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February 07, 2012

Boobs

I always envisioned that when I had children, I would breastfeed. It was never something I even thought twice about. Once we got pregnant, I did think twice about it and everything I've read and researched only reaffirmed my belief that breastfeeding was the best choice for our family. What I was unaware of was how easy it was to get "booby trapped" into myths, misconceptions and marketing and how difficult this seemingly natural thing between mother and child could be.

In my naive mind, it would just happen. Baby would know what to do and my motherly instinct would kick in. I learned that this is not always the case and that women who breastfeed need to be determined, have a strong network of support and be willing to go through a challenging experience for a greater good.

So I was very grateful that Annabelle latched within a short period after she was born. She had a vigorous sucking ability and seemed to know what she was doing. I guided her to the right place although I probably should have let her find her own way. What I did not know at the time was that her latch was not proper. So while I had the normal "this is sore" for a first time breastfeeding mom nipple tenderness, I also had a bad latch...which i'm still trying to fix 3 weeks later.

My milk came in within 2.5 days. So I didn't have a milk issue... YAY! Another hurdle that we jumped...probably b/c she was such a vigorous sucker, and almost sucked the boob right off me, the milk came right in and she was avidly eating away.

But close to week 2 is when things started to get difficult. About day 13, I realized that Annabelle's BM (Bowel movement) was turning a green color instead of the normal breastfed mustardy seedy poop it should be. On day 14, we had our 2 week appointment and since she always likes to poop at each visit, I just left it out for the Dr.  to see.

The Dr. was not very concerned but said if it continues to get a darker green, or if we see blood in her stools then we should be concerned. So we left the visit feeling ok.

However, her stools continued to stay a bright green, very watery/liquidy, some time mucousy and she seemed to have difficulty passing a movement. She'd strain, scream sometimes shriek in discomfort.

I was given advice that it could be dairy, so tried to cut most dairy out. However, a friend advised me that it could be a foremilk/hindmilk issue. Figuring out how to fix this issue, if this was indeed the issue wasn't hard, but i attempted to block feed (stick with one boob for a period of time). However, the fussiness continued and i just felt something wasn't right. So 3 weeks after her birth, we were back in the pediatrician's office again.

Her poop had gotten a little more yellow and seedy so the block feeding could be helping, but when the Dr. arrived, she tried to assist me in getting Annabelle to latch properly - b/c Annabelle was a lazy latcher - didn't like to open her mouth all the way. She said this would assist in getting more milk overall. And because Annabelle is a sleepy nurser, she said i need to do things to keep her awake throughout feedings to ensure she is staying awake to get that hind milk. She took a dirty diaper and came back with the prognosis that I was afraid of "Yea mama, your instincts were right. There's a little bit of blood in the stool."

First thing first, we cut out all dairy and all soy b/c many newborns are intolerant to cow's protein. Many of those infants who have milk protein intolerance (MPI) are likely intolerant to soy protein as well (Milk-soy protein intolerance - MSPI). So i said "ok, i'll do what i need to do"! Eventually this will likely go away, but its just their digestive systems are so immature at this point, it just can't handle the proteins.

Cutting out dairy while eating mostly Korean food (courtesy of my mother who is suffering along with us in a small condo, just to cook for me and help care for Annabelle- She's a saint!) is not a problem. Koreans don't use a lot of dairy. But cutting out Soy... in ANY diet is really hard. Do me a favor - next time you eat something, check the label - most likely dairy AND soy, or just Soy are in it in one form or another. From potato chips, bread, cookies, and even produce (has soy sprayed on it for a waxy shiny look) - Soy or soy biproduct is in everything. However, I wonder if it is soy b/c i've been eating that since day 1 whereas dairy was sporadic throughout so perhaps that's why it took 13 days to manifest in her stool.

So now i'm trying to figure out what my diet can consist of. I went from a diabetic diet where i was limiting many fruits, sugars, breads, and simple carbs and now I have to cut out dairy/soy but can eat sugar! So i am od'ing on fruit like its nobody's business and loving it! The diet takes about 3 weeks before you see effects - mostly b/c cow's protein stays in your body for 7-10 days, and then in the baby's body for 7-10 days after that. So i hope to see improvement in the next few weeks. Another silver lining - no dairy = weight loss! I'm already 2.5 lbs down from my pre-pregnancy weight without even trying. So hopefully once I start exercising and getting into a routine, I will be able to work off the extra pounds to ensure i don't get type 2 diabetes down the road!

It's not an easy thing, this nursing and figuring out how to ensure your baby is happy and healthy but its so well worth it. I wouldn't give up breastfeeding for this small minor inconvenience in my life. Dairy... don't get me wrong, this girl loves dairy - but for our precious angel, its no big deal. Feeding our daughter with my body is the most amazing experience. When i stare at her and she looks at me and I know my body is giving her the antibodies she needs to be healthy, it fills my heart with happiness.

So is it hard? yes!!! If you plan to nurse, be prepared! I get frustrated, especially in the middle of the night when she seems fussy and unhappy. I am near tears when i see her struggling to let something out, wondering if i am doing something wrong. But in the clear light of day, there is not enough self-doubt in the world to make me give up without a fight.

I was told with nursing by week 6, things start to become smoother sailing... so my eye is on the prize!! that's only 2.5 more weeks :)

Wish me luck...

How was your nursing experience? Was it difficult? Any site recommendation for support or advice you want to pass along?

2 comments:

  1. So far I've been very lucky with nursing, Hunter is a sleepy nurser too but for the most part he's doing really well with breastfeeding and we haven't noticed any issues that he's had based on what I'm eating thank goodness. Hope it gets easier for you both!

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  2. I never had any problems with Claire in terms of what I could eat, thankfully. My issues were (1) chapping (though one tiny tube of Lansinoh lasted me the whole year), and (2) plugged ducts. The latter occurred after a few months (Claire nursed for a year) when the feedings became less frequent. So do a little reading and be vigilant about that. Oh, another good thing: weaning was a complete non-issue. Claire was an early teether and a biter, so I grit my teeth and hung in there until 1 year, at which point I cut her off. She was obviously on solid foods by that point, and she never seemed to care that the boobs went away -- even though she wasn't taking anything from a bottle either. Claire was also a sleepy nurser; I think it's just comforting to them. But the sleep-nursing was so damn cute! I did have to pinch her awake a lot at the beginning, and you do want to make sure you completely empty one boob before switching to the other.

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