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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Battle of the Breast

When you are pregnant and decide to breastfeed your baby, rarely does the image contain any of the potential problems that come with breastfeeding. During the first week, the true reality of it can be a little abrupt and somewhat a smack in the face--especially if you have any issues that fall outside of normal.

In my case, where I do fall outside of the norm, it has been an all out battle. I had a lactation consultant actually say to me "I cannot believe you are still breastfeeding"...I have had to talk to 5 different lactation consultants and see 2 of them in person in the last 6 weeks. Yikes. But, I have to say it is completely worth it. If I can do it being what I have been through, then you can too. So if you do have any issues, ask for help. Lactation consultants are a profession because breastfeeding is no easy task, and breastfeeding support groups exist because it is hard work.

So what happened to me? I breastfed in the hospital beautifully. I had plenty of colostrum and my baby seemed so content. He latched on and all was well in the world. I was discharged from the hospital early because I had such a great labor and delivery. All was sunshine and moonbeams until the next day when my milk came in. I literally had enough milk for twins or triplets or the whole neighborhood of children. That would have been okay if I had actually had twins or triplets. I had so much milk that it hurt to shower.

So, what's the big deal? People suggest pumping and storing it and living up the fact that you have so much milk and that it is a blessing! Now, do not get me wrong, I do not wish upon me the opposite problem of too little milk, which can be even more frustrating and difficult. However, the problems that stem from an over abundant milk supply can do a lot of damage and I thought I would share the things to look for in case you suspect you have an "oversupply" like I did.

The first thing was engorgement. Engorgement is where you feel so full and uncomfortable, you cannot bear it. Being engorged a bit the first couple of days is normal, if you feel this way after the 2nd day, call someone to help.

Next up was sore nipples. If the nipples are not addressed early, they become traumatized and cracked. Believe me, it really hurts. But it stems from the inability to get a good latch because your breasts are overly full. Mine was compounded by a strong and forceful let-down. Basically my son would bite down to slow the flow of milk, and my nipples were destroyed. If your nipples feel sore or begin appearing damaged, call someone immediately. If you have cut up nipples, you can develop an infection or mastitis. They can assess your nipples, help you get a better latch and potentially prescribe some nipple cream to prevent such infections.

When you have all that extra milk, where does it go? Well, you start leaking. At least that is what happened to me. I have been covered in milk for 6 weeks and I am just now seeing the other side (due to better nursing pads).

Having an "oversupply" wouldn't be so bad if it just affected momma; however, your baby starts suffering as well. Your baby gets a lot of "foremilk" as opposed to "hindmilk" when you have an oversupply. The foremilk is full of lactose (sugar) and the hindmilk is full of fat. Basically what happens is that your baby's digestive system digests it too fasts, so the baby is hungry more often and the lactose irritates the digestive tract. The baby can become fussy, gassy, and have explosive and watery poops (sometimes appearing green or greenish). They also do not grow as well because they aren't getting enough fat.

If this sounds like you, please seek the help of a lactation consultant and don't give up!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, nicole. It helps readers like me to understand what can happen and what can do about it.