Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My struggles and triumphs with breastfeeding!

I have another great, inspirational story about breastfeeding success! This article, by mom Christina Adams, is both inspirational and informative. She was able to successfully breastfeed with hypoplastic breasts and following breast surgery:

I had struggled with breast feeding my son, Vance. When he was born we lived in Japan and there wasn't a support system there at all. When I was struggling with supply issues, the hospital staff handed me an SNS (supplemental nursing system) and a case of pre-made formula and basically told me "Good luck". No one knew how to work the SNS and I was too nervous to try it. After 3 months of wondering why breast feeding wasn't working and having to supplement with bottles of formula, Vance developed a nipple preference and refused to nurse anymore. That was the end of that...

When I became pregnant with Harper, I decided that no matter what, she was going to be breast fed for at least one year, come hell or high water! I read everything I could get my hands on. I became very active in the Breastfeeding moms forum. I got in touch with La Leche League. That's when I realized that my supply issues were the result of something I had done to my breasts 8 years ago.

When I was going through puberty and developing breast tissue, something went amiss. Only one breast developed glandular tissue. As a result, my left breast was a size D and my right was tubular and only about an A cup. (This is often referred to as Insufficient Glandular Tissue, or Tubular Hypoplastic Breasts)As a teenager I was mortified by my "defect" and used a mastectomy prosthetic to mask the difference under clothes. When I was 20 years old (and about to be dropped from my dad's insurance) we found out that because my defect was considered a "chromosomal abnormality", his insurance would pay for reconstructive surgery! We went to all the referral appointments and the plastic surgeon that was covered did the surgery on May 30, 2001. He did a reduction on the left side and then put implants in both, so that they would both have that full, augmented look. They were still uneven, but looked a little better in a bra than they had before.

I went to the BFAR (breastfeeding after reduction) website and saw that a device called a "Lact-aid" was very highly recommended as an at breast supplementer. Then, in the breastfeeding forum, one of the moms recommended it as well. (Lact-aid is different than an SNS mainly in the way the milk come out of the tube. With an SNS, the baby doesn't have to work to get the milk out because gravity pulls it down. With a Lact-aid the baby has to suck and pull the milk up [like a straw] so it gives breasts more stimulation). I ordered the Starter Set that day! Domperidome was also mentioned numerous times to help up supply. Adoptive mothers had used it to get a supply going so they could breast feed their babies, even though they had not birthed them. I ordered a 3 month supply of that, too!

When Harper was born (an accidental homebirth!) on the way to the hospital, the EMT asked my if I wanted to nurse her. So there I was, strapped to a gurney, headed to a hospital, nursing Harper for the first time in front of a large, strange man that had just seen me in all my glory! I knew right then that everything with Harper was going to be different than it was with Vance!

She was 8lbs 6oz and just beautiful. I didn't let her out of my sight. She nursed and slept and nursed the entire time we were in the hospital! When we went home a couple days later she was down to 7lbs 11 oz (within normal range for loss). 3 days later when we went back in for a follow-up, she was 7lbs 12oz! My milk had come in that previous night and I was hopeful that i would be able to make enough milk for her without having to take the domperidome or use the Lact-aid. I made an appointment to see the lactation consultant in one weeks time. At that visit, Harper was still 7lbs 12oz. I was heart broken that my around the clock nursing and 64+oz of water a day just wasn't enough. The LC showed me how to use the Lact-aid and gave me a can of formula to use in it. I started taking the domperidome that day. I also started taking 12 fenugreek a day as well.

Because I knew that my breasts needed constant stimulation in order to send the signal to my brain to make more milk, I only gave her 2oz at a time in the Lact-aid, and only after she had nursed both sides without it. I watched her diaper count to make sure she was getting enough. She averaged about 12oz of formula or pumped milk a day and nursed 12-14 times in a 24 hour period. Her diaper count was always 6+, so I knew that she was getting enough. Slowly (and I mean s l o w l y!) we were able to wean off the Lact-aid. She was 5 months old. I had stopped taking domperidome about 2 months before then, but I was still taking fenugreek daily.

We battled thrush twice. Dane, Vance and I had Swine Flu in August. I know that she didn't get it because of the antibodies I was giving her through my milk. I had abdominal surgery when she was 8 months old. Because of the surgery, I had to stop taking the fenugreek. I was terrified that it would cause a dip in my supply, but to my surprise, I did fine without it. When Harper was 7 months old, I went back to school full time. I can't pump enough to send her with only "mommy milk" so she has been getting about 6oz of formula a day for the last 5 months. On the weekends, she only nurses. We stared giving her solid foods when she was about 6 1/2 months old and she is a food-aholic! She loves to eat pasta with red sauce and whole cuts of steamed broccoli.

She still nurses 4-5 times a day and I see no end in sight. I will nurse her for as long as she wants to. I love coming home at the end of a long day and cuddling with her on the sofa, while Vance sits on my opposite knee and we all read a book together. It makes the stress of Algebra and Western Civilization melt away, and at the same time it melts my heart. Vance is an amazing big brother. He is patient and loving towards her. Whenever she is upset and crying he'll tell me "Booboo needs nurse, mommy". I love them both so much!

I am so proud of my accomplishment and I know that I did everything I could to give her the very best! She is my angel-girl and I love her so much!


Diary of Lactation Failure
Hypoplasia/Insufficient Glandular Tissue