Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Breastfeeding Update

Yes, just like Amber, I know you are all dying to know about the status of my boobs. (Rachael, take note: after the baby is born, all attention shifts from your belly status to your boob status.)

So. Thing #1 is, thrush. So far only evident on Gwen's bottom (what we thought was just a bad diaper rash). Her bum, her mouth, and my nipples are all being treated. Yesterday/last night was a complete gong show. She didn't sleep, I didn't sleep, by 5am I felt like my nipples had been chewed on by rodents and I couldn't. Nurse her. AGAIN. So I, you know, didn't. Instead I broke out the formula, in a bottle no less, and went back to sleep. When we got up to her screaming again 2 hours later, we discovered how bad the diaper rash had gotten, called Lillian, and she came over and diagnosed thrush. Hence the tender nipples. Sigh.

Thing #2 is, my appointment with the health unit today. The nurse (Norma) thinks based on a thorough description of my left-side pain that I might have an infection from the time, shortly after Gwen's birth, when my nipple was cracked and bleeding. She recommended a "triple treatment" of antibiotic, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory, as discussed by Dr. Jack Newman here. (I was also pleased to see the nurse pull up kellymom.com during our discussion, as it's a site I've been visiting lately. The public health nurses use the same websites as I do! They must be good.)

Thing #3 is, breast pumps. I brought my manual pump to the health unit to get some assistance with it, and the nurse was really shocked that it wasn't working any better than it was. She let me try out an electric pump to eliminate the possibility that I'm just one of those women for whom pumps do not work. That possibility has now been eliminated and I am seriously considering the purchase of an electric pump. The one I tried at the office is an Ameda Egnell, which worked like a hot damn but is probably quite a lot of overkill for what I need. She suggested the Medela Swing which is $200 at Babies R Us.

(So, those of you who know stuff about breast pumps - Amber and Mouse, I'm looking at you - please let me know what you've heard or experienced with different brands of pump and what you might recommend.)

Conclusion: I'm feeling way more positive today, weirdly. Yes, I'm frustrated that we seem to be working our way through the list of all the shit that can go wrong with breastfeeding (and look! I forgot to even list infections of the breast tissue!), but for some reason I view diagnoses of actual problems in a way more positive light than I would a reaction of "Well, breastfeeding hurts, what can I tell ya," accompanied by shrugged shoulders. The bottom line is, if I do the umpteen things I need to do in order to treat the thrush and/or infection, it will get better. That gives me hope.

6 comments:

rheadeja said...

I'm just catching up - and prior to reading this was going to ask about thrush and recommend jack's APNO (all-purpose nipple ointment) - this stuff is magic!! Just last week, I had a woman page me in tears about her nipples feeling like the baby had razor blades in her mouth - no other s/sx of thrush though - two days after starting treatment, all was well! :)

As for breastpumps (of which I also know a thing or two) - rather than buying one, see if you can't rent the Medela Symphony - it's usually about $30 a month - it's nice cause it has two settings (like baby's normal feeding pattern) and it does both breasts at once - cutting pumping time down by half.....

Then, down the road when you're looking to store milk, pick up the medela harmony (hand pump) it is by far the best hand pump out there - if you're still wanting an electric then the medela pump n go (or whatever) is fine too....

Along with the APNO, pick yourself up some probiotics (acidophilus) - take 5 million units per day for you - and break open the capsule, mix 1/8tsp with milk and give it to Gwen once a day....will help to balance the good/bad bacteria and can be very helpful for thrush as well as GI upsets and subsequent fussy behaviour....

Wish I were there in person to offer some moral support....My friend Katie (also a midwife) had a rough go with the first 6-8 weeks of BFing too - she said she'd take labour any day over those weeks....

Be strong, you are doing everything right! :)

Amberism said...

I'm renting the Medela Symphony right now, and its costing me $100/mth in Parksville. Where are you located Rhea? Because I need to rent from there! Agreed, I like the two settings on it.

I want the all-purpose nipple ointment, everyone keeps telling me to get it but I don't see my midwife until next week! I'm so freaking tired of being in pain all the time! Let me know if it works!

Amberism said...

oh yeah, when I had thrush last time, I went to my naturalopath and did the nystatin/probiotics etc. Nothing worked. Talked to my doctor and he said "you know, eventually, it WILL go away".

Wasn't much support, but yeah, it did eventually go away...

Anonymous said...

I second the course of probiotics! Any time you or Gwen take antibiotics (as is the case for your poor left nipple!) you are much more likely to get a yeast/thrush problem. Regular diaper creams and powders will feed the yeast on her bottom as well, so best to avoid those. For both you and her, exposing the infected areas to the air for a bit each day will be helpful too.

Best wishes, and thinking about you. J

mouse said...

I totally second everything that Rhea said, especially the ointment and acidophilus. Rowan and I (for baby and nursing mother are a system) had thrush too; it is NOT fun but it's the sort of thing that you will pretty much forget about in another couple of months. This Too Shall Pass! You can get through it.

Breast pumps - you should be able to rent something from the hospital made by Ameda or Medela: the Medela Symphony is awesome, I used that one on the postpartum ward. There's also the Ameda Elite (Ameda Egnell is the manufacturer, distributed by Hollister in North America - the model you tried at public health is probably either the SMB, if it had a piston-heavy don't-f*ck-with-me cyberpunk aesthetic and looked like it would survive intact if the building was bombed, or the Elite if it was made of friendlier-looking teal plastic), which has adjustable suction so you can go extra gentle for the first few minutes of pumping but doesn't have the nifty stimulation phase at the start of the pumping session. Note that these things are NOT portable - you can't just pack it with you if you're heading to your folks' place for the weekend. That's where your hand pump or personal electric pump comes in.

Once you don't need the hospital-grade rental pump anymore, I would seriously recommend getting yourself a good consumer-level electric pump - either the Medela Pump In Style or the Ameda Purely Yours. The former has a very good reputation and the latest model (which I have not personally used) also has the nifty stimulation phase feature of the hospital-grade Symphony. I have the less expensive Purely Yours, which does have adjustable suction and cycles - I've used it extensively (Understatement of the Year) and I'm very happy with it. So either one is probably a good bet!

I would recommend an electric over a hand pump for a few reasons. First, they do both boobs at once, saving you some time (they can of course do only one breast under circumstances where that's what you want). Second, you can use it down the road if you ever need to keep up your supply when you're separated from Gwen - say, if you go back to work full-time or take a weekend trip without her. That's a lot easier to do with an electric than with a hand pump. Finally, the test you just did showed that one particular hand pump doesn't really work for you - that could be due to a number of reasons, but it's possible that you just need something a little stronger and more consistent, or that does the action for you so you don't have to think about it as much. The drawback, of course, is cost - the Medela Pump and Go costs way more than than the Harmony hand pump.

Don't be hard on yourself here - you and Gwen are only just learning the ropes, and that takes more time than you might think. It's still very early - breastfeeding isn't really established until about 8 weeks (later in many cases) and doesn't actually get *easy* - you know, like we're told it should be - until 12-16 weeks. Of course, those weeks seem like the longest of your life, I know (having just got through them myself and run into every annoying little problem in the book). But any woman who can train for and complete a marathon can certainly do this - you've got it in you!

mouse said...

(sorry, I do go on, don't I?)

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