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Category Archives: She Thinks She’s an Expert!

Yes, This Blog is being Taken Over by Breastfeeding.

I just wanted to be up front about that.  Because if you don’t want to hear about breastfeeding, both it’s trials and it’s triumphs, then you probably don’t want to read this entry.  I’m okay with that — don’t worry.  I won’t be hurt or offended, I promise.  Okay?  Okay.

So now that you’re here because you want to be, here goes.

I have 3 kids, and all 3 of them were – for a period of time – breastfed.  I have had issues and more issues with breastfeeding, and I want to share some of that with you now.  Not because I am having issues this time around (I’m not) <<knocks on wood>> but because some of the information I have gathered in the school of hard knocks may help someone else who’s struggling.

Connor was born tongue-tied.  Do you know what this means?  No, I didn’t either.  Here’s a picture that perfectly illustrates what Connor’s mouth looked like:

This is what a tongue tie looks like. In fact, this could be a picture of Connor; he cried a lot. Because he was hungry all the time.

The thing is, a tongue tie seriously affects a baby’s ability to breastfeed.  This is because the tongue needs to almost hug the nipple in order to get a good latch, which is imperative if the baby is to get a good feed, and then move freely in and out of the mouth to get the milk flowing, allowing baby to gain weight and be happy, making breastfeeding a success.

Connor was born at Women’s College Hospital.  The lactation consultant there mentioned the tie, suggesting it could be problematic, and that I should talk to my pediatrician about it.  I did, and her advice about releasing it was that it was up to me.

hmpff.

If you are a first-time parent, you know the haze and fog that surrounds the experience.  You feel completely inadequate in pretty much every respect, and you haven’t slept since you went into labour.  You have a hard time making a decision about what to eat – hell, even determining if you’re hungry! – nevermind serious things like whether or not to release your perfect infant’s tongue tie.

Here’s my advice: if you are a doctor who treats children, or a lactation consultant, PLEASE tell the parents to release the tie ASAP.  In the very least, tell them exactly what the impact of their decision is likely to be.  Or, if you are a parent to an infant with a tongue-tie, have your doctor release it ASAP.  There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. As outlined above, I could not make a rational, reasonable decision. I needed someone in a position of trust to tell me what to do and why.  They did not.
  2. This meant that I did not release his tie, and so Connor could not latch.  When he was 3.5 months old he was just 10lbs (he was born 7lbs 3 oz); I made the very difficult choice to move to formula.  This was against my pediatrician’s advice, even though it was clear that breastfeeding was not working for us and he was slowly starving.
  3. If you release the tie in the baby’s first 6-weeks, it’s a simple procedure in the doctors office, as the capillaries have not yet formed or connected or something like that in you baby’s mouth.  After that, it’s an operation with anesthetic and everything, because they could choke to death on their blood.  Niicceee…

I AM NOT AN EXPERT.  These are simply my opinions, based on my own personal (and very traumatic) experiences.  Connor was 15-months old when his tongue was released.  It was the longest, most agonizing 5 minutes of my life…  Yes, the surgery just took 5 minutes.  But I was a wreck.  And he was so upset afterwards… he was crying so hard that he slipped a stitch and bled like crazy all over. All over himself, the nurses, the bed, me…  it was awful.  So do it when they’re young so there’s no blood and really no pain either.  So just do it, okay?  Okay.

Next point: breasfeeding after a Caesarian section*.  All 3 of my kids were born via c-section.  Some will tell you that this can interfere with your milk coming in.  Whether it’s the lack of hormones that are released during labour and delivery, or side effects of the drugs c-sections require, is anyone’s guess.  There are others who will insist that c-sections cause no issue with milk production.  I know that with my 1st born he lost a lot of weight, and there was very little collostrum.  I rented a pump from the hospital to use at home, helping to get the colostrum to produce, and then to get the milk production happening.  We finger-tube fed what was extracted to him, once he had suckled at the breast for an infuriating (for him because there was nothing coming out) 5 minutes.  After he consumed what I had collected via pump, he was then put back on the breast to suckle some more.  (He enjoyed that round more than the first, because at least he has some food in his tummy.)

The reason for this sucking is that conventional wisdom suggests that the very act of a child suckling from your breast will stimulate milk production.  This, combined with the mechanical, hospital grade breast pump did see my milk come in.  Instead of the typical 2-3 days, mine happened on day 5.  So you see, I know what it’s like to work really, really hard to get your breastfeeding established.  It was an hour’s work to get him fed, and then another 20-30 minutes to get all the equipment washed and ready for the next feed.  Which was really only 30-60 minutes away.  That’s right: I was waking him every 3 hours through the night to eat.  For 8 weeks.  Which meant that I was sleeping in like, 30 minute increments…  it was beyond exhausting…

But I digress.

With my second baby, I asked for the pump on day one.  I started to pump while in the hospital, getting the colostrum producing right away.  The nurses were a little surprised and skeptical even, but they did what I asked and breastfeed with Sam was great.

Until it wasn’t.

My milk came in on time, he ate well and he gained like a trooper.  I was so happy and so relieved after the debacle that feeding with Connor was.  And then, when he was 7 weeks old, everything changed.  He fussed while at the breast, he was very gassy suddenly, and then he started getting blisters on his bum every time he pooped.  His fussiness at the breast turned into rage, and he would slap my breast with his little hands.  I thought there wasn’t enough milk.  So I gave him the other breast.  The behaviour continued, and he almost stopped eating over the course of a few days.  At a playdate, another mother saw what was happening and commented that this was the exact behaviour her son displayed before she learned that he was lactose intolerant.  Another couple of agonizing days passed, and Sam was put on lactose-free formula when he was 9 weeks old.  All of the issues disappeared overnight.

This time around, I did not ask for the pump while I was in the hospital.  I didn’t get to hold little Elise for more than an hour, because I was strapped to a table being sewn up and too because she needed to be with the respitory therapist until her breathing sounded more “normal”,  whatever that means.  As soon as I got her, I put her to my breast.  She latched for a moment sucked once or twice, and that was that.  For the duration of our hospital visit, every time she cried, or made sounds that might be the beginnings of crying, I gave her my breast.  My milk came in on day 3, and she’s been “gaining beautifully” to quote the pediatrician.

One last point to make: know your nipples.  “She’s lost her mind,” you may be thinking.  No, no I have not.  The thing is, there are different kinds of nipples (which I did not know before bearing children), and each can pose a challenge when your child tries to latch.  There are flat nipples, there are inverted nipples (which I have) and there are protruding nipples.  I assumed I had protruding nipples.  I didn’t know they were inverted until I had to squeeze my breast at the nipple area to force it into an infant’s mouth.

In a nutshell, if your nipples are flat or inverted it will be more challenging to get your child to latch.  Here’s why: if the nipple does not stick out into their mouth, it’s very difficult for the tongue and lips to form a seal, and suckle effectively.  If they are inverted, they look like they stick out until you squeeze them: then the nipples retract.  (This is what happens to me).  Here’s a link to a great pdf file showing the different types, and what to do to (a) determine what you have and (b) how to work with what you have.  For me, I have found pumping as well as “the latch assist” to be invaluable in successfully feeding my children.

So what is the point of all of these ramblings, other than to share my experience?  Well, sharing was the primary goal, I’ll admit.  As I got writing though, I discovered I wanted to say something about the process I went through each time.  We need to surround ourselves with people who know us intimately, support us through the tough times, and encourage us to pick up our load and move forward.  Choosing formula was gut-wrenching both of the times.  Even though I knew that Connor was starving.  Even though I knew my milk was making Sam sick.  Even though.  In the end though, we all need to “think like men,” as one of my dear, loving supports said as I faced the decision with Sam.  We aren’t talking about whether or not to go to war, we are talking about what to make for dinner essentially.  Is breast best?  Probably.  But you know, in the 60’s and 70’s research showed that formula was best, so who really knows?  You can read statistics in a myriad of ways, making them say any number of things.  At the end of the day, we are talking about what to serve for dinner, and that is not supposed to be a gut-wrenching ordeal at any time.  What’s really best in my opinion, is a fed, healthy, happy baby and a mother who’s satisfied knowing that she’s done her best.

*The first because he got stuck in the canal (who knew I had a small pelvis?) and I got stuck at 7 cm’s for something like 10 hours.  My second was supposed to be a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section), but he had other plans.  At 37 weeks the little joker turned breech.  My placenta was at the front, and lower-lying (not exactly previa, but close) and I had a LOT of amniotic fluid.  My OB said that if my water broke, the gush of fluid could dislodge the placenta and deliver it before the baby, since the head is not in position to block the path.  Given this information, MOMD & I decided that we would much rather have our baby alive, and so a c-section was booked.  Because of the other 2 sections, my 3rd was non-optional.

 
 

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Travelling with Wee Ones

I was talking to my sister-in-law today about travelling with wee peeps.  You see, MOMD (and all of his family, for that matter) are Newfoundlanders.  And if you know anyone who was born in Newfoundland that no longer lives there, you know there’s nothing they like to do more than go home for a visit!  My sister-in-law lives on the exact opposite side of the country though – just outside of Vancouver BC – and so it’s a helluva trip for her and her family to go home.

Despite this, they are talking about somehow making the trip this summer, with their 2.5-year-old and their 5-month-old (at the time of the potential trip).

As it happens, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in flying with little people.  Because I married a Newfoundlander, and we have made our fair share of trips to see the family too.  The first time Connor flew, he was 5 months old.  IMO, this is the BEST time to fly!!  The babies are settled enough that they’re usually not too fussy, you’ve got your feeding issues ironed out (mostly), and if you need it, baby Tylenol still knocks them out.  I’m kidding!  Of course I don’t advocate for needlessly drugging your kids; but it really does knock them out at this age.

Next time we flew, it was just before Connor turned 2.  And this, this was THE WORST time to fly.  Because he was under 2 years old, he was still free to fly, so we didn’t have a seat for him: First mistake.  The second mistake was thinking that if we flew over naptime, he’d sleep.  BWHAHAHAHA… oh, what were we thinking???  Needless to say, he did not and the flight was awful because he was exhausted and wanted his own seat, like a big boy.  He flew again at 3 years, 4 years, and then just this Christmas when he was 7.  And of course, we flew with Sam too for the first time this Christmas and he was 3.5 years old.

Anyway!  All of this is to say that over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to make flying with little kids easier.  Not every child is content to watch TV or movies for 3 hours or more, and all of us need some stimulation of one sort or another.  And so it is that I give you my tips for flying with your kids:

  • Pack a bag for each child you’re travelling with, filled with new toys that they have never seen before.  Great things are play-doh or clay which can buy you lots of time, especially if you have some cookie cutters. You can make all kinds of imagination games with these shapes!  I also like the water colour/washable paint sets.  You know, the ones where the paints are dry, and you wet your brush with water, and then put the wet brush on the paint, and then on the paper?  These are great for travel because the mess is minimal, and easily cleaned up if an accident should happen.  Magna doodles are great too; and they don’t make a mess!  When we flew with the 3year olds, we made sure to have decks of cards that were age appropriate.  We got this deck of cards for playing “go fish” that had turtles, sharks, fish, mermaids and so on as the faces, so it was really easy to ask for what you wanted.  The 3 year olds loved this!  Include a new colouring book, a fresh pack of crayons or markers as well as some new little toys (like cars or blocks or dinosaurs).  Some new books are great too.
  • Pack lots of snacks.  Treats, things they don’t usually get to eat, and things that take a fair bit of chewing to get through.  These are especially important during take-off and landing, to avoid the ear pressure issues.
  • Pack an extra set of clothes.  No matter how old they are, you never know when a drink may be spilled.  There’s always the chance too that they will refuse to use the loud toilet on the plane and have an accident of a different sort.  And a wet, messy kid is absolutely no fun.  For anyone.
  • Expect to work really hard during your flight.  I remember when flying meant cruising through 2-3 trashy gossip-like magazines, reading a few chapters of my book, listening to some music, and maybe even watching the in-flight movie if I was interested.  Flying was almost a treat; a vacation before the vacation even.  Sometimes MOMD & I would even play our travel Scrabble game.  Not so when you’re travelling with youngsters.  You are going to parent longer and harder than you normally do in a 3-hour window, because you’re cognizant of all the other passengers around you and you do not want to be “those people with the kid(s)”.

At the end of your flight, you will be exhausted.  Just expect this, so that you are prepared.  And if it turns out your child is the perfect little traveller and had zero issues as you flew from one side of the country to the other, make sure you give thanks.

Happy travels!

 

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