Posted by: birdsandsquirrels | January 11, 2010

birth story part 3: the first night and breastfeeding woes

I don’t remember a whole lot of the rest of that night. S held the baby for a long time after we got to the room, but he was clearly exhausted and I couldn’t bear the thought of him sleeping another night on a crappy germy hospital chair, so we sent the baby to the nursery and I sent S home to feed the cats and get some sleep.

They brought her to me to nurse a bunch of times, but I was still so numb and tired and shaky, it was almost scary. Around 3am, I started getting some feeling back in my legs and realized that the compression boots they put on my legs weren’t actually doing anything. I called the nurse and she was like “oh, someone must have forgotten to plug them into the machine. I’ll just take them off. You don’t really need them.” I wonder if that is why my swelling got so bad. Around the same time, I notice a painless but ugly red mark on my right nipple. Hmm, that doesn’t seem right, I thought. I showed the nurse and she said that I’d just have to nurse through it and that it would take a week or so to get better.

By the 7am nurse shift change, both my nipples were raw and red. Baby Bird has some serious suction power and we had some latching issues. The new nurse came in, looked at my “nipple trauma” as she called it and was so horrified by it that it made me cry. Now, I’ve never breastfed before, but I had done a lot of reading and the home nurse that comes to see me is also a lactation consultant, and she had gone over the basics with me – wait for the baby to open her mouth wide before bringing her to the breast, break the suction and relatch if it’s painful, this is what a good latch should look like, blah blah blah. But, it’s all so much harder when you are numb from the chest down and lying pretty much flat on your back. It was damn near impossible to get her in a good position, and she just wouldn’t open her mouth very wide.

Nurse that made me cry sent a lactation consultant to see me mid morning, and she worked on positioning, which was helpful. But, it wasn’t that helpful when your nipples are already so cracked, bleeding and raw that every time you try to latch her on, you can’t imagine a worse pain. But I kept on. I used the special nipple cream they gave me, and tried and tried. And cried and cried. Finally the third night, after many tears on our part (S and I) and baby’s part, we asked to supplement with some formula. She was finally calm, able to sleep, and satisfied. I felt like such a failure. I started pumping, on the idea that pumping might be less painful than her piranha mouth, and then we could at least give her the breast milk in a bottle, but my milk hadn’t come in. After 20 minutes of pumping, I had like 8 drops of colostrum. From both breasts. I had already had numerous nurses in helping with the latch as well as the lactation consultants, but it was still ridiculous and painful and awful. I wanted to feed my baby so badly, but it was just seeming to be impossible.

The day we were discharged, yet another lactation consultant was supposed to come by. Honestly, I was kind of dreading it. Yet another person to bare my breasts to, who would shake their head in horror and tell me the same shit over again that I already knew, and expect me to keep trying through the pain. When she didn’t show up throughout the morning, I was kind of relieved. But, literally, 5 minutes before the wheelchair escort was coming, she showed up and turned out to be awesome. She gave me some nipple shields, some quick instruction, and said, “Hun, you can still do this. Try the nipple shields until your tissue heals, and follow up with a lactation consultant next week.”

The nipple shields saved my ass. First, when we got home, I started just pumping with them on, and it made pumping far less painful. My milk started coming in on Sunday, 4 days after the c section, and I was so proud to get 5ml of milk. Baby had lost 9% of her weight in 4 days, so we supplemented with formula in addition to feeding her what I would pump for a couple days until I discovered that with the shields and some healing, I could now nurse her directly. Well, directly with the shields. That is what we have been doing ever since, and while it isn’t ideal, it is working for us.

Since then, the home nurse has come twice. We have worked on trying to wean her off of the shields,  but that isn’t going so well. My nipples are sort of flat to begin with, and she is now used to the weird pointy shape of the shield. But, baby is back up to birth weight plus a few ounces at two weeks, so apparently my supply is adequate.

Part 4 to come soon…

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Responses

  1. Ouch… I’m sorry about the latch issues, but at least the supply is going well. And with PCOS I know that can be an issue. I think it can take months to work off a shield, but a shield is better than nothing if you are want to BF, so at least the last LC helped out. I hope you two are able to enjoy the rest of your BFing time.

  2. Ow. I signed up for a breastfeeding class. I hope it helps. But baby bird is growing and that is what is important!

  3. Coming out of lurkerdome a little bit late…. Found your blog through Mary (a hopeful unicorn). I’m 22 weeks pregnant with our first with the help of injections and IUI. Thanks for posting your birth story and pictures of baby bird, she is just adorable.

  4. I’m with Amanda — so glad your supply is not an issue as I’ve heard that can truly be a game-stopper. Which is not at all to make light of the issues you have had…but good for you for finding an approach that works for you. As long as the baby is getting what she needs and you’re comfortable it doesn’t matter what the arrangement is, really! I hate this whole pressure thing to be perfect in the breastfeeding department. Anyway, glad to hear you’re doing well and loving hearing your story as it unfolds!

  5. Ouch! Glad the shields are helping out

  6. I’m just a lurker, but I wanted to offer a ray of hope re the nipple shields. I had to use them with my first child because of the flat nipple issue. I knew I had to get her off them as soon as possible, but she just wouldn’t nurse without them. And she wouldn’t take a bottle either, so we were kind of stuck with them. I finally resigned myself to it, and we had nipple shields in the diaper bag, nipple shields in my pockets, nipple shields by every chair I ever nursed in. And then one day at 5 or 6 months, the baby just latched on while I was still fumbling around looking for the shield! From then on, she didn’t need them, and she finally weaned when she was two and I was pregnant again.

    So, 1) it is possible to nurse long term with them, and 2) she may not need them forever, even if she does need them at first.

    Hang in there, the first few weeks are really tough.

  7. Hey Birds, Dirty Diaper Laundry posted a story about her lactation consultant experience and nipple shield story this morning and thought you might enjoy it: http://dirtydiaperlaundry.com/lactation-consultants-my-experience/

  8. The lovely nurse on our last day in the hospital told me “oh my god, your nipples are destroyed!”. That made me cry.


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