A Voice For The Community

"I am blessed. I had a wonderful and encouraging support system in my husband, family, and a few nurses who sensed my determination and frustration. I had opportunities to attend support programs and join groups of supportive women who understand. I have formed friendships and am surrounded by great people who share their knowledge. And I have learned. I have learned that every woman not only has a right to choose what is best for her and her child but to make an informed decision and receive support" Jillian, nursing mama to Jack Angelo

This is place to share the stories that come along with being a nursing mama. Wether you breast-fed your baby for 1 day or 3 years, we're not here to judge, simply to listen. Listen to what happened when you tried your best for 3 whole weeks only to be defeated. Listen to how being a mommy changed the way you looked at the world. And all the other stories, insights and moments that fall in between the complex and the truthful lessons you learned from your baby.

Read. Enjoy. Share. This is the voice of the nursing community.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lessons I've Learned... It Only Takes 4 months.

I've learned many lessons from my new baby.  Most of them through nursing.  Here's another:

Teddy had always liked to nurse.  The nurse who "helped" me in the hospital said that Teddy must have been reading all about nursing with me while I was preggers because he latched like a champ and never looked back!  Unlike most stories you might hear about nursing, my concern when in the beginning was "why does he nurse so much?"  I soon learned through my fab BF support group that it was normal and that he would grow out of it.  For 1 month it was painful, for 3 months I leaked (yuck) and at month 4, I finally realized I had an over supply.

How could I not be over flowing with milk?  Teddy nursed every hour during the day for 3 months straight!  During month four of his life, he finally slowed down.  You'd think that's when our nursing journey got easier, but it actually got harder-for that month...

When Teddy started nursing every 2 hours, I was relieved.  I had a little more time to do things-like shower and eat!  But the sudden change from every hour to every two hours left me with what ended up being our our final nursing challenge (well, until the teeth came in).
This is not right, mom!

The symptoms:
All of a sudden Teddy was gulping much quicker and for longer amounts of time.  He would often pull off and choke!  Then there would be times when he wouldn't nurse.  He would pull off and scream his head off!  I would have to stop, bounce him around (he gets sleepy when you stand and bounce him) for 10-15 minutes and try again.  I would constantly be encouraging him through the feed.  I remember he would look up at me while he was nursing like "I know this is what I am suppose to do, but it's not right!"  After the let down, he'd be ok to continue nursing.  I had read that some babies have a hard time with keeping up until they learn how to handle the  sudden down spill of milk.  I thought he just needed time.  Because his feedings were so uncomfortable, he soon stopped nursing unless he was absolutely starving!

Soon we were having sleep problems.  Teddy had never been a napper but he was always good at night.  He fell asleep and slept for 4-5 hours than woke to eat than another 3 hours than some more nursing than another 3 hours.  It was like this from the day he was born until the week after he turned three months.  The night time wakings suddenly started occurring every 45 minutes!!  Now, a lot had changed in his fourth month of life, namely, he was put on a beta blocker called Propanolol for his hemangioma (strawberry birthmark that was dangerously close to his left eye).  This is also the time when he started becoming more aware of his surroundings and ate less often during the day.  I had also read about babies eating less during the day and making up for the calories at night.  So as you can see, there were a lot of possibilities!  Finally, after about a month of the TOO-frequent night wakings, I started to think it could be a food allergy.  Although I had read enough about nursing to know this was VERY rare, I NEEDED to find the answer and was willing to try anything!!

So I set out on the elimination diet.  Nothing but pears, rice and squash for as long as needed until Teddy's symptoms went away.  Once the symptoms disappeared, I could add one item at a time back into my diet, monitoring Teddy's behavior to see if that item effected him.  A little extreme, I know, but when you aren't sleeping you will do anything!!  Well, 5 or 6 days later I had lost about 4 pounds from basically starving myself and Teddy had not shown any change!!  While the diet called for the pears, rice and squash for as long as needed up to up to 7 days, I had pretty much determined, it was not what was eating:(

So I began my web-o-sphere research!

I don't even know how I stumbled upon this solution...I was looking up gas in babies...something led me to over-supply symptoms which included a forceful let-down and it clicked!  Teddy's pulling off in pain, his gulping so quickly and chocking, my over-supply had left me with a forceful let-down and it was discouraging Teddy from continuing the feed!  I wasn't positive, but it made so much sense!

The solution:
1. Hold your baby more upright (more of a sitting position) to use gravity to their advantage when the let down came.
2. Start block feeding

Block feeding was simple.  By feeding off of one side for up to 3 hours in a row (as opposed to switching sides at each feeding), you would show your body that the over supply was not needed.  Eventually your milk supply would regulate and you could go back to feeding as usual.  This relieved Teddy's symptoms almost immediately, even though I continued the block feeding for about a month longer.

I learned that "feeling" full or engorged only happens when you have an over supply, like when your milk first comes in and when your body is regulating to your babies needs in the first few months.  After your body regulates (which mine never did because Teddy nursed for comfort so often), if you are engorged, you have waited too long in between feedings!  Interesting, huh!  

After we solved our over-supply/forceful let-down problems, Teddy never again pulled off in pain, stopped chocking during feedings and started comfort nursing again.  YAY!

Even though Teddy's lack of sleep, turned into my lack of sleep that eventually lead us to solve my oversupply issue, our sleep issues, however, never ceased!  I am increasingly more suspicious of the medicine he is taking-however many times the doctors assure me that difficulty sleeping is not a symptom and that nobody has reported such a problem.  It could be a number of other things keeping Teddy from sleeping, but I believe belly pains that the medicine is giving him keep him from sleeping comfortably, thus waking sooner than he would normally. At the moment, the medicine is too crucial to Teddy's health to stop it to see if I am right.  I can only hope we will get the ok to stop it soon and he will go back to the "good" night time sleeper I had for 3 months before the medicine. (haha)

So near his 4 month birthday, we had finally found our nursing "grove".  We had successfully tackled each of our nursing obstacles and made it to the part of the journey where we could relax & enjoy our time together.  When his 6 month birthday came, I looked at how easily and comfortable nursing fit into our lives and wondered why anyone who had made it to this stage would chose to switch to formula??  Why start paying for the food now?  Why start worrying about bottles-buying them and washing them??

It only takes 4 months ladies!!!  (and for MANY, less than 4 months)  You can make it through!!  Don't give up!!  Don't give into the pressure to supplement or stop nursing because you (or even worse) your doctor can't figure out why you are having certain symptoms!!  It only took us 4 months!!

What have you learned from nursing your baby?  If you have a lesson that could be helpful t another mama, share it today!  Send it to Jamie@djabove.com or to my facebook inbox to have it posted here and support other mamas going through their nursing challenges right now!

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