Right Breast Re-Accepted!

Sidd.jpg

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.

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16 thoughts on “Right Breast Re-Accepted!

  1. Oh boy, Kate…I’m writing this while pumping the left breast…the only one I use. What about food grade lanolin?! It’s soothing and tasteless and, well, foodgrade. I couldn’t have gotten through those sore first weeks without it. We also had a yeast infection and I used an antifungal, but before I’d feed him I’d clean the nipple. Other than being particular about which breast (I’ve been walking around for 11 months with two cup sizes) breastfeeding has been pretty easy for us. Because I was ready to lose my mind for lack of sleep, we introduced the bottle at like week two so Jon could feed him and I could get 5 hours of sleep in a row occasionally. I don’t miss it, but it gets better.

    Don’t hesitate to have someone come watch him for an hour here or there so you can feel recharged to tolerate the madness again when you get back!

    Good luck with the little one.

    P.S. Circumcision, or no?

  2. Thankfully you figured out what the problem was in a relatively short amount of time! Breastfeeding can be very difficult for a lot of people. I had trouble with it with both of my kids and we didn’t get the hang of things until they were 3-4 months old! It pays to stick with it and keep trying.
    I finally tried a nipple shield with my 2nd and that really seemed to help. I wish I had thought to try that with my first. It was LOTS of trial and error though before that point. There was even a short period of time where my daughter would only latch on if I was standing and swaying with her. So annoying! She also went through a phase at around 2 months where there was a very small window where she would latch on and if I missed that window, she was way too pissed off. It was so frustrating to have to pump and bottle feed when I so badly wanted everything to work. Determination and patience paid off and we eventually found our rhythm. Both kids breastfed until about 18 months and I’m so thankful I had support and advice from friends and family and stuck with it.
    Good luck!! :o)

  3. Congratulations to you and baby Sidd (and Dave too), and thanks for the picture! Hi Sidd!

    And yeah, I know what you mean about feeding troubles. My daughter did not immediately latch, and the breastfeeding stuff from our early days can still make me cry if I ruminate on it too much. Like you, we eventually found success with taking some of the advice we heard and politely declining others. You’re right, it’s all about finding what works for you and your baby.

  4. You probably have way too much advice at the moment so feel free to ignore this, but…

    I used a cream the midwife gave me – it’s made from olive oil and calendula, and is 100% edible (I tried 😉 ), if you are still in need of something.

    I also found it easier to get started if I fed K sooner – that way she wasn’t so hungry/piranha-like. (I think I fed every 1-2 hours for the first six weeks.)

    Good for you for sorting it out – good luck, it’s damned hard work.

  5. Hi Katie!!!! I have been there!!!! You are exactly right in that you will get loads of advice (all of it good for someone!) and just have to sift through and try everything possible based on what you know about your baby until you find what works. You are already a GREAT mom! Breastfeeding was a breeze with my 1st (bf until 22 months) so I thought nothing could stop me with my 2nd. WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY! For now, I’ll only tell you 2 of my issues and how I resolved them, and I’ll save the others for later when they may be applicable. 1. Breast rejection of just one side. I also could not figure out for the LIFE of me what it might be. The first time he did this, after trying a million things, I switched holds. I held him in the football hold for that breast and basically ‘tricked’ him into thinking he was on the other breast and it worked great! Something just must have been uncomfortable for him while holding him on his other side. 2. Ernesto would latch a bit then come off the breast after a couple swallows starting around 2 weeks. Had a good latch, but wouldn’t stay on the breast…on and off on and off every single time. Long story short, he had fluid buildup (over the first 10 months) and constant ear infections they never caught which caught pain while swallowing. Got him tubes at 10.5 months and now he is a spuer duper latcher stll going strong at 14 months! Lesson: take a holistic perspective as to why he might be having problems.

    Finally, this doesn’t apply to everyone but…. Breastfeeding while laying down is FREAKING AMAZING most times. But, if possible try to prop baby (and breast if necessary) up a bit on a small pillow because if your baby is prone, if you are unlucky, or if there are already problems starting (like in my case) lying flat to breastfeed can cause further fluid buildup in the ears.

    Best to you and if you can stick it out, it will pay off hugely. Now whenever Ernesto is going to breastfeed (day or night) he gives me the biggest hug and a huge smacking kiss on both cheeks first. It’s the sweetest and makes it worth all the struggles I went through with the poor guy.

  6. For something that comes so naturally, it baffles me how unnatural breastfeeding can seem. We struggled, too, and after about 2 months, I did give up and switch to formula. While there were a TON of regrets with giving up, I do feel it was what was the most right for our family. However, if we ever have a second, I also believe I will be much more determined to stick through it. Persevering really pays off for both you and your baby.

    My guess is that he’s frustrated with how slow the milk is coming. Especially if he’s been feeding out of a bottle, where it comes quickly and easily. That was a big issue for us. Also, if you’re already supplementing with formula, it is very likely affecting your milk supply. Has Sidd lost a lot of weight and/or is he jaundiced?

    If you aren’t having serious issues with his health, my best guess is that you completely cut out the formula (formula is SO bad for supply issues with mom). Also, at the hospital where Rosemary is born, we could still go back and meet with the lactation consultants. I went back 4 or 5 times, but had to make an appointment first. That’s what they’re there for.

  7. I have been there!!!! You are exactly right in that you will get loads of advice (all of it good for someone!) and just have to sift through and try everything possible based on what you know about your baby until you find what works. You are already a GREAT mom! Breastfeeding was a breeze with my 1st (bf until 22 months) so I thought nothing could stop me with my 2nd. WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY! For now, I’ll only tell you 2 of my issues and how I resolved them, and I’ll save the others for later when they may be applicable. 1. Breast rejection of just one side. I also could not figure out for the LIFE of me what it might be. The first time he did this, after trying a million things, I switched holds. I held him in the football hold for that breast and basically ‘tricked’ him into thinking he was on the other breast and it worked great! Something just must have been uncomfortable for him while holding him on his other side. 2. Ernesto would latch a bit then come off the breast after a couple swallows starting around 2 weeks. Had a good latch, but wouldn’t stay on the breast…on and off on and off every single time. Long story short, he had fluid buildup (over the first 10 months) and constant ear infections they never caught which caught pain while swallowing. Got him tubes at 10.5 months and now he is a spuer duper latcher stll going strong at 14 months! Lesson: take a holistic perspective as to why he might be having problems.

    Finally, this doesn’t apply to everyone but…. Breastfeeding while laying down is FREAKING AMAZING most times. But, if possible try to prop baby (and breast if necessary) up a bit on a small pillow because if your baby is prone, if you are unlucky, or if there are already problems starting (like in my case) lying flat to breastfeed can cause further fluid buildup in the ears.

    Best to you and if you can stick it out, it will pay off hugely. Now whenever Ernesto is going to breastfeed (day or night) he gives me the biggest hug and a huge smacking kiss on both cheeks first. It’s the sweetest and makes it worth all the struggles I went through with the poor guy.

  8. Have you tried using a nipple shield? They will help you heal while at the same time somewhat control the milk flow for baby. Breastfeeding was hard for me as my breast would practically bleed while my son fed. There were times I would cry for some minutes right before allowing him to latch. We made it! He never had formula and he was breast fed until he was 2.5 years. I know it was very hard in the beginning as EVERYTHING changes so dramatically with a first child, but before you know it breastfeeding will be the easiest and most lovely times of the day.
    http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/tips-and-solutions/112/nipple-shields

  9. Katie, I’ve obviously never breastfed, but Kate’s message above brought something to mind. When my mom was breastfeeding me, she ended up having to take me to E.R. (long story which has been told many times in my family). There it turned out that I just had an ENORMOUS amount of gas…like an unworldly amt. (hee hee!)

    After much talk, a nurse discovered that my mom’s recently HUGE consumption of black tea (and cucumbers) were probably making her milk come way too fast, and I was gulping to keep up with it. If your milk is slow in coming out, I’m sure there are things avail to speed it up. I’m not sure if caffeine is safe, but I’m sure you know. Tea might help. I’ve also heard that barley -and beer in particular- REALLY help with milk production. (I’ve heard this barley business from two mothers who are nurses.) I hope you get whatever it is you need here and that you continue to have the strength/determination to find solutions. You’re doing this so well!!

  10. Thanks everyone! We really appreciate all the help and encouragement. As it turns out, washing my breast first turned out to be a fluke. 😦 After i wrote this post, Sidd would not latch again. We saw our pediatrician and found out he had lost more weight (was down to 6 pounds from 7pounds 2 ounces birth weight). I was freaking out. She gave us a better idea of how much he should be eating and I think he’s been eating a lot more since then so we’re hopeful his weight is turning around. She sent us to the lactation consultants at Good Samaritan hospital, who apparently are the best around. Since then we’ve started using a nipple shield. It has been very hard and sometimes takes about an hour to get him to latch after screaming and refusing. The last couple times have been much easier to get him to latch, but now I’m concerned about the latch because it feels pinchy so even though he has been a great latcher from the beginning, I’m not sure now why it feels kinda bad, mostly on the left only.

    Sigh. I think this would be a little easier if he were not losing weight. I feel so much pressure to get a ton of food into him even if it’s challenging. On top of that I’ve had awful headaches after sleeping and my dr. today told me I have to sleep more. Wow. How? I guess I have to let someone else feed him once in the middle of the night, but then he’s taking a bottle again (even though it’ll be pumped breast milk) and may have trouble going back to the breast again. We’ll try the low flow nipples, but still…

    T – no circumcision for us. I had been pretty firmly against it and sent a bunch of info to Dave about it a while ago. After reading the facts, he was against it too. Then we watched Penn and Teller’s Bullshit about circumcision. Wow! Do not watch that if you get queasy. It’s pretty disturbing. Poor babies.

  11. PS: our pediatrician suspects that Sidd may be losing weight so fast because he was post-term (by four days according to the “due date”, but by a lot more according to her assessment of what he looks like, peeling skin, etc) and there was almost no fluid left right before he was born. She thinks it’s possible he drank a lot of the fluid and that his birth weight was therefore artificially inflated and he has been peeing out the extra weight. Apparently, post-term babies can be hard to feed since the placenta has most likely been leaving him without proper nutrition for a while.

    On the plus side, my milk has comes in and I seem to be making a lot.

  12. Sidd’s personality is coming through already. Consistency and persistence are the name of the game in parenting. My daughter went from 6 lb 19 oz down to 6 lb 2 oz by her first two week check up. For me, things seemed to go better with music. If we were going to both be up at 2 a.m., we might as well party. Try to have some fun, even if you are just dancing with your (other) main man in the middle of the living room floor. My breastfeeding never went well, until I started to relax. (For me, that was the first time we went away from home at 3 months.) I only made it to the six-month mark before giving up completely. It’s about what works for you and your baby’s personality, not what works for most people.

  13. Katie-
    Hang in there. It can be so hard to take care of a newborn and yourself at the same time. You’re trying and you’re doing great.

    You’re probably already on top of the water thing, but when you mentioned headaches after sleep, “hydration” popped into my head. I used to get dehydration headaches from pumping,and had to learn to really push the water. Breastfeeding takes more water (and calories) than I ever expected!

  14. E – Thanks! I’ve been walking around with a 3 cup water bottle trying to chug as much as I can. This is something one of our doulas mentioned too when we called her. It was super hard at first to keep up with eating and drinking water when all I felt like I could do was feed him…and then feed him again.

    Good news is, the headaches have pretty much gone away. We’ve been making a huge effort to get more sleep. My mom is here and we’ve decided to let him sleep a little more at night and wake him up to eat more often during the day. Whenever he’s awake and not eating, he’s with his grandma and Dave and I are trying to sleep or relax. It’s been working ok. I’m sure it’ll get easier.

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