Friday, July 22, 2011

Breastfeeding Carnival Day 6: Birth Experience

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about how birth experiences influence breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

I am going to talk about both birthing experiences and how it affected breastfeeding since they were SO different and I think both experiences really did affect each nursing experience rather than the baby themself.


Monkey was born April 2008.  Originally I thought I'd try to see how long I'd go before getting an epidural.  Little did I know that you could be in labor for weeks on end.  It was progressing me but just VERY slowly.  I started in labor at 32 weeks with him with strong contractions.  I could watch my whole belly firm up super tight and after a minute release.  I only felt them every 5-10 minutes or so and I had an appointment the day they started so I didn't think much about it.  Little did I know that when they hooked me up on monitors how much the nurses and my OB would panic.  My contractions were VERY consistent-every 3 minutes lasting a minute.  There was very very little deviation from this.  They were just sure I'd have him that day but when they checked me I wasn't progressing.  They quickly gave me all sorts of medications to stop my labor.  It worked-for about an hour.  I was sent home during that hour and given strict instructions to come back if they restarted.  They gave me medication to keep them stopped-it made me sick and dizzy and it didn't do a thing to slow them down or stop them.  I didn't go back immediately but over the next few weeks I made several trips to Labor and Delivery.  By 33 1/2 weeks I was ordered to strict bedrest whereas before I was supposed to "take it easy".  I was in my last semester of my Bachelor's degree with a full load (20 credits-MORE than a full load) and stressed.  The contractions were always intense.  I wished they could have given me an epidural to "take me out of my misery."  I was on an iVillage birth board at the time and one mama suggested I read the Hypnobirthing book at 36 weeks.  I got it and read it in a few hours (I'm a pretty quick reader and was on bedrest so hey-what else am I going to do?!).  I felt very much at peace with what I read and instantly my whole idea of birth changed and suddenly my contractions didn't hurt any more.  They never stopped or got less intense (wish I could show you what the computer monitors said in Labor and Delivery!  The nurses ALWAYS said "These look like the contractions women have when they're getting ready to push!") but I suddenly wasn't in fear of what would/could happen and I didn't feel any more pain.

I tried to do Hypnobirthing with Monkey.  Unfortunately I went in with THAT attitude though.  My husband wouldn't read the book or really listen when I explained what I was going to do.  He just said "I'll be there for you."  Not a good way to go.  Without full details of my whole birth story-basically my nurse (and all nurses according to her) said they hadn't ever seen a natural birth or even heard of a first time mom going through with it but "good luck!"  I felt sabotaged from the beginning and even more defeated when I found out my midwife whom I selected to transfer to at 37 weeks wasn't going to attend my birth.  I tried anyways.  I did a really awesome job.  When it got super intense though I started hyperventilating because I was experiencing a new thing-my mind could NOT settle down, I couldn't relax AT ALL-or so I thought.  I was at 8 cm.  My nurse made the unfortunate mistake of saying I'd be like that for at least 2-3 more hours.  I felt like I was going to pass out so I asked if there was something to temporarily take the "edge" off.  She lied to me and said "No-it's an epidural or nothing, we don't give anything else." (I say lie because soon before she asked me if I wanted something besides an epidural to take the edge off but gave me no names of anything so I couldn't ask for something specifically).  I consented to an epidural.  They forced me to have a bag of IV fluid in about 5 minutes and immediately after the anesthesiologist came in.  Before he could even finish they told me to start pushing.  My epidural never fully took effect.  I didn't feel my son descending and my contractions completely stopped.  He was still there within a half hour of pushing on no contractions.

When he was born he had very high APGAR scores (8 and 9 I think or 9 and 10).  They still rushed him away from me.  They used a vacuum extractor but only suctioned it on his head-they never turned it on but helped guide him out because he did get stuck for about 5-10 minutes.  I kept screaming "Where's my baby?"  "I want to hold my baby!"  I literally didn't get to see him AT ALL for the first 15 minutes of his life outside the womb.  They kept telling me I was starting to hemorrhage and turned pitocin up higher and higher.  I kept getting more and more scared.  No one listened to me.  I kept saying "I want to nurse him I know that will help me stop bleeding so much."  No one listened.  Finally after 30 or so minutes they gave me my son swaddled and with goop in his eyes which I specifically said I wanted delayed.  The midwife didn't care.  She had shown up just in time to deliver my baby and that was all-she didn't care about my birth plan nor would she take the time to read it or even skim it.  She set it aside when it was handed to her.

The first time nursing didn't go well at all.  I didn't know why he wouldn't latch on at all.  He just licked at me-he wouldn't even try.  Within an hour of birth he was wisked away and I was told I had to move rooms.  He HAD to be cleaned in the nursery away from me.  Then I was told his blood sugar was way too low and that I only had 5 minutes to try and get him to nurse or he had to have a bottle or be taken away to the nursery where they would give him a bottle.  I was so upset and confused.  I couldn't get him to latch on under that pressure and the pressure from everyone wanting to visit and see him.  I was given a pump and he was given a bottle of formula.  I did nothing but cry.  It hurt to pump the nothing that came.  It hurt to try and latch my baby on.  After he was 24 hours old I finally had a nurse work with me really hard on breastfeeding where she confirmed I was doing everything right but when she took a look in his mouth she found a pretty severe tongue tie.  We tried finger feeding him with a tube like a SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) and that helped him learn to suck-up to that point he chewed the bottle nipple to get milk out-he couldn't suck at all.  The doctor refused to clip his tongue saying it was "dangerous" and "Not necessary" and that it was all my fault he wasn't nursing and that we'd have to go to a Ear Nose and Throat doctor and have them clip it in the office (how backwards is that?!  I was in the hospital for crying out loud!).  SO finally we were released on Sunday.  I had no pump (I couldn't take the hospital one and they said I'd have to wait until Monday to rent), baby couldn't nurse, I was sent with bottles of premixed formula and a few cans.  I was devastated.  My parents went out to get me an Avent Isis hand pump.  I sat pumping around the clock while others gave my baby bottles.

Monday morning came and as soon as the office opened I called the Ear Nose and Throat doctor I was referred to.  I was told to tell him my newborn couldn't latch on at all.  The nurse told me it would be weeks to get in but I was persistent and asked to ask the doctor.  He said "No problem!  Have her come in early this afternoon!"  We did-after his jaundice heel prick and newborn checkup at the Pediatrician.  It took all of about 5 minutes to do.  He actually stayed in his carseat the whole time and stayed asleep.  The doctor came in and said "Oh yeah-that is a bad one!"  He put a tiny dab of Orajel-stuff on his tongue and took what looked like cuticle scissors and snip.  He watched him for a few minutes-no bleeding.  He sent us on our way.  When I went home he latched on once and nursed for 20 minutes.  It was pure bliss.  I cried tears of joy (and crying again as I remember this!).  And then when he was hungry again-nothing.  He forgot what he did to latch on and sat screaming.  He got another bottle and I went back to pumping.

That night my milk started coming in.  He got his first real taste of milk and refused formula from then on out.  I couldn't pump nearly enough-like a half ounce when he was used to having at least 1-2 ounces forced down him.  He'd suck it down in about 5 minutes and scream for more.  That night was horrible.  No one got any sleep.

The next morning I called the hospital's lactation consultant when I went for his jaundice heel prick.  He was now 3 1/2 days old (he was born late Friday-at this point it was Tuesday morning).  I was in tears because I hurt and my baby was starving and we were both exhausted.  She said I could come see her for a free consultation because I gave birth there.  I had to pump a bit to get my little guy to try latching on.  She watched what we both did when we attempted and again said I was doing everything right.  She knew immediately that he was nipple confused.  She gave me a nipple shield and immediately he nursed.  He nursed for about 45 minutes straight without stopping sucking for as much as a couple seconds.  He was chugging and gulping away.  Bliss again!

Weeks passed, months passed.  I tried weaning him from the nipple shield but he couldn't nurse without it.  I tried everything but nothing worked.  He never ever nursed without the nipple shield up until he weaned completely.  He finished that process by 14.5 months.  It was a beast to constantly find clean water to wash the dang thing and to nurse in public but I did it and I'm so glad I did.

Baby K:

Baby K was born January 2011 (he just turned 6 months!).  I started preparing from the moment I found out I was pregnant with him.  Ok I actually started preparing from the moment I got out of the hospital after having Monkey.  I took a hypnobirthing class very early though so I'd have plenty of time to practice and just in case I had preterm labor again.  Boy I'm glad I took it early!  I started preterm labor at 30 weeks with Baby K.

My contractions weren't near as consistent with Baby K.  Towards the end they were VERY strong until I sat or laid down-they'd stop completely at that point.  I walked around at a 6 for a week.  I had bloody show for 3 weeks off and on.  I kept thinking he'd come and I was getting HUGE.  Much bigger than I was with Monkey.  I made spicy chili because we got it for Christmas and I knew after Baby K arrived I wouldn't be "up" to standing to make chili for a while.  So, Thursday night I stood and made chili.  The beans took forever to cook.  By the time we got to eat it was around 8:30 PM.  It was very very spicy.  About 30 minutes after I ate, Baby K started freaking out-he was kicking like crazy.  Apparently it was super spicy to him too!  I started feeling a little trickle.  It took me an hour or so to figure out my water kinda sorta broke.  We went to the hospital around 11.

My midwife didn't come and I kept walking around (different one than before-I started finding a new midwife as soon as I left the hospital with Monkey also!).  Every time I sat my contractions slowed or stopped.  They weren't progressing me at all.  Finally they stopped all together.  My midwife was called again-she had fallen asleep.  She arrived and found out that my nurse's theory was right-he broke the wrong bag-the one that was to the back not the one that was under his head.  I gave her permission to break my bag and immediately I felt the way I did with Monkey-GUSH!!!

A few hours of intense labor later, some in the tub, I got out and felt like I was going nuts again but I knew I was in transition so I could focus on relaxing and knew it was soon.  I went with my urge to push and breathed through pushing rather than pushing purple.  Baby K was born and went straight to my chest.  I immediately tried to nurse him.  He did a little but really wasn't interested in nursing before he was about 4 hours old.  He was tongue-tied and I recognized it from birth.  It was clipped within 2 hours of birth but he did latch on right after he was born.  After he was a few hours old he started nursing like a champ and has ever since.  He did get pretty darn dehydrated by Monday after he was born (he was born early Friday morning) and there was the possibility of him having to supplement if he didn't gain back some of his weight by his 1 week weight check.  He dropped a whole pound.  He was 8 lbs even at birth and dropped to 7 lbs even.  By Friday he was just barely shy of his birth weight and at 6 months he was 18 lbs 8 oz.  I think he's doing well now :)

Both birth stories are VERY different.  Monkey's birth was very traumatic for both of us.  Baby K's was very relaxed.  Had Monkey not had such a rough birth I think he wouldn't have had to have a nipple shield.  I learned a lot from that experience though.  I knew what to do to be prepared for Baby K.  I knew what questions to ask.  I knew to find a doctor that would clip his tongue if he was tongue tied within hours of birth.  I knew to ask if the hospital had syringes or SNS so I could feed him that way if he wasn't able to get anything.  I knew to put NO BOTTLES AT ALL in the birth plan in case something happened so he'd get finger feedings only.  I picked an awesome supportive midwife.  I was much more confident.  I was a lot less confident in breastfeeding however because I had NO idea how to latch him on.  The lactation consultant at the hospital (a different one than the one Monkey was born at) was awesome and taught me how to do the "nipple sandwich" latch trick.  Baby K took a lot longer to learn how to nurse but was much more efficient once he latched on.  It took us until 8 weeks to feel comfortable and about 9-10 to be able to nurse without a nursing cover.  The point is that both births were very different and the struggles I had with each boy was different but I felt completely different about them because of the support I had.  With Monkey I didn't have much support.  The nurses were lousy for the most part.  With Baby K I was surrounded by awesome support.  It really made a difference in how I felt.  With both boys there were tears of frustration but at least with Baby K I knew we'd make it.  Both times I took it one day at a time but both times were very successful.  I'm glad I had such a strong urge to breastfeed with Monkey though because had I not I would have given up very quickly.

Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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