Sunday, May 27, 2012

Keeping Things In Harmony

For the longest time, breastfeeding had been a piece of cake.

No need for cropping... Ayden censored the shot for me :)
I even had to remind myself not to question why it could be so difficult for some because it really did come that easily and naturally to both of us. Ayden had a tiny latch problem in the beginning but only on the left side and once my midwife helped us out it was fixed, just like that. Now that we are 4 months in we've hit a few small bumps. Still nothing as rough as thrush or mastitis (knocking HARD on some wood right now), but bumps none the less. I thought I'd share what we've been through and how we fixed/are fixing them.

1) Milk Blister - This is when a tiny layer of skin grows over one of your milk duct openings. I had never heard of this... It looks like a little white dot and is pretty painful right where the dot is. The fix? Placing a hot washcloth over the area before nursing. It took two days but once it broke through, the pain was gone immediately as if it were never there in the first place.

2) Favored Side - Ayden obviously favored the right side from the start since he only had trouble latching on the left. As soon as my sister heard about this she said, "you'll always produce more on the right side and it will probably end up being a little bit bigger." She was so right. A couple of weeks ago I started seeing a size difference, then a couple days after that, Ayden began getting fussy on the left breast. I have no idea if the favoritism belonged to Ayden or my subconscious but somehow, somewhere along the way, we began expecting more from righty. So, in the true nature of supply and demand, she started to exceed expectations. Ayden was still getting plenty of milk, as evidence by his diapers and spit up, so I can't say I was worried; but I called my midwife to make sure I was taking the right measures to even things back out. I told her that my good friend, Google, had suggested always latching Ayden onto that lesser producing side first, since a baby's suction is always strongest at the start, and pumping after/between feedings on that side only. She said that stimulation was definitely the best way to encourage milk production so those tactics should work best. We are still working on this one... The size difference is much less noticeable (it was never bad enough to notice through my clothes) but he is still a bit fussy on the left side and righty yields twice as much milk than lefty when I pump. David bought me a Madela manual pump today so that I don't have to use my big pump and style for all of the extra pumping sessions I need to do. I found I was putting it off due to inconvenience which is not good... It's important to me that the girls are as close to matching as possible at the end of this journey and my midwife warned that the size difference can become permanent if you don't stay on top of it. If something's important to you, you do what you need to to do to make it happen, right? I'm hoping that with the manual pump it will be easier to pump on Lefty while Ayden nurses on Righty since I won't have to worry about electrical outlet proximity. I shall update on our progress here in a couple of weeks.

3) Plugged Ducts - I've had a few plugged ducts over the past 4 months but nothing that required any extra effort besides nursing... Until yesterday. I made the mistake of skipping a feeding while I taught my makeup class. My plan was to go home and pump right afterward which would have only made me go one hour past Ayden's feeding. But we let our busy schedule get in the way and decided to go straight to the bike shop to get our trailer. By the time we got home, 2 hours past his feeding, I was engorged to say the least. Especially over-achiever Righty... I nursed and pumped but I still didn't feel soft like you should right after a feeding. I would massage between and during feedings but it only got worse. By this afternoon, the entire top half of righty was hard and filled with little knots, not unlike when my milk first came in. We had big plans to take Ayden swimming for the first time but I decided that for today, clearing the plug needed to be top priority. I've heard that mastitis can really knock you out and I had no desire to experience that first hand.  So we cancelled our swimming plans and I headed to the shower with my comb friend here.

Yup... a wide tooth comb!
I had read on (an EXCELLENT resource) that this was the key if nursing and pumping weren't moving the plug along.  I stood under HOT water for a few minutes, then I soaped up and slowly massaged the knots with the comb while hand expressing.  After a few minutes of that, I got out and fed Ayden again and that did the trick! When Ayden finished eating and I felt around to find no knots and only soft tissue, I said, "We did it, Ayden!" to which he replied with a big gummy grin.  It's always nice to have knowledge and tools but the most important lesson for me here was: it is just as important for me to stay on Ayden's feeding schedule as him.  If I'm going to be away from him, I still need to at least pump during his feeding time.  The breastfeeding relationship really is so sensitive and we really do depend on one another to keep it running smoothly.  I need to make sure I'm responsible about it and take the harmony of it very seriously.  I'm sure my new manual pump will come in handy during these situations too!

Just because we missed out on swimming, doesn't mean we didn't have some fun today!  We gave our bike trailer a try for the first time.

He's still a little small so we had to boost him up with a rolled blanket and just took it easy around the neighborhood.  We don't plan to do any more than that until he's sitting up independently and can fit into his own little helmet.

We felt like what we did today was actually a little less intense than a jog in the jogging stroller and Ayden loved it!

Later in the day, we went to the local arboretum and walked around.  It was so beautiful!

Ayden was getting tired and was a bit fussy but then I moved up to walk in front of the stroller and his whole mood changed.  

He loves the City Mini stroller in the neighborhood but apparently being pushed toward the strange, unknown wilderness made him a little uneasy because seeing my familiar backside walking out in front of him made all the difference :).

After we got Ayden to bed, David and I ate some paleo crunch cereal for dinner (our form of take-out) and snuggled up to watch We Bought A Zoo.  It was a cute movie and a bit of a tear jerker...  We miss Ayden while he's asleep but it's also nice to get some grown up time.

It ended up being a great day and we are going to try to make it to the pool tomorrow.  Gotta love three day weekends for getting in some quality family time!

Do you have any breastfeeding obstacles that you overcame?  Tell me your stories!



  1. i had the same issue when i breastfed. i had clogged milk ducts on my right side all the time. i could pump 2oz from my left but pump 12oz from my right, in 1 pumping session. my son and i just couldnt keep up with it and it caused us to end breastfeeding at a weak 4 weeks :(
    around a year later i was told that the left side of our bodies is "male" side and the right side is our "female" side. so therefore making righty to produce way more milk than lefty. ive talked to a few moms who breastfed and all said that at some point they noticed the left side suffered in some way. hope that helps.

  2. Did I have breastfeeding obstacles? Boy did I! I wrote a whole post about the genesis of my nursing relationship with my little one on my blog if you're interested in reading it:
    Basically, Gabe didn't want to latch at all when he was first born, and when we did get him to latch, it was very very painful, and no amount of lactation consults helped in the least. The first few days after we got home were emotional and physical agony for me, so much so that one of his latches hurt so badly that I burst into tears and sprung a nosebleed. I went on to exclusively pump for him for about seven weeks before his doctor convinced me to try him on the breast again. It took a little while and it wasn't easy, but I did manage to get him off the bottle and back on the breast. Now, things are painless and working great for us.