Friday, November 19, 2010

well, that explains it.

The breastfeeding saga continues...

Two nights ago - the dark night of the soul - I was about ready to give up.  The pain was only getting worse; I cried before (and during) every feeding, knowing how badly it would hurt.  Baby girl seemed to be getting enough to eat, although she wasn't gaining as much weight as we'd like; still a few ounces shy of her birth weight after two weeks.

Mostly, though, it was the pain.  I could pump just fine, but latch that baby on and holyfreakingmotherofgodandalltheangelsinheaven it could have been used as a torture device for getting information out of suspected terrorists.  I would have given you every secret I knew if it would stop the pain.

So, back to the lactation consultant yesterday.  It turns out that I have a.) a yeast infection.  About which I was freakishly delighted; I know they're a bitch to get rid of, but at least it was something real.  An actual problem.  Not just me.  I always thought I had a reasonable level of pain tolerance, but after barely being able to handle contractions at 2cm dilated and then weeping through breastfeeding, I was beginning to think I might be a closet wimp.  But no!  "Wow," said the consultant after looking at my nipples, "I bet that really hurts."  I practically wept with thanksgiving that she acknowledged it.

But wait!  There's more.  I also have b.) a baby with a short tongue who may need to have her frenulum clipped.  ("Tongue-tied," in other words.)  This probably explains half the pain, because she really can't latch on correctly.  No matter how much of my boob I stuff in her mouth, she still ends up on the tip of the nipple because her tongue can't get around it as it should.

At one point, the consultant stopped in the middle of a sentence and said, "I'm giving you a lot of information here - is it too much?"  "No," I said, because it was such a relief to know that there are actual problems, and that it's not just me - it's not that I have no pain tolerance, or that I can't breastfeed correctly, or that I don't have enough milk.  The tongue problem also explains the tepid weight gain: she's not getting as much as she should at each feeding.  And the yeast infection explains why my breasts hurt all the time, all day long, not just when she eats.

I have never been so relieved to have problems with names.  For the yeast infection, I have a prescription nipple cream and the instruction to take ibu.profen every four hours for at least a week.  "Can you be religious about this?" asked the consultant, which made me giggle a bit; "I specialize in being religious," I thought, but all I said was, "absolutely."  For the tongue problem, we have an appointment with an occupational therapist on Monday; she'll either give us some exercises to do by pushing down on her tongue, or she'll tell us we need to get the frenulum clipped, which freaks me out a bit but is apparently not a big deal and a quick recovery for her.  She also taught us a slightly different sort of latch, which is already relieving a great deal of the pain.

Last night, she was eating on the less-sore side, and I suddenly panicked.  I worried that she wasn't getting enough.  And then I realized why I was panicking: because it didn't hurt.  At all.  For the first time.  She was happily sucking away, and neither of us was crying, and it finally felt like we might be able to do this.

I realize that "intact nipples" is not necessarily the thing I should mention at the dinner table when we go around the circle on Thanksgiving and mention the things for which we are grateful.  But believe me, my Thanksgiving list this year is specific and simple:

Thank God for this beautiful child.
Thank God for lactation consultants.
And thank you, God, for intact nipples.

Amen to that.


  1. What a relief! Amen to that :)
    Would be lying if I said I wasn't the least bit worried about the breast feeding part of having this baby boy... Good to know there are solutions to problems!

  2. Amen! So glad you found the reason!

  3. I'm so glad things are improving on the breastfeeding! That must have been miserable... And yay for intact nipples. haha.

  4. I am 2-weeks post partum with my first baby you have been seriously taking the words right out of my mouth in how your handling breast feeding. It's a bitch isn't it? Good luck at the OT!!!

  5. OMG, I can't even imagine the pain you have been through. But I am glad to read that things are looking up.
    Reading good news on blogs is so good! Please keep it coming. ;-)

  6. SO glad that you got some solutions! Yay for you and your family.

  7. the 'intact nipples at the Thanksgiving table' just cracked me up! :) I'm so glad you've finally got some answers, a plan of action - and some relief!

  8. indeed, thank goodness for a diagnosis!

    i actually had my frenulum clipped when I was a baby. crazy story about that. but... i have no memory of it!

    blessings on fighting off the yeast. no thrush in your sweet girl?

    and wow on one really good feeding, at last! alleluia!

  9. I'm so glad that you found out what was wrong. It must be such a relief. Hopefully BFing will be much smoother sailing fro you from now on!

  10. Yah for you and Baby! There is always a solution to the pain of breastfeeding and unless there are outside influences, like an infection, you and baby both have to learn how to do it. Nobody just knows how, its not an automatic thing, Its a learning curve for both of you. And the person that tells you it was easy either had a really good teacher or read alot about it before hand, or are lying through there teeth cuz they don't wanna feel like a bad mom.

  11. I am so glad there was an actual problem with actual solutions! That really is worth being thankful for.

  12. You are a trooper!! I am so happy that you are sticking it out. Baby and I also had a terrible time in the beginning (lazy suck for baby, low supply for me, etc) but we are still nursing 5 months later. Those LCs are the bomb!

  13. Good for you for hanging in there - my daughter's frenulum was short and inelastic, and after two weeks, we couldn't do anything any better - so we elected to have it "clipped", but we got it done at the pediatric dentist's office. They had something called a cold laser, and she did what she thought was sufficient - bloodless and very quick for the baby - then she immediately had us nurse to determine if she had done enough, if there was a difference in feeling and suck, and if not, then she was prepared to do more. But it worked the first time, and the difference was immediate. Not immediately painless for me, but definitely a huge difference in consumption and latch.