wait it out as it would get better, she didn't really have any magical solution to make the pain go away. I should mention that my milk hadn't come in yet. My midwife was coming to visit us every day since the birth and I cried to her too. She suggested I get some lanolin to soothe my nipples and perhaps take a break. This was horrifying to me as I couldn't imagine not feeding my baby when she wanted to be only 2 days old! This upset me terribly. The midwife manually expressed some colostrum from me (I couldn't do it myself at this point...too upset and scared I think) and S and I finger fed her. She left a manual pump to try as well. After she left however I couldn't express again myself so I went back to nursing. At each feeding (about every hour) I would count to myself until I was used to the pain...often through tears and sobbing. It was really hard on S to watch as well - she felt terrible that I was suffering and that she couldn't help. By the next morning (day 3) I called my midwife again and she said she was on her way to help (a different midwife this time - there was a team that I worked with throughout my pregnancy). She arrived, saw me in a terrible sobbing state, and suggested I take a break. She suggested I try and pump only over the next 24 hours and finger feed her while my nipples healed. I told her the pump didn't work. She had me try again and low and behold it started to work a bit! She was confident my milk would come in that night or the next day. I was skeptical. I was also extremely scared that pumping and not nursing Baby at my breast would 'screw up' our nursing relationship. But, I was so sore and desperate by that time that I finally agreed. By the next morning my nipples felt so much better. The midwife came back and asked if I wanted to try and work on latching her on again. I was SO nervous I was shaking. The midwife was amazingly patient and helped me hold her and get her into a good position. She latched on immediately (never a problem there...) and I claimed "it's not working, she's not latched on." The midwife assured me she was eating wonderfully from her viewpoint..."but it doesn't hurt at all!" I exclaimed. She smiled, I smiled, S smiled, Baby gulped and swallowed and all was well. It hasn't hurt since. Turns out my milk had come in the night before (I learned that the puddles in the bed under me that morning were not sweat...but milk...yay!).

Two things scared me the most about giving birth...having a c-section and not being able to breastfeed. I remember the details described above so clearly because it was like a nightmare for me when I thought I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. To me, as the 'carrying mom,' breastfeeding is such a huge part of being a mom. I love that I can nourish my daughter and help her grow and get strong....with my own body! No need for anyone or anything else....just what I already have inside me. I find that simply amazing and, once again, I feel so incredibly honoured and humbled by it.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing as much of this journey as you do. Be well.