Thursday, September 4, 2008

Widget's Breastfeeding Story Part 1

I've been thinking about some comments about breastfeeding, especially away from the nice safe haven of the ABA forum. As humans we love horror stories and triumphs against the odds, so they are the sort of breastfeeding stories we usually hear. However breastfeeding is normal, and one of the ways we can help people see that is to tell the normal stories as well.

I swear Widget came out sucking. We actually have film of her in the hospital sound asleep and sucking. She just loved to suck. Unfortunately it didn't seem to occur to her to open her mouth first. So getting her to attach was difficult and took a lot of goes. I seemed to spend most of my time sitting with her on a pillow drawing my nipple down from her nose to try to get her to open her mouth, but it never occurred to me to stop because I'd been warned that it was a learnt skill. I just assumed we would learn.

By the end of the second day the milk was in with a vengeance and I was engorged. This created an additional problem because my letdown was very fast, and that interfered with her attachment and made her slip back. I described the clicking sound to every midwife, but no-one else could hear it and they didn't know what was going on.

Unfortunately the bad attachment grated the ends of my nipples. One side was so painful I was in tears and just couldn't put her on, complicated by the third day baby blues. DH made me admit to a midwife how painful it was, and they were fantastic. They got me a pump and showed me how to express that side and syringe feed her to give the nipple a break for 24 hours. When we were ready to try again they were there to help me with attachment, and we started to get it together.

Sometime in here I had some advice that was actually fine, but I mis-interpreted it. A midwife who had just had mastitis herself was telling me that if your breasts weren't draining and you had any lumps you had to massage them towards the nipple. Knowing absolutely nothing I thought the enormous milk ducts I had from the engorgement were the sort of lumps she meant, and they definitely weren't draining! So I ended up bruising myself quite badly trying to massage them. I do wonder if that sort of stimulation contributed to the massive oversupply I had, but probably not because I've had it this time as well.

We stayed in hospital for a week because Widget had jaundice and they knew we lived in a community, so we might as well stay there as a hotel. When we got home one nipple had healed and the other was on the way, but it took about 3 weeks before I had feeds on that side truly sorted. Unfortunately once you've got the damage it doesn't matter if you get attachment right, it's still going to hurt until it heals properly.

So a week to get it mostly happening is pretty good going. To be continued!

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