Monday, June 19, 2006

My Breastfeeding Journey - Part III (The Second Time)

I wrote this journal when my son was 4 months old. Notice that its shorter than the first journal, because with two little ones to take care of now there's hardly time for myself. How quickly the time has flown. My one year old baby daughter is now a lively and sweet little 2 year old toddler. And now she has a little baby brother who is 4 months old. I never had any doubt at all that I would also breastfeed her brother. I breastfed my daughter for 17 months ie I weaned her when I got pregnant with the second. I thought that things would be easier the second time around but how wrong I was.

I had planned to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) but again things did not go as planned. My husband and I were very anxious as the days got closer to the delivery date as I was huge this time around. We knew that the time was near when I had my show and a little backache. We quickly went to see the gynae who told us all the pros and cons of a natural birth. My baby was quite big, my old wound was hurting, the scan showed that the umbilical cord was near is neck area, at 38 I did not have the advantage of youth, so eventually I opted for a planned C-section under epidural. The gynae told us that the baby was coming very soon, so even as we sat in her office at 12pm, she told us that we had to check in to the hospital and have the caeseraean at 2.00pm. Boy what a rush that was.

I was quite afraid to be awake for the operation. Although I knew I would not feel the pain, still the thought of someone slicing up your abdomen is almost too much for me to stomach. (pun intended). It was quite an experience and I was happy to be awake to hear baby cry for the first time.

My baby had difficulty latching on from day 1. I was staying at a breastfeeding friendly hospital so the nurses would come and help me breastfeed and they would give feedings from a cup to avoid nipple confusion. All the nurses came and went and even the most patient of them grew tired of helping me latch him. One of them even murmured softly under her breath “child abuse” when baby was yelling for his milk after being unable to latch on as we only gave him some formulae after trying for some time. Some of the nurses that came recorded that baby had been “breastfeeding well” although he had not latched on at all but I was too tired to do anything about that. Baby has still not latched on when we left the hospital. Baby did not latch on at all for two whole months.

My days consisted of trying to breastfeed baby, pumping milk, feeding baby milk from a cup and repeat, several times a day. It was very tiring to do this all day everyday for two months without success. One time I almost fell asleep pumping. Tired from this ardous task, I got a fungal infection and an infection of the wound. The infection of the wound was just a slight one but I thought I was going to die and cried buckets worrying about who was going to look after my babies if I were gone.I can laugh now.

The medication given to me for the fungal infection gave me a very bad gastric pain. So there I was with pain in the wound and a terrible gastric pain. I wanted to double up in pain and lie down but could not, not even in the middle of the night. Baby who could not differentiate night and day was up all night crying. I had to pacify him and at the same time worry about missing a pumping session and milk drying up. It was a very hard time. Unlike the first time breastfeeding, this time I had a little more knowledge so by pumping consistently 6 times a day for 30 minutes each time, I was blessed to be able to pump up 35 ounces of milk a day and I did not complain at all when my breasts leaked all the time because I was so happy to have enough milk for my baby. I became an expert at hand expressing and ditched the two expensive pumps I had bought earlier while breastfeeding my first.

My lactation consultant said that baby was having a difficult time latching because he had a tongue tie and she advised me to have his frenulum clipped. I was uncomfortable with the idea and so I plodded on with the punishing schedule. It might have made nursing easier for us but it was just an area I did not wish to pursue and so I didn't. Finally at two months, my husband and I decided to either use the nipple shield or give the baby breastmilk from a bottle to make things easier for us. It was exactly at this time that baby learned to latch on.

A few things that helped this time was our experience and greater awareness about breastfeeding difficulties, support from my husband and the lactation consultant as well as several articles I had read from the internet. One mentioned that babies will learn to latch on no matter what at two months and that milk supply should be maintained by pumping, this kept my hope up to keep trying. Another mentioned that to help the latch one should try to shape the breast to match the baby’s mouth ie like a burger instead of an apple, (just imagine yourself posting a letter to a letterbox or eating a biscuit, you would have some difficulty if doing it vertically). So baby latched on at exactly 2 months and 1 day. How wonderful.

The problem didn't end there though. I had to learn how to let go of the pump after pumping exclusively for 2 months to feed baby. It was very hard to become confident in breastfeeding after having such difficulties. It was even harder to tell myself that baby was getting enough as unlike pumping I could not "see" how much he was drinking but very slowly and gradually I learned to be more confident by watching my baby. He was content most of the time and had enough diapers for me to stop worrying.

It certainly has been worth it. Short term pain for long term gain. Now things are so much easier. Whenever we go shopping, I get to pop into a baby room at the shopping complex with baby, pram and all to breastfeed baby and a few minutes later, baby would be happy, sated or asleep and we could carry on shopping. No need to lug any bottles along. Nap times are great too. I would breastfeed baby while singing and telling my toddler stories and they would both fall asleep in about an hour. Its lovely and I would do it all again if I had another child.

Related Posts:

My Breastfeeding Journey - Part II
My Breastfeeding Journey - Part III

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  1. Hey there...

    My son is now 3mths old and I have been BF exclusively since birth...but of course it was a painful and depressing task initially..but now smooth sailing. But only one problem now...he has wind and its starts pass midnite and keeps me all awake for hours..till sun rise! I am a walking zombie at work......

  2. mjey,
    Hello and welcome to my blog. A walking zombie huh? Poor you. I wonder how you working mothers do it, not sleep all night and still have to work the next day.


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