We got home from the hospital yesterday with baby Siddhartha and sure enough, just hours after leaving he rejected one breast and then the other. In the hospital we had a lactation consultant who was available most of the day. I just had to push a call button for a nurse and request a consult. There are no call buttons at home and no nurses waiting on us.
Dave looked up info online and emailed one of the lactation consultations who we had met at the hospital. I tried to read up on some info from The Nursing Mother’s Companion as fast as I could. Seems like there are a lot of reasons a baby may reject the breast, but not many of them really seemed to fit. The first one he rejected (the left) kinda made sense because the nipple cracked early on and has not healed yet. I suspect there may be an infection and he can smell or taste that something is off. The rejection of the other breast (the right) confused me and left me feeling helpless.
I read that, now that my milk is finally in, the engorged breast may be rejected. So at the next feeding, I pumped first and then offered Sidd the breast. Nope. He screamed and we ended up doing our best with what I had previously pumped and a little bit of formula. At the next feeding I realized that I had been using hand lotion, something I had mostly stopped doing while at the hospital. I thought maybe he didn’t like the smell as my hand is holding up the breast as he drinks. Nope. Same result.
I was feeling rejected and not only considering giving up on offering the breast (ie, move to pumping and bottle feeding), but giving up on breastfeeding altogether. I felt like a failure and like I could not do what was best for him. I completely understand now why some women give up on breastfeeding so easily. He has been a great latcher from the beginning so I thought we would be fine, but there are so many problems that can develop.
Keep in mind, each time we’re trying again is only about three hours after the previous time and the time in between has been spent dealing with a very fussy baby and only about an hour of rest/sleep. It’s hard to imagine how excruciating the experience is until you’ve been through it.
Finally, this morning I noticed his reaction when he’d attempt to take my right breast. He would latch on fine, maybe even suck a little, and then pull back and cry inconsolably. Something didn’t taste right, I concluded. The lactation consultant had suggested that I start using a cortisone cream and Miconazole (anti-fungal cream) on my nipples to help with the cracking on the left and a bit of scabbing on the right (the scabbing is now gone). She assured me it was ok for the baby in the tiny amounts I’d be using.
Well, this last time I decided to wash the whole nipple and areola of that breast before attempting to feed him and it seemed to work! He finally took my right breast again! I cannot describe how overjoyed I am. Of course, at the same time I’m trying not to be too excited because I don’t know if he’ll take it again next time.
So, lesson learned. The creams might technically be “safe” for him to ingest, but he clearly does not like them. Who can blame him? I’d never put that crap in my food. And therein lies one of the biggest problems with breastfeeding. You will get lots of advice, but you have to somehow figure out what actually works for you and your baby. When running on very little sleep and high stress, it can feel like an impossible task.
Please share your breastfeeding difficulties and your solutions! Some of them may be things I still have yet to deal with and would love ideas.