Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Breastfeeding... the first few weeks.

Like I said, I am going to break my experience down in to smaller periods of time. I've been going strong with The Boy for 18 months, and that is just too much to cover in one post. Some of the details might be fuzzy, thanks to the time that has passed, but I have told so many people, I think I remember most of it. Feel free to ask questions!

I have made it no secret that I had a long and difficult labor thanks to being induced at +12 days. After The Boy arrived, the midwife helped me to get him latched, but he did not stay that way very long. Katherine, my midwife, told me not to worry. He would latch again, and we know he knows how, because he did it after the birth. I tried off and on again through the early morning (he was born at 159 and we went to our room around 330), when I should have been enjoying the sleep, but he would not latch. When he did, he would immediately come back off the breast. Also, he was gagging on the breast.

Katherine came back to the hospital around 8 to fill out paperwork, etc, and when she came to check, she again reassured me and told me that she'd be by the house Tuesday evening (later that day) to check on us again. I went home anxious about nursing, because we were having problems already!

Tuesday evening Katherine came, and I was still having problems. The Boy would latch, suck a few times, and then come off the breast. He was gagging on my boob! The horror and panic was creeping in to my mind! Katherine again reassured me, watched as we tried to nurse, and then as he gagged, she looked at the clear liquid and thought that he had a tummy full of fluid due to the long labor, etc. She assured me that he would suck, and in the mean time, encouraged me to use my pump to help my milk come on.

Wednesday morning Katherine returned to weigh The Boy, etc. His weight loss was minimal (thank God), and she seemed unconcerned about the little loss. My milk still was not in, but she assured me it would come. Wednesday night (about 36 hours after birth), The Boy started latching and sucking, so that was encouraging. At this point, Katherine left on a planned vacation, and her partner, Sine, took over for two weeks.

When Sine came by on Thursday, she felt my breasts and told me it'd probably be a day yet before my milk fully came in, but not to worry. At this point, The Boy was latching, and by the end of the day, my breasts were beginning to feel a little raw. Thursday and especially Thursday night really sucked. The Boy kept sucking and sucking and sucking. I could hear his tummy rumble, and he was never satisfied, but Friday... hallelujah! The magic titty juice arrived!

By Saturday's or Sunday or something like that's visit by Sine, The Boy was happily nursing. I asked her to check his latch, because contrary to what everything I'd read said, it hurt, and it hurt bad! The Boy would latch, and I would inhale sharply, clench my teeth and try to bear it. She said the latch was fine, but she'd bring me something for my tender nipples. Oh, and The Boy was a barracuda sucker!

In spite of the initial pain, which slowly disappeared, and the LONG time it took him per nursing session (like an hour each time), it slowly became easier and easier. That being said, growth spurts that are frequent in the early weeks/months would almost always result in one setback or another. However, I began nursing in multiple positions, feeling comfortable bringing The Boy in to our bed so I could sleep and nurse (a real life saver with Kevin on the road for games), and nursing hands free (i.e. using my boppy effectively). In the first six weeks, I read more books than I ever imagine and blogged frequently. I also became comfortable enough to nurse in public around two or three weeks in. I never thought I would, but I did!

One more thing that I dismissed from the books was just how thirsty and hungry I would be in the beginning. I ate a lot, but I drank even more (water)! Seriously, I was drinking water by the 1.5L bottle. Two or more a day. I just could not get enough to drink! I had to give up mineral water (bubbles) for a while, because I could not drink it fast enough!

So there you go... the first six week... More to come!

EDIT:  One thing I forgot to mention was that there were definitely times in the first six weeks when I wanted to quit. Kevin would be gone for a couple of days. I'd be exhausted. The baby would cry or nurse non-stop. I wondered if it was worth it.  I wanted to be selfish-- have a break, go out, do something...anything to feel like a grownup. Looking back, I feel stupid (and selfish) for even questioning, but at the time, it was a real problem. Fortunately, I pushed through the bad times and was able to keep going.


Rebecca said...

They just don't tell you about the thirst thing, do they? I keep hearing about it. I, too, was a water hound in those early days of breastfeeding.

It's interesting to read about your challenges. It seems everybody has a hurdle of some sort. Both of my kids went through a phase at about 4 weeks where they screamed at the breast. They were clearly hungry. They'd latch. When the milk came, they'd pull away and scream. They'd latch frantically, clearly hungry, but the milk made them scream. I am not entirely sure what it was, but I suspect there may have been something I had eaten that was bothering them. I hear 4-6 weeks of age is when they are most sensitive to things like that. It was horrible both times around. I wanted so badly to be able to comfort my babies...

I'm glad that you hung in there and that you are still breastfeeding. I'm hoping to still be bfing at 18 months!

Thanks for sharing your story. It's great perspective.

Blacktating said...

I, too, almost quit before the first 6 weeks. Luckily I had a friend tell me to persevere, because it really does take a full 6 weeks for everything to click. Another thing that kept me going? One of the most selfish, whiny women I know told me she nursed her son for 7 weeks before she gave up and there was no way in hell I was going to let HER beat me! :) We're still going strong at 8 months and my plan is to allow him to self-wean.

Maria said...

Blacktating-- that's awesome! Congratulations on continuing on! Fortunately it did get better, and I tell all of my friends that it takes a while for both you and the baby to figure it all out!

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