I had my Daughter via VBAC at 39 wks 4 days. It was a wonderful labor and delivery. She latched on minutes after birth. I thought for sure we would have a blissful breastfeeding experience.
Then we went home and my milk came in.
I went from nice DD’s to an I overnight. I had enough milk to feed 10 babies. My daughter was not the biggest fan of my super fast let down and copious amounts of milk so to take the edge off for her, I started pumping before feeds; this lead to me having a HUGE milk supply. So much so that I was able to feed my daughter, pump enough for my 6 month old niece to be almost exclusively on my breast milk and to donate over 15 gallons of breast milk to a milk bank in a short 5 month span. Pumping that much is a serious commitment but to me it was worth it to help so many babies.
To add to the story, my daughter has micrognathia, which to put it simply means she has a bad overbite. It took a long time and lots of cracked nipples to get her to figure a way that she could nurse. As she got older there was times when she would hurt my nipples again, till she figured a way that was comfortable for her to nurse. I was always a fan of following her cues and letting her find a way that works for her. Around 9 months old I was able to stop pumping when away from her. She stayed on my expressed milk during the days I worked and I breastfed her at home. She was able to remain on my expressed milk till 14 months old when the freezer supply depleted. Now at 19 months old we are still breastfeeding when I’m with her and she gets whole milk during the day along with normal toddler foods.
When I was pregnant with my first child my mother, gran-mother, mother-in-law, a lady on the tram, 6 different old women in the supermarket and a bag lady in the city asked if I was going to breastfeed. Oh they asked in a concerned and quite manner, except the bag lady, she screamed the question in a HULK yell that shattered windows of nearby buildings.
“If I can, of course”. I replied to all, which was their queue to scare the living daylight out of me with their combined 2000 years of experience of horror of cracked nipples, mastitis and excruciating pain, except the bag lady, her story was drowned out by the rattle of her trolley’s wheel on the pavement trying to maintain the light speed I had accelerated to in order to escape her postcode.
These horror stories where somehow intended to encourage me, I guess in the way a personal trainer encourages you with that ridiculous phrase “No pain No gain”, and my breastfeeding experience with my first was definitely filled with pain. While I was making enough milk to feed a litter and so suffering from engorgement I had no real pain until 1 month old when I noticed a hot, red patch on one of my breasts and I felt sick and feverish. Naturally I went to the doctor and he diagnosed mastitis, prescribing a course of antibiotics, which cleared up the mastitis beautifully, and allowed my body to cultivate a very irritating culture of fungus called thrush, OK, comes with the territory, I thought, but at least the mastitis is gone, or so I thought!
A few days after I finished the antibiotics I developed mastitis again, so off I went, back to the doctor and was prescribed the same antibiotics. The mastitis cleared up quickly again, but returned, this time in the other breast, a few days after I finished the antibiotics. This pattern continued until my baby was 11 months old, so for 10 months.
With my second pregnancy I was determined there had to be a better way, if cave women suffered from this amount of pain while breastfeeding, surely the human race would have become extinct long ago. A little Googling revealed that infectious mastitis is caused by something called dysbiosis or an imbalance of the microbe population in my breasts, the same microbes that are responsible for developing my Bub’s immune system. WHAT THE…..the bucket loads of Antibiotic I was taking with my first child was killing the good bugs that will build his immune system….why wasn’t I told. The more I read, the angrier I became, why didn’t my doctor tell me this, did he not know?
I immediately found a new doctor and he told me about a different way to correct this microbe imbalance by replacing the good bugs to combat the imbalance…..how simple is that. So in my last trimester I started taking a daily sachet of a special probiotic he prescribed called Qiara that contains good bugs which naturally occur in healthy breastmilk.
I am now 5 months in, exclusively breastfeeding my daughter with ZERO Mastitis, ZERO pain and ZERO thrush. This is how breastfeeding should be and I now know how beautiful it can be, I think I will have 10 kids. That way I will stop
breastfeeding when I’m about 56 yrs old…hum maybe not 10!
Breastfeeding a seriously ill child through heart surgery and tonnes of other hurdles – Selena’s story
My daughter was diagnosed at 18weeks gestation as having “heart issues”. We had ultrasounds every 2 weeks but nobody could definitively tell me what was wrong with her heart.
The night she was induced was incredible. I had a 2hr labour and the waters broke, she was born and the placenta were all delivered with 15 mins start to finish.
On her birth she had snapped her cord so had blood loss and was double clamped as the tissue was torn and not a good hold. She was blue from the start and needed oxygen.
On day 1 she was diagnosed as having a murmur but on day 4 it was declared as Tetralogy of Fallot.
My world crashed in on me that day.
Here I was a divorced single mum with three older children and a child with severe medical condition.
Luckily she was also born with an in bred ability to find and attach to the breast. She has fed well from the very beginning and I had no problems with mastitis as I did with my other children.
At 13 weeks old she had minor surgery involving a 2 week stay with me by her side the whole time expressing away until she could take 5ml an hour, 4 days post op.
When we got home she was having trouble gaining weight and was diagnosed failure to thrive. On no less than 5 occasions I was told to wean her “for hr own sake” but I was determined that she needed my milk more than anything else.
She has sensory issues with spoons etc from being forced medications orally and intubations. The only thing she would allow near her mouth was a breast. She is behind developmentally by around 4mths physically and in speech.
She has extremely low iron which is borderline anemic even whilst she is taking supplements.
By 6 mths she weighed just 5kg, at 12mths 7kg and now at 16mths she still weighs only 7.6kg.
She had more minor surgery in Oct 2010 aged 10mths and I was there expressing away again.
And now we are preparing for major Open Heart Surgery this time which keeps getting put off because of the cell counts in her blood.. But I will be there again, sleeping over and expressing away so as I can continue our journey.. And I’m so passionate about breasfeeding that I’m training to be a part of the Australian Breastfeeding Association Community Education Team..
‘Im so glad I have never listened to health professionals who have been telling me to wean so they can see how much she is drinking. I know how much she is drinking… enough to keep her safe, secure and nourished.. Roxie knew exactly what she was doing when she picked me to be her mum and to advocaate for her right to breastfeed through her surgical journey.
When my son was almost 4 weeks old, I began my relactation journey. I stocked up on medication, supplements, information and support. You see, he was formula fed at one week old. I was hospitalised overnight with severe anxiety attacks and extreme insomnia when he was 6 days old and was not in a state to breastfeed so he was given formula feeds.
I then allowed my milk to dry up as I focused on getting better mentally. After finding out that I had lost my first pregnancy early in the second trimester, I understandably was anxious during my second pregnancy and beyond. As a result, I had postnatal depression & anxiety all surrounding the fear of losing my son and not being a ‘good enough’ Mumma to him.
I so desperately missed breastfeeding – not only for all of the health benefits to him and myself but because I loved it.
I started being very conscious of eating well, drinking loads of fluids, resting, and nursing him as often as possible. He would latch on but got increasingly frustrated because I was producing next-to-no milk. I was taking several galactologues and started pumping regularly. I stayed in contact with a lactation consultant and ordered a Supplementary Nursing System. A generous Mum donated expressed breastmilk to us as well.
To say I was determined is an understatement.
I was so blessed to have a cooperative baby and an extremely supportive husband. I went from expressing literally a couple of mLs from both breasts at a time to producing more than enough breastmilk (750 mL in a 24 hour period) in just seventeen days!
Getting my supply back was only half the battle. It was then a matter of getting him back to the breast. 11 days later, after much frustration and a few meltdowns (from both him and I) my baby boy had his first of many feeds from the breast… and we haven’t looked back…
That was almost 10 months ago (my bub is almost one!) and my ‘boobah’ loving baby boy is healthy, happy and thriving!
It was trying, don’t get me wrong. I had to hand express at first and expressing so regularly and constantly was draining both physically and emotionally. I had all the normal duties of a first time Mum to contend with alongside postnatal anxiety, an exhaustive pumping schedule, painful nipples (hello nipple thrush, meet hospital grade double breast pump), the financial cost and it was so time consuming. But it was beyond worth it.
I spent time researching relactation on the internet. I searched for success stories, blogs, articles, anything that would tell me that it was not only possible but that it was worth it (you can find my relactation blog at http://relactater.blogspot.com and my motherhood blog at http://racheous.wordpress.com).
At one point I remember saying I just want someone to come to me from the future and tell me that this will all be worth it. Well, it is. It really really is.
I didn’t just want to breast-feed. I wanted to breast-nurture. I am a relactation success story. I just want to be a voice for relactation to say that it is achievable and gaining back our breastfeeding relationship has been so very rewarding.
Although my first son was born naturally, after already 3 weeks in hospital with severe pre-eclampsia it was crystal clear that my second child would be delivered by C/S – a hindrance for breastfeeding, or so I have heard. After already nourishing my first child with mothers milk for 22 months I was confident I had the required skills under my belt for a second successful journey!!
In the very early hours of the 8th December 2008, my health took a turn and my son was born by emergency instead of elective C/S at 37 weeks. I knew this was how my baby was to be born though and still had dreamy visions of laying him on my chest and breastfeeding him seconds after birth. After what seemed a life time though, the doctors ran with him out the door and down the hall while a nurse was left behind to explain to my husband and I that he wasn’t coping very well with life. A few hours later, before I was in a position to even lay eyes on him, I was told that the Royal Flying Doctor Service were sending up a retrieval from the Mater Childrens Hospital who would be escorting him back to Brisbane soon after they arrived. My legs were still numb from the spinal but I knew if I didn’t get out of my hospital bed and into a wheelchair, I wouldn’t get to see him before he left…. or maybe even alive. At around 8am and 6 hours after his delivery, I pushed through the intense pain and got out of bed and into a wheelchair. I made it to the SCN in time where I was able to see my boy strapped up inside the transport cot before they wheeled him out.
For the next 3 days, I remained in my local hospital while my son was 700km’s away and very very sick. I spend this time expressing while looking at a single photograph of my son that a nurse took for me before he left. The photo though was of a baby that I had never touched, who was fully ventilated and covered in wires. Combined with an early and sudden delivery, it was not enough to produce even a drop of colostrum. Well meaning friends told me to give up on the idea of breastfeeding. It’s too hard, it’s too stressful they would say. At this point though, sitting in hospital alone trying to get that one drop of anything for my newborn son was the only thing keeping me focused and preventing me from crumbling.
While in hospital in Brisbane, my son was fed nutrients from a drip in preparation for my arrival. I asked my husband if they were giving him any formula at all.
He said no, a nurse told him that the drip was a far better option, especially for a child so sick. On the afternoon of the 3rd full day of mother/baby seperation, I was transferred to Brisbane with the RFDS as an inpatient. I was myself still very unwell with pre-eclampsia and was admitted into the Mater Mothers Hospital where I remained for a further 8 nights before moving into Ronald McDonald with my husband. On arrival I was so excited to be so close to be near my baby though who was only 3 levels down in the NICU!! I soon as I lay eyes on him, I felt the milk flow in and within seconds they were full and hard and leaking!!
Before I arrived my son had already been through 1 minor surgery to keep him alive in preparation for his major operation on his heart. A nasal gastric tube was inserted for feeding now that I had arrived and I got straight onto expressing. I was still not able to hold him as he was in a sterile environment but just looking at him was enough to keep some milk up and I expressed about 25ml’s every 4 hours… sufficient when he was only on about 2ml an hour!! Because of his limited intake, over the next few days I managed to collect a fairly impressive frozen stockpile!! (For some reason I never did produce any colostrum.)
On day 7 after his marathon 9 hour open heart surgery (and now in PICU at the Childrens Hospital accross the road) he was nil by mouth for around 7 days.
I was still expressing around the clock to keep up supply and was pleased that beside his bed in the PICU was a breast pump that I could use whilst being right next to my baby. I was frustrated by my pesky 20-25ml efforts, but the nurses were exceptionally encouraging and put on a fanfare every time I added another (albeit small) container to the freezer!!
After his week of nil by mouth, they began weaning him onto 1ml an hour then 3ml an hour etc of EBM through the NG tube. We were able to cuddle him at this point but I still couldn’t put him to the breast as he was too heavily dosed on drugs. I was determined to not let the stress of open heart surgery combined with not putting bub to the breast affect our breastfeeding relationship outside hospital life.
25ml’s was not a not ideal in normal circumstances but I had to remind myself not to stress and remain practical. The pump of course was not withdrawing what my baby would.
At just over 2 weeks old I put him to the breast for the first time. To my astonishment, he latched on beautifully and drank an entire feed. You wouldn’t believe how pleased I was!! :D Here was my frail, scrawny little baby, having lost 900g and now just under 2kg looking up at me as if to say “mamma, where have you been my whole life!!” Up until this point.. friends and family would still persist by putting their hands on my shoulder and say things like “let it go, give him a bottle, people will understand, it’s too much pressure on you.” The thing is though that for me, the thought of NOT being able to BF was far more stressful then the round the clock expressing!!
I went home from hospital with LOADS of EBM but I made a decision to throw it away. At that point, successful BFíng was still too good to be true and I did not want to compromise that by giving him a bottle. I should also mention that they did offer to feed DS2 the EBM though a bottle rather then the NG tube once he was improving from surgery… but before I could hold him at the breast. I declined this and preferred that he be fed through the NG tube. They didn’t care either way, but I really didn’t want to have attachment issues and I believe this was the absolute best decision and reason why we got such a good attachment first go.
My son is now 22 months old and still enjoying mothers milk. I have now successfully breastfed though a 3 day 700km separation from my son at birth.
We have breastfed though 2 minor surgeries -
the first at one day old and the second at 5 months old. We have also successfully breastfed though 2 major open heart surgeries, the first at 7 days and his second on the 23rd of September 2010 at 21 months old. Together my son and I got through it all without a drop of formula and I can proudly say that he has been the healthiest ‘sick’ kid I know. Actually he has the best general health of any kid I have come across and has experienced only 1 mild cold, has never had gastro, vomiting or so much as an ear infection either despite me being told over and over how much more susceptible he is to these things. I am exceptionally proud of our breastfeeding relationship and can advocate first hand how possible it is to BF even in the most extreme and extenuating circumstances. A little determination goes a long way!!!Older stories »
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