Boob Talk

I'm going to talk about boobs for a bit, so if that's not your thing, feel free to skedaddle for a bit. :)

So - breastfeeding.

A bit of backstory: When Georgia was born, she ended up in special care from that first day. We never had skin to skin time at the beginning, and when we were finally allowed to attempt breastfeeding, she never mastered how to latch on to the nipple. It took her a long time to develop her suck reflex, and we were never able to feed without a nipple shield. Due to this combination, our journey was always going to be a rocky one. We battled on though; expressing for top ups after each feed, 3-hourly feeds for what felt like months, using messy shields - and we happily made it to that magical 12 month mark.

Needless to say, I was wary of how feeding would go with Claire. It was different this time; we had a good hour of cuddles post-birth, she latched straight on to my boob immediately, and even though there were a few days in special care with formula bottles, she still managed to breastfeed too - and my milk came in just before we were both discharged from hospital.

It's been anything but easy, though. So far, we've gone through extended engorgement, crappy latching (adjusted thanks to lots of help), on/off feeds, forceful letdowns, oral thrush, and breast pain in the form of nipple vasospasms - agony!

It's been a bit of a vicious cycle:

Wear breast pads all the time, so you don't leak all over the place with every letdown.
Don't wear breast pads, or change them frequently, because they can hold in moisture & exacerbate thrush.
Let your nipples dry naturally after breastfeeding to help the thrush disappear.
But then don't do that, because dry cool air will cause you to have painful vasospasms.
Use lanolin cream as soon as you're done feeding, to keep nipples from drying out.
But then we're back to wearing breast pads, in fear of ruining all of your clothing.

Good lord, this is ridiculous! Boobs, man. What's a girl to do?

Anyway - we've done our thrush treatment and both of us seem fine now. We're back into the 'keep boosies warm at all times' stage, meaning as soon as I'm done with a feed, I whack on the lanolin ointment, and make sure I have breast warming pads in my bra to keep things at a warm temperature. I've also been prescribed nifedipine to see if that helps combat the circulation issues that are causing the vasospasms

Her feeding has definitely improved since those early weeks. When Claire was two weeks old, it was bad - really bad. There were multiple nights where I was up in the wee hours, sitting in the rocking chair and sobbing my heart out, because she was hurting me, my breasts were throbbing, and couldn't we just do formula? My poor husband felt so helpless. Lack of sleep makes everything seem so, so hard. I got a lot of help after that point, and we kept moving forward - making sure she is only feeding with a deeper latch, taking her off if it's even slightly uncomfortable, and feeding off the least sensitive breast first.

It's a lot better now.

The only lingering issue I have is the vasospasms - but I'm trying to combat that with everything I've got. It is uncomfortable, but it's manageable.

I'm meeting with Claire's pediatrician next week & we're going to re-examine her for tongue tie, to see if that's been the cause of some of the issues - but we got the all clear at birth and at our 2-week check, so I don't expect much to come of it. The research seems to be varied; some practitioners don't believe it to be an issue, others don't bother with them unless they're very severe. We'll see what he says.

Whatever happens, I'm grateful to so far have a decent supply that is feeding Claire nicely, and I'm happy she's not stuck using a shield constantly. I've also been expressing (just once a day, after her morning feed) so I have a little bit frozen in case I need a break. We're six weeks in & still going, and that's something. Now to see how the journey goes from here on in!

Did you struggle with breastfeeding? Any hints, or tips, or suggestions for this mama? :)

6 Comments • Labels: ,  


Emilie said...

Gosh, I am so nervous for this! I'm terrified the combination of C-section recovery and breastfeeding will be too much and I'll give up. I'm sorry you're going through all of this and wish I could offer advice! xoxo

Britt said...

Oh girl. Nora's bad latch due to undiagnosed posterior tongue tie and a class 3 lip tie left me with permanent nipple damage. I've got scars and I'm still getting vasospasms 9 months in. I feel you. Breastfeeding is SO hard. I was recommended a host of vitamins to help with the vasospasms but I didn't find they did much (I still take them though, because why the heck not). I'm not sure if you're also dealing with blocked ducts/milk blisters due to the overactive letdown/oversupply/bad latch but if you have like me, I highly recommend Lecithin supplements. They've saved me.

Big hugs mama, breastfeeding is SO hard.

Risa said...

Oy Mama. You are amazing. To battle to much and still be going strong. I had engorgement, leaking and sleepy baby issues and had to do pumping to supplement in those early days, but I didn't have the others (even though I felt anxiety over getting them). It was hard and I can't imagine dealing with the vasospasms, especially. So I have lots of love and encouragement to offer, but not much advice. Have you talked to a La Leche Leader? Been to a meeting? That has been so helpful getting other ideas. And I've heard the frustrations multiple referrals for ties with no results. We have a pediatric dentist in our area who is renowned for ties and correcting them. Maybe that's another avenue to explore?

Regardless, you are doing awesome.

Nellie said...

Hi there, sorry to hear you've been having some issues with breastfeeding, it's so awesome you are persevering. I used nipple shields for both my sons as they took a while to learn how to latch on properly. With DS2 he was checked for tongue tie by so many doctors & nurses and even a midwife who was also a lactation consultant couldn't find out why he wasn't latching on properly. It would be so painful at times I would be bleeding.

The absolute best thing that I ever did was hire a breast pump for 6 months, I don't know what I would have done without it. Even drinking from the bottle my son took a while to latch on but after a while he was getting better & better and then he starting latching on like a trooper! Anyway, that's what worked for me and it was also nice for my husband to help out with the feeding when I needed a break. Of course still get checked for tongue tie if you're not convinced this hasn't been ruled out.

But I cannot recommend enough to hire a breast pump to make things easier, if that's what you think could help you too. I hired the Medela Symphony breast pump. You can hire them from a variety of places, like the local chemist, but I hired one from Kristy at Hire for Baby (Kellyville) and she's based in Stanhope Gardens.

All the best xxxx

Jess said...

Sorry this has been tough! I have a couple friends with Raynaud's, which causes similar effects and made breastfeeding significantly more complicated for them. Callum had a tongue tie that wasn't discovered and clipped until two weeks. There's no real downside to clipping it, and it can help with speech later in life, so if she has even a mild one it may be worth pushing to discuss clipping. Good luck!

Non Sequitur Chica said...

Maybe it is different in Aus, but here in the US peds are NOT helpful at all when it comes to lip and tongue ties. It's better to see a lactation consultant as they are the people that deal with BF issues day in and day out. Two different peds brushed away the concerns that my LC shared with Izzy's lip tie and Wes' tongue & lip ties. I had both of them lasered by a pediatric dentist and both were MUCH BETTER at latching and sucking afterwards.

I'm sorry that you have been through so much. After doing a quick search of vasospasms they sound very painful! BF is supposed to be so natural but really can be quite difficult until about 8 weeks in. You are doing great!

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