Monday, 8 September 2014

Breastfeeding is hard, and nothing prepares you for that.

This post may be long and a little boring, but I think I need to share a bit about my breastfeeding journey. Its been really tough (and not over yet), and I think writing will help me get some perspective on the situation amd help me look back in the future and remember how I felt at the time. And if it helps anyone else by reading it then that's great too.

Even though I didn't get my water birth in the birth centre and had a monitored induction, I had a straightforward delivery without complications, and a healthy baby. I feel very lucky. The breastfeeding, however,  has been incredibly difficult. When people asked me during my pregnancy whether I did intend to breastfeed, I would tell them that I would like to at least have a go at it, keeping in mind that it doesn't work for everyone. It began quite well, as soon as Reegan was born my lovely midwife put her straight onto my chest and helped me to latch her on, which we had absolutely no problems with. I was very happy, although my boobs were pretty sore, and continued to feed her that day as often as she wanted (even though the nurses on the ward were trying to make me wake her up to feed more often.  I know now that when Reegan is sleeping she won't be woken. She will wake up in her own time when she is hungry and you can't force her).

I had some issues with being discharged from the hospital that night; one nurse pretty much let me go, we were literally putting Reegan into her car seat and putting our coats on when she came back and said mistakes had been made, I had not be monitored enough during the day and I wouldn't be allowed home. I later discovered my obs had only been recorded once all day, and as a patient who was induced due to high blood pressure I was supposed to be closely monitored.  I was devastated,  and Rob then had to leave because visiting hours were over. I spent the next two hours in tears, asking for painkillers for my stitches and waiting for a doctor to come and see me. One nurse eventually came in and saw me crying and went to get a midwife,  who worked some magic and discharged me within half an hour.

I struggled to feed her that night, and the pain got so bad that Rob went to the 24hr supermarket in the early hours to get formula milk because Reegan was screaming with hunger and I was sobbing because I couldn't feed her. I thought because I had been so upset at the hospital that my milk had dried up. Not to mention exhausted because i hadn't the really slept in about 36 hours. The midwife who visited me at home the next day gave me some encouraging advice and I decided to pursue it, even though my my breasts had started to feel like they were burning up and were extremely sore. I couldn't (and still can't most of the time) bear to have my bra off at all. I spent three more days in pain and sweating, using cold flannels and cabbage leaves to soothe the pain. I went for a bra fitting and was told I probably had mastitis because my breasts were so hot and swollen and had started to go red and splotchy. The next day a midwife confirmed this, but was reluctant to put me on antibiotics in case it gave me thrush.

So for a few days I expressed milk into cold flannels to releive the pain, but when I latched Reegan to me at feeding times I would get a searing pain shooting from my nipples to my elbows. It was so bad I would sweat and cry, amd dreaded every feed. I nearly gave up again a couple of times, but the only reason I didn't was because we tried to give Reegan a bottle again but this time she wouldn't take it. So I had to carry on. The next midwife I saw asked me how things were going and I just burst into tears. She told me the reason for my pain was thrush, and gave me treatment for both myself and my baby, but also picked up on the little clicking noise that Reegan makes during a feed and suspected a tongue tie so put in a refferal which we had to wait a week for.

We have now finished the treatment but things haven't improved as much as I would like. I spent the first two weeks of Reegan's life on alot of paracetamol and ibuprofen, and although I've just managed to wean myself from them it still hurts. My left breast was so badly cracked I have been expressing milk and bottle feeding it for a week now. It's starting to heal, but because the other nipple was also bad the health visitor told me to use a different position to ease the pressure, which has helped. We finally saw the feeding specialist yesterday who confirmed that Reegan has a mild tongue tie, which has caused the damage to my nipples, which in turn has been causing all the deep pains I have had which she said is most likely nerve pain from the wounds. So Tuesday is our next appointment and Reegan will probably have her tongue tie snipped and hopefully things might get better for us. I feel bad for putting her through such an ordeal, but if it means I can carry on breastfeeding her then I am prepared to do it. Through all the pain and sweat and tears, when it doesn't hurt as much, it really is worth it.

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