Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lactation Consultation

Gwen and I had an important visitor yesterday - a lactation consultant. She hung out with us for two hours, and we learned a LOT.

  • Gwen's latch is too shallow. This causes bruising and pain on my nipples. Did you know that it's not actually normal for nipples to turn purple after every feed? I didn't.
  • Gwen's gag reflex is very strong. Even when I manage to get a good latch, she pulls back a bit so that it's shallow again. This explains why she can't keep a soother in her mouth.
  • Gwen's muscles at the sides of her mouth are not toned, so she doesn't create a good seal. This is why she drools, why she has milk pouring down her face when she drinks a bottle, and probably why she swallows so much air during a feeding.

So. Bad habits there. Will be a lot of work to correct.

The lactation consultant (Karyn-Grace, but she prefers to be called KG) is very optimistic about getting Gwen off formula, in fact long before we hit the six-month mark, but it will take a lot of effort. We wrote out a plan, and here are the main points:

  • Feed Gwen 1 ounce from a bottle before daytime feedings, so she is not ravenous and is more likely to co-operate with latch correction
  • Nurse as long as Gwen will do so, switching as often as necessary to ensure breast is not empty
  • When both breasts are empty, let her be, unless she cries for more - then feed her another ounce (or however much she requests); this amount should go down over time, as the constant stimulation should push my body to make more milk
  • Certain feedings will be breast only

I was quite skeptical that I'd be able to get Gwen to go to sleep last night with only my breasts and 1 ounce from a bottle, but she did ... and she slept for nearly eight hours, so I can't complain there.

Here's the part that's hard, though.

No one else can feed the baby (except for that 1 ounce at the beginning of the feed, and what's the point?). No one else can put Gwen to bed. Every night feeding is back on me. And no more Gramma time.

I can't leave her for more than an hour, because in order to increase my milk supply, I have to take advantage of every single opportunity to nurse.

Tall order. But it's not permanent. In fact, the only way I can accept this right now is to adopt the mindset that we are trying this out for a few days. In a few days, KG and I (and hopefully Chris) will talk again, and we'll see what's working and what's not. Then we'll decide what to do for the next few days. And then the next. And so on. If I picture the next two months of my life as a time when I will NEVER be able to say, "I need some baby-free time" I will lose my mind. But if I just take it a couple days at a time, I think I can handle it. And hopefully I will see results before the wallpaper starts talking to me.

I made a promise to my daughter the night she was born. I swore I would do anything. I didn't plan these words, they just erupted out of me in the pure emotion of the moment when I saw her face. I don't know exactly what that statement means, yet, but part of it means that I'm willing to try this for a few days, just to see.

So do me a favour, friends and readers. I know some of you - one in particular, for sure - think this is asking too much of me, and is a recipe for post-partum depression. It may well be. But for the meantime, as we try this out, please be supportive. That may mean saying something nice, it may mean saying nothing at all. I feel very strongly about this and want to try it. I promised Gwen.


Anonymous said...

I totally think you can do this - rather than focus on the forest, just concentrate on the trees, a few at a time....

big, lactating hugs to you, your breasts and your baby - is that weird?

Anonymous said...

You can do eeeeeettttt! I'm proud of you for being so determined. It sounds like a great plan!


Jen said...

This is such a great idea. How is it going? I hope things are working out!


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