--YOU KNOW YOU KNEAD IT--

Tag: breastfeeding (Page 1 of 3)

Oversupply & Doctor with God Complex

About a month ago we saw a lactation consultant on the advice of our Maternal & Child Health Nurse (MCHN). Since birth, PartyPie had only fed for a maximum of ten minutes on one boob and wouldn’t ever take the other side. I know that size of boobs is irrelevant to milk supply, but the girls were really cranking – PartyPie would often pull away and streams of milk would shoot either across the room or into her head.

By the time she was two or three weeks old she was having tummy pain. The lactation consultant was ace, and said that I had an oversupply of milk which caused lactose overload (something often confused with lactose intolerance). What this means in terms of PartyPie stomach pain is fairly simple. Breastmilk is lower in fat at the beginning of a feed, and this low fat milk is also very sugary. This is often called the ‘foremilk’. Once the baby gets through the foremilk, the milk becomes creamier and fattier – this is called the ‘hindmilk’. It is the hindmilk that really satisfies the baby and fills them up.

Being a newborn, PartyPie‘s tiny stomach could only hold about ten minutes worth of my mega gushing milk – and so she only ever got the low fat sugary foremilk. This went through her very fast, and made her hungry again soon after feeding. It also gave her horrible stomach pain. She was having up to maybe 15 wet nappies a day and scary, fizzy poo. The pain in her tummy would make her scream – and generally being a pretty chilled out baby, having her screaming in pain, writhing and trying to climb up our chests was truly awful.

The lactation consultant suggested that we do ‘block feeding’. This just meant that instead of swapping boobs from feed to feed, I was to keep her on the same boob every time she ate during a three hour block. Then swap, and do the same thing. This also meant that my milk supply wasn’t being stimulated so often and it would thus settle down, and that she would be getting to the hindmilk.

This settled things down within a day or two. The scary poo stopped. The stomach pain stopped. In retrospect, the oversupply persisted, but we didn’t recognise this at the time – and I went back to sort of a mix of block feeding and swapping from one boob to another each feed. Things then got worse – instead of scary poo PartyPie began straining desperately to make poo. She would groan and whimper in her sleep, and wouldn’t be able to stay on the boob during a feed because she was straining so hard. She became a farting machine. (I have to point out here that it’s fine for breastfed babies not to poo for weeks at a time – this wasn’t the problem – it was the straining and pain that was the issue.) The pain was very cyclical and would disappear and she would go back to being a happy little button.

When she did manage to poo it was not an issue, and it was not hard or weird. She was not constipated, she just had terrible gut-acheing pain with straining. The MCHN suggested tummy massage, warm deep baths, massaging her legs and, if this didn’t work, some warm water with a bit of brown sugar in it. The last suggestion is for constipation, so we didn’t try it. Massage helped a little, but not really. At our six week check up with the GP/Obstetrician on Wednesday I was taken off dairy, nuts and iron supplements. I admitted to eating a plethora of sashimi, and so was taken off raw fish as well [sob]. An appointment was made with a paediatrician next week. It was suggested we video PartyPie‘s tummy pain in case she didn’t turn it on when she was examined 😉

Yesterday, after a night of PartyPie being really distressed and screaming with pain, we called the birth centre she was born at – they said if we were concerned, we should bring her in to the emergency department. We jumped in the car and spent the next 90 minutes sitting in emergency at Casey Hospital in Berwick. We were seen by a doctor. Naturally you can’t expect doctors in an emergency ward at 6am to be breastfeeding specialists, or even baby specialists – but you could reasonably expect them to listen, evaluate and not be instantly dismissive when told about the previous diagnosis of oversupply.

This doctor did not take one minute to listen to what we told him. He shook his head when I told him I had been taken off dairy, etc, and said that PartyPie was obviously lactose intolerant. M explained that this was not the case, as PartyPie was thriving in every other way – putting on weight, lots of wet nappies, reading the newspaper every morning etc. etc. The doctor told M he was wrong, and if that we didn’t want to listen to him that it wasn’t his problem. What we needed to do, he said, was put PartyPie on to lactose free formula. We looked at him blankly. Que?! He repeated that we needed to put PartyPie on to lactose free formula. M explained again that it was lactose overload and the doctor said we were basically idiots who had become too friendly with google (well, he didn’t actually say it, but he didn’t need to…).

With this suggestion he fulfilled all my suspicions of the medical profession dealing with babies and reinforced all the reasons why I chose to have a waterbirth in a birth centre attended only by midwives. Casey is supposed to be a baby-friendly hospital, but he wasn’t even people-friendly, and definitely was not going to listen to anyone other than himself. Arrogant fucker. I want to hunt him down, kneecap him, and make him read this, among other things.

We left, and sneaked on up to the birth centre to ask some midwives for their opinion. They said that as they only dealt with newborns, they couldn’t give medical advice; they were, however, horrified at the suggestion to whack PartyPie on lactose free formula. We talked to them for a while, and they were nice enough to even call us when we got home and make a few more suggestions.

Of course, during this whole time, PartyPie had been model baby and had not fussed or screamed or groaned at all and we definitely appeared to be over-anxious freaked out first parents. I had completely forgotten the advice I had read which said “If you go to the emergency department with your baby? Always tell them it’s your third child so that you’ll be taken seriously.” D’oh.

Anyway, M and I sat down and tried to nut out the problem. We came to the conclusion that we had probably not persisted long enough with the block feeding, and despite the fact that PartyPie no longer has scary poo (when she deigns to produce some) that her oversupply problems were still present. We returned to evil google and found a description of oversupply which listed 21 baby symptoms – 16 of which PartyPie has. The site did not say how to treat it, as it cautioned that a correct diagnosis needed to be made before going ahead with treatment.

Then I found an article in the International Breastfeeding Journal called Overabundant milk supply: an alternative way to intervene by full drainage and block feeding. The case studies it used were interesting. It suggested draining both boobs by pumping before commencing a block feeding regime. So that’s what I did (and using a breast pump is very weird, btw, and it took me ages and lots of deep relaxing breaths). This was at 2am last night.

The article mentioned that often when the baby feeds immediately after the breasts are emptied they get a decent feed of the fatty hindmilk and then go to sleep full and happy. This is pretty much what happened. So far, PartyPie has not had any tummy problems and has been sleeping well. We see the paediatrician on Monday. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The reason I have gone into such elongated boring detail is to record it for myself, but also to help any other desperately googling overly milky person with a baby with a sore tummy – just in case it helps. And if you’re interested, this is a really cool article on colic from Dr Jack Newman’s site. I can’t believe I just typed that last sentence. Sigh.

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M wants me to add that he still wants to move to the highlands of Papua New Guinea where it takes a village to raise a child and these sort of problems [i.e. colic] are relatively unknown. He also wants me to link to The Continuum Concept – a book he’s been going on about for around a billion years.

No lemon aid & thanks for all the fish

After nightweaning Small Z for the final time in January, the month of my utter fatigue, I thought that moving house and the associated weirdness of all that would account for the first chunk of February or so. I didn’t want to make any other big changes to Small Z’s soundtrack over that time.

However. For the past few weeks I have been trying to wean her from the boobaramas. Full stop. Of course, I have done some research, spoken to an ABA counsellor (they are G-O-L-D) and tried to do it as gently as possible. Small Z, as anyone who has read this blog for a while, was the ultimate booby-fixated baby. She is now two, and remains exactly the same. I had naive hope that she would wean herself. Nope. Nada. Never. Not. Going. To. Happen.

So it was fairly easy to cut out the feeds that were not sleep related. There weren’t many of them. But, for the past week or so I have been refusing to feed her for the midday nap, saying that the boobies needed to rest for her feed at nighttime. Ohhh. The yelling. The begging. The hours that my patience has elastically stretched over. Extraordinary.

M read somewhere that people have had success spiking their boobs with lemon juice. Mmmm. That worked the first time. After that, she got a taste for it. And then there was the day when I had washed the girls in bicarb as a preventative measure (click if you must), later added the lemon juice and in doing so created some kind of energetically fizzing chemical reaction that scared me so much that I did much plunging of my top half into a basin full of water, wishing that I had paid more attention in chemistry. I had to speak to my only chemically qualified contact in order to establish nothing was going to explode.

So then I tried garlic. Why would I bother trying garlic on someone whose favourite food is hardcore pesto? Call it blind hope. She lapped it up. Yesterday? I went for the most disgusting thing I could think of. I don’t mean just what I happened to have on hand. I mean the most disgusting liquid that I. Could. Think. Of. If you do any thai cooking, you’ll know right away. Fish sauce. How revolting is that? I applied it liberally to the girls while holding my breath. Ugh.

I think Small Z lives in a state of olfactory denial. She did not react ONE iota to the stench of fish sauce on the girls. She had one, then the other. No reaction. Nothing. How is this possible? She is very good with smells – she can pick lavender, rose, orange. If you walk into a fish shop that is stinky (something a good fish shop should never be) she shrieks and demands to be removed immediately.

L suggested that stuff that you put on for nailbiting, as did M. However, I have decided today that it is all at an end. After tonight, I will SHUT IT DOWN (I can hear my mother – who weaned us three at nine months – breathing her relief from miles away). I cannot go further than fish sauce. Before I had Small Z, I never imagined breastfeeding past six months. I made declarations like “I will never feed anything with teeth” and sneeringly said “I am never going to feed something that walks”. Is there anything more humbling than parenthood? In my case, it has taught me not to be such a judgemental fucker about something of which I have zero experience.

So yeah. Start spreading the news…they’re leaving today…they’ll no longer be a part of it…the boobs, the boobs…
And a big welcome to a whole new round of sleep deprivation and yelling. It WILL be worth it.

The Weigh In

I continue to be a size nine stick insect. And this fearless and hardhitting investigation illustrates why.

I change Small DB’s nappy once in the night. But last night, this didn’t happen. I forgot to bring a spare one into the bedroom and was too tired to get up and get one. I figured that the worst that could happen would be a leak.

This morning I took off the nappy that had been on Small DB all night. It contained a nights worth of wee. It was a weighty tome. I decided to investigate (and if you’re offended by the site of a wee’d in nappy, leave now)…

Here is a brand new unused nappy (yes, I use disposables at night, and when we’re out and about): .046kg
The start of the night

And here is a nappy with a full night’s worth of wee.
The end of the night. Morning.

It weighs OVER HALF A KILO. Five hundred and eighty grams. That is all coming out of me. Into her. And out into the nappy. [shakes head] Admittedly I do drink 3/4 of a litre of water during the night, but I always wake up feeling like I’ve spent a week in the Gobi Desert.

With my body working this hard to make at least half a litre of milk a night, I think my stick insect status is a given until she weans. Yikes. (Head also now boggling at the thought of breast feeding twins – yes L, that means you.)

Round up.

Gulp. How has almost a week gone by since my last post? What happened to my quiet pledge to post more often? D’oh. This week has seen a playdate with friends that I don’t catch up with often enough. Dyla brought Axel, who is three years old, and L brought Chloe, who is newly four (and the twins – who are, like Small DB, zero).

Tuesday was Playgroup followed by my dad and Mgs visiting with gifts of free range eggs and home crafted biscuits, rolls and croissants…

I cooked them up a fried egg sandwich each in their own rolls and made cups of tea. They were on their way to Mornington for a car part and were happy to drop of my beleaguered boots to be stretched. On Wednesday M stayed home (as my mother has departed, fecklessly, for France for a WHOLE MONTH) and I got a solid five hours of work done.

I felt strangely unstressed by the end of the day. I had got more work done than I ever usually do, the Smalls were happy and yes – M had missed a day at the boat, but it was worth it. I love my mum coming over and taking on Small Z, but being able to handover BOTH Smalls and totally zone out was very therapeutic.

Small DB got a fever on Wednesday night. Yesterday morning I gave her some medicine and it must have held it at bay while M took the Smalls out and about doing the things Small Z usually does with her nana. I have to do a shout-out to M. Yeah – he didn’t get the washing out early enough (or at all, actually, I did it) and he left the breastmilk I’d pumped at home (leaving me momentarily homicidal) – but the Smalls are so happy after a day out with him.

He is just focussed on them and he’s not exhausted or worried about Getting Everything Done. And it shows in all of them. The other good thing is that I was able to focus and really crank through a lot of work – always easier when I’m not stuck inside a monster file feeling like I’ll never get out and why-am-I-so-slow-at-this-they-will-sack-me-for-sure… Ugh.

Sheepishly, I am also aware that some of the zen that has descended on our little house this week is due to the fact that Small DB has been waking less at night. I’ve been putting her down at 6pm as normal and for a couple of nights she only woke ONE TIME before I went to bed. For months (it may have been weeks, but it feels like months) she has awoken every 40 minutes until I go to bed. I feel like my whole self has taken a huge breath!

I am sitting here typing this with a tummy full of pancakes. My first mastitis scare is underway – I am hoping it is just a blocked duct. The first thing that L, my mastitis guru (having been hospitalised with it), said when I called her to ask what I should do was, “Do you know where your nearest Emergency Department is?” Gulp. She reassured me that she was going with the worst case scenario first…

Small DB’s fever persists…
And incidentally – here are some amazing photos of bands that played Spendour in the Grass that I found via Flickr. Also, there have been a few more posts at Loobylu recently – a blog I have long loved.


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