Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Baby Advice - Nursing Whoas!

I would like to begin by saying that while it has been proven that nursing is best for baby, I firmly believe that it is up to the mother. Because if you are not enjoying it, not comfortable with it or whatever, then you don't need to do it! Formula is great too.

With that said, let me tell you that I am the foremost expert on nursing woes, as everything that could go wrong DID. But I got through it and nursed for one year.

I thought that nursing would be a piece of cake for me. My mom nursed me and loved it and said she had no issues. I also have extremely insensitive breasts, so thought I would have no problems adjusting. But, I had heard that it can be painful at first, so I lubed up for several weeks before baby was born. I applied the Lansinoh nipple cream 1-2 times per day.

Then, in the hospital, I nursed immediately and the lactation consultants were so impressed with me and baby. He latched on immediately, my milk came in and I had no pain! Then, I got home. Within a week or two, I had EXCRUCIATING pain. But my friends said this was normal. That even though all the books said it would be a little uncomfortable, that was a lie. IT WOULD HURT.

Well it did hurt, but when it didn't go away, I called the hospital's lactation consultant. Side note: when you are choosing a hospital, see if they have a lactation department and see if they are available after you get home. It turns out I was producing an overabundance of milk. Go figure! 

Because of that, baby was having a hard time staying latched on. So, he would latch and unlatch repeatedly - like every second for the first couple of minutes of my letdown. This was causing redness, cracking, pain, etc. Lactation told me to pump one ounce out of each side before each feeding. Well, with a newborn, there is no telling when the next feeding will be, so I rarely did that.

And, because I rarely did that, I had rawness, redness and cracks which led to me developing thrush. This is a yeast infection that is transferred from baby's mouth to your breast through a crack in the nipple. It appears as white spots in baby's mouth and can also be accompanied by a diaper rash. So, we had it and we had to get treated. I took one prescription yeast infection pill and then I had to wash my nipples after every feeding and apply a very expensive prescription compound cream to them. I had to wash all of my bras, towels and robe every day in hot water. I had to change my nursing pads twice a day. Then, I had to treat baby's diaper rash with over-the-counter foot cream at every diaper change. And I had to give him prescription drops in his mouth four times a day!

But, when the thrush went away, the pain did not. Water couldn't touch them in the shower, fabric rubbing was unbearable. I used to cry by the last feeding of the day. My husband would rub my feet to relax me and take my mind off of the pain. My son had a VERY strong suck and liked to stay latched on for up to 30 minutes on one side! I stuck it out mainly because it was good for him, but also because the pain I was going through was easier than the task of stopping nursing (drying up) and paying for formula. And, I just kept thinking it would get better - it had to.

So, believe it or not, in the midst of that pain, at about 2.5 months, I got mastitis. It was about 5 days before Christmas and I thought I had thrush again. Initially, I had the same symptoms - sore breasts, searing pain going through my nipples, etc. So I got all of the prescriptions again including the very expensive nipple cream. Then, about 2 hours after filling them all, I got a terrible headache, chills and achiness all over. I had read about mastitis and a light bulb went off. I looked at my right breast and it was red and blotchy.

I called lactation and my doctor again and was easily diagnosed. Mastitis is a breast infection that not only makes your breast red, itchy and very sore, but it gives you flu like symptoms for several days. When I talked to the nurse at my OB's office and she gave me the rundown of what to do, one of the things she said was bed rest. HAH! With a newborn??? But, any time he was sleeping, I was at least on the couch or in bed watching TV. And that definitely helped.

There are countless ways to try to prevent these various conditions that go along with nursing. Check with your lactation office, the La Leche league in your area or use your OB as a resource. And on a positive note, at 3 months, as one of my friends told me, the pain while nursing went away and it became incredibly easy and enjoyable. I am glad I stuck it out so I can actually have a happy ending to my DRAMATIC nursing story!

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