Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Inspiration to Nurture Naturally- Part II

Description of Photo

In a very personal post recently, I shared with you my reasons for seeing a Lactation Consultant antenatally and how that appointment empowered me with both knowledge and inspiration for a positive feeding relationship with my new baby.

One of the many valuable pieces of information I walked away with that day, was the realisation that my inability to feed Stella was not caused by only one issue, but a multitude of variables that were in turn effecting each other. It was a tumble effect, one domino knocked down another and wobbled some more and so forth until eventually we crashed completely.

Up until recently, I had no idea what the issues actually were that contributed to my breastfeeding problems. With the help of a wonderfully supportive and kind Lactation Consultant we were able to uncover many notes by different midwives over the course of the first six days post birth, and bring light to the situation that I hadn't even known existed.
I thought I would share with you some of the obstacles we uncovered with my breastfeeding past, and how we are working to avoid these from happening the second time around. These may be common obstacles that first time mothers encounter and perhaps even help you along your journey of a positive feeding relationship also.

Description of Photo
1. The effects of morphine. My labour progressed very quickly, much quicker than anticipated by the midwives looking after me. The dose of Morphine I had asked for was administered three hours prior to Stella being born, which in most cases is considered dangerous. This time frame was too short, therefor Stella was born with the effects of Morphine hindering her ability to feed. She had a lower apgar score (of 9), required oxygen and was rather drowsy and inactive making that first attempt at latching on and feeding challenging.

Although our current birth plan included the possible use of Morphine, we have since re-evaluated. With a very quick first labour, my second labour is likely to be just as quick or quicker (Oh please, I hope so!) If we can manage without Morphine and instead rely on other non-medical techniques, our chances of having an alert baby willing to feed have increased dramatically.

2. Assisted Attachment. Due to a drowsy little baby, I was assisted in Stella's first attachment to the breast. Studies have shown that the best way for a mother and baby to learn to breastfeed is to allow 'Baby Led Attachement'. Baby Led Attachment is one of the wonders of newborns, they have reflexes and abilities that enable them to strive for survival. This time around, I am going to let our baby try and attach for herself following skin to skin contact.

3. Damage and incorrect attachment. With the whirlwind of first time motherhood and the intimidating realisation that this baby was actually mine, the first six days of feeding were very clumsy. Attachment was incorrect causing severe pain, instead of getting help to fix attachment I tried to 'push through' and ended up with damaged nipples that were impossible to feed from. 

Once baby #2 is born, I am going to seek the assistance of a Lactation Consultant before leaving hospital. I want to make sure that attachment is right for us and will try, try and try again to get it as comfortable as it can possibly be. 

4. Expressing. When nipples are damaged, it is often recommended to express feed your baby while they heal. Unfortunately, express feeding isn't always something first-time mamas know much about and can actually do more harm than good. I rushed out and purchased a super expensive electric pump on day five, and it was one of the biggest regrets I have. Expressing with this pump worsened (and I believed actually caused) damage to my nipples. 

Hand expressing is a much gentler way to express and until feeding is well established and comfortable is the only way I'll express with baby #2. I learnt this lesson the hard and expensive way!

5. Emotion and Stress. Those first few weeks of parenting can be likened to a fight for survival. You are suddenly a mother, with a baby who is relying on you to live. You hold the key to their survival and also to your own. It is a time full of nerves, uncertainty and trepidation. Trying to master the art of breastfeeding amongst all of this can be difficult, add visitors and baby-gawkers to the mix and you have a whole new set of emotions to deal with regarding feeding and mothering; embarrassment and nervousness. 

Being able to relax is such an important part of the feeding process, it enables proper let-down and milk supply. Babies are also very responsive to a mothers emotions, and allowing stress to take over you physically and emotionally can transfer to the baby...which is not ideal for a positive feeding relationship. 

This is one of the main reasons behind my 'no visitors for now' rule. Being able to feed our baby is so very important to me, and I am making it my main priority until I feel like feeding is established and comfortable. I don't want to be working feeds around visitors to avoid embarrassment and I am well aware that feeding (much like last time) may require a lot of time, hard work and tears. Those first few weeks are so precious, and I know that our friends and family will understand how important working my way through the breastfeeding maze is. 
Description of Photo
All of these different problems occurred within the first six days of my feeding experience with Stella and in all honesty; it was horrible. I had such high and perhaps naive hopes for breastfeeding and was heartbroken when my expectations were shot. Knowing the variables that contributed to our situation gives me the power to avoid them the second time around, I know every feeding relationship is very different...but I feel as though I am now wiser and better prepared.

What kind of problems did you encounter when feeding your newborn? Any of the above? I'd love to hear your stories. Stay reading for more in the Inspiration to Nurture Naturally series!
Plenty of love, 
winterlove blog natalie

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't feed my first born either, again, due to many factors around the labour. My labour was extremely long and stressful, I had pethadine too close to the birth, attachment was not good and I expressed to get my milk to come down. All in all, it was not meant to be. My second child was so different. I was much wiser and calmer, the labour was long but handled better and he seemed to attach so naturally (maybe it's a boy thing?). The Lactation Consultants are great at listening and solving problems.